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Somatic Experience and Yoga

As I attended the training and observed and felt the power of the Somatic Experience therapeutic approach I was struck by the similarities I witnessed in concept and practice between the SE and Yoga. The more I delved deeper into the training I really understood on all levels WHY, so many thousands of years ago the science of yoga was created.

Somatic Experience and Yoga - GoodyogaThe science of Yoga wasn´t just some kind of way to pass the time on long summer nights or entertain one another with pretzel twists and headstands. Those ancient Yogi´s observed and knew that we were more than our rational brain and that though it was a great tool for survival and fun, it needed to be integrated with our more animal parts for us to live a whole and integrated life (I discuss this in my former entry insert link to former blog here). To be the doers of our own destiny and live in harmony with ourselves, the planet and our community we needed to release the tension of restricted fight, flight and freeze responses or resort back to being their slaves rather than owners. In contrast to western medicine and philosophy that has attempted to separate the rational brain and override the more ´profane and animal parts´, at it´s very core, Yoga was developed as a science of life and connection not a science of parts and separation.

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Somatic Experience and Yoga - GoodyogaIn the practice of Yoga the practitioner is asked to go within themselves and feel what is happening from the inside out. The physical practice is combined with conscious
awareness so that not only is the student learning how to read their own body, they are also releasing various blocks, which are often
associated with emotional/mental stress, from the inside out.
Via breath, movement and awareness the stresses that were once held in the body as a response to threat are gently released, acknowledged and hopefully, via meditation (in whatever form that maybe) integrated into the whole person.

 

As I pondered the basis of Somatic Experience and what I was witnessing, practicing and feeling I got the clear feeling that at its base, it was a guided, very personalized, meditative practice. Much like a guru might guide a novice in meditation, a psychologist trained in such a technique would guide the client to their points of restriction and then help them release and come out of that restricted state by empowering the client to move with and acknowledge their body´s wisdom.

Somatic Experience and Yoga - Goodyoga

Like Yoga, Somatic Experience is gentle. There is no screaming or forced expressions of emotion or stress. Therapists are careful to avoid the harmful effects of catharsis and watch with great attention what the breath, body and temperature of the client is communicating. Like a guru, the therapist uses this information and acts as a guide rather than an authority figure as they guide the session. The purpose this somatic approach is to empower the client to understand their own body´s language and how to connect it with the rational of the cortex, thereby integrating the whole person and their experiences into ONE whole instead of into parts.

Somatic Experience and Yoga - Goodyoga

In my perspective and experience, the great benefit of the Somatic Experience approach is that it takes an age old eastern practice and transforms it into a language and technique that the western mind, body and lifestyle can appreciate and understand while using the language of neuroscience and biology to explain how the mechanism works.  I personally experienced the power of this therapy over eight different times with six different people, myself included, during my training and I can say that with one session it is possible to get relief and create connections between body and mind one had no idea existed.

Somatic Experience and Yoga - GoodyogaFor example, for the sake of science, I will elaborate on my own personal experience. Ever since I can remember I have had an annoying itch just underneath my left shoulder blade, which in times of stress, flares up into more of a stabbing pain. No matter how much yoga and body rolling I do, no matter how hard my very intelligent and well trained mother tried to work it out with Body Logic, the spot simply would not budge. I discussed this with the SE therapist I chose to see the first day of the training and we decided to see what might be the issue in the tissue.

As I started the therapy I came to connect that constant itch and minor pain with an accident I had over seventeen years ago. The connection didn´t take long and I was surprised by how quickly the memory and sensations of that memory came to me as I relaxed my body and focused in on the location between spine and shoulder blade. I was further surprised because it was a serious accident but I came out of it without any serious injuries, so it really isn´t a memory I keep on hand.

In that car accident the old ford ranger I was driving was hit at a very high speed by on old van in the back right side that sent me into a tail spin. It was stopped by a large light pole that then flipped the truck over onto its side forcing it into a sliding stop. As I allowed myself to go into the memory,  I remember turning to the right and seeing a van popping over the hill before the accident and me with my right foot bearing down on the accelerator trying to get that old ranger to go faster through the intersection, but to no avail.

Somatic Experience and Yoga - Goodyoga

To this day I still can´t remember exactly how it happened or how I even exited the vehicle (typical frozen response), but as I entered into my body and into the Somatic Experience, involuntarily I felt my shoulder twitch and, unbeknownst to me, the therapist informed that my visceral were twitching and that my head kept turning and body kept leaning to the right. She informed me 3-4 or four times of my body´s desire to turn and lean to the right. During this process I felt the tears start to roll down my face and as they began to flow I observed that sensation between my shoulder blade increase in intensity and then dissipate as I connected with the memory and the sensation of the therapist´s hand now gently placed over my spine.

Somatic Experience and Yoga - Goodyoga

In one session I felt a difference and an increased awareness. In follow up sessions I came to understand that this is a weak point where I generally go to hold stress and trauma and that there are layers of stressful experiences locked there. Due to the extremely personal nature of the traumas unlocked during the follow up sessions, I am going to end here and just offer my reflections over the first session.

Reflecting upon my body´s language I came to understand my desire to turn my head to the right and lean in the same direction was my body´s unfulfilled instinct to turn towards the threat (the van) and then away from the cause of injury where the window came into direct contact with my left shoulder and broke. The tears were the result of the unreleased discharge of that frightening event over 17 years ago. I didn´t cry when I exited the vehicle. I was too shocked by what had occurred…but the body never forgets, and more than ever, I acknowledge the truth of that statement. Nonetheless, thankfully…

…the body does let go when given the space and permission to do so.

Somatic Experience and Yoga - Goodyoga

With the few weeks of cooler weather here in Barcelona before I nip off to India for my 500 hour training, I will be writing more about my experiences with Somatic Experience and my thoughts and insights concerning this incredibly powerful and healing approach and how it ties into my own history, world history, evolution, Yoga and sexuality…

Stay tuned…

 

What is Somatic Experience?

Somatic Experience is a naturalistic approach that favors the resolution of stress and trauma. It is based on the ethnological observation that animals in the wild use innate mechanisms to regulate and neutralize various levels of arousal associated with survival and defense mechanisms (ie. Fight/Flight/Freeze). Somatic Experience seeks to moderate and relieve the symptoms of trauma/stress that are retained within the body after traumatic experiences and takes the necessary steps, (using nature as it´s blueprint), to release and heal trauma.

And before you think ´Traumas only occur in really horrible circumstances…´ have little read from Psychology Today of how Trauma is defined :

A simple working definition is: anything that is too much, too soon, or too fast for our nervous system to handle, especially if we can’t reach a successful resolution.  Note that when we talk of trauma (which can result from surgeries, accidents, shocking news etc.), or sexual trauma, it does not imply that the trauma leads to complete breakdown in adulthood; it may simply be a decreased ability to feel satisfaction or emotional or physical pleasure.

What is Somatic Experience? - Goodyoga
For the past week I have been totally immersed in the work of Dr. Peter Levine (Waking the Tiger, In an Unspoken Voice), Dr. Van Der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score), Paul D. MacLean (The Triune Brain) and Doctor Stephen W. Porges (The Polivagal Theory) as I began my journey and training into the therapeutic approach of Somatic Experience. The definition and video above is a very small window into what Somatic Experience is and I would encourage everyone to read ´In an unspoken voice´ by Peter Levine and ¨The Body Keeps the Score´ by Dr. Van der Kolk, to fully understand appreciate the power and science behind this approach.

From the first What is Somatic Experience? - Goodyoga
day, as we moved more into practice and less into theory I got very excited about the training. I began to integrate and appreciate more and more my education in Psychology, Sociology as well as my
training as a Yoga instructor, Body worker and Rape Crisis Volunteer. I had to admire just how very smart and efficient nature is. She is an amazing creative force that builds upon already existing concepts to create new creations and concepts. For example, we as human beings are nothing more than a three layered brain of reptilian instincts (brain stem), mammalian emotion and connection (limbic brain) and at the very top and being the most recent addition, a thin little cortex that allows us to look at time abstractly, compute intricate social interactions and plan our existence accordingly.

What is Somatic Experience? - GoodyogaIt is this cortex, specifically the pre-frontal cortex, that has allowed us humans to get to and remain at the top of the food chain. I say this because in physical terms from the perspective of evolution, we aren´t that impressive. We aren´t especially fast like the cheetah or gazelle so catching quick prey or running from quick predators is not an option. Also, we are pretty lame in the strength and teeth department. For example, if you had to place bets, who do you think would win in a fight of brawn? A tiger or a human? Excluding more than human figures like Chuck Norris or Bruce Lee, any rational human being would have to agree that the odds would be overwhelming in the tigers favor.

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So from a physical viewpoint, the human´s location at the top of the food chain makes very little sense, but this is where the power of brain over brawn comes in. Thanks to all the amazing computing capabilities of the cortex, human beings have figured out how to move in groups and create weapons and use tactics that outsmart our competitors, predators and prey.  For example this great video of 3 Africans acting in unison frighten away 15 lions from freshly killed prey is a great example of how the existence of our pre-frontal cortex offers an amazing evolutionary advantage.

This cortex is built upon the foundations of a mammalian brain (the limbic/emotional brain) and a reptilian brain (the instinctual/basic functions). It is VERY IMPORTANT to remember that these parts did not just disappear as the cortex developed and moved humans up the food chain. They are still there alive and active and from them we get our desire for social cohesion and our ability to know when we need to eat, go to the toilet and look for a mate. Each part provides its important and necessary function for our survival as humans.

Nonetheless, this latest addition of complex, bio-network connections that is the cortex, also has it´s disadvantages. Due to social norms and our innate desire and NEED to be accepted as part of a group, often times our instincts that would lead us to either fight or run away from a situation is thwarted by the dual edged reality of contemplated behavior that allows us to live in community and follow socially acceptable behavior.

FWhat is Somatic Experience? - Goodyogaor example, we can´t really punch our boss when she makes us mad, we have been taught not to cry and to sit still and stay until the end, no matter how long the class or office meeting. These modern day realities that restrict our biological instincts manifest in clinched fists, a tight throat or a shaking leg, respectively. Often times, it is in our best interest to resist physical violence when we feel anger or to resist running out the emergency exit when we see an aggressive or annoying co-worker or family member. It is the cortex that controls those drives, but that energy is still inside and when it is too strong or goes on for too long…our fight and flight responses are stifled and like animals who go into a frozen physical state when the fight/flight response is not given as an option (ie. playing possum) human beings may do the same, but instead of falling over and playing dead, human beings simply disassociate.

The freeze response, like disassociation is a defense response. Nonetheless, the great difference between animals and humans is that when animals come out of the frozen state, they literally shake out that ´frozen´ energy, take a deep breath, as see here with this polar bear:

and move on with their lives…for a variety of reasons, thanks to the cortex, most human beings have either learned to ignore and disregard this drive to discharge energy, but that doesn´t mean the body has released it.

What is Somatic Experience? - GoodyogaThe stress of the event, no matter what it may be, it could be a car accident, a surgery, various forms of abuse or just a very quick shock to the system like hearing a gun go off though no harm is done, or perhaps an on-going stressful work or family environment, doesn´t just go away.  Depending on the resilience of each individual, that unreleased energy gets stuck somewhere. That stuck flight/flight response will then manifest itself perhaps in tense neck/shoulders, poor posture, perhaps in high blood pressure, an upset stomach or frozen shoulder, or perhaps an inability to concentrate and focus thoughts and feelings—disorientation can occur and/or an uneasy sense of danger, depression and/or anxiety.

What is Somatic Experience? - Goodyoga

‘How should I deal with this guy?’ ‘My advice, try playing dead!’

This stress, or trauma, acts like a break in the computer code in the brain and instead of being able to move back and forth between the three parts (the cortex, limbic and brain stem) we get stuck. We might be stuck in the fight phase or we might be stuck in the flight phase, and if it goes not long enough, not being given the opportunity to complete the physical movement required by the fight/flight response (because of safety or social constraints), we disassociate from our bodies (the freeze response) and even though we may continue to eat and breath and fulfill basic biological functions, we are not really living. The code is broken and our body still thinks it is under threat and must play ´possum´.  Due to the chemicals released to protect us in such a state, everything becomes duller and those in such a disassociated state may report a lack of physical sensations as well as emotional reactions and connections.

As stated and shown above, animals, for better or worse, are protected by an automatic reset button that pushes them to ´shake out´ the shock. In fact, it was demonstrated that animals that were not allowed to fulfill their biological call to shake out the flight/freeze response after being frozen, died soon after. Stress kills because the body, in some way, is still sending a message to the brain to run or fight, but if this fight/flight signal goes on too long and is ignored, as a biological defense mechanism, we as humans disassociate, or emotionally we may ´freeze´ because we have learned that the environment is not safe enough to come out of that state. Sadly, due to a serious lack of internal body awareness and safe spaces for honest expression, I would argue that this state of ´disassociation´ has become the modus operandi of our day in age.

What is Somatic Experience? - GoodyogaWestern culture, as summed up by Descartes in his infamous quote, ´I think therefore I am´ revolves around the rational thought provided by the cortex but completely disregards the very mechanism, the body, that allows this cortex to exist. In eastern medicine it is well recognized that the brain, is not only located within the skull, but is integrated throughout the entire body. In fact, in ancient Egypt, the brain was destroyed during the embalming while the heart and rest of the body remained intact. More and more research is demonstrating that there is communication between cerebrum and body and body to cerebrum via various nerve networks, especially that of the Vagus Nerve. It is not a one way street.

Modern science is of course now discovering this and is finally giving eastern philosophy and science some acknowledgment. New discoveries in neuroscience and quantum physics are ´proving´ what the east has known for over a millennia, we are animals WITH a cortex not just a cortex. To live happy, healthy and productive lives all parts must be integrated. There have been practices developed around this reality. Yoga could be considered the oldest recorded practice, but also practices like Tai Chi, Aikido, and ChiKung as well as various Shamanic rituals and tribal practices have sought to work WITH the integration of the mind/body not against it.

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What is Somatic Experience? - Goodyoga

These practices are all legitimate and effective in their own right, but as a professor and practitioner of Yoga I look at Somatic Experience from the perspective of the Yogic traditions of asana, breath and meditation. You can read more about my views on these connections and my own personal experience with SE in the following blog

What is Somatic Experience? - Goodyoga

Somatic Experience Training Group Barcelona 2016

Yoga : Yoking the Feminine and Masculine

Yoga : Yoking the Feminine and Masculine - GoodyogaAfter years of conducting interviews as an undergrad and Masters student, yesterday I was given the great privilege to be on the other side of the interview process. A good friend and fellow Yogini called me the other day to discuss what I my perspectives were on the themes of masculinity and femininity.

These are two themes that have danced and taunted me my entire life. Due to my own personality being a strong and external force of rage against injustice and thirsty curiosity I have been labeled things that I myself did not identify with but that the world at large felt the need to stick upon me to make sense of the contradiction I posed to current social constructs. For I was a woman but many times a confrontational and hell raising human.

I was labeled a FemiNazi, a Bitch, a Lesbo (which is a fine label…but I´m not), stubborn, sinfull, odd, weird, rebellious or just simply, crazy.

This became even more confusing when I actually started dating. As a strong woman I found that I both repelled and attracted equally strong men but somehow I found myself in a pattern of ending up in relationships with men who were broken in some way shape or form.  Was it me trying to fix them? I would argue no, it wasn´t that at all. In fact, I was repulsed by the idea of someone trying to change me, and policed my own behavior to make sure I didn´t do it to another.

In retrospect, I would argue that when I encountered a man with Yoga : Yoking the Feminine and Masculine - Goodyogaa broken spirit he had the humility to hold my own tender heart with kindness and tenderness. In the arms of that broken spirit, I found the reprieve that my femininity longed to fall into and surrender to, but simply could not in a world where human kindness and tears are considered weak and an invitation to be taken advantage of.

But even in the sweet reprieve of a lovers arms, I had to live in a world that forced me to protect a very  big, very sensitive and empathetic heart. Unfortunately, these men with the broken spirits as kind as they were, could not offer me the sustainable strength I needed to truly surrender and allow the feminine aspects of myself come out and play.

So I moved on. I even stopped feeling for a while. I became numb. Then life knocked me on the head, or rather, on my back, and I was brought into the world of Yoga.

I began to feel again. It hurt, but I was alive, and through various trials I found I had a strength within me that I thought only existed in those Oscar winning super cheesy Hollywood movies. I survived and even thrived.

The masculine aspects of my personality truly shined. I started my own business and I figured out how to live on my own in a foreign country with a foreign tongue. But the feminine aspects were waiting, as they always had been, silently observing the moment when they would have their time to shine.

And as I spoke with my friend I began to realize just Yoga : Yoking the Feminine and Masculine - Goodyogahow valuable those feminine traits are that had been so degraded and undervalued in my past. I thought about my practice and about my students. In a simple touch so much comfort can be given and meanings conveyed, a gentle bit of simple instruction can change a pose from painful to liberating, a smile and heartfelt energy creates a safe space for all those who wish to practice and feel the relief that Yoga truly can bring. This does not mean that my classes are soft and easy. I know they are not. They are intense and meticulous but these masculine aspects of perfection and militant direction find their compliment and balance with human touch, laughter, connection, guidance and positive encouragement.

I do believe that the world is severely lacking in a balance of masculine and feminine energy. The masculine traits of order and competition are far more valued than the chaotic energy of feminine creation. The feminine is a wonderful and fantastic energy that every one of us holds within us. It does not make men or women weak. Mother Nature is a woman and no one can destroy her. Try as this masculine hegemony might, in the end, she will win.

Always.

Yoga : Yoking the Feminine and Masculine - GoodyogaAs a human race, we would be wise to start paying more attention to the subtle cues our feminine energy is seeking to tell us. The whole world would be a much better place if both men and women exercised more kindness and empathy. I know there are many who look at their partner like he or she is crazy when water works start for no reason, but instead of telling them to calm down, yelling at them or convincing them to think logically…instead, offer to be the strength they need and provide a safe space so that the human being in front of you can feel safe to experience the subtle and beautiful side of their feminine being.

Observe and allow yourself to also stand in awe at the feminine energy that quickly ebbs and flows between ecstasy and melancholia. Allow them to flow and start to observe how quickly that chaos calms and transforms into a warmth of love and appreciation that will be directed directly as you, the sacred space holder of the feminine. Allow that warmth to fill you from head to toe and to overflow to the human being in front of you, next to you, inside of you.

Love is innately a feminine characteristic trait. Protection is masculine. Both must exist in unison not just between persons, but within individuals as well.  Paying attention and appreciating the flow and movement of these two energies, one can begin to truly understand the translation of Yoga: To be Yoked.

In other words, the practice of Yoga is yoking the masculine and feminine energies into One.

 

Yoga : Yoking the Feminine and Masculine - Goodyoga

OM.

Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind

Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - Goodyoga

´I felt like the centre of a small circle coinciding with the centre of a much larger one…Atman met Allah.´ The Life of Pie. Page 62

As I sat on the train to Venice from Milan I allowed these words to sink into my core. The Life of Pi is truly a wonderful book and one that I had avoided reading because someone had told me it was very sad. If it is, I haven´t got to the sadness yet.

Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - GoodyogaNonetheless, I am struck by how the author describes animal behavior and how reactionary and yet how logical it all is. I can´t help but find the similarities between the behaviors of lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) and that of humans.

The author discusses at length an animals need to feel safe. Many years ago, Maslow said the same thing of humans. If animal safety is threatened or taken away, apparently violent or odd behavior will ensure…and as animals, as many researching psychologists have already observed, we too are also subject to this kind of

instinctual, reactionary, behavior.  On a basic level, we really aren´t so removed from the animals that swim with fins or crawl around on all fours. The thing that makes us different is the CAPABILITY (not the instinct) we have to think in various frames and adapt accordingly. That is the beauty of having an highly developed pre/frontal cortext…but using it’s full capacity is not always a given. There is slight struggle between the amygdala (the reptilian brain) and the more evolved thinking processes of the pre/frontal cortex. Understanding this struggle and using this struggle to our advantage has been the focus of psychological research for years, but a key ingredient has been left out of the research, the integrated and inseparable mind/body connection.  

While reading the Life of Pi I have also been studying simultaneously the psychology of Yoga. In particular the work of Doctor Bessel van der Kolk MD and his book, The Body Keeps the Score. In this book the author discusses how symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can be quite effectively treated with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). A technique I had researched earlier and even experimented myself.

I was very skeptical of EMDR´s effectiveness as the technique claimed that just by a simple wagging of the finger Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - Goodyoga
(or an alternating tone in the ears), and a choreographed movement of the eyes, viola! A patient could be cured.  I myself did not feel any great effect or change from the few sessions I had completed, but perhaps that is because I had no specific or great horrific event that I could easily state as the cause for my anxiety or stress.  In fact, Van der Kolk does state that EMDR does not seem to be quite as effective for those suffering from childhood trauma or other forms of psychological disorders as it is for traumas that stem from a direct and concrete cause (ie. A soldier in Afghanistan seeing his friends leg shot off would be a concrete cause of trauma created in an ADULT mind).

This is where mind/body practices such as Yoga have proven to be very effective. As I started to read the book and listen to his lectures, the researcher in me got really excited as I thought to myself,

Finally, a scientist,  (and a former drug researching scientist!) who has conducted controlled experiments and research to test the power of Yoga. Por fin!

Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - GoodyogaI can tell people until I am blue in the face how powerful Yoga is in relieving anxiety and stress and improving quality of life…but we live in a very data based society and though I may believe experimental experience is a necessary aspect of knowledge and growth, not everyone is willing to try out something until a scientist or doctor gives a stamp of approval. So here is the stamp!   

 

For example, research was undertaken in a center where clients participated in a session of Yoga that emphasized control over their own movements in the various Yoga postures and attention to their breath. As patients practiced, various memories or feelings would appear and at the end of the session clients could speak with a therapist about whatever they felt had come up in their Yoga practice. The combination of Yoga and therapy proved to be quite effective. 
Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - Goodyoga

In fact, it was more effective both in the short-term AND in the long term, than any pill. Not to mention more cost effective. Ana Forrest in her book Fierce Medicine describes a similar process and offers advice and tips and different routines that are especially effective in addressing trauma.

I have practiced with those routines, combined with Body Rolling, both on my own and with clients, and I am thrilled to read a scientific study finally documenting what I have already witnessed and experienced in my own body and that of my clients.

Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - GoodyogaSome people, most people, come to me with the hopes of relieving a stiff neck, back problems, a wonky hip or frozen shoulder….but there is always something more underpinning those physical discomforts. Doctors will call it stress but rarely discuss the origins of that stress or how to relieve it. Often times a sleeping pill or a muscle relaxant is prescribed and patients are sent on their way. When the side effects become too much, that is when I receive a phone call, and in each client, I find it fascinating to ponder how stress is stored in the body and how it can then be relieved.

And this is when I go back to the animals.

Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - GoodyogaDr. Van der Kolk discusses how childhood traumas, whatever form they may come in, may not be easily remedied with EMDR as often times our childhood brains have not developed the more advanced verbal centers necessary to conceptualize the experience into verbal memory. This becomes important as we discuss the three main stress responses listed below:

 

  • Fight: You see a threat and you lash out. It might be verbally it might be physically but the main thing is that you are confronting not running away from the threat.
  • Flight:Pretty self-explanatory. If there is a threat, instead of confronting it, you turn the other way and run away.
  • Freeze:This is the reaction  you feel when you feel like you want to run or fight but find that physically you can´t. Perhaps you have seen something disgusting or disturbing but instead of running away or taking active measures to remove it, you remain there, stuck, frozen. Unable to move. This also manifests as a physical and/or verbal reaction. Cat got your tongue? That is a freeze reaction.

The fascinating thing is that those who react with a freeze response also show almost a complete lack of activity in the brain. Both the Fight and Flight response show an increase of activity in the amygdala, the instinctual, reptilian part of the brain, but the noteworthy thing is that the 3rd response of Freeze does the opposite. It´s as if the brain itself, in an effort to escape the stress that appears to be inescapable, merely shuts down. This happens often with victims of sexual abuse, and made me remember the many accounts of out of body experiences I heard recounted among survivors of rape during my time as a rape crisis counselor.

Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - Goodyoga

This process of cerebral shut down is important to recognize since so much of therapy is based upon talking.  So we can talk to a therapist about feelings of anxiety but we may find that we are unable to let go of it. We are unable to find the cause behind the anxiety, fear or depression because the memory is stored in a different format. It is not stored in the verbal centers of the brain, but nonetheless, as the title of the book states, The Body Keeps the Score, the body remembers.

Think of it like a computer. You can save various files in a Word format, a PDF or a JPG but those files can only be edited and improved if you have access to the software in which it was saved…the mind/body works the same. The files are there on your computer and they may even be causing serious problems with the system, but you can´t open and fix the problem until you have the correct software.

So think of each stressor as a kind of file. Some of those stressors can be accessed and edited through simply talking it out, others require a different format.

And this is the power and beauty of body work. I teach Yoga and Body rolling. I find that both are great tools to unlock various blocks, or ´files´ in the body that are attached to mental anxiety and fears. Nothing need be made verbal, just staying with the movement, with the breath, release can be found. Sometime this comes out as a sigh, sometimes as tears or just a deep sense of relief.

When these files, or a.k.a, stressors, remain in the body without being edited or updated, energy channels (or Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - Goodyoganeuronal pathways) can become blocked and these blocks can be seen in various destructive habits, postural alignment and breath patterns. Often we are unaware of these old patterns that control our behaviors, and we react as an animal, instinctively, lashing out or running away or freezing, every time something triggers a stressful unconscious or conscious memory inside of us-a memory that reminds either our brain or body of a moment when we were unsafe, out of control, not in our element, and were forced into fighting, hiding or submission.

Yoga and Body Rolling are not the only techniques out there that offer relief from our stressful memories (ie. Corrupted data files) or control over our animal instinct of fight, flight or freeze. All mindfulness activities such a Qui Jung, Tai Chi and even forms of dance (I am particularly fond of Tango) offer a way to move into the very base of existence, into our breath, out of instinct and into experience. Combining breath with movement and total awareness we are able to move through the both mental and physical blocks and feel the joy and freedom of space that a truly mindful practice brings.

Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - Goodyoga

Awareness is key. Yoga becomes more than just an exercise routine when we allow ourselves to move into the breath and movement, completely. By staying with the posture, the asana (Yoga posture) can be transformed into a personalized and powerful therapy. The animal instinct quiets, which then enables the practitioner to integrate rather than reject, hate or ignore, all parts of his or her human experience …Yoga can enable us to find that place where ´the centre of a small circle coincides with the centre of a much larger one…´where the unspeakable becomes speakable.

Yoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - Goodyoga

In a truly conscious Yoga practice, we can observe and enjoy how the mind, body and breath dance in circles, allowing us to sense that connection we have between all aspects of ourselves, so that we can KNOW ourselves and not just the reaction he have learned through instinct or social condition.

OMYoga Therapy : Quiet the Animal Mind - Goodyoga

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - Goodyoga

Changes can always be a cause for great stress or great excitement, or a bit of both. As I have evolved in my life and Yoga practice I have learned that when I am faced with a challenge if I go back to my breath and what I learn on the mat, the mind quiets and answers unfold. I write this blog now because I know as the old year comes to a close it is easy to get stressed out with all the to do lists, end of the year tasks, and the organization of various social and business events, but it doesn´t have to be that way. 2016 is a new year for your to start a new life and learn how to embrace change and uncertainty.

This year I have faced various unforeseen events, some pleasant and some not so pleasant, but instead of looking at each task as a goal to be completed or another plan foiled, I have tried my best to breathe into it and focus upon it all as a journey to be experienced. I know this is so much easier said than done, but you have to start somewhere, and if something doesn´t work out as you planned, great! Look for the new adventure that has come your way, another great chance to exercise your creativity, and embrace it…let go of resisting its existence. Just like in Yoga, resistance only leads to pain.

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - Goodyoga

Good Yoga IPTS Retreat

I wax philosophical in this post as I ponder all of the changes and challenges that have erupted this past month. I had to move studio and home and search out and find new ones all within 30 days. Within that short time period and through the wonderful process of serendipity I found a new apartment, and a wonderful new space to teach and collaborate future ventures with Lula of SeYoga in Triana (Calle Santisimo de las tres caidas 1…also known as calle torrijos) and Betty of Hija de Los Lobos, while witnessing my Good Yoga student base grow in Gaia (Centro de Estudios Alternativos Calle Luis de Vargas 6). I was blessed with the help of 5 wonderful souls who helped me move everything from my old apartment and studio in less than 3 hours and had a wonderful end of the year Yogi Cena (dinner) with the GoodYoga clan. That is the good news….within those same 30 days I still found myself waiting on my deposit from the former flat (a common annoyance in Spain is that landlords do not give back deposits), as well as an order of materials from the USA that is currently still stuck in customs (another common annoyance in Spain), but living in Seville has taught me a level of patience that I never had to exercise in India. And I am not kidding at all when I say it has been my daily practice of Yoga that has enabled me to deal with the chaos of it all. I remember the day I felt I had reached my breaking point. Cold showers, fights with the landlord, constant presence of maintenance in my new apartment, problems with a dear friend, the stupidity of Spanish correos and customs, no internet to connect so I could reach out to my family abroad…locking myself out of the new flat (oh yes…I did that…and then had to pick my lock to get back in as the landlord was useless, he wouldn´t even make a phonecall!!!)…I was exhausted….but once I got back on my mat and I moved deeper into each pose and into my breath, I could physically feel the tension, the uncertainty, the fear and anger…literally melting away.

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - Goodyoga
I try to explain this feeling to those who have never practiced yoga, and they look at me like I am some kind of alien, or wacky new age hippie who doesn´t have a clue about life…but the fact is…I have probably experienced more of life than most people my age (…and I am not bragging, just stating that my life has not been one of white picket fences and apple pies…) and the one practice that has enabled me to carry forward every day and work through the deepest of depressions, overcome disabling anxiety, and confront and fight the fear of uncertainty and loneliness, has been my Yoga practice. My own personal Yoga practice.

I studied Psychology, I have my Masters in Applied Sociology. I have attended the positive psychology workshops. I know the tricks they sell and the techniques they seek to prove…but the ones that work, all have their base in Yoga…and Yoga is not a theory that can be explained intellectually, it is an experience that must be experienced personally, within one´s own body and one´s own breath.

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - Goodyoga

Good Yoga Workshop December 2015

 

 

I love to teach Yoga and compliment it with Body Rolling because I know how effective it is in creating peace, space and clarity in my own life. A major book worm and library junkie, I have always been in my head and for me, getting into my body has been the key to my mental and spiritual transformation. It is not uncommon for me to break into tears, sigh or even let out a scream as I leave a pose, or roll over a ball…so grateful for the space and release I feel on all three levels, physical, mental and emotional. Yoga works upon so many levels and can be approached from many different angles, and that is the beauty of it.

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - Goodyoga

Good Yoga Workshop December 2015

 

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - Goodyoga

Good Yoga Workshop December 2015

Yoga at its base and in its purest form is not a dogma. It is not a religion. It is an educative tool that helps each individual to learn how to listen to their own cells. When we learn to listen and interpret the language of our own cells, there is no need for religious dogma, fad diets, ancient texts or fashionable well marketed guru´s. The answers are all right there inside of us. It is good and almost always necessary to seek out guidance and teachers, but the best teachers are the ones that do not preach, but teach their students how to feel and think for themselves. I have been blessed with such wonderful teachers in my own life and consequently I maintain this to be my own teaching philosophy, and guide my students with meticulous detail so that they too can feel and understand each pose for themselves.

 

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - Goodyoga

Good Yoga Workshop December 2015

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - Goodyoga

October Workshop YBR & Yoga

As 2015 closes down, I look forward to the new adventures that await me as I mark another year on this earth, expand my student base with the Gaia Centro de Estudios Alternativos, begin new projects and classes with the wonderfully genuine Lula of SeYoga and the sassy Betty of Hija de Los Lobos and connect more and more with those around me and the space within me. Each teacher and student is a great lesson waiting to unfold and in that observation I love to meditate upon the great fusion that exists between teacher and student and how the best relationships are synergetic in nature. One might say that a Yoga teacher is a just an interpreter that guides a student to understand the language of their own body, mind and heart….and as any interpreter will tell you, there are always new words to be learned and subtle phrases to be decoded, and that is the great adventure.

 

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - GoodyogaEvery new challenge or change in plan is just another chance for us to use our own unique and amazing human creativity. Being human really is pretty freaking awesome. The ability to create something out of nothing and nothing into something on the scale and level that we do…is something uniquely human. Take this idea with you into the New Year and instead of freaking out on and screaming at or stonewalling, one, or many of your kin; or crying away when the Christmas dessert goes wrong; or hiding away in a hole when you realize that your New Year´s Eve will be spent alone…take a deep breath. Get on the mat. Do a headstand. Put your feet up the wall, or just hang out in a forward fold and breathe deep. Breathe into the 360 degrees of space that exists within your lungs, between muscle fibers and cells, and see what inspiration will bubble up as the monkey mind quiets and the creative human spirit opens and unfolds.

 

And if you find that you just can´t do it alone…

Good Yoga classes start up again January 18th 2016. 

New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - Goodyoga

Good Yoga Workshop December 2015

See you all on the mat!
New Year New Life: How to embrace change and uncertainty - Goodyoga  OM:)

 

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man

¨Tantra is about the expansion of energy…it´s not about sex…sexual energy and the act of sex are two different things¨ Martina Hughes of Tantra Blossoming

It was 1:30 in the morning and I was as wide awake as Sukah, my little street cat, ran up and down the hallway like a galloping horse, stopping just long enough for me to acknowledge her existence then flick her head and run off again with her tail high in the air.

Cats. In my next reincarnation I definitely want to be a cat. The house cat of a single female.

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

Despite her charming antics, she could not pull me away from the computer screen. I was enthralled. From the outside it would appear that I had a thing for old British professors in wool jumpers and white whispy hair. Here was this Dr. Thomas Daffern just talking away non-stop. No question or answer. No fireworks or pictures. Just an hour and a half long academic overview of the ancient spiritual practice of Tantra. 

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

I was riveted to the screen.

I had studied a bit about Tantra while I was in India, and yes I do teach Yoga which has its roots in Tantra, but I teach a very anatomy based form of Yoga. I speak little about Yoga spiritual philosophy for a couple of reasons 1) I am vehemently against instilling religious beliefs of any sort upon anyone and I want my students to enjoy the benefits of a Hatha Yoga practice without feeling like they also have to adhere to a spiritual/religious belief system they do not feel right about  2)Yoga literature in many aspects is misogynistic 3) Many philosophical aspects of Yoga far too cerebral, unreachable and not really practical in real world. 4) There is a great focus on the control of the body but not enjoyment of it.

So here I was listening to Dr. Daffern discussing the reality that the very root of Yoga, Tantra, in comparison to the hyper-masculine society that we live in today, would be considered a very feminine belief system. The essence of Tantra is about utilizing and understanding the tension between two different polarities, the masculine and the feminine.

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

Any practitioner can use that connection to move beyond the mundane and connect with their quantum essence. 

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

Not just monks in the mountain.

There is so much more in this simple documentary that I cannot do it justice. I urge you to it watch for yourself and share it with those around you. With that said, Dr. Daffern was great, but the real mind bomb came when looking to the right of the screen my eye was drawn to a 30 minute clip titled, Be My Tantric Lover.

This too was a very simple, low budget recording of a lecture by an Australian woman named Martina Hughes in a conference titled Soul Sessions. She was beautiful. She was simple and elegant in her appearance and possessed a very sensual but approachable presence about her that made me sit up and pay attention…much to Sukah´s annoyance.

As Martina started to talk about life-fulfillment and sexuality, I found my head unconsciously nodding in agreement with everything she was saying. My God! This woman not only was articulating everything I had been thinking for years, but everything my heart and body had also been feeling, experiencing and longing for. Furthermore, I knew through many many open and honest conversations with my female (and male) friends, from around that globe that I was not the only one.

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

She made the very clear observation that most sex today is all in the head and not in the body.

The consequence of head sex (thanks in great part to the commodification of sex found in mass media and porn) is that the sexual and life energy that is generated from that energetic connection, is lost. Just as Vicktor Frankl, the famed holocaust survivor, author and psychiatrist said,

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

´sex without love (or simply put, connection), is nothing more than masturbation…´

 

 

It is both sad and frustrating and also a little frightening to say that the majority of my female friends are not sexually satisfied and even quite of few of my male friends would say the same. Perhaps they all know how to reach orgasm, but more often than not, they feel bored, pressured, unfulfilled or even ignored and taken for granted in sex, and it is not a question of technique. A man can check off the list of A, B, C, and D to bring the female to orgasm and the woman can seek to fulfill the porn scene, but it is not a question of re-creating mental fantasies, but rather a question of taking interest and generating an energetic connection.

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

You got to get out of your head and into your body. You got to stop thinking and start feeling.

Martina Hughes was offering a very practical and accessible way to do this. No need for 10 to 15 years of monastic training to achieve orgasmic bliss. If it had not been for my own albeit sparse but unforgettable experiences of such connections, I am not sure if I would have believed her long enough to have kept watching, but those memories kept me hooked.

 As I watched her describe and demonstrate a true tantric orgasm, I knew this is what was missing from my practice and exploring the energy within my own sexuality is where the true healing would begin.

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

I felt that old transformative energy moving through my body, clearing the cobwebs from my head and untying the knots in my gut. I recognized it as the same energy that had pushed me towards two very hard but transformative decisions in my life.

In the past I did not understand the electricity and the clarity that moved through me when this energy arose. It was undeniable and impossible to ignore. I always attributed it to something outside of myself, but now I see and understand that this life essence and powerful electricity is and always has been, within me.

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

Super excited by the re-kindling of this energy, I forwarded the videoclip to all of my friends and then looked up Martina Hughes only to discover that Martina is based in Australia where she left a profession of being a charter accountant for the calling of conducting tantric healing workshops for men and for women.

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

Oh no! Panic filled my chest to be so close to such a great teacher only to have her so out of reach. Slightly disheartened that she was so far away, I felt a glimmer of hope when I noticed that she did give sessions via skype–so I wrote her. Imagine my great surprise and joy when she responded the same day to inform me that she was in Germany and could possible come to Spain within the month!!!

Talk about synchronicity and that is the just beginning!!!

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

After speaking with Martina via Skype we have arranged the following Tantra Blossoming workshops to happen here in Seville on the 25th and 26th of September. She will also be available for private sessions the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of September.

Women´s Workshop: September 26th 10:00-17:00. 120€

Men´s Workshop: September 25th 19:00-22:00. 60€

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

DO NOT MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY to have such a great internationally trained and renowned teacher come to Seville

(how often does a tantric guru come to the land of semana santa???)

Martina Hughes will be her to expound her knowledge for almost half the price you would pay in Australia…and you get to save yourself a long trip!

Register before September 21st and receive up to a 20% discount. 

If you would like to attend one of these workshops, please watch the following videos so you have an idea about what to expect and if you are not sure if you would like to attend, watch the videos and see if you change your mind.

Martina Hughes and Be my Tantric Valentine

David Anderson 10 Tantric Steps for men

Tantra: Sexual Healing for the modern woman and man - Goodyoga

Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or concerns concerning this amazing opportunity to learn how to heal and enjoy to the fullest your life energy and sexuality.

Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next

It was the first of September and I had arrived back from Aranda de Duero with all kinds of thoughts in my head about what I was hoping to do in the future.

I have always been driven by a need to find the most effective tools for healing and health, both mental and physical. I never bought into the psychoanalysis of Frued, 1) because it goes against common sense 2) it is very misogynistic 3) the scientific research on this therapy has yet to prove its effectiveness and in fact, has proven that the constant revision of negative events (or ones that do not even exisit!!!) can make matters worse.

Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next - Goodyoga

There is of course the behaviorist approach, but this theory pretty much turns people into machines and lacks the very important part of cognition which even animals have proven to display. Then comes the discipline of Sociology, kind of a result of behaviorism. But alas, dropping all the blame upon social conditions is not the entire answer either nor is it really very empowering or healing. It is useful and important to recognize various social structures that propagate destructive behaviors or ideas, but unfortunately can then result in a loss of individual responsibility. I dabbled a bit in Cognitive Behavioral Approaches but finally I found the most effective treatment for my own well-being, was the practice of Yoga.

Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next - Goodyoga

I have taught Yoga for over five years now and practiced it longer. For me, it has been the solution to anxiety and debilitating fears. Nonetheless, recently, I have been feeling there was something missing in my Yoga experience. So I went to back to my old love, Psychology, and found that she had evolved into a wonderful and light being supported by scientific literature and studies. I spent the summer reading up on Positive Psychology. I read all the literature I could that was published by Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology. It was really no surprise to see many of the principals of Yoga (ie. Observing and re-directing thoughts) peeping through the various practices that Seligman proposed and tested. I will outline some of them below. Please feel free to try out these exercises on your own and let me know how they go.

Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next - Goodyoga

If you would like more guidance or information please feel free to contact me directly to book your own private consultation.

Gratitude List

Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next - Goodyoga

Write out in detail three good things that happened to you every night before your go to bed or before you start your day.  Often times our minds are habituated towards observing and re-living the negative which limits overall life enjoyment, dampens creativity, creates mind blocks and creates difficulty in problem solving. This activity can help break the habit. Adding WHY those good things happened is a great way to combat the sense of helplessness that proceeds depression. No matter how small the effort, write down what you did to contribute to that positive experience.

For example:

I totally aced my exam today and it felt awesome. I studied hard to achieve that grade.

I had a great conversation with my partner today and it is because I actually set the time aside to listen and ask him/her questions about their day.

My dog finally learned how to sit and roll over and it is because I spent a lot of time training him.

ABC (DE) of arguing with yourself

Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next - Goodyoga

Everyone talks to themselves, and we are always harder on ourselves than anyone else, and learning how to refute and rebuttal those negative thoughts I found to be far more effective than ´just thinking happy thoughts´ or repeating time and time again positive affirmations that you and I both know, we don´t really believe. Below is a formula to help you nullify those negative thoughts.

A (Adversity) State the problem (I failed the exam)

B (Beliefs) State the beliefs/emotions associated with the problem (I feel hopeless and stupid)

C (Consequences) How does this problem make you act/think (I think I might just give up, drop the course, maybe just try something different)

D (Debate/Discussion) Have an argument in your head with a litigating lawyer and counteract every negative statement

Lawyer: Yes you suck. Always failing.

You: No, that´s not true. I passed the last exam with a great grade.

Lawyer: Whatever that was a fluke, why did you fail this one?

You: It wasn´t a fluke. I studied really hard and I enjoyed the material. I failed this one because I had fought with my partner the whole week and spent the entire night cramming instead of taking time during the week to study.

E (Energize) Write down the steps you will take to change

I will do better next time. I failed this exam due to lack of preparation. I will ask the professor what areas I need to improve upon and make sure that I space out my study time and make sure that before the night of an important exam I avoid discussions that might start a fight.

Always try to make negative events situational and positive events a permanent way of being. Use terms like always and never only when referring to positive events/aspects and avoid at all costs using ´always´ and ´never´ when referring to negative events/aspects.

Relationships

Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next - Goodyoga

Often times in psychology there is a lot of emphasis on the individual and not enough on how that individual is interacting with the world around him or her. We live in a very individualistic society that tends to create almost a kind of numbness or ignorance towards how we react to one another. This can be seen in work, everyday conversations and sex. This is a great error as relationships make up one of the most important components of PERMA, or well-being as measured by Seligman. No man is an island and if a human is stuck in pure isolation, even if provided for physically, they will either go crazy or die, or both. There is also a great emphasis in how to deal with negative or bad communication but less upon positive and good communication. This is yet another error. By increasing the positive-constructive communication between friends/partners one creates a kind of buffer so when there is a real negative topic at hand, the positives truly do outweigh the negative. For a business the minimum of such positive-constructive comments to negative interactions is 3:1 and for a successful relationship it is 5:1.

Here is a very basic guide to improving your positive communication ratio so that you can experience both greater happiness within your relationships and within yourself.

Active-Constructive: Ask in great detail that your partner/friend relieve the event with you. Ask who was there, what was said, how did they feel, what did they think than give your own ideas.

Hi Hun. I got a new client today.

That´s great! Tell me all about it! Who is it and how did it happen? How did you feel before the phone call and after? (Positive acknowledgement of the event and questions that further the conversation and re-live the experience)

Passive- Constructive:  Congratulations or acknowledgment without asking for further details. Positive but not very warm or interested

That´s great. Congratulations (Positive acknowledgement of event but no further conversation)

Active- Destructive: Finding the negative in some good news that your partner/friend shared

Oh really? That would explain why you were 10 minutes late. Are you always going to be late when you get new clients? (Acknowledgement of event, but looking for the negative outcomes of the event)

Passive-Destructive: Not even acknowledging that your partner/friend shared something with you

Pass me the green beans . (No acknowledgment of the event)

______________________________________________________________________________

Following these above exercises, I noticed a big difference within the first couple of weeks. I found myself observing my thoughts with more calm and when I felt that ever familiar swell of anxiety or uncertainty clouding my brain, I would search out a piece of paper and started writing down 3 positive things that had happened to me that day and why they had happened. So simple, but so effective. The arguing of negative thoughts is also a great tool and I am now much more aware of how my interactions increase or decrease my quality of relationships.

After learning and experiencing all the above and more, I was super excited to explore the world of Positive Psychology in more depth. One of my core strengths is love of learning. You can find out your core strengths here.  I easily get obsessed and enthralled with learning and understanding new topics and ideas. In less than a month I had already read and digested the most important books of Positive Psychology, I had outlined all of the basics and I had recited the entire theory and the various practices to my friend as we drove back to Sevilla. I was even having him practice what I had learned. It was like a 7 hour positive psychology intensive!  I was already pondering ways of perhaps pursing yet another Masters in the field or perhaps even a PhD, but then something changed…

Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next - Goodyoga

I got home. I hugged my cat and I started to research various schools and opportunities and as I did this, the fire I had felt during the journey home, started to fade away. I felt tired. I did not want to answer the phone calls or emails from the schools I had contacted. I even stopped doing the Positive Psychology exercises that I had been doing so religiously.

I related this change of heart to a very good friend who I can always rely on for an honest assessment. She raised her eyebrow when I told her I was thinking of going to go back to school, and she asked if I really wanted to put myself back into the cold and very cerebral world of academia again…I had no reply.

Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next - Goodyoga

The fact is that my head was super eager to be occupied all over again, but my heart knew better, my friend knew better and more than anything, my body knew better, I knew there was something else I had to learn, I just didn´t know what…

That was when, as I was watching yet another episode of John Oliver, Last Week Tonight in an effort to distract myself from this nagging feeling that I wasn´t quite in the right place, that there was something more I needed to study to in order to offer complete healing to myself and others, it was then that  I saw to the right of my screen the prompt for a lecture titled: An academic overview of Tantra.

As John Oliver signed off for the evening, I clicked on the lecture and needless to say…my body, my heart and yes even my rebellious mind, aligned as I watched and began to understand with more clarity the ancient practice of Yoga, how deeply healing and practical it truly has the potential to be and where my next path of learning and healing should take me…

Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next - Goodyoga

Stay tuned to learn more in my next post …Tantra: the sacred practice of sexual healing (no partner required) Mind Tricks: Positive Psychology and where do go next - Goodyoga

When the student is ready, the teacher appears

It has been a while since I have posted anything and it is not because I am too busy working or giving classes. I cannot tell a lie and the truth is that I have been enjoying the peace, the beautiful night skies, homegrown veggies and the wonderful drop in temperature here in the province of Burgos.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears - GoodyogaWhen the student is ready, the teacher appears - GoodyogaWhen the student is ready, the teacher appears - GoodyogaWhen the student is ready, the teacher appears - Goodyoga

As I substitute the classes for Domingo Gil of the Yoga & Pilates Center here in Aranda de Duero I have pondered just how amazing and perfectly life works out when you are open and willing to breathe, relax and take a chance.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears - Goodyoga

Almost four years ago I came to Aranda de Duero after leaving a very disappointing and disheartening job as a social researcher for Trinity College. I was certified as a Yoga teacher in India and throughout my Masters I continued to practice it, but I had no intention of transforming it into my profession. Nonetheless, my goal in life has always been to relieve suffering and to increase joy (one of the reasons I took the Yoga Teachers Training…). I thought I would find the answers in Psychology, but due to the heavy emphasis on pill popping and behavioral conditioning I was not satisfied and decided that the answers may lie in Sociology.

Unfortunately or fortunately, I came to understand the importance of basic economic structures in society (ie. tax systems and paternal/maternal leave) and its influence not only upon working behaviors but also levels of well-being.  In fact the focus of my thesis was levels of well-being  measured across Europe and how it interacted with gender, education, economic status, employment and age. This was my passion and I became very jaded with what I viewed as a very archaic way of viewing social practices and gender norms. I simply was not content with using GDP as a measurement of success and was convinced that current academia was very out of touch current social practices and experiences, especially among young working parents.  I wanted to explore the very ambiguous but very important realm of well-being and social norms, after all, what is the point of a high GDP if the majority of the population is taking Prozac or suffering from depression.  Unfortunately, Trinity College was not the place for such curiosity and I was pretty much put in my place by my supervisor and discouraged from researching such topics.

Looking back I understand better now why I hated working as a researcher so much. I have always been an eternal student of human nature. As a teen I choose The National Geographic over Seventeen and spent my summers in the library reading or in a cafés simply observing and writing down the various insights that an adolescent can pretend to have. I was always a little bit odd and a little bit on the outside, but I was comfortable there as it gave me the chance to observe from a birds eye point of view. It was common for friends to ask me for advice and this gift has come in handy as I have traveled. Without more than a hello to the passenger next to me I have been given in great detail the life stories of perfect strangers from Guatemala to South Korea and from the Philippines to England.  Fascinated by the differences and more than anything, the similarities in emotional experiences I procured from these unsolicited interactions. I dug out and searched for belief and behavioral patterns across the different cultures and countries I visited just to try and see how they intertwined with stories of heartbreak and joy. What made one person cry and another survive and then thrive?

When the student is ready, the teacher appears - Goodyoga

I thought working as a researcher would be like an extension of my travels but with the chance to use numbers and literature to back up my observations. Oh how very wrong was I!! The cold towers and walls of academia have little space for those seeking out new and unknown theories of reality. This was a rude, but eventually welcome and necessary discovery.

I remember the day I sat down with my supervisor and she looked over my CV and with her very signature but very sharp honesty, asked me quite bluntly, if working as social researcher was really where I wanted to be. I stumbled and bumbled around trying to justify my existence in the exalted halls of that prestigious college, but as I cycled home in the biting cold of the Irish winter, I had to acknowledge that I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. I lost my direction, my guiding desire to be with humanity, to understand and taste the joys of what it means to be alive, in all of its imperfections and unpredictable idiosyncrasies, I had to recognize, was in direct juxtaposition to the world of spreadsheets, SPSS, bell curves and political positioning so entrenched in the world of academia.

So with a kind of eagerness I finished out my contract and with my partner, moved to Spain where he would teach English and I would seek to try and start up a Yoga practice and business. I am not going to lie, it was very hard and lonely those first months in Aranda. It was cold and I felt professionally lost and morally depressed. I was jaded with the world around me as I walked through the streets of Aranda de Duero, but one day, as fate would have it, looking up, I saw in front of me in blue and purple, a sign overhead that read, Yoga & Pilates center. I barely had enough faith in myself and life to jot down the number, and even less courage to call, but call I did and that is where one story ended and another began.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears - Goodyoga

I was looking for a place to teach, but more than anything, I was looking for a teacher. I didn´t know it at the time, but there was a large gap in my education and I was blessed to come into contact Domingo Gil,  a fellow revolutionary and Yogi who would support me with patience and a kind bluntness and honesty as I found my Yoga groove. Being a man who swears like a sailor, reads Neruda and opened his own Yoga studio after 20 years of personal practice and experience,  he corrected my Spanish showed me how to correct and improve my own Yoga practice, that of my students and how to live a honest and full life without giving a damn about what others think . A 20 year old hippie at heart and a ´manitas´ man (a handy man) he never sits still long enough to moan about the struggles he has faced and overcome…unless he is meditating or in Sirsasna.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears - Goodyoga

With him I lost the fear of being firm and learned how to trust my own intuition as I moved students into correct positions and provided modifications.  I also learned the true trans-formative power of an honest Yoga practice on and off the mat. There was still a long journey of learning, struggle and success ahead of me, but eventually I ended up substituting his classes during his breaks and this is a tradition I have continued every summer since I moved to Seville.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears - Goodyoga

It has become a place for me to escape and to learn, to further my practice and rest the soul.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears - Goodyoga

What a wonderful  pleasure to escape the city and the heat and find sweet reprieve in the Vergil of Aranda de Duero, practicing Yoga with the trees, the dogs and the natural serenity of an atmosphere created by such an honest and sincere Yogi. I am convinced more than ever that when the student is ready, the teacher appears…and as I prepare myself for my return to Seville, I open my arms to new and old students as I take my turn, once again, at being the teacher.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears - Goodyoga

If you ever find yourself in the Ribera del Duero, be sure to enjoy the wine (I can give you some great recommendations) but also be sure to check out a class with Domingo Gil in the Aranda Yoga & Pilates Center. Uplifting and trans-formative, I promise you won´t regret it.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears - Goodyoga

Next year, there will be a new addition to the family, I am sure that baby Lazerus will be walking on his hands before he walks on his feet!

When the student is ready, the teacher appears - Goodyoga

OM.

 

Seville International Day of Yoga Photos and Video

Here are some photos and a video of the International Yoga event in Seville, Spain.

A special thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate the first ever International Day of Yoga. It was a great privilege to share the same breath and space with so many kind and positive people.  This year was the planting of the seed, next year I am sure the event will be even greater with even more professors and centers of yoga available to teach and share their knowledge both on and off the ¨Yoga¨stage.

A little video featuring the great students

(and professor!)

of Good Yoga on channel 5…

Seville International Day of Yoga Photos and Video - Goodyoga

Click here to see the video

International Day of Yoga Seville Good Yoga

…as well as a fun little article.

Seville International Day of Yoga Photos and Video - Goodyoga

Traditional Indian Dance during International Day of Yoga Seville, Spain.

 Have a look and enjoy !

Ommmmmmmmmmmm

 

Celebrating the first ever International Day of Yoga

June 21, 2015

” International Day of Yoga”

Celebrating the first ever International Day of Yoga - Goodyoga

The ¨Setas¨

10: 00-13: 00

FREE

Bring only a mat and a smile.

Celebrating the first ever International Day of Yoga - Goodyoga

For all who are curious and who are already lovers of Yoga. Beginners and those advanced in their practice. All are welcome. Organized by Karina Trujillo of SevillaLoveYoga, Good Yoga is very happy to inform you all that she will be participating in this international event doing what she loves doing most, guiding Yoga postures in the outdoors under the shade of the Setas in the center of Sevilla .

Everyone  in the world breathing and moving together.

Celebrating the first ever International Day of Yoga - Goodyoga

For all those who come, it will be a great opportunity to meet other people who practice Yoga and learn more about the variety and wisdom of this ancient technique. Below is an official description of the event.

 

SEVILLA LOVE YOGA.

Celebrating the first ever International Day of Yoga - Goodyoga

 

It is an initiative that seeks to bring the practice of Yoga to the public spaces of the city of Seville, completely free and accessible, regardless of sex, age, religion or philosophy of life, everyone can join these meetings club, where they can feel the benefits of this ancient discipline and decide to incorporate healthy habits into your life for a full life.

 

YOGA OUTDOORS.

Celebrating the first ever International Day of Yoga - Goodyoga

 

To start with this project, we chose to join forces with the United Nations in the “Celebration of the International Day of Yoga”. This coming June 21, 2015, The Setas of Seville, Plaza Mayor, will be a “Stress Free Zone” an open meeting place where everyone can live a unique experience of wellbeing.

The celebration takes place at national level in Madrid; Organized by the Embassy of India in Spain, also in the cities: Cádiz, Almería, Barcelona, ​​Malaga, Palma de Mallorca and Seville http://diainternacionaldelyoga-madrid.es/. The culture department of the embassy has also informed us that more cities will soon join this global movement.

Internationally more than 265 cities around the world will join forces to make the first Yoga Day celebration a memorable day.

If you’re in Seville and want to participate in this worldwide movement JOIN by signing up on via the link below: Celebrating the first ever International Day of Yoga - Goodyogawww.sevillaloveyoga.co

I’m sure it will be a unique and inspiring event. Mark the date on your calendar. Start your summer in peace and calm.

I hope to see you there!

Celebrating the first ever International Day of Yoga - Goodyoga

www.sevillaloveyoga.com