You aren’t likely to find a “Yoga Somatics” class on the schedule of your neighborhood yoga studio. Heck, I’m a yoga teacher (albeit a newbie) and I hadn’t even heard of the practice before a few days ago. As I was rolling up my mat after a calming introspective class, my teacher Amanda mentioned she would be teaching a “yoga somatic” workshop the following morning that was “early, but sure to be worth it.”
Months prior, Amanda had engaged in a week long somatics workshop at Kalani Resort on the Big Island. She returned to Oahu with a passion to share and integrate the practice and it’s benefits with her students. I was definitely intrigued and mentally committed myself to attending despite the early start time.
Bright eyed and yoga journal in hand, the first thing I learned at 7am that Saturday morning was what yoga somatics is.
“Yoga Somatics uses yoga practice to become more aware of the connection between our physical, mental emotional, spiritual and energetic bodies. It uses yoga philosophy and practices such as Samyama, Chakra Based Bio-Energetics, Pranayama and the 8 Limb Raja yoga practice and incorporates expressive art and movement to trigger our emotional body. In other words, we do various practices to recreate trauma so that we can evaluate our behaviors in a safe and proactive space,” described Amanda.
Through past experiences, thought patterns, society and culture, we have suppressed and ignored feelings that become held deep inside our bodies. Yoga somatics is a pathway to discovering these emotions and finding space to express them. The benefits include growing spiritually and emotionally and gaining self-trust and confidence to listen to our intuition. Through expression of repressed emotions, we can learn to outgrow old behavior patterns and open up to creating positive, supportive habits. Sounds blissful right?
So how do you practice somatics? You may already be doing it!
“Yoga somatics is very simple to practice. We bring emotional heat into ourselves – maybe through asana, authentic movement, pranayama, mantra, etc. Then we investigate what is really there? We ask ourselves questions like – what does my body need? How do I feel? Where do I feel my energy the strongest? What does this body part have to say to me? And we listen to the response without judgement,” says Amanda.
The workshop became an open discussion on exploring emotions and why we resist them. Why is emotional growth important and how can we grow emotionally? Somatics moves past cultivating out physical and mental body and taps into the undernourished emotional body. We did some pretty cool practices (that at one point had everyone dancing around the room) and had some quiet introspective meditation to connect ourselves to the moment and our present feelings.
If you are in the Honolulu area and interested in learning more about yoga somatics, Amanda will be teaching a 4 week workshop in early 2014 at Open Space Yoga.
Meditation image from Shutterstock