Sunday, May 26, 2019

The SHAKEOUT - a fun way to release tension


This is a fantastic exercise to release tension, to shift energy, and to generally enhance your chillax capacity.  I think I first learned it at the Laban Institute of Movement Studies in the nineties. The Shakeout provides an energetic release of whatever needs to get out, clearing the slate for new sensations and experiences. If you have to do something that makes you nervous the shakeout is a good way to release unnecessary tension beforehand. Great before a performance, public speaking, meeting the parents…

It doesn’t require much physical space, but you probably want to be somewhere that is fairly soundproof if you are going to participate full throttle or full throat-al.

How To:
Lay on the floor (or your bed) on your back. Extend your arms and legs into the air in front of you, reaching for the ceiling. This can be done with just upper or just lower body if you have any injuries or movement restrictions. Take a big deep breath and then shake your arms and legs as hard as you can while you let out a big yell. Repeat several times. Most likely it will eventually lead you into laughter. In my classes at the gym, we would usually arrive at laughter by the 3rd time. This is especially potent when done in groups but alone is fine too.

Variations- instead of yelling you can try stomping and shouting yes and/or no.
You can do it standing or bouncing on a physio ball.
You can do it without the yell while standing up too- just shake your body as hard as you can comfortably shake.
If you are in public and can’t find a room, try to go into a restroom stall. It really helps to relieve the jitters and loosen up your energy. Your nervous system will thank you!

Photo - Ella Condon

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Finding The Golden Eggs

The golden eggs in the somatic arena are found by breaking the habitual and finding space for something new. Evolving into more supportive movement patterning can be accessed through awareness. Shine the light of your consciousness on the inner space by developing your kinesthetic awareness, and your powers of proprioception and interoception.
This allows us to take stock of our tension, holding and movement patterns and release some of the detritus that is no longer serving our needs. Stop accepting good enough, and move into your own greatness.
Let’s be generous with our own selves.
Love up the bodymind.

Photo- Ella Condon

Thursday, May 23, 2019

When Facing Shadows on Somatic Adventures to the Innerworld

When Facing Shadows on Somatic Adventures to the Innerworld

            Opening up the bodymind to new experience can be scary and challenging. It may bring up fear. Fear serves to help maintain the status quo. It constricts and contracts the tissues in the body, squeezing us into limiting postures and behaviors. If we want to move beyond these limits we can ask for two magical keys to help us pass through the big heavy door of fear: curiosity and humor.

            Use curiosity as an inroad into anything that feels uncomfortable- you always have the choice of how to respond. If you feel yourself contracting or feeling awkward and uncomfortable lean into your inquiry in a non-judgmental way, as Buddhist monk Pema Chodron says, “lean into the sharp points”. Ask yourself what your body is experiencing. You might ask yourself, “What exactly are these sensations?” then break them down into descriptions like; “My chest feels tight and my belly feels hot deep inside and numb on the surface.” Or, “My breathing is expansive and I can feel it moving all the way out to my fingertips and toes.” Usually, in the process of naming physical sensations, they begin to evolve and change. 

            Learning to become comfortable with being in the unknown and with your own awkwardness will make life a lot easier. There is no right or wrong here. Ask yourself how deep you can allow yourself to go, if anything begins to feel unsafe or if you think you’ve gone too far and lost yourself come back to some familiar movement. Track the horizon with your eyes and name what you see, do a cat-cow or any movement that is familiar to you and part of your personal repertoire. Get up and walk around, shake yourself off, look at your surroundings. If all else fails- laugh at your self. Don't take yourself too seriously. This should be engaging and interesting. If you meet a dragon on your internal ventures stop and say hello. See what gifts this inner dragon has to offer you.

Photo A.Craig Snyder

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Feelings In Formation, The Bodymind in Shape.

Our bodies are constantly adapting to our experiences in the world. How we hold our body, our tension patterns, and movement choices lead to how we are held by our tissue.

Our fascia is creating the support system we need to keep our body in whatever postures we hold most and it also forms in connection to our movement (or lack of it) in space.

On another level every emotion, every affect first appears in the tissue, we then interpret (or we don’t) the meaning of the sensations we feel in our body. 

So whether we contract in fear or expand in love it is happening on every level and it will play an immeasurable role in how our body and our tissues form on both micro and macro levels. Tension masks sensation- when we avoid our feelings by holding them in and pushing them down we develop holding patterns that deny our own expression.

Try it right now- think about someone or something you unequivocally love- what are the sensations in your body? Now think of an event or situation that evokes fear, what does that feel like in your body? Now bring yourself back to the good feelings… The next question is what do you do with those sensations: add tension to avoid feeling them, or allow yourself to express?

See Simple Movement Meditation to create some new patterns.

Photo Mónica Lou

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Finding Freedom in the Bodymind- The Being Space

Finding Freedom in the Bodymind-
The Being Space

There is a place of un-knowing- a place in the body, where there is no need for specific form, no need to define, and definitely no need for function- or thinking of function, and there is no room for judgment.

It is an open field- maybe it is close to what is called open attention in Continuum Movement, or constructive rest, it could be a movement meditation- or stillness- just being in the internal space- giving room for the being-ness of existence without the need to name, learn, control, or analyze…

It is a space of allowing and sensing, receptive but not expectant… or something like that.

This place is a major recuperation zone. Supremely beneficial to the autonomic nervous system as it shifts into the parasympathetic flow of rest and digest, sooth and settle. It may be the unconscious processing space, sort of the unconscious movement processing space etc. It is a place of slowing down, letting go, healing. 

In this place deep cellular holding patterns can loosen and begin to resolve. 

Photo Credit- Ella Condon- The Dreaming 


We need to change the way we exist in this world so that we are supporting life- our own life, each other’s life, and the life of the planet-our home- Mother Earth. 

The best way that I know to achieve this is to delve deeply into what it means to exist in and experience our human body. Our bodies can be seen as the microcosm and the earth the macrocosm. How we treat ourselves is a direct reflection of how we treat others, the planet (i.e. that which is outside of us.) In order for life on earth to thrive at this point empathy and support for the deep reality of existing must expand to others and to the earth. When we cut ourselves off and split parts of ourselves into pieces, objectifying our bodies, we do not feel the connection to all that is around us. So the body-mind split is dangerous. Look where it has led us. When we create separation we often behave badly. 

The "we are one" idea becomes more and more powerful as we look at the ways we have been behaving towards each other and to the world around us. 

So here is a little Sounding exercise to lead us toward acknowledgment of our own fluid nature (we are somewhere between 60-90% water, depending on our age) and origins.

Keep breaking up the pattern of the sound as you play with the sound, lean into the novel, leave behind the FAMILIAR. Chew on the sound and roll it around in your mouth, free up your tongue.

Mem- is the 13th letter in the Hebrew alphabet literally meaning- Water

It is a great sound to play with to bring coherence to the soft tissue in our body. It may also raise imagery or feelings. Let these things come and go like clouds.
The sounding should be playful and free. Go between the MMMMs and the EH part as often as you like. Let your tongue roll inside your mouth as you play with the MMMMs- allowing the tongue to do a rolling wave movement will change the sound within your head possibly producing overtones.

The 10th cranial nerve, the vagus nerve, participates in many types of processing and regulation within the body including heart rate, digestion, it even plays a role in orgasm. Sounding can stimulate the vagus nerve and lead to healing.

This work is drawn from Continuum Movement - developed by Emilie Conrad. I have studied with Mary Abrams and many other Continuum teachers.
Photo Credit- Ella Condon- Echoes in Willowbrook