Distractions and Pauses

Bunny in the front yard, always a welcome distraction.

My daughter is in remote school right now, so she has a lot of Zoom meetings all week. It’s hard for her to stay focused on her work sometimes (eh-hem … a lot of the time…) because there are always toys to play with, squirrels to watch outside, and wiggles to get out. A couple days ago, she said “I can’t help it when my brain gets distracted. I can pay attention a little, and then my brain will go somewhere else, and I can’t help that” Ah HA!! “That happens to everyone!” I said. We talked about it for a while – I told her that she does have some control over that, but her brain will always wander off looking for other cool stuff (or worries). The key is to notice the wandering, and then give yourself the chance to choose to come back (or not!). Each wandering is a chance to re-focus.

There are SO many things to distract us – not only outside, but from the inside too. Tummies grumble, heads ache, muscles get sore, thoughts ruminate. Body pain is a huge distraction! Not to mention all the external distractions of social media, news, other people… phew, our brains have a LOT of opportunities to wander off. My daughter felt a little frustrated with herself that she kept getting distracted, but I assured her that it happens to everyone, and if she can notice it, she can do something about it. Even if the distraction (physical, emotional, external…) can’t or won’t go away, there is power in that little moment of pause to notice it. Hold that moment, feel it in your breath, your muscles, your brain. The distractions will always come back, but so do the pauses.

I was planning to do 4 week series this fall, but I realized there is a 5th Thursday in October, so we’re going to do an extra Walking with Ease lesson, along with some nice breathing coordination. Join for some good ole wringing out pandiculations with full breathing.

 Here is the link for this week’s class: Walking with Ease & Fuller Breathing – tomorrow, Thursday at 12pm noon eastern time. Register here for class.
 
Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

Walking through this Weird World, Together

A Mother’s Day walk in the woods, 2015

Hello hello Dear Soma. I am at a loss for inspiration to write about this week – other than acknowledging the obvious that we are still walking through a weird time, and I hope you are being good to yourself and yours. Our practices to keep our nervous systems in a nice, even place are consistently pushed. The edges of our nervous system comfort levels are tested, and if we remain aware of those edges, without judgment, we gain the capacity to experience our world more fully. I’m continuing to maintain some normalcy with class this week – we will be in the 4th week of the walking series. We’re going to explore more shoulder-to-hip connection: that diagonal/cross connection when you walk (a.k.a. opposite arm swings to the leg stepping forward). If there’s time, we’ll review a little of all that we’ve done so far, to tie it all up nicely into a short walking routine that you can turn to anytime you need tweaking.

As Michael Franti puts it (I’ll add to the beginning, “With a regulated nervous system…”:

We can love deeper,

Fly higher,

See clearer,

Burn brighter,

Feel more than we ever did before

Yeah we can swim oceans,

Climb mountains,

Dance like nobody’s watching,

Live life like we never did before,

And through the highs and lows,

Baby I got you, and you got me.

Here is the link for this week’s class: Walking with Ease, Lesson 4 – tomorrow, Thursday at 12pm noon eastern time. Register here for class.
 
Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

Seeking Knowledge from the Ministry of Silly Walks

Credit: Jazeen Hollings (User talk:JazHol) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71148240

Breaking down old habits that we sometimes don’t even know we have can be awkward at best, and downright uncomfortable too. We keep adapting and changing throughout life, sometimes to find ourselves walking funny (or sitting funny, or standing funny). Adaptation is GREAT – it keeps us growing and it’s what can make life exciting. It also brings challenges, especially when those adaptations don’t serve us in the healthiest of ways. It can be very uncomfortable to 1) discover that you have a habit that doesn’t serve you, and 2) start to really shift that habit into something else. That is the point when a lot of people throw their hands up, shake a fist at the sky, and decide it’s better to stay in the more familiar place rather than face any uncomfortable growing pains (oh man do I know this feeling!).

I have a colleague who has had a long road trying to figure out this tweak about her walking. She’s tried to unravel it – is it in the right hip? Oh – it may be the left hip. Is it how my shoulders are swinging? My head isn’t screwed on right! She has explored with a lot of stuff – which is what having a Somatics practice is all about: Using your life as a laboratory or sand box to experiment and play. She walked in different ways, different directions, tested the weight on her feet, felt how different muscles tighten on each side of her hips. It’s a process that sometimes takes a long time, or not much time at all. But it is all about exploring in a curious, non-judgmental way in order to open the opportunity to change.

This has been the challenge for me in the past week – not specifically with walking, but with other habits, both muscularly and emotionally. Staying curious, experimenting, playing. Accessing and learning from Silly Walks. What if we could all think of life this way? What’s in your lab or sand box?

For this week’s class, the 3rd in the Walking with Ease series, we’ll see how the length in the waist helps to free the hips & legs for more easeful walking. We’ll bring in the shoulders to “help” the hips move more freely. We’re going to contemplate “silly walks” by applying what you do on the floor to your upright walk too.

Here is the link for this week’s class: Walking with Ease, Lesson 3 – Thursday at 12pm noon eastern time. Register here for class.

Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

Your Magical Feet!

Here’s an assignment for the week (it’s fun, don’t worry) how many different kinds of surfaces do you walk on during the week? With shoes? Without shoes? Do you ever notice how those different surfaces affect the bottoms of your feet? Our feet are AMAZING – we usually don’t give enough credit to how sensitive our feet are. We have a similar number of nerves to & from our feet that we do in our hands! Think of that! If we practiced tuning into that sensitivity, we could do so much more with our feet. Our feet are the part of us that contacts the Earth more than any other part – they really set up the rest of the body to be an upright human. Your feet hold a LOT of information for the rest of you and just taking a little time to sense into them can offer great insight on how you line everything else up. So give your feet some love this week – rub your toes in between blades of grass, gently tickle the sole of your foot on a pile of moss, sink them into some mud, wrap your toes around a rock. See what information you can glean from your magical feet!

Last week, we explored the horizontal aspect of walking. So this week we’ll play with the vertical aspect of walking. These two directions can inform your hips to move smoothly through space as you walk in gravity. Combine that with a renewed sense of your feet, and you’ve got some smoother easy walking.

Here is the link for this week’s class: Walking with Ease, Lesson 2 – tomorrow, Thursday at 12pm noon eastern time. Register here for class.
 
Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

Workshops this Fall!

We had a GREAT conversation a few days ago in Somatics & Empathy: Self-Care, Self-Regard, and How to Change the World. Thank you to everyone who participated! It was a huge topic, and this is just the beginning. I hope to step up with this growing movement of people becoming more aware of their nervous systems to incite change in the themselves and the world. I can’t wait for more J

Next month, we’ll gather again for ~

Fitting Somatics into Your Daily Life
Monday, November 16, 8-9:30 $35
Register here.

A Somatic movement practice doesn’t have to be something that you have to carve out of your busy daily schedule like a chore. You don’t always have time to roll out the yoga mat, make sure the kids and animals are out of the room, and tune everything out for an hour-long practice rolling on the floor. Somatics best serves you when you need it most – in those moments of stress and hectic-ness. So how does that work? In this 90-workshop, we’ll go over ways that you can fit in Somatic movement into your day – whether that’s sitting at a computer for hours, sitting behind the wheel of a car, or running around on your feet all day. A Somatic movement practice is just as much about mindset and daily movement as it is about making time to get on the floor to slow down those patterns.

Walking in someone else’s Walk

Runway models during NYC Fashion Week.

How do you feel when you walk? Think back to the last time you took a walk – were you rushing to go somewhere? Were you taking a slow stroll through the woods or on the beach? Getting up from the couch to grab a snack from the kitchen? Can you give your walk an adjective – like smooth, heavy, light, clunky? Walking upright and on two feet is a quintessential human movement, but sometimes the more experience we have in the world we start to feel like walking is not enjoyable or as easy as it could be.

When we first learn to walk as babies, we fall down, we get back up, then fall again. Learning to walk takes some trial and error to get just right. What happens to our perfect human walk when “life” happens? Our hips can get achy, our knees and ankles can start to creak, maybe our low back aches too when we’re upright at all. Why? Muscle habits and adaptation can make it seem like we’ve “forgotten” how to walk, making it uncomfortable and even painful.

A few days ago, I was walking at the park, and decided to put on different “walks”. I tip-toed, skipped, strutted, did a “runway walk”. With each one, I felt a little different inside – almost like a different person. I started to wonder “what if I tried walking like that person over there?”, like walking in someone else’s shoes, but walking in someone else’s WALK? What would happen if you saw someone who you thought had a great walk, and you tried to walk just like them? I’m really curious if you try that, and then go back to your own walk, does it change anything for you?

Walking with Ease, 4 week lessons start this Thursday:

For the month of October, we’re going to focus on walking, the most essential human movement. As babies, we figure out how to walk by falling down & getting back up over & over again. Somewhere along the line, we get stuck in habits that can cause us to “forget” what we learned as kids. In these weeks, we’ll break down how we walk, and work to smooth out any kinks & bumps that may be holding us back from free & easy walking. 
 
Here is the link for this week’s class: Walking with Ease, Lesson 1 – tomorrow, Thursday at 12pm noon eastern time. Register here for class.
 
Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

We’re all in this together, isn’t that nice? (for reals, not a sarcastic ‘nice’ 😄)

We are all in this together!

Something that has comforted me over the past 7 months is that we are all in this together. The whole world. Everyone. However this global pandemic has touched your life personally, every single person has been touched by it in some way. Whether you yourself or a loved one has gotten sick, or you’ve been affected financially, or simply not been able to go about your daily life as “usual”, things have changed, we have all had to adjust in some way. And that can be stressful – emotionally and physically.
 
Anxiety sits in the body in lots of different ways – you probably know where that is in your own body. Sometimes we get pain in the lower back because we are trying to stay ready to jump into action. At other times we can feel like withdrawing from the world, caving in our shoulders, unable to take a full, deep breath (and leading to more anxious feelings). The first step to getting through stress and anxiety is to recognize where it lands in the body – that gives you the power to choose a different path. Then, the fun part is to pick a new path (or stay with the same – you get the choice!) to see what comes up in a new movement pattern. The other thing about changing a movement pattern caused by stress is that it offers you more range to handle the same stress in a fuller way. The more contracted we get into a particular stress response, the less range we have to react to it in a healthy way – we have our choices taken away! WE are the ones taking away the freedom to choose how to move in the world. And WE are the ones who can gain it back.
 
Here we are now, all in this together, but in our own personal ways. I invite you to talk about & share how your own stress & anxiety shows up in your body. I also invite you to listen to someone else talk about their stress as a curious observer. We are all on this path (we always have been! But now it’s even more highlighted), why not share and explore together?

This fourth week of the first 4-weeks will be focused on Unraveling Neck & Shoulder Tension (my personal favorite!). Like many people, I hold my stress & tension in my neck. That tension leads to all sorts of fun (not so much) like headaches, migraines, pinched nerves, & herniated discs, to name a few. We will learn how to recognize the onset of neck pain, and use gentle movements to alleviate it before it can get us.

Here is the link for this week’s class: Somatics: Unraveling Neck & Shoulder Tension, Week 4 – tomorrow, Thursday at 12pm noon eastern timeRegister here for class

Or join directly here:
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 928 3054 6425
Passcode: somafull

Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

**NEW** Fall Workshops:

Somatics & Empathy: Self-Care, Self-Regard, and How to Change the World
Monday, October 5, 8-9:30 $35
Link to register here.
 This is a very important topic to me! As a whole-being-experiencing the world in life, there are so many ways for our systems to be highjacked. Input from media, weather, pressures from our jobs or family can all create that “fight/flight/freeze” reaction from the stress of it all. We cannot act from a place of reason or ease when we are highjacked, and that seems to be the way the whole world is functioning right now! When we slow down, use our “noticer brain”, and realize that it is our nervous system that is leading the way, we have the opportunity to change. A Somatic movement practice helps train us to notice those patterns so we can step back and make healthier choices for ourselves, those close to us, and the WORLD. Once you see how a strong nervous system allows more freedom and ease, you start to influence those around you by being calm. And that, my friends, is how we change the world. One nervous system at the time. So – in this workshop, we’ll do some talking about this philosophy, and put it to use in movement as well.

Fitting Somatics into Your Daily Life
Monday, November 16, 8-9:30 $35
(Link to come in a couple weeks)
 A Somatic movement practice doesn’t have to be something that you have to carve out of your busy daily schedule, like a chore. You don’t always have time to roll out the yoga mat, make sure the kids and animals are out of the room, and tune everything out for an hour-long practice rolling on the floor. Somatics best serves you when you need it most – in those moments of stress and hectic-ness. So how does that work? In this 90-workshop, we’ll go over ways that you can fit in Somatic movement into your day – whether that’s sitting at a computer for hours, sitting behind the wheel of a car, or running around on your feet all day. A Somatic movement practice is just as much about mindset and daily movement as it is about making time to get on the floor to slow down those patterns.

The “Noticer” Brain

The “noticer” brain is like the Third Eye, located right in the front of your brain.

Ever notice the voices inside your head that wonder “oh hey! I’m doing that thing again”, and then maybe some guilt or scolding “why did I do that AGAIN?!”? That is the part of your brain called the medial frontal cortex (in coordination with a couple other structures in your brain) – it’s the “noticer brain” that helps you become more aware of your habits. What’s so frickin cool about the noticer brain is that it’s the first step to CHANGE. When we put attention on our actions from an observer (or witness) perspective, our brain is able to pull that action up to the front of the brain (the frontal/executive cortex) for the possibility to create a new habits and reaction to that same stimulus. How cool is that?!
 
Witness –> Awareness –> Change!
 
In the past few months, I’ve been noticing my inner witness quite a bit. It can be frustrating at first (and for a while after that), to keep noticing that you are having the same reaction over & over to a similar situation. I can get angry at myself – “why do I keep doing that?!!” But I have to also remind myself that I am noticing that reaction faster & faster each time. Slowly, but surely, I get closer to being able to change the reaction, and respond. Sometimes the response can be the same as the reaction, but that response feels more empowered because it was a choice.
 
This same principle can be applied to movement habits & reactions, as well as emotional habits & reactions. When you feel an ache or pain, see if you can identify how you just moved. Were you walking? Standing? Sitting for a long time? Reaching up above your head? If you can’t make any connection in that moment, just the act of being curious activates the “noticer brain”, so that you can grow that awareness, and get even closer to great changes.

This second week of the first 4-weeks will be focused on Unraveling Neck & Shoulder Tension (my personal favorite!). Like many people, I hold my stress & tension in my neck. That tension leads to all sorts of fun (not so much) like headaches, migraines, pinched nerves, & herniated discs, to name a few. We will learn how to recognize the onset of neck pain, and use gentle movements to alleviate it before it can get us.

Here is the link for this week’s class: Somatics: Unraveling Neck & Shoulder Tension, Week 1– tomorrow, Thursday at 12pm noon eastern timePayment is not required to register, please consider supporting my teaching if you can at this time. Thank you!

Changing the Rules to Fit US

Blurry pic from the car window…

Two years ago, I drove my daughter to kindergarten. Nervous mother that I was, I hesitantly drove around the school circle for drop-off and saw a bunch of encouraging signs along the driveway. “You are awesome”, said one of them. I relaxed a little, took a few deep breaths, parked, and walked my tiny human into this great big school (where I was expected to just leave her?!!). She did great on that first day, and so did I (after a few tears).

The start of this school year looked a little different. Her walk to class was as far as the couch, where her iPad was propped up on the coffee table. She Zoomed into her first day of school to meet her second grade teacher and new class virtually. The first assignment was to take a video telling the class a little bit about yourself, and posting so they could see them. If you don’t know anything about my daughter – she is VERY introverted; hardly anyone has heard her say a word. She never speaks in front of anyone outside of a very small circle of people. A VIDEO? This wasn’t boding well for the start of the year. We talked about it, and decided that she would draw a picture of things she liked, and things she was nervous about for the year. Then we took a video of it in a certain order in silence, and posted it for the class. The teacher loved it! It was truly a thoughtful expression of HER, and I thought “wow, this is really going to serve her well in the future”: learning the “rules”, then finding a way to make them fit for HER.

What does this have to do with Somatics, you ask? Adaptation!

I believe more than ever, we are being challenged to uncover new ways of being in the world. The status quo and the way things “used to be” just don’t work for many of us. We’ve tried fitting into boxes for a long, long time, and I hear people say “when will we get back to ‘normal’?” Do we really want to? Was that “normal” really serving us? We have this amazing opportunity to shift, and create something truly beautiful, collaborate, and make life look more like we want it to. Many Somatics clients & students ask the same thing: “how long will it take to ‘get back to the way I was before (X) happened’?” I don’t believe we ever go back to exactly the way things were, but that could be a good thing! I mean, you can look at it either way I suppose, but it’s easier to look for the things that help us to grow and learn – and become better. One of humans’ best traits is our ability to adapt. We’ve known “the rules” for a long time now. It’s time to make new ones.

Click here for this week’s Thursday class.

Be the Nervous System you want to See in the World

C & me staring at our feet.

Greetings Beautiful Somas ~
 
These past few months have been especially trying and stressful for most of the world. Even before pandemic times, many of us lived our lives in constant stress – maybe not even realizing the degree to which we felt that stress on our systems – our internal and external systems. It is my goal as a somatic educator to help people realize they have the power to self-regulate, self-balance, and self-heal themselves. These stressful events don’t have to hold as much power over us as we may think. We each have the capacity to choose how to respond in the world – and a calm nervous system is the key. “The strongest & calmest nervous system in the room, wins”. Be the nervous system you want to see in others.
 
As a bonus, Somatic Education alleviates painful muscle patterns (that also contribute to a stressed out nervous system) as well. It’s a win-win.
 
I am going to be taking a couple of weeks off (after this one) to get into a new routine. School starts up again for the fall, and while we have opted for 100% remote learning for my daughter, it’s still a new schedule and I may be switching up class times when I return to my own online practice in September. I am also planning to add a couple of specialized workshops, including the ever-popular Somatics for Neck & Shoulders, and also collaborating with other somatic practitioners in groups to discuss somatic philosophy and how we can collectively move forward with calmer nervous systems.
 
I wish you all the best health, love, peace, and calm! I’ll see you in a couple weeks with more options for a deepening Somatics practice.

This week, we’ll be doing full body yawning in a luscious twisting movement to wring out the spine from top to bottom!

Here is the link for this week’s Somatics Restart class – tomorrow, Thursday at 12pm noon eastern time.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 920 9198 5888

Passcode: somafull

Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

Class fee is by donation. Feel free to join anytime, and if you’d like to support my teaching (THANK YOU), you can click here to do so.  

Curious if a one-with-one online session would work for you? I offer free 15 minute consults via Zoom or by phone.

Inspiration from Space(X)

At precisely 2:48 last Sunday afternoon, I was sitting in front of the television, clapping and crying with glee like a total dork when the SpaceX crew splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico. I was glued for hours – watching a ship recover the parachutes, the recovery ship hoist the capsule up on the deck, the crew purge any toxic gases from around the hatch door, and finally the two astronauts carefully exit, safe and sound. The entire thing went off exactly as they had planned. I listened to the announcer talk about how they had practiced each step of this whole event many, many times. I can’t remember exactly the words she used, but it reminded me of why we practice anything – why we practice somatics – over and over.

The astronauts, crew, and engineers all practiced in very safe, controlled environments; over the course of months, and with changing variables. They try to account for anything that could come up during the one try that really counts. And as a result, they splashed down in exactly the spot they’d planned for, at the exact time, and everyone on the team worked together with the knowledge that they’d done each step before.

Sometimes, that practice can seem boring and mindless. Our brains kind of want something to change, to give us something novel to shake things up. But that’s a part of the practice too, right? Our own inner work is slow, it’s ideally SAFE, and it’s exploratory, so that when we need to act quickly, it’s been right there with us all along. Last week, I talked about the dinosaurs that are lurking around every corner. The SpaceX landing gave me so much inspiration that we can find safety, even when there is a LOT of pressure on us. And on top of that, accomplish greatness. It is truly a practice.

In this week’s class, you’ll learn about how your back muscles help you to stand up safely. Flexible, supportive back muscles help us confidently face the world with curiosity. This class will be mostly on the belly, with a couple breaks to flip over & rest.

Here is the link for this week’s Somatics Restart class – tomorrow, Thursday at 12pm noon eastern time.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 920 9198 5888

Passcode: somafull

Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

Class fee is by donation. Feel free to join anytime, and if you’d like to support my teaching (THANK YOU), you can click here to do so.  

Curious if a one-with-one online session would work for you? I offer free 15 minute consults via Zoom or by phone.