Breathing Makes Change

Breathing is both involuntary and voluntarily controllable. It’s always there for us to access when we need it, and it keeps going when we don’t think about it. It’s just – always there. When we feel under stress, our breath becomes more shallow and higher in the chest. And when our breath is shallow, we can become more anxious and fearful… causing more stress… leading to more shallow breath… and on and on… The body doesn’t function as smoothly as it could when restricted by shallow breathing. Practicing voluntary control over the breath allows you the opportunity to take those pauses to just listen. And in that pause you give yourself options. Gaining more control over the muscles you have voluntary control over, you can change the way the breath functions and change how you move in the world.

What’s exciting about playing with the breath is that it’s all changeable. The more you play with breath and cross the line between voluntary and involuntary, the faster you can recover and respond to outside input that may cause unhealthy habits. If we create muscle habits to encourage healthy, adaptive breathing, we can face anything in life with expansion and fullness. No matter what it is.

The things that affect our breathing, and can cause us to breathe shallowly, are usually unavoidable facts of life. Things we don’t think about and the things we do. Our culture, the media, driving a car, interacting with other humans, bad news, good news, really anything that happens to you during the day requires us to constantly react and recover, react and recover. Breathing, being an automatic function in the body, has to happen no matter what. But we can habituate reacting and recovering, by practicing in the moments of calm.

Over the few days, see if you notice when you holding your breath, breathing shallowly, when you do certain projects at work, or when you listen to the news. OR when you see something inspiring, hear a beautiful piece of music, or smile at with a loved one – notice how your breath moves with joy, as well as irritation.

This week, we will be focusing and sending breath into the upper chest and shoulders. The neck and the shoulders must allow for deep breathing by releasing tension in order to let the lungs take in a full breath. We’ll practice releasing muscle patterns in the neck and shoulders to see how that affects deeper breathing.

Week 1, February 24th: Breathing into the low back

Week 2, March 3rd: Breathing into the chest & shoulders

Week 3, March 10th: Breathing into the pelvis

Week 4, March 17th: Breathing into the waist


Wednesdays at 9amEST on Zoom. Hope to see you there!

Register here.
(Registration closes at 9pm the night before.)

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 🙂

Hibernation Somatics: Anticipating Spring

My snowy backyard. Pretty – but I want spring!

From looking at the calendar – the Spring Equinox isn’t too far away. I’m not feeling it quite yet, but I am searching for little signs to come out of that winter hibernation. In front of my house, there’s a little bulb trying to push its way up toward sunshine. I hope it makes it! I, too, feel like I am searching for sunlight and slooooooowly starting to make my way into the greater world again. This winter has held its specific challenges – we’ve had to stay inside a lot more because of the Pandemic, so we’ve been especially isolated from each other this year. A full year of this has challenged even the most hardened introverts (I speak from the heart there!). I often turn to an image of a seed in the soil during the winter to feel into my own body, in anticipation of the spring. My own Somatics practice turns even more inward and small, I explore smaller movements, and stay mostly in the center. I visualize myself as that seed – how does it feel to get ready to grow? What part of the seed starts to move first? What’s it like to start to reach out to the sun, but also root down into the soil beneath? Seasons are cycles – and so are our own internal processes, our external processes, our connections with others, and even our connection with work, effort, & exercise. Let’s be gentle in this precious time before spring – test the waters of your own growth to the greatly anticipated sunshine to come soon.

The days are getting a little longer, and green is starting to peek out from the dirt of the Earth. We are starting to come out of our internal hibernation in anticipation of spring! We’ll be starting up our weekly Somatics classes again at a new time: Wednesday mornings at 9am EST. Here is a breakdown of what’s coming up in the next 4 weeks:

Week 1, February 24th: Breathing into the low back

Week 2, March 3rd: Breathing into the chest & shoulders

Week 3, March 10th: Breathing into the pelvis

Week 4, March 17th: Breathing into the waist

Click here to register for these Drop-in classes. Thank you!

Spotting the Differences

We all have our stories. Whether they are true or not, we have stories that we tell ourselves to make sense of the world. When things are uncomfortable – like we get pain in our bodies or our hearts – sometimes those stories (whether true or not…) may not serve us in the healthiest and most open ways. Pain can create disconnection with ourselves and others, we can shut down, close out the world, withdrawing into our own story of how we got here in the first place. And anything that threatens that story can be rejected outright, to preserve what we know, even if what we know is painful.

Differentiation can be a hard thing to do, but simple. Just noticing something that you’re not used to changes perspective, and may actually lead you to more easeful ways to move through your life. Remember those “spot the difference” pictures in the backs of some kids magazines? Two pictures look identical at first, but you look a little closer, and start to see differences. When I was a kid, it got so excited to find those differences! Something new & fresh! (TBH, I still get excited) The first step in changing habits & stories that no longer serve us is to notice what’s there, without judgement, guilt, or another story to pile on top of it. From there, we can start to notice what’s a little bit different. Nothing too drastic – we still maintain the story – but we can start to shift that story little by little by spotting the differences. The brain loves habits, but the brain also loves novelty to learn new habits. Novelty creates new neural pathways in the brain, helping you learn new actions, clearing the way for new connections inside the body, and out.

Somatics is a great way to gently and safely find ways out of pain by taking the time to get to know your habits and body stories. Creating a safe space at first to allow awareness, then you can trust yourself to move into other new, fresh place for change. Slow movement makes for big changes! Try this free soma scan to get a sense of how to start noticing “what is” in your body, and then explore any little differences that you might not expect to be there. See what happens from the new connections.

Supporting Each Other in Changing Habits

A little walk through the woods to show that your brain can create new pathways, even if it’s scary & new.

Happy New Year, Lovely Somas!

2021 represents a symbolic fresh new start to release patterns from the past, and grow into a better and hopeful future. We have the power within us to bring great change to our bodies, our minds, and the world around us. You may have developed some not-so-healthy habits in the past year that may be great for short-term self-care, but maybe not so great for long term (I know I have. ‘Hello lots of bread & red wine’) So how do we make new, healthier habits? Basically, the same way you created the ones that no longer serve you.

Your brain loves patterns. In my latest video, I talk about how brain patterns are like paths in the woods. Even though it may be scary, we have the power to create new paths for ourselves. Let’s work together to support this in each other in the coming year – creating new paths for ourselves, and the world.

I am suspending my Thursday classes for a bit – our remote school schedule has shifted into that Thursday time. I am still seeing students online for private sessions, and working to expand my online class library! Reach out to me if you have any questions about, well, anything!

All the best in good health, and well-being,

Carrie

Class Downloads

Check out a free soma scan, seated movement routine, and more here.

Private Sessions

Schedule a private session here. Private sessions are a great way to identify those spots that cause a reaction, but could be an empowered response. We’ll work together to find movements that can help relieve pain, create more ease, and a routine that fits into your daily life.
 
Curious if a one-with-one online session would work for you? I offer free 15 minute consults via Zoom or by phone.

Have you Pandiculated Today?

Let’s go back to some Somatics basics: Pandiculation! The simplest explanation of pandiculation is a “yawn-like stretch”. It’s that luscious reach & yawn you see cats & dogs do when they get up from a nap (like my kitty Chloe is doing in that pic). Human babies do it a lot. My eight year-old daughter still does it a lot, but not as much as when she was a baby. And adult humans tend not to do it much at all. It’s a basic animal reflex – anything with a nervous system pandiculates.
 
What purpose does this reflex serve?
Pandiculation helps to reset the central nervous system’s control over our voluntary muscle system. We develop muscle patterns by just living life, and sometimes those patterns can become painful or constrictive. This reflex helps to interrupt automatic patterns, offering more length & fuller awareness to otherwise “stuck” patterns. Try it now – yawn, reach your arms up over head in that “yawn-like, cat waking up from a nap” sort of way. What happens? You probably tightened in your arms, pulling them into your body, and then slowly lengthened them out – it’s like a contraction that you slowly lengthen out fully. That process goes through a full contraction to a full release of the muscles, which helps the brain to sense the full range of that muscle pattern. Doesn’t it feel good?! (It also may feel weird if you don’t tend to do it that often, and that’s okay too. Just be careful if you think you’re going to get a Charlie Horse & back off from any intense contraction)
 
Babies and animals tend to explore their bodies & worlds a little more than grown-up humans. As we grow up, we tend to sit more, we become distracted and prioritize other things, not taking time for self-care of our bodies, which as we all know, can lead to all sorts of trouble down the line. Pandiculation is one self-care tool we have reflexively. If we remember to access it, pandiculation can prevent a lot of habitual muscle pain as we gain more experience in the world (aka “age”). Somatics utilizes this reflex a lot in practice – practitioners use “assisted pandiculations” in in-person private sessions, and we also encourage clients & students to learn to utilize it themselves in an at-home practice. I always tell people, “If you do nothing else, remember to pandiculate first thing every morning, and throughout your day. It makes all the difference”. Making time in your day for a Somatics movement practice is great, but if nothing else – pandiculate often!

Downloadable Audio Classes

There is a FREE soma scan, along with other downloadable audio classes available here. I will be updating this site with new downloads all the time. Let me know if you have a request, I may have it in the library already.

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 🙂