SOMATICS & YOGA
Somatic Psychotherapy provides an added dimension by taking the therapy out of the arena of second-hand reports (from your verbal mind) and into first-hand, felt experience. It can be very valuable in the process of self discovery and change. Somatics may open you up to information that can be overlooked in most analytic psychotherapy. Traditional therapy practices pay attention almost exclusively to thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. In Somatics, the added awareness of sensations and felt experiences within the body are used to deepen the work. This can provide a channel of cooperation between the unconscious and conscious. In turn, Somatics helps to facilitate communication among parts of yourself that may be lost, hidden, or isolated.
In my experience as a Registered Yoga Instructor, certified Yoga Therapist with IAYT, and practicioner for over 20 years, yoga and the use of human touch is a powerful modality of Somatic Psychotherapy. By incorporating yoga postures and sometimes touch and table work, when appropriate, into our self discovery, new information is revealed. Often the way we behave, move and react on our yoga mat is a good reflection of the way we do off of our mat. Our bodies often reveal first what our verbal, self conscious mind attempts to disguise and hide. Dysregulation occurring since birth (early attachment trauma) or a traumatic incident can often manifest as pain, trust or intimacy issues, depression or anxiety and may be healed by these Somatic modalities. In Western society, the emphasis is on appearing strong from the outside when on the inside we might actually feel quiet insecure and hypervigilant. We’ve learned to ignore our intuition and internal cues. When we start to build Somatic awareness, receive co-regulation and strength, literally, from the nervous system and deeper tissues inside, we often become more confident in speaking and living from our truth. From that place we begin to shine and live more purposeful, integral lives.
Touch used in session:
Depending on your needs and therapeutic goals, our sessions might use touch and table work to address pre-verbal states and disrupted physiology. These methods allow the client to stay somatically present, regulate physiological responses, and minimize the potential for being overwhelmed by strong physiological sensations (Kathy Kain). These table techniques are used as a resource for the client. This modality makes space to unload the traumatic stress physiology slowly. It accesses states of calm (the low tone state) that other modalities can’t. It is a gateway to re-establish regulation as a base to come back to when the early physiology has been disrupted. Table and touch work slowly get the client back within a healthy physiology. Through healthy co-regulation with the therapist, new neuro-pathways are established and survivor behaviors can abate. The client gets to re-sort the world with a different lens: the lens of safety through co-regulation. Table work and touch therapy help establish a new foundation.
Yoga postures used in session:
Depending on your needs and therapeutic goals, our sessions might use yoga postures all the time, sometimes or never. You are the one driving your therapy and will never be asked to go beyond your comfort zone. When used, the postures are done for the purpose of slow exploration, creating mindfulness, repair and inner sense of strength building.
iREST YOGA NIDRA
Another Somatic modality especially useful to clients seeking alternatives to talk therapy is iRest® Yoga Nidra (irest.us). I am an iRest Teacher-in-Training Level I. iRest is an evidence based transformative practice of deep relaxation and meditative inquiry that releases negative emotions and thought patterns, calms the nervous system, and develops an inner sanctuary of well-being and equanimity that underlies all circumstance you may encounter in your life. Research has shown iRest effectively reduces PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, and chemical dependency, as well as increases well-being. It is an adjunctive treatment that has been integrated into veteran settings, homeless shelters, clinics, and healing and meditation centers, where healthcare professionals are integrating iRest to facilitate their own and their clients’ healing and wellbeing.
iRest essentially teaches you how to live a contented life, free of conflict, anxiety, fear and suffering by opening your mind and body to their inherent ground of health and wholeness. The National Institutes for Health, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), and the Department of Defense recently published a Pain Management Task Force study, listing yoga nidra as a ‘Tier 1 modality’ suggested for use as part of an integrative and interdisciplinary approach for augmenting pain management for warriors and their families.