Thursday, February 26, 2015

Do you believe in the the Myth of Aging?

Do you have ongoing issues with your shoulders, back, hips, feet, knees that you, or maybe even your doctor attributes to "well, you are getting older..."?  then I'd like you to flip that belief on it's head and consider this:

Aging is NOT the cause of your pain.
Your brain and body are just stuck in faulty patterns. 

What most people believe to be the inevitable part of aging--losing our natural mobility and becoming disabled--Thomas Hanna, called the Myth of Aging. Check out his book, Somatics to read more. It's facscinating! 
Around the world there are cultures where people continue to move well throughout their lives. Meanwhile many of us in the first-world are being beaten down by stress--anxiety, accidents, repetitive actions, surgeries, etc --that takes a toll on our bodies and plays a roll in whether we age well and can continue to enjoy a good quality of life, or not. Our bodies respond to stress with natural reflex patterns, but if we get stuck in these patterns our bodies can develop pain and dysfunction.

So what can you do to age well and feel better in your body?
Learn Hanna Somatics!

With Hanna Somatics you use your brain to neurologically "reprogram" your muscles so they can relax to their natural resting length. Your brain also regains better sensation and control of your muscles, so you can more with more ease and grace. fluid, an ultimately less pain.

Hanna Somatics is is amazing stuff! Everyday I work with people who are rediscovering their bodies, their muscles, how they react to voluntary movements.  They realize that no matter how much treatment they get or medications they take, that they truly do hold the key to lasting change. By using their brains and sensing what's happening with their muscles they can reprogram their nervous system to reset the length of their muscles. It's just that simple!

Just that simple, but it takes practice and awareness. To learn about Hanna Somatics, I strongly suggest you read Hanna's book, Martha Peterson's book, Move Without Pain, and find a Hanna Somatics Exercise Coach or Hanna (Clinical) Somatic Educator. 

I'm a Somatics Exercise Coach, and it the process of getting my Hanna Somatics Educator certification. I teach somatic exercises to classes and individuals. 

Join me for The Myth of Aging series 

Over the eight weeks of classes you'll learn:
  • what the natural reflexes to stress are, which ones you may be stuck in, and how it can result back, shoulder, hip, plus other muscle and joint pain
  • what Sensory Motor Amnesia is, how it the most common cause of chronic muscle pain, and to undo it
  • why stretching (or massage or adjustments, etc) doesn't work for long term relief and what does. Hint, it's called pandiculation...
  • easy somatic exercise routines you can do to rid your body of muscle pain and keep you active so you can maintain your quality of life
Here's what we'll be focusing on each week.
week 1: release the muscles of the back of your body
week 2: release the muscles of the front of your body
week 3: learn how to release and lengthen your waist muscles
week 4: learn how to increase the mobility involved rotating your torso
week 5: learn how to increase the mobility of your hip muscles
week 6: rid yourself of neck and shoulder muscle tension
week 7: expand your breathing
week 8: put it all together for effortless walking

I'll be starting these 8-week series of classes on 
Wednesdays at 5:45pm, starts March 4th
Tuesdays at 9:45am starts March 10th

You can view the calendar here. You can sign up for all of them for the most benefit or pick and choose. Or email me with questions. I'm thrilled to share this with you. Together we can start turning back time, and proving that aging does not equal pain and dysfunction!

Friday, February 20, 2015

It's Official! I've been accepted to the Novato Institute of Somatic Research and Training!

Last year marked my initial Somatic Exercise Coach (SEC) certification with Martha Peterson of Essential Somatics. I was so impressed by the results somatic exercises has on one's posture, alignment and pain I just had to delve much deeper. I had a hard time deciding on which school to attend, but am excited with my choice and acceptance into the Novato Institute of Somatic Research and Training (Thomas Hanna's original school) for my Hanna Somatic Educator (HSE) certification.

This is why I love what I do! This is a "before and after" of one of my lovely clients.
She has had multiple traumas to her body, and as a result literally couldn't stand up straight.

photo 1- before any Hanna Somatics exercises
photo 2- after her first 1-hour Hanna Somatics session
She has a way to go but is she says she's loving the results, feels like walking is easier too.

Confused about what a SEC does versus a HSE? As a SEC I teach people how to do somatic exercises to help them rid their bodies of faulty patterns that cause pain and/or effect how they walk and function. A Hanna Somatic Educator goes deeper. An HSE does hands on treatments, that are generally quicker to provide results*. An HSE will also share exercises the student/client can do on his own to enhance/speed up/maintain progress.

There aren't a lot of Hanna Somatic Educators out there. Yet. This method is becoming more widely known. Searching online you'll find many variations of somatic educators. To be called a Hanna Somatic Educator, you must be a graduate of the original school, though there are Educators that use Hanna as part of their titles or may call themselves Clinical Somatic Educators. There are only three other Somatic Education schools in the US that teach as true to the original methods of Thomas Hanna.

I'll be starting my training in June 2015. Here's what I'll be learning over the next 3 years.

Semester One focuses on:
  • somatic functional problems of the trunk and vertebral column
  • assessment techniques to recognize common postural disorders: Landau (or green light) Reflex, Startle (or red light )Reflex, and Trauma Reflex
  • sensory motor amnesia
  • kinesiology
  • techniques to eliminate fundamental disorders such as chronic back and neck pain, headaches, sciatica, scoliosis, etc. 
Semester Two focuses on:
  • expanded study of the trunk and spine plus functional problems of the shoulder joints, arms, hip joints and legs. 
  • procedures for eliminating 
    • carpal tunnel syndrome
    • tendinitis
    • frozen shoulders
    • chronic hip and knee pain
    • pronated or supinated feet
  • and my favorite! neurophysiology
Semester Three focuses on:
  • expanded the clinical skills 
  • expanded the understanding of neurophysiology
  • ability to help clients with walking/gait, balance, and other more complicated conditions
* Thomas Hanna felt that most people would be "fixed" i.e. relieved of their chronic pain with three hands-on sessions and daily homework exercises done between sessions. Since there aren't a lot of Hanna Somatic Educators in the world, one can do the "homework" exercises on their own, though it can take about 8 or even more weeks of daily practice of the appropriate exercises for one's particular habitual faulty patterns. You can find basic exercises in Thomas Hanna's book, Somatics, and Martha Peterson's Move Without Pain. I highly recommend getting them both if you can't find a Somatic Exercise Coach or Hanna Somatics Educator in your area.

Cheryl Ramette at Pacific Northwest Pilates and I are the only SECs in Oregon. After my HSE training I'll be the only Hanna Somatics Educator in Portland and second in the Oregon behind Victor Novick in Southern Oregon. 

Pretty exciting! 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Recipe: Gluten Free PB + PB Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm not gluten free, but a lot of my friends are so I try to create things they can eat when we gather. Since, I've been cooking up a lot of dry beans lately--black beans, pinto, navy, garbanzo-- and I made black bean brownies in the past and wondered if I could make cookies with beans. Thanks to the intertubes I found out that people have been baking with chick peas. Bob's Red Mill has gluten free baking mixes, but I'm not jazzed about garbanzo flour, which is a key ingredient in many GF mixes...hmmm... I wondered if pinto beans would be a good alternative. So what's the best way to find out? Make some and taste 'em! It's always good to have an extra taster on hand, so my husband was happy to help out. 

The verdict? Not the same texture as a regular cookie, but really nummy! I used my food processor to make these, but a standing mixer would work, but a hand mixer might be challenged. I wouldn't attempt this in a blender, unless you have one of those uber fancy, super powerful ones.

Pinto Bean, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Cookies

1.5 cups pinto beans, rinsed and drained well
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup honey (or sweetener of your choice)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt, optional. (if you have salt free beans you might want to add a pinch of salt, otherwise maybe not)
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F / 175°C. 
  • Combine all the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. At this point C. thought the dough tasted like the filling in bean paste sticky buns at our local dim sum spot, which he thought was pretty awesome. Me? Meh.
  • Once that's all blended, add the chocolate chips and stir or give your food processor a pulse or two.
  • The dough is thick and sticky, so you'll want to wet your hands with water to shape the dough into about 1" balls, then flatten in your hands a bit. Place on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake for about 10 minutes. These cookies don't brown up like regular cookies so don't based their doneness by appearance. Remove them from the oven and at this point they're the epitome of chewy, gooey goodness!
  • Let them cool and then you can store them in the fridge or at room temp in a closed container.

They turned out really tasty! I added some flax seed meal to the second half of the dough and that changed the texture a bit. I think I'll play around with this recipe a bit and see if I can make them into some sort of bar, with more something in them... shredded coconut? nut meal? oats? Maybe some protein powder? (I just checked this book out from the library that's got me thinking about cooking with protein powder....) Not sure yet. In the mean time, we'll enjoy what we have!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

New Recipe! Mu Shu Tempeh

When I get hungry, and a flavor pops into my head--or is it in my belly?--of what I want to eat, I look in my pantry and fridge, then I wing it.

The other day I was craving hoisin sauce. Yes, I have weird cravings. No pork on hand, so I thought I'd make some mu shu tempeh wraps. 

ALERT! Before you go any further, please know I don't follow recipes, nor do I pay attention to exact measurements. I whip up meals pretty quick. If something I cook up turns out nummy and I think I gotta share this, I then scramble to remember what I did... So feel free to take this recipe and use your best judgment and preferences to make it your own.

Mu Shu Tempeh Wraps

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil or sesame or what ever you like
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped
1 big carrot, grated
2-3 cups of cabbage, chopped (I used some already-shredded cole slaw mix 
1 block of tempeh, crumbled
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed,  or garlic powder
soy sauce (I love my mushroom soy sauce! If you don't do wheat, then you know there's always Bragg's or tamari)
black pepper (some white would be nice, but I didn't have any)
washed and dried lettuce leaves of your choice, or you could use rice paper wraps or I've also used sprouted grain tortillas
hoisin sauce (this brand is my favorite and you can get it at your local asian market.)
chopped green onions, optional
  1. start with the onion and celery and sauté to soften a bit
  2. add the carrots, cabbage and tempeh and pressed garlic and sauté to wilt the cabbage ( I added a bit of water to steam it a bit)
  3.  add your soy sauce, black (or white) pepper, and garlic powder (if you're using it), to taste
  4. cool it a bit, then wrap it in lettuce leaves and top with some hoisin sauce and green onions. Yumm!
If you have food sensitivities by all means, make changes. Enjoy!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cross training for somatics

When it comes to different fitness programs, I used to think I was a Jill-of-all-Trades-a-Mistress-of-None, but now I know that the more I learn about movement, from multiple disciplines the better teacher I am. Plus we all know that doing the same routine day in and day out, year after year sets us up for plateaus, back sliding on our progress, risk of repetitive-stress injuries, and just plan boredom.

I may be all about somatics these days, but I know we need more movement than just slowly rolling around on the floor! :-) So when one of my students asked me what should she be doing in addition to her somatics practice, I thought I'd share some thoughts.

Think of Somatics as Movement 101. 
Most of us are not functioning well, so by retraining our brains to let go of chronic tension in our muscles with somatic exercises, we make everything else we do so much easier and enjoyable. Really! I was so messed up after my accident it got to where walking--one of my favorite things to do--just felt hard. Not heart rate wise, but physically I was not moving fluidly or comfortably. Now I just want to walk all the time!

Move it or lose it.
Once you are moving with better functionality, I encourage you to explore movement that get our bodies moving in multiple planes. Here are a few I came up with, but feel free to share yours too!

Hula hooping: a full-body integrated movement.
  • hula hooping
  • dancing
  • nordic walking
  • cross country skiing
  • roller blading/skating
  • hiking
  • rock climbing
  • crawling and rolling
  • skipping
  • rotational and contralateral exercises as well as exercises that move your spine in and out of flexion and extension, such as yoga or pilates, but be sure to get plenty of extension. Our world puts our bodies into flexion plenty already. 
  • tai chi and qigong
  • martial arts
  • playing with your kids, and I mean really playing with them. Play Follow the Leader and let them lead you!
  • imitate your cat or dog. They pandiculate every day, and so do babies and small children. Let them teach you how!

Go for a somatically-aware walk.
One of the first things I do when I start a class is have everyone walk around the room. I have them explore how their hips, waists, shoulders move, or don't move, as the case may be. Does one arm swing more than the other? Do they hear their feet hit the floor loudly or softly? Do they reach with their feet to pull them forward, or do they push off their feet behind them to propel them forward? Somatics encourages us to feel every move we make as an extension from the torso, but our culture has turned us into almost robotic walkers. We don't move our torsos much to move, resulting in awkward gaits and sore feet and knees. 

Check out how these women can dance with baskets on their heads. They have to move their bodies to balance the weight. If they were were rigid in their torso they'd lose those baskets in a second! Or watch how this woman balances a jug of water on her head...and what the spine looks like of the one who carries it under her arm. Yes, it may be a hardship to haul the water every day for these women, but their bodies are healthier than most westerners because they integrate their whole bodies in movement... Another student just today mentioned how women in South American cultures swing their hips and move much more fluidly. Yep! That's a good thing. In my teacher training someone said you need to channel your inner hooker. :-) 

... Walking with somatic awareness could be a whole post in itself. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Practically passive ways to improve your health

It's that time of year again. When half the planet declares their new year's resolutions, the other half says, "Meh, I never follow through so why bother."

For each camp here are a few ways to healthy up your life without really trying. So easy to slip into your day...all you have to do is think about it then take action. :-)

I love my Altras! The soles aren't really this thick. 
Get some new shoes. There are shoes galore, but most alter your foot's natural shape and how your feet should interact with the ground, which effects your gait, which effects your hips, back, spine, etc. Personally I love my Altras. They are a zero drop shoe, meaning there is no heel lift, has a flat sole and no toe spring (the part of the shoe that turns up at the toes) plus they're wide at the toe box, instead of tapering to a point. (No wonder everyone's feet are messed up!) These aren't a barefoot/minimal shoe, which most people can't switch to without a lot of practice, if ever. Your local running shoe store should have some options to explore. I got my first pair at Fit Right NW.

Reach high. This tip is from Katy Bowman, one of my favorite biomechanists around. Every time you walk through a doorway, reach up and hook your finger tips over the door frame, and then with most of your weight on your legs and feet let your body weight "hang" towards the floor.  Don't feel strong enough?  Just try to extend your arms up and then step forward a bit so your chest is between arms. Door too tall? Take your hands to the sides of the frame and do the step through option. If you did this every time you walked throw a door way you'd improve your should mobility and posture.

Get a massage everyday!
Have a ball! Tennis, pinky, super, soccer, dodge, pilates, cricket, soccer balls, balls from the dollar shop, balls from your pet store, the variety of density, size, texture is practically endless. Tie two of them in a sock and roll your back against them on a wall or on the floor for a great back massage. You can roll them under your feet at your next boring work meeting. Roll a smaller ball between your hands. Even a rolling pin can iron out some kinks. Just remember, less is more. Too much pressure and your muscles can actually tighten up, rather than release. Check out Jill Miller's fountain-of-knowledge book, The Roll Model for more techniques to keep your body supple and healthy. Personally I like Jill's book much more than Sue Hitzmann's better-known Melt Method.

Lift your bootie. Your butt muscles are designed to help you walk, run, climb hills, and stand tall. I find people are either butt tuckers (pelvic tilters), or don't use their butts much at all, instead use their quads and hip flexors more to pull them along as they move, than get their butts to push them forward. So this exercise helps to wake up those butt muscles! Stand with your feet wide enough that you feel a bit of a stretch in your inner thighs, feet and toes pointing forward. You may have to actually place your hands on each gluteal (butt cheek) to get this right. Now, engage your butt muscles so your feel your cheeks engage and slightly rise upwards. Remember this is not about tucking your tailbone under, or just engaging the deeper pelvic muscles around your anus. Do about 20 of them, take a break and then do another 2 sets. You'll be amazed at what this does for your rump and hips. Granted this might look a bit odd depending on where you do it, but I bet you can find time while brushing your teeth, standing around the dog park, or doing dishes.

Somatics changes everything! OK, somatic exploration will take some time to incorporate into your day, but everyone who tries some of the exercises, loves them and actually finds the time to do a little every day. check out these simple, safe somatic exercises from a previous post. And just how do they change everything? They help aleviate pain, faulty movement patterns. Help you sleep better. Put you in charge of your health. They calm the brain, which in turn can effect your endocrine system. The list goes on...

At this time of year people think big, grand plans to lose weight, or get in better shape, so those posts are a dime a dozen. These tips on the other hand will help you function better so you actually can tackle those bigger, grander plans without injury, which will set you back... and end up having to start over again next January.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Somatics Class at TaborSpace Coffeehouse

I may be a good trainer, but my introverted self kind of sucks at marketing. :-) So, I hope you'll share this with anyone and everyone! I'm starting a somatics class at TaborSpace Coffee house on SE Belmont starting January 8 2015.

You can register for classes online and use your regular ol' punchcard too.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Somatics Sampling for the Solstice...and anytime of year!

Image a la Magickal Graphics
Happy Solstice, everyone! 

In honor of the longest day of the year, I thought this would be a nice way to enjoy the season in a relaxing, grounding way vs the frenzy so many of us work ourselves up into. Plus it's a little gift for everyone in my classes who's been asking for notes so they can practice at home...please tell me you do! :-)

You may look at the notes below and think, holy gawd, that's a lot to do. Trust me, once you have read through them and practiced a bit, you'll move through this routine in a short, smooth 15 minutes.

Hanna Somatics is a method of gentle movements that help your brain "reboot" it's connection with your muscles. Thomas Hanna called this disconnect, Sensory Motor Amnesia. Your brain is no longer aware that you have chronic muscle tension, which can pull your bones out alignment, create poor posture, resulting in a host of ailments--arthritis, frozen shoulder, back pain, even endocrine imbalances, and more. So, see, you really should give this a shot.

Let's get started.

start by lying on your back, with your legs lengthened out and your arms on the floor at about a 45* angle away from your body. Sense what your back, legs, feet, arms and head or doing. How do they contact the floor? Are things symmetrical and evenly weighted, or is maybe a hip hiked towards your waist, or a shoulder blade pressing int the floor more. Are your feet evenly flopped out to the sides or not so much. Just sense what your body has to tell you. As you move through the following exercises, you can come back to this scan and see if things change and how. Definitely do this at the end of the whole routine. 

PREP: lie your your back, knees bent with your feet on the floor, in line with your hips. 
DO: inhale and arch back, tipping the pelvis towards your feet, 
exhale and let your back and abdomen relax as your lower back returns to neutral. 
SENSE: Feel the shoulders and hips press into the floor as you arch, how the back relaxes as you come back to neutral. Can you sense you are lengthening the front of your body and simultaneously shortening the back, as you arch?
FINER POINTS: though this is called arch and flatten, avoid forcing your low back to the floor. You are aiming to arch the back with the inhale, but let the back and abdomen relax back to a neutral (natural curve) of the low back as you gently exhale.

PREP: Lying on your front, turn your head to the right and rest your left cheek on the back of your right hand. If this is uncortable, move your hand out from under your cheek and have your finger tips touch the side of your face instead. Rest your left arm on the floor, legs comfortably lengthened out, about hip width apart
DO: inhale into your belly, and keeping your right hand on the floor, lift your elbow so you feel the muscles around your shoulder blade engage. Avoid throwing the elbow up and forward so you feel your neck muscles do the lifting
exhale and slowly lower the elbow
next inhale into the belly and lift your head to look up and over your right shoulder
exhale to lower and relax
now try lifting your head, arm, elbow and hand off the floor looking over your right shoulder, inhaling into the belly
exhale to lower
try that again and sense if there’s other part of your body trying to help. Is it your opposite leg?
inhale and do the move again, simultaneously lift your left leg. Keep the leg straight so you feel your butt muscles contract. 
exhale and lower
repeat 2 more times then do the same on the other side
FINER POINTS: inhale and exhale to relax and melt completely between repetitions of this exercise
SENSE: sense the diagonal contraction between your right shoulder and left butt muscles

PREP: this exercise is similar to arch and flatten, but now you'll have your hands interlaced behind your head.
DO: inhale and tip your pelvis towards your feet so you gently arch the back
exhale and let the back melt towards the floor
continue to let the back come to the floor as you flex the upper body up into what looks like a "crunch", bringing your elbows towards your knees, feet gently pressing into the floor a bit, and the lower back pressing into the floor,
inhale as you unfurl your upper body back to the floor, exhale and melt, relax and let your elbows meet the floor out to the sides of your head.
SENSE: Feel the shoulders and hips press into the floor as you arch, how the back relaxes as you come back to neutral. Can you sense you are lengthening the front of your body and simultaneously shortening the back, as you arch?
FINER POINTS: this is not a crunch! Avoid making this an ab exercise. Avoid lifting your hips off the floor with the movement of the pelvis and back

PREP: position yourself on your LEFT side, making your body and lower arm into a “chair”. Head resting on your arm*, knees bent at a right angle to your hips, and shins a right angle to your knees. Make sure your head and arm are straight in line with your torso, not tilting forward. Take your right hand over your head and placing your finger tips on your left temple.
DO: inhale and lengthen the waist line between the hips and rib cage, breathing into your ribs and waist. 
Exhale and keeping your knees together, lift your left foot and shin up towards the ceiling.
Inhale and lower the foot and lengthen the waist on the right side of your body...
exhale to relax,

inhale to prepare, lengthening right side of body
Exhale and lift foot, head and elbow, shortening the right waist
inhale to lower down and lengthen right side of body, exhale to relax and melt
Repeat this 4-5 times each side
SENSE: explore what you feel on the right side of your body as you inhale and lengthen and exhale to shorten your waist muscles. 

FINER POINTS: you can modify this exercise with your head on a block or pillow instead of resting your head on your arm extended on the floor. 
Be sure to keep your face and eyes--they can be closed, but imagine-- them facing forward, especially when lifting the head and bending.

PREP: lie in your back, knees bent and feet on the floor about hip width apart, arms almost to a T out to your sides. 
DO: Imagine your arms are rolling pins, and roll one arm up the mat other down the mat. Some students say they think this looks like a belly dancer rotating her arms...
Once you have the arms going, then try rolling your head towards the up turned head. Alternate the head rolling towards the up turned hand as you keep alternating the rolling pin arms.
Got that? Now add dropping both of your knees gently away from the up turned hand and head. slowly alternate.
SENSE: Feel the lengthening down the side of the torso as the knees gently drop towards the bottom corner of the mat.alternate slowly and breathe into the ribs as you turn you can do this one for about a minute or so Soma scan
FINER POINTS: this is all about length down the sides of the body, not forcing your knees to the floor.  Explore what it feels like to focus on moving your shoulder blades to move your arms. 

PREP: stand with feet about hip width apart, lift your arms gently up towards the ceiling
DO: look up towards your left hand, and reach with your left arm as you shift your weight into your left foot, hips sway a bit to the left, like a crescent moon and you lift the right heel up, shortening the right waist.
Relax and try that again on the same side 2-3 x
Try it on the other side...
then alternate for 6-8 x
SENSE: feel the length on the reaching side and the shortening on side that you lift the heel
FINER POINTS: let the body be soft and gentle, like swaying seaweed in the ocean. 

OK! There you go. Your first of what I hope will be many DIY Hanna Somatics routines. I'd love some feedback. The more I hear from you all the more I know what you want and need. I plan to do recordings but didn't get this one done in time...stay tuned!

Comment below and you'll be entered into my January 2015 drawing for free prizes too. I have lots of things to give away... I'll start with Anita Boser's Undulation Exercise Book, another great somatic method of movement.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Definition of Healthy

Morning! I thought I'd share part of my response to one of the essay questions on my Clinical Somatics Educator Program application. The directions read: Give a description of your state of health and overall bodily competence. As part of your statement, 1) give your definition of what you understand as “health,” and 2) describe what you do to maintain your state of health. 

As a personal trainer and health coach, I’m pretty sure my definition of “health” differs from that of the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization or my fellow fitness professionals. The desire in our culture to stay young (which many translate to mean “healthy”) has become a multi-billion dollar industry. But to me, being healthy comes from within, and is a state of mind that keeps us feeling young and, therefore, healthy.

To be truly healthy, one must look inside oneself to maintain/recapture the vitality, enthusiasm, exploration, movement and desire to learn that we were all born with and exhibited in our youth. Babies and children take things slowly, have dreams and are creative. They are aware of what’s going on within and outside their bodies, and they do things with intention. No amount of supplements, drugs or potions can recapture youth because you can’t bottle a child’s perspective.

For many, growing up means growing still and set in their ways. They develop faulty habits. They lose their sense of wonder. They’d never want to admit they don’t know something for fear of it being a weakness rather than an opportunity to learn and explore.

So, how do I maintain the kid in me to maintain my health?
  • While kids don’t think in terms of moving their bodies in different planes, I incorporate plenty of natural movement such as walking, swimming, hula hooping, playing soccer with my dog, dancing around the house, and jogging.
  • My husband and I intentionally live in the Pacific Northwest and chose desk-free professions that keep us active and outdoors as much as possible.
  • I predominately eat whole foods and home cook my meals. But I also figure stress is more likely to negatively effect my body than the occasional “bad” treat. Everything in moderation. 
  • I try to be an active part of my community. I started neighborhood walks and a crafting group, and I volunteer weekly at my local library.
  • I try to use technology as it was intended—to help me in my tasks, not to consume all my time and attention.
  • I enjoy creative hobbies in which I “lose myself” and my sense of time when I’m on a roll. I love to study and learn new things.
  • I value quality sleep, as well as alone time and quiet time.
  •  I listen to and work with my body when I have a pain or injury instead of turning to medications.
  • I laugh a lot and try not to let things out of my control stress me out.

... there's some other stuff, but just thought I'd share some of my ideas... When I was a kid technology pretty much meant a hardly-viewed, cable-free TV in the family room, plus my sister and I got our own phone line in high school. Unfortunately today's kids are being robbed of natural development. But that's another story.

 What's your definition of "healthy"? What do you do, or want to do, to stay healthy and happy? 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Is somatics for you?

Is somatics for you? I'd enthusiastically say "yes!" Everyone could benefit from some somatic education, but really it's solely up you.

At the beginning of every training course, when students get wide-eyed and are blown away by how powerful somatic education is, inevitably someone says, "Somatics Education is so effective! Why isn't it more well known around the world?!" Martha Peterson (my teacher) responds with:

 "Hanna Somatics is not just about pandiculation, muscles and bones! It is about giving yourself permission to get to know who you are....from the inside out. That can be scary and threatening for some people. It can stimulate uncomfortable change and, for many, elicit emotions that have been stuck."

I'll use a personal experience as an example. Usually when someone starts doing somatic exercises they love some of the moves and others not so much. When I started doing somatics I thought the back lift was just the suckiest move ever. I avoided it. But then while at my teacher training, and as I was doing it in class, I started to cry. Not blubbering-baby style, just silent streaming tears. One of my teachers quickly came over to make sure I was ok, and I was. I wasn't in pain, just felt like crying. We soon took a break and another teacher came up to me and said, "crying is ok, and you're actually a head of the curve, because once you get to the clinical training you'll find a lot of folks have some emotional responses too."

Instead of just blowing it off, or feeling embarrassed, I thought about what triggered those tears.

Since my bike accident I had been pissed a lot. Pissed that I got hit and wasn't healing like I expected, that my insurance company screwed me, that I had to hire an attorney who totally dropped the ball, and very sad that some of the people that I loved and trusted to help me heal had moved away during mid treatment and one even died. Top it off with a traumatic brain injury that took months to heal. Every time I started to think about things related to my accident I could feel my body coil up like a ball.

So! While I was doing the back lift, I was partially in a position that I was in when I got hit. Leaning forward with my head turned to the right, seeing a car barreling at me. Totally vulnerable. Fight-or-flight overdrive. My body had been avoiding moving that way for 3 years. It wasn't super painful, but didn't feel great. Not undoable, but I just didn't want to "go there". but this time I let go. I cried, I trusted myself, and I moved forward. It was at that moment that I no longer held anger in my body or let my thoughts overwhelm me.  It was a huge turning point for me in so many ways...

That's not to say that only those who are emotionally stressed can benefit from somatics! There are three standard reflex patterns that a Somatics Educator looks for: green light reflex (imagine military posture, chest up, tight low back), red light reflex (also called startle reflex. Imagine rounded, slumped shoulders, head protruding forward) and trauma reflex (the torso bends and/or twists to one side). So many people have these postures but may not be aware of them or how they came to be. It can be from an injury, lifestyle habits, attitude, stress, or surgeries.

So, like I said, everyone can benefit from somatics. You can break through poor habits and faulty functional patterns. You can release emotional tension stored in your body. From there, who know's what else can shift in your life!

Somatic movement changes everything.

Are you ready for it? If so, consider attending one of my classes, workshops and or meet privately. 
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