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.

Gratitude in the Body

Greetings Dear Somas, I hope you had a week full of love and yumminess. I have been counting my blessings and trying to bring more (than usual!) gratefulness into my heart in the past week. Thank you to each of you for showing your support and practicing in your own ways. I’ve been trying to notice how the feeling of gratitude sits in my body – I feel a warmth in my heart, and a lift in my shoulder blades. Sometimes little excited butterflies in my belly too. How does gratitude sit in your body? I’d love to hear from you, and think about how we can cultivate this feeling more often!

I have created a new video with the message of how your Somatics practice can help to balance your nervous system, spreading calm and more thoughtful responses to the world:

Downloadable Audio Classes

There is a FREE soma scan, along with other downloadable audio classes available here.

Thursday Classes

For December, our Thursday classes will be all about resetting the nervous system through Hanna’s Cat Stretch. Here’s a breakdown of the three weeks of December:

Week 1, December 3rd: Releasing the Lower Back

Week 2, December 10th: Releasing Waist Muscles

Week 3, December 17th: Twisting while Pandiculating

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

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.

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 🙂

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.