It all starts with a Dream…

This Sandburg quote reminds me of a tool we use in Somatics called motor planning. A dream is a plan that we imagine to be true, before it’s actually here. When any movement is too difficult, painful, or feels blocked, just thinking about how you would move in that way activates those neurons in your brain, and starts the movement even before anything happens in the muscles. I think that is SO COOL!!! If you feel like your shoulder is stuck, and you’re unable to raise your arm above your head, just focusing on the movement – planning it out, starts to allow those connections to be made so that you can accomplish it down the road. Overcoming discomfort, pain, and tightness in the body can be very frustrating, and can hold us back from making the improvements we know are possible. It’s easy to think we need to push through pain or force a body part to be more flexible, when the most effective and direct way to get what we want is the most gentle one. Taking that pause to make a plan brings so much more awareness and opens us up to the beautiful possibility of change.
 
What other things can we dream up in our lives? How can we dream of a better world for not only our muscles & body parts, but for every aspect of life? Of our own lives, and the entire world?

Audio Downloads!! (Yay! :-D)
Storefront here

Take a Somatics class anytime. I am working to add and grow this library of classes and series and make them accessible to everyone. Try out a free Soma Scan download for a nice little break. Check out these class series: Unraveling Neck & Shoulder Tension and Walking with Ease. There’s also a relaxing Seated Somatic Exploration class for a very discounted price!

Thursday’s Class this week:

We are continuing to focus on the Lower Back and Breath in our Thursday class. The muscles of the lower back hold us upright in gravity and helps to hold all our important organs of the belly. Tomorrow, we will explore some really subtle and tiny movements of the arch in the lower back.

Here is the link for this week’s class: 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 🙂

How Do You Know to Let Go?

TransiTION! (to the tune sung by Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof) There’s a lot going on now, right?! The transition to a new season, upcoming holidays, transition to a new president in the US – many of us have strong feelings about all of these things that can cause conflict with others, conflict in ourselves, resistance, and tension in the body. Life is all about transitions and adaptations – if we aren’t open to adapting, we find ourselves held back. And that causes more tension and potential pain & inflexibility in the body (and heart). Sometimes we don’t even know that we’re holding onto something and not adapting. That’s what sensory/motor amnesia is – a kind of void in awareness of where you’re held back. So how do you “see” better in order to gain awareness, and then use that awareness to make a choice of how to move forward? Well, discomfort can be a good sign that something needs to change. Whether that’s muscular or emotional discomfort, it’s your own body’s alarm system to alert you that something needs to change. Can you look at your own discomforts with curiosity, just like leaves falling off the trees ? Think of them as just passing by, something you don’t need, just falling away? It’s so hard to let go of our discomforts sometimes – we can get pretty attached to them! Discomforts can be a comfort, especially when we don’t know what could be on the other side of letting them go. Can you find some curiosity in imagining what would happen if you could let them go?

For the rest of November and December, classes will focus on the lower back and how to release more of the center. Because I want to bring more focus to the nervous system and how a Somatics practice can help to bring more balance and calm to the nervous system (for greater world change!), classes will include extended scans with the breath and finding safety in the edges of the body. This safe space you find within your own boundaries goes with you everywhere, you can access it anytime you feel pushed out of those boundaries. Register here for this week’s class.

ALSO! I have audio recordings available for sale! HOORAY! I’m still working on formatting and cleaning things up, but they are up & running and ready for downloads! I have one class that is available for just $3 – it is a great seated exploration of the center, finding the most efficient place for YOU in the moment to be upright.

Here’s the link for more information on class downloads.  

Taking Back Control of Your Nervous System

“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

My Election Day emotional management strategy.

The day after Election Day in the US, and I want to be positive. But sometimes my own nervous system highjacks me and I start to feel hopeless and scared. I am so ready for this election to be over. It seems to me that every one of us in the entire United States has had their nervous systems highjacked. It’s hard to act out of love and empathy when you feel like your life is being threatened. As a result of this fear, we make collectively bad decisions. It’s exhausting to have your nervous system on high alert – we’re always anticipating that metaphorical tiger to jump out at us. That exhaustion leads to even more stress, pain, and more highjacking. WE have the power to take back our nervous systems and act out of love, empathy, and INCLUSION. A highjacked nervous system DIVIDES and separates us from connection with each other. Can we please please please rise above, take a pause, and respond to each other with calm? We have a lot of healing to do, y’all. Let’s buckle up, and help others buckle up too. We can do this together – and only together.

I know I said we were going to do a Lower Back series starting in November, but I’m shifting that to even pre-basic Somatic movement. It will still help with lower back issues, however for November we’re going to be focusing on the nervous system, and how to reach a safe space that we can always return to when we feel like we’re tipping over into highjacked/exhausted/overwhelm brain.

Register here for Thursday’s class.

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!