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.

Jump Scare by a T-Rex

C & I playing with dinosaurs

For the past few days (weeks? I can’t tell anymore), I’ve had this feeling that something is about to jump out and take me by surprise. I don’t know when it’s coming, but I feel it. It keeps my nervous system on edge, and it’s generally very, very uncomfortable. Is this a common sentiment right now? Is it common in other, non-pandemic times? I rationalize with myself that it’s just my primal brain, always searching for danger – for that tiger or snake that’s going to pounce out and kill me. But there’s no tiger or snake (or T-rex). Forty thousand years ago, this was a useful warning system. Even 200 years ago it was useful. But now, in our highly technologically convenient age, the “T-rexes” are more about emotions. It’s the weight of a job you don’t like, the stress of balancing family & work, or relationship stresses – all of which we are dealing with right now as usual, in addition to, y’know, the uncertainty of businesses or schools opening, losing a job, getting sick, staying at home, political turmoil, and racial injustices. Our current uncertainty IS our modern day T-rex – when is something going to “get us”? That long-term emotional stress from a metaphorical danger can cause all sorts of issues. If we were truly running from a big animal about to eat us, once we got away, our nervous system could chill out a little in safety. But nowadays, we hold onto that stuff – and it’s like we’re constantly running.

So although our own evolution hasn’t really caught up to the fact that we don’t have large animals chasing after us anymore, we have the self-awareness to help alleviate, reverse, and grow from these unsettling & uncertain things happening around us. Shifting attention inward to the breath, to a simple movement in a toe, to how the air feels on the skin – all helps to chill out that primal “ACKKK! SOMETHING’S GOING TO EAT ME!” feeling. I deal with it everyday too – just waiting for that jump scare, and taking a deep breath.

This week, we’re going to focus on the neck and jaw – two hotspots of unconscious tension. We’ll build on the basics to directly address the small muscles of the neck, and how those are so closely affected by tension in the entire spine.

Thursday, 12:00pm Eastern
Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 981 4575 4454
Password: somafull

Classes run from 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 do so here.

Altering Perspective, on purpose

Ahhhh. 48 hours without my phone (mostly, I did cheat a little bit). Camping by a river, looking up at the sky from my hammock, listening to the water rush by – all very good for my nervous system.

How easy is it for us to get caught up in news cycles and trapped “scrolling” these days? More than usual, yeah? Most of you who are experienced at some sort of mindfulness/Somatics practice have the tools to keep yourself from getting trapped in these cycles and can return to ground, but I’m guessing it can still be a HUGE challenge, even with experience. When you find yourself spiraling, or feeling trapped, ungrounded – do you feel disconnected too? Does it feel like even taking a deep breath can be challenging to pull yourself out of that disconnected-ness or ungrounded-ness?  

I am curious to explore what happens when we go the other way – that is, instead of only utilizing tools when we feel challenged or overwhelmed, what if we challenge ourselves when we feel safe, grounded, and connected? Would that be a practice that could help calm us when we need it the most? Purposefully going from one end of the spectrum to the other, in a controlled way, may help us have more control when we feel most out of control.

This week, I’d like to explore just that. In our Thursday class, we’ll dive into the usual breath and movement from the center of the body, focusing inward, and then see what happens when we look out from that internal focus. We will also utilize the movements of the eyes to shift perception and perspective.

Click here to join this week’s Somatics Restart class on Thursday.

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

Doom, Gloom, and Zoom

I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I liked the composition. Discovered at Fletcher Park, NC.

Get outside
Practice gratitude
~~    Do less & unplug    ~~
Move your body, breathe
Seek support when you need it

After a couple of weeks of spiraling into news cycles, I am cutting off all technology to go into the woods for a few days on a camping trip this week. I figure it’s a fairly low-risk activity – basically packing up a much smaller version of my house & wares, to sleep in the woods next to a river. It’s time to give my brain another focus other than doom, gloom, and Zoom.

How are you doing? A friend of mine shared with me today that they’ve never been the anxious-type, but this has thrown them into regular panic attacks and extreme anxiety. They said “no matter what kind of day I have – good or bad – I am panicky at bed time”. We need other things to draw our attention, other than the constantly changing news stories. Life is extraordinarily stressful for most of us these days; with so many unknowns for our futures. Basic decisions we used to take for granted can take on a life or death consideration. It’s more important that we allow ourselves time to “put our masks on first” (pardon that pun). We become useless to loved ones and our own support networks when we don’t take care of ourselves first. And make no mistake, you are needed. Whatever self-care works for you, boost it up if you can. For me, movement and body awareness ground me, shifting my nervous system so that I can stay informed watching the news, while not getting sucked down into a vortex (or at least keeps me from going over the edge). What’s your outlet? How do you ground yourself, find support, and connect?

There will be no Thursday class this week, but we will return next week with something great. Have a great, safe, healthy week!

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

Curiosity in Change – Expressing Ourselves through the Mask

Can you tell I’m smiling?

Call me kooky, but I have been enjoying wearing a mask when out in public (which is good, since it is mandated in many municipalities). Sure, at first I felt freaked out & had to get used to breathing normally, plus my sunglasses would get fogged up – but then it offered me some new tools in communication that I had to work out. I’m a pretty soft-spoken person, so figuring out how to speak up through a mask was a challenge. I also realized I had to rely on eye contact and expressiveness more than a smile with my mouth. I started to really enjoy the exploration of it! I’ve started to pay more attention to how tension in my forehead and cheeks affect my neck and shoulders. It also helps me to become more aware of the space I take up in the world, and how that my space interacts with others’ spaces going through similar adjustments.  Life is constantly changing, and even though our brains are always searching for balance and stability, we also search for novel experiences with curiosity. There’s a challenge in itself – how do we maintain balance & stability while also remaining open to curiosity in the changes?

This week, we’ll be exploring how the movement of the eyes affects the rest of the body – especially the head, neck, and shoulders. You can get a jump on class by moving your eyes slowly to the left and your head to the right – then slowly going the other way. It’s a weird feeling!

Click here to join this week’s Somatics Restart class on Thursday.

Tat Tvam Asi – You Are That

One of my favorite bumper stickers

One of my favorite phrases is “Tat Tvam Asi”, or Thus thou art. A more common English way of saying this is “There but by the grace of god, go I”. I love this phrase so much, because it reminds me that I could be anyone. I could have been born into any circumstance, with different parents, in a different part of the world, with a different skin color, or a different economic place. This phrase has helped me to be less judgmental, and aided me when I completely and utterly cannot for the life of me figure out a viewpoint that I don’t agree with. “That could be me”, I say to myself. And at the very least, it helps me not be so shut off from hearing another point of view.

As a Somatics practitioner, I was trained to try to see things from the perspective of my students, not just from the outside. It helps to be able work with someone as a whole soma (body/mind/beyond) and consider what it’s like to walk in their shoes, rather than see them in one dimension. It’s a helpful practice, not just in my work, but in my daily life. These days, there are plenty of people to disagree with and polarize. Repeating “Tat Tvam Asi” could help bring more compassion and understanding to this current divisiveness we are experiencing right now.