SomaYoga: The New Innovation in Pain Resolution
By: Nicole Ablack-Ramkay, Pain Resolution Therapist (March 2017)
SomaYoga is the newest innovation in Yoga Therapy combining the brilliance of Somatic Education with the ancient wisdom of Yoga. Chronic tension/pain has become an epidemic across North America and the world with more people suffering from chronic tension/pain than Heart Disease or Cancer combined. As a society, we have learned to accept pain as a normal part of life and aging. When we were children we ran, jumped, rolled, and hung upside down. As we get older we move less and start to move in repetitive patterns. This habituated movement through repetition is what gets us into trouble creating pain and tension patterns in our bodies. Add to that accidents, illness and injury and we have a tried and true formula for tension and pain to settle into our systems. Our sensory motor systems are affected by our daily lives, our habits, stresses and traumas. Our daily movement patterns create habitual muscular contractions which we can no longer relax voluntarily. These patterns become deeply ingrained in our sensory motor system to the point where they become involuntary and unconscious. This results in the stiffness, soreness and achiness we associate with old age when in fact it is simply learned behaviour that we can un-learn. The body can be buoyant, resilient and move with ease at any age. It simply depends on what we teach it.
New research has now confirmed that pain is in the brain and we can change our response to pain through neuromuscular repatterning. Somatic Education engages the brain to help change the way our brains communicate with our muscles addressing the trunk of the body to release deep underlying patterns that create tension/pain. When the brain cannot control the release of certain muscles in the body we have a condition call Sensory Motor Amnesia where we lose any awareness of that muscle or group of muscles. Chronically contracted muscles are expending a tremendous amount of energy every hour of every day, day in day out which is exhausting. We function from unconscious incompetence of learned repetitive behaviour where the brain is reusing a pattern that is deeply ingrained in the sub-cortex. We keep moving in pain which teaches our bodies to exhibit a pain response when we move and then we do that over and over again. The brain does not distinguish between good input and bad input. It just keeps learning whatever we teach it. Muscles are simply responding to the messages the brain sends them. Pain does not reside in the muscles; it resides in the brain.
Yoga deepens the Somatic experience by introducing a slow, interoceptive element to a Somatic practice and the results are astounding. Participants will begin to feel their bodies shift out of tension in just one class. Continued practise can change a tension/pain pattern on a permanent basis. Yoga teaches us to heal from the inside out through movement, breath and meditation. SomaYoga is a profound awareness practise that is interoceptive in nature and transformative, a moving meditation that brings ease into the body, breath and mind. Our bodies have the potential to heal themselves when given the right tools. As students learn to reconnect with their bodies, as they learn to get quiet and listen to the wisdom of their bodies they begin to get better. Getting out of pain challenges the Spirit, Mind and Body. These things are not separate from each other. When you shift one you shift the other.
SomaYoga is a gentle mindful practice that requires active participation from the student; contracting, slowly releasing and completely relaxing chronically tight muscles. The practice brings the student deep into their own bodies to reignite neuromuscular communication. Reawakening places in the body where there is stagnant energy and lack of movement. Classes are slow and gentle and often focus on common reflex patterns that hold the body in a state of tension or pain. As communication between the brain and muscles improves tension and pain begin to dissipate or disappear, the body becomes more functional and resilient. Students report feeling deeply relaxed, grounded, connected to their bodies and restored after each class. They also report a sense of space in their bodies, improved core stability, sounder sleep and more energy. SomaYoga is truly about taking yoga off the mat and into your life.