Tada...welcome to my new website. I'm very proud of this site since I constructed it all by myself through wix.com. Well, I admit that it required several weeks of trial and error, a lot of deep breaths and a good dose of letting go of my perfectionist tendencies. I hope you are celebrating with me as I write my first blog post. Woot-woot!
So what, now what? Well, it’s been 5 months since I finished my 500 Yoga teacher training through which I was introduced to the Body-Mind Centering approach to movement and understanding our body-mind relationship and integrating that with yoga practice. The result being EMBODIED YOGA. I had a phenomenal and transformative experience during my training. I not only understand more of my body’s innate intelligence in movement and yoga, I feel stronger than I have felt in 15 years (since before the birth of my twin boys). In spite of this, I'm still struggling to put words to what I have learned and what I offer to others in my classes and private sessions. Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, founder of Body-Mind Centering just came to Pittsburgh and led a fantastic workshop. While I hoped that Bonnie would explain in words exactly what the BMC approach is, instead, she invited us to drop the weight of our bodies into the earth, visualize the location, shape and feel of our lungs and then to embody our lungs and finally to initiate movement from our lungs. My wordy brain prattled on while I explored moving from my lungs. “Am I doing this right? What does she mean by initiating movement from my lungs? I’m just gonna peak…make sure I’m doing it right…” On and on went the inner monolog. But after a while, my mind quieted down and I found myself absorbed in this yummy exploration…rolling from one side of my body to the other in what classically might be called a supine twist in yoga, except initiating movement from my lungs (upper body) rather than my lower body. I began to sense subtle shifts in my movement – the difference between initiating movement from my hand versus from my lung. I began to feel how my left lung slightly rolls around my heart. And, I noticed how this rotation flowed upwards through my head and downwards through my belly, pelvis and into the legs and knees, even down to my feet. My whole body was engaged in a luscious twist or spiral, rolling from the right and then to the left. My breath became secondary, my mind undistracted and for once, not in charge. What seemed like a few seconds passing, turned into a lovely 20-minute sensory meditation of weight, gravity, movement and breath. Bonnie, then, directed us to come to seated and share our experience with a partner. I found myself sharing, “I feel a wonderful warmth and release underneath and around my shoulder blades in my back. That tension in my neck and left shoulder feels better. I never knew my breath could be so expansive and soft at the same time.”
So, what was going on during this little exploration that released the tension from my shoulders and neck and left me feeling calm, centered and aligned? Everyone has habitual patterns of holding and moving. Practicing embodied yoga uses the tools of visualization, gravity and the earth and space, movement, breath, props, yoga asana, and touch to release those habitual holding patterns and rediscover the innate intelligence and alignment of the body. When tension, poor postural and movement patterns are held in the body over time, every body system is affected. The fascial net surrounding all our tissues (bone, tendon and ligament, muscle and organ and nerves) can become dried out and stuck...impeding clear flow through of movement from feet to head or hands and feet to center. This "stuckness" results in tension, loss of joint space, muscle tightness and weakness, organs becoming propped, collapsed or even torqued. The spine is affected, irritating our nervous system and leading to greater stress in the body. As we age poor movement patterns contribute to the development of chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, arthritis, adult scoliosis, back conditions shoulder and neck pain. We lose our mobility and our quality of life becomes diminished. Embodied movement combined with yoga re-establishes the primary relationship between our mind and our body. We hone the skill of listening to our bodies and what they teach us about how we are designed for all kinds of movement -- on the earth, seated, standing and moving our bodies in all directions. Again, the goal being of unwinding poor postural and movement patterns and increasing our functional health, vitality and movement.
One of the greatest aspects of embodied yoga is that anyone can do it. You are never too old or too young to learn to listen to the innate intelligence of your body. Everyone can benefits from this practice, whether you have chronic pain, limited mobility or you are a marathon runner, dancer or an advance yogi. I see clients for a whole range of reasons: managing stress, depression or anxiety, knee or hip pain, back pain, shoulder and neck pain, arthritis and osteo-arthritis, scoliosis and injury recovery, I see young moms, working professionals, therapists and social workers, artists, musicians, athletes and non-athletes, those who have a consistent yoga practice and those who have never done yoga before. If you are reading this post, chances are that you know me, have been given my name as a referral or are looking for help managing a chronic condition. I'd be glad to help. Contact me, let's get on the mat and begin the journey of embodied yoga through movement, breath and stillness.