3 Tips to Deal with Recurring Muscle Pain

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If you've had tight muscles for a very long time, doing a few Somatic Movements or having one Clinical Somatics session will not make your muscle pain disappear overnight. These muscles have learned to remain "stuck" and contracted due to messages from your brain in response to trauma, stress, and postural compensations. It takes time to adjust to moving easily and efficiently again, while also absorbing the new sensory feedback you are experiencing. But what if you have already had several clinical sessions and are pain free, and old, nagging pain keeps coming back? Here are the top three tips for dealing with recurring muscle pain.

Tip 1: Do your Somatic Movement practice every day

When it comes to creating a new habit, repetition is key. You may find that, after a clinical session or a few Somatic Movements, you move more efficiently, have improved breathing, and a drastic reduction of functional muscle pain, but this does not mean that you have been "cured." Despite your newfound freedom of movement, your brain simultaneously wants to take you into your old habits (e.g. the way you slouch at your computer). These old habits are more familiar to your brain than the new, more relaxed and efficient movement that you have created through your somatic movement practice. Changing long terms habits takes time and patient repetition, so get on your mat and start moving!

Tip 2: Do a self check-in throughout the day

To have the effects of your daily Somatics practice last longer, it's critical to address your daily movement habits and be patient with gradual improvement. Being conscious of the way you walk, stand, or do any given daily activity is just as important. As you go about your day, check in with yourself (especially if you begin to feel pain or discomfort). Ask yourself

  • How you sit. Do you slump back on your pelvis, sit overly arched, or slightly twisted?
  • How you stand. Do you stand with an arched back, slumped chest, or more weight on one foot?
  • How you sleep. Do you curl yourself inward in a fetal position or lie relaxed on your back? 
  • How you walk. Do you step heavier on one foot than the other? Do you scuff your feet or walk on your toes? What part of your foot strikes the ground first?

Tip 3: Make the connection

Become aware of how your thoughts create muscle tension or spaciousness. Ask yourself why. Why do you slump at your desk at work? Why do you feel tense when you're driving? Why is your back arched when you are walking? Is there an underlying emotion attached to your actions?

Try this: Keep a journal of your somatic practice for two weeks. Write down which movements you do in your morning and evening practice. Write a few sentences about how you felt that day and what changes you felt. At the end of two weeks reflect back on your journal and note how many days you followed through on your practice. Then make the connection between your practice and what you felt in your body – emotionally and physically.

A patient, persistent practice will create new habits of awareness, posture and movement. The more consistent you are in applying your new awareness to all areas of your life, the more natural it will be. 

BONUS TIP: Take the Fundamentals Immersion Course

To delve deeper into your Somatics practice, participate in a Fundamentals Immersion Course, taught by a skilled Somatic practitioner. Over two days, you will integrate new changes to help you break through to the source of your recurring issue whether it be mental, emotional, physical, or occupational.

Register now for a Fundamentals Immersion Course near you!

Improve Your Movement Within Minutes

Over the last month I’ve had the good fortune to not only be teaching others, but to also take weekly Somatic Movement classes. I’ve noticed that after participating in a class there is a marked improvement in what I can physically do in addition to how I feel from within. Considering my travel schedule throughout the year, I am grateful for a Somatic Movement practice that leaves me more proprioceptively intelligent as well as more capable of controlling my body and physical resources.

Somatic Movement provides a number of benefits:

  • Releasing accumulated muscle tension

  • Improving breathing (which improves oxygen uptake)

  • Increased alertness and sense of renewal

  • Heightened awareness of one’s body

One of the biggest benefits of a daily Somatic Movement practice is that it provides you with the tools to improve your ability to do even the simplest actions and to move more efficiently.

Somatic Movements address muscle tension at the level of your nervous system. You learn to improve your physical functioning, coordination, self-control, and balance through improved sensory motor awareness.  

Thomas Hanna once lectured about the unique experience of those practicing Somatic Education and Movement. He said that Somatic Education is much more than absorbing new information in the traditional sense; you are asking yourself to become aware of yourself for the purpose of being able to become masterful at controlling yourself from within, thus changing and improving your physical state. Yet how do we know if we’ve learned something well?

Move Well with These 4 Somatic Movements

Let's set a goal. Say you want to improve your reach

Find a wall in your home and, keeping feet flat on the floor, reach up with one arm and place a piece of colored tape or a post-it on the wall. Repeat with your other arm. Now lie down on a comfortable spot on the floor and do the following movements:

  1. Arch and flatten 8-10 times slowly, sensing both the front and back of your body and taking a breath in between each repetition. Sense neutral as you move through your arch and into your flatten.

  2. Side bend 4 times on each side, relaxing between each repetition

  3. Washrag slowly and luxuriously for one minute, coordinating the lazy twisting of your shoulders with the movement of your pelvis and legs

  4. Human X (with feet planted on the floor) slowly, like a yawn, for a few minutes.

As you practice, bring awareness to the release through your waist as you gently expand your ribcage on the inhale. Can you allow one side of your body to lengthen as the other side shortens as you move through the Side Bend and Human X? Would the Human X be more pleasurable if you allowed your hips and pelvis to gently swing in response to the reaching of your arms?

After completing your practice, slowly find your way to standing. Stand still for a minute and notice how you feel. Notice your thoughts and your breath. Can you send breath into your ribcage and waist?  Go to the wall and, with two new pieces of tape, reach up to place one piece on the wall, and then the other.

Did you improve your reach on one side or the other? Maybe both?

If you found that you improved your ability to reach by restoring coordination and softening the waist, back, and belly muscles, consider other activities you would like to improve. Which movements could you combine to help improve your golf swing, your ability to hike on uneven ground, or your yoga poses? Or even something as simple as getting up from the floor with ease? Try it out and let me know how it goes!

**Thanks to Carrie Day for this “Reach to the Top Shelf” mini-class.**

Breathe Smarter, Not Harder

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In a recent Fundamentals Immersion Course, I asked the participants to share one aha! moment from the weekend – something they learned about themselves, or about Somatic Movement that was profound for them.

One participant said that “playing with his breath” unlocked his movement. He realized that he had been working too hard to “inhale, and exhale, and inhale, and exhale” as if doing movement drills. At a certain point in the weekend I guided the participants “go with their own breath cycle” and take two breath cycles (a full inhale, gentle exhale, then inhale and exhale gently again) to move into arch and release to neutral. We did the same with the back lift – and the movements felt freer and easier – more pleasant and natural. He was amazed.

Sensory Motor Amnesia and chronic stress can literally take our breath away and we find ourselves “reverse breathing:” sucking our bellies inward as we inhale rather than letting our bellies soften to allow the air to be drawn into the lungs. Breathing itself is a pandiculation – a gentle contraction and release of the diaphragm – so there’s no need to be overly rigid about your breathing. Sometimes we need to experiment with our breath in order to get the most sensation and control out of a movement!

Pandiculate your breathing

Try this: Lie on one side (for the Side Bend). Make sure your head is supported by a pillow or rolled up towel. Take the hand of the underside arm and place it, as feedback, on your topside ribs. Place your topside arm over your head for the “arm sweep variation” of the Side Bend. Inhale, and as you exhale fully, squeeze all the air out of your topside ribs and move into your “accordion,” tightening the waist muscles to allow the head and foot to float up naturally.  As you release, take two full breath cycles to release back to the floor, inhaling gently into your own hand so you can feel what’s opening and releasing through the side of your body. Can you sense more when you take more time to breathe? Repeat that again.

Then, come up into your side bend, hand still on your waist – and stop! Inhale deeply into the underside ribcage. Take your time and allow your ribs to spread open like little mouths sucking in the air. Exhale, and then continue with two breaths to lengthen and release.

Do this on both sides.

How can you play with your breath to get the most out of your practice? Try it and see.

Essential Somatics and the World of Dance

A guest post by Gena Rho-Smith, CCSE

 

 Photo by Michael Zittel from Pexels

The restrictions of movement and patterns of habit many young dancers feel are all part of the human condition - the same condition those of us with chronic aches and pains all face: overly contracted back muscles in a "green light reflex," or a "trauma reflex" that hikes one hip up causing more effort and work to find balance. Dancers just happen to have a bigger stake in the game, a more pressing reason to find a way out and to regain muscle function. Their livelihood might depend on it.

I teach Somatic Movement for Contemporary dance to the BFA students of Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.  It’s a lovely treat to work and teach a group of students who share a common language and understanding with each other, and with me. I know the rigors of training they face every day; I lived it many years ago as a professional modern dancer with the Trisha Brown Company.  These dancers are hungry for more learning, and ready to be guided into their own somatic awareness. They arrive open to new learning.

Eyes closed, moving slowly, sensing and feeling come fairly easily to them. I watch as they regain muscle function they had no idea was temporarily lost. They drop into their weight and awareness of what touches the floor. The experience brings a small grin to their faces. When questions and confusion float up to their consciousness, I see a wrinkle of the brow. The questions are forming. I guide them to notice what they feel and to state it…sometimes out loud. Others agree and confirm the same awareness. 

These young dancers spend much of their day “doing,” so the permission to ease off and  focus on exploration and awareness is a welcome change in their training. Once they come to their feet, they notice feeling different on their legs. Standing grounded in their own sense of neutral, equally weighted. The back pain and leg strain they walked in with is a shadow of past awareness. They think the dramatic changes they feel are magic. It's not magic; it's "somatic." I remind them of the concepts and tenants of Thomas Hanna’s work, the neuroscience and all that is possible for them going forward whether as professional dancers, future dancer teachers or all of the above.

Many of my students already teach others. They have a unique perspective as students of Dance and Somatic Movement. We discuss the responsibility they have to themselves and their students to sift through the conflicting information about muscle function, efficiency of movement and full body function. A somatic perspective is a profound awareness of one's own physical experience and is with this awareness and knowledge of our selves that we experience the world of Dance, life and art.

Gena Rho-Smith of Emergesomatics is a certified Clinical Somatic Educator in the tradition of Thomas Hanna.  She owns a small studio, The Somatics Loft, in Maplewood, NJ. Her practice is in both Maplewood and NYC where she see clients privately and teaches Somatic Movement, yoga, workshops and classes. She is a co-adjunct professor at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. 

Gena has been practicing and teaching yoga since 1998.  Prior to her yoga practice, she had a career as a modern dancer, performing and teaching internationally as a member of the Trisha Brown Company.  She has an MFA in Dance from NYU TISCH School of the Arts.

 

A Somatic Approach to Holiday Stress

The holiday season can be a time of stress and overstimulation for many people. From running to catch a plane (in order to sit in an uncomfortable position for five hours) to, meet up with family members who might send us into a Red Light Reflex, to carrying heavy bags of groceries (or presents!) in from your car. Perhaps the stress of holiday preparation sends us into a Green Light Reflex as we rush from task to task. And even if that isn’t our exact experience, we all know someone for whom that rings closer to true than not.

But the holidays don’t have to cause us to unconsciously respond both emotionally and physically from our “default mode,” whether that is to “get things done now!” (Green Light), or avoid that which we don’t want to deal with (Red Light). The holiday season can and should be a time where we release the tightness and stiff uprightness that our jobs or other day-to-day obligations demand. Somatics can help us through the season so we can be more present to ourselves and those around us.

When you pandiculate, you create new neural pathways of awareness, sensation, and motor control in your brain. It is from these pathways of thought, feeling and action that we live and respond to ourselves and those around us.

Try this in your daily Somatics practice:

Ask yourself, “what can I let go of that I don’t need to be doing this movement?” By practicing this you will discover which areas let go to aid in the movement and which areas contract to “do” the movement.

 The Flower can be done on the floor, in a chair, or even while sitting on an airplane.

The Flower can be done on the floor, in a chair, or even while sitting on an airplane.

  • If you tend to rush and do everything for everyone, try adding the Back Lift to your daily practice. Move in and out of the movement with two full breath cycles, yawning as you do so. Take a full resting breath in between each repetition.
     
  • If you feel emotionally stressed, make the Flower a movement you do on the floor, in a chair, or even sitting on the airplane. Again, use two breaths to move in and out of the movement for a more spacious experience.
     
  • The Washrag is an excellent movement for “wringing out your whole self” and finding soft length and relaxation. Make your Soma Scan at the end of your practice longer.

Sense yourself in the present and take that inner awareness into your holidays and know that everyone you meet is moving towards a similar desire to feel good, both inside and out during this wonderful time of year. 

Movement Snacks with Karyn Clark

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Karyn Clark, CCSE, graduated from the Essential Somatics® Clinical Somatic Education Professional training program in 2015. She teaches outdoor education and is a qualified personal trainer specializing in creating retreats that combine outdoor activities with Essential Somatic Movement. She believes that to get outside and move with strength, endurance, and fun Somatic Movements is the best way to activate your body to move with skill.

Karyn’s recent blogpost has some wonderful tips for combining “movement snacks” with a healthy “meal” of Somatic Movement to keep you ready and able to engage in whatever activity you love.

 

Who doesn’t like a snack? A little treat mid-morning or mid-afternoon. Something nice to keep you going until lunch or to enjoy with a cup of tea in the afternoon. Maybe it allows you to just take a moment out of your busy day or to nourish your body to keep you going. A snack isn’t something you have instead of your lunch or dinner. Snacks aren’t something you just continue having mindlessly all day long; they’re a special little treat that makes you smile. So what about a movement snack?
 

Essential Somatics is thrilled to have Karyn as a co-teacher in the new Somatics for Athletics course taking place in York, UK November 11! Learn more and register here.

More Power In Your Lifting With the Flower

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Brian Justin is one of our 2nd year clinical-practitioners-in-training and is passionate about spreading the word on the benefits of physical activity for health, performance, and injury prevention. Brian is also a professor of kinesiology in Vancouver, BC, a boxing coach, and a strength and conditioning coach. His recent blog post discusses how the Flower can improve your workout routine.

"The Flower is an excellent somatic exercise to help restore ideal length to our pectorals. It utilizes pandiculation...This technique involves contracting a muscle so that it is tighter than its currently tight resting posture. Thereafter, it is lengthened at the speed of a yawn resulting in more length and reduced resting tension. Lastly, a period of relaxation occurs and this allows our brain to process the new information to gain control of the muscle... This happens all without stretching!"

Read more about what Brian has to say about gaining more power in your workout here...

If you are an athlete, fitness instructor, or whether you are merely searching for an effective method through which to improve your ability and performance, be sure to also check out our new Somatics for Athletics workshop, taught by Karyn Clark, CCSE and Martha Peterson, CHSE! In this two-day course, you will learn how Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) is keeping you from reaching your maximum potential, how to bounce back from muscle injuries, how to apply Somatic Movements to your daily routine, and so much more.

Trauma, Somatics, and Being Fully Alive

“Trauma is lived out in the theatre of your body. You are at war with your body and your body is at war with you. How do you find safety in your body?”
— Bessel van der Kolk, MD

In August, I attended Body, Brain and Trauma, a 5-day intensive course at Hollyhock Lifelong Learning Center with Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and director of the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Boston, MA. He has spent decades of research on PTSD and childhood trauma and is the author of The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of TraumaThis book is required reading for those in the Essential Somatics Clinical Somatic Education professional training and I wanted to learn more from the author himself.

Here is some of what I learned as well as my thoughts on why Hanna Somatics is a powerful complement to other therapies to help guide one to live and move more fully in the present. 

  1. Trauma changes our brains and our lives. Trauma is a tragically common event, especially for children. Trauma changes our brain and our ability to feel ourself. We become out of sync with ourselves. When we are out of sync with ourselves we become out of sync with those around us – with our communities, with the rhythm of our environment, with even our most basic needs such as nutrition, sleep, and personal hygiene. While trauma keeps us from being fully alive in the present, it isn’t about the past; it’s the residue of the past that is still within us that still controls how we behave, what we feel, and what we think. We are in a constant, unconscious state of reaction to past events.
  2. The very parts of the brain that define “who we are” (what van der Kolk called the “Mohawk of Awareness") go offline when we are traumatized. The ability to observe yourself from within (self-sense), self-regulate, understand the difference between past, present and future, and the ability to focus and filter out unnecessary information occurs in these areas. Thankfully, there are activities that can bring these areas of the brain back online.
  3. Trauma can be helped through movement. Movement, both slow and vigorous (play, conversation, writing, theater games, drumming, martial arts, dancing with others, art, singing with others, etc.) can help us attune to others and sync up in a fun, safe way with those around you. Echoing Thomas Hanna, van der Kolk told us that emotions are about movement and that the brain is an organ whose function is one of muscular coordination. Information and talking is important, yet movement and connection to our place in the world is critical to allowing who we want to be to reemerge. Movement programs that teach self-regulation and somatic awareness are crucial for children as well as adults.
  4. The environment at Hollyhock was conducive to taking these steps to rewiring the brain from trauma: beach walks, bicycling, singing, kayaking, gentle yoga, nature walks, and delicious, healthy food shared with others created a sense of community. I had just finished teaching a Myth of Aging retreat to a group of students who had come to learn to sense themselves, calm their nervous systems and brains, and create more physical freedom. How perfect to go from a movement experience to a course that explained more deeply how events of the past can prevent us from feeling fully alive.

Clinical (Hanna) Somatics is a safe way to reclaim a sense of agency. In addition to supportive therapies like EMDR, pscyhotherapy, art therapy, or music, it can go a long way towards rewiring the traumatized brain and moving one towards awareness, choice, and embodiment.

Bring the Mohawk of Awareness back online: Thomas Hanna observed that to improve our overall functioning (and subsequently our ability to control ourselves, our thinking, and our choices) we must first go within, to our “sensing selves” – that same sensing self that taught us how to know ourselves when we were children. The brain learns through repetition and feedback. The more you sense and move with curiosity and awareness the more able you are to retrain your brain to become more self-sensing, self-regulating and self-actualizing. "Who you are" and who you can be changes.

Bring movement and emotions into sync: The Green Light, Red Light, and Trauma stress reflexes are hard-wired in our primitive brains. These physical responses to stress are also emotional: joy, freedom, avoidance, escape, protection, fear, and anxiety. Only by recreating these reflexes can we become aware of them when they happen involuntarily. This can help put emotional and bodily sensations into perspective.

Curiosity and Imagination are first steps to change: A traumatized brain is not fully in the present. The timing function of the brain does not adjust to the belief of “this too shall pass.” Curiosity and imagination wakes up the timing functions of your brain so you can sense – just for today – how you can release tension and experience yourself more fully. Hanna Somatic Movement is sensory motor training. What you sense you can change.

Restore the ability to self-regulate to become more present: Pandiculation, the action pattern taught in Hanna Somatics, resets the resting level of tension in our central nervous system and muscles. It sends new feedback to the brain so that you can connect what you are moving to how you feel. Animals in the wild pandiculate up to 40 times a day in order to stay present in their bodies and in control of their movement! Safety from within begins with your ability to sense yourself and connect what you feel to what is actually happening in the present.

Humans are intensely social creatures with a need to give to others, play, contribute, and grow. Inside each one of us is the innate ability to move beyond our past and into a future of our own making. There is hope, support, and methods that really work to help us on that road.  I encourage those of you for whom this information has been helpful to seek out the help you need in order to bring yourself back into the rhythm of life.

Read more about the Trauma Center here.

Listen to Bessel van der Kolk here.

Takeaways from The Myth of Aging - Hollyhock 2017

  "Youth has strength, but it does not have skill, which, in the long run, is the most potent strength.   Youth has speed, but it does not have efficiency, which, in the long run, is the only effective way of attaining goals.   Youth is quick, but not deliberate, and deliberation is the only way to make correct decisions...Youth has energy and intelligence, but it does not have the judgment necessary to make the best use of that energy and intelligence.   Youth is a state of be put behind us as we grow taller and deeper and fuller. Unless we understand that life and aging are a process of growth and progress, we will never know the first principles of living."  – From the book,  Somatics , by Thomas Hanna

"Youth has strength, but it does not have skill, which, in the long run, is the most potent strength. Youth has speed, but it does not have efficiency, which, in the long run, is the only effective way of attaining goals. Youth is quick, but not deliberate, and deliberation is the only way to make correct decisions...Youth has energy and intelligence, but it does not have the judgment necessary to make the best use of that energy and intelligence. Youth is a state of be put behind us as we grow taller and deeper and fuller. Unless we understand that life and aging are a process of growth and progress, we will never know the first principles of living."
– From the book, Somatics, by Thomas Hanna

 

This was my third year teaching The Myth of Aging course at Hollyhock Lifelong Learning Center on Cortes Island, BC. This course was a four-day immersion into Hanna Somatics: the principles, concepts, and somatic movements developed by Thomas Hanna that can guide people to eliminate chronic pain, tension and stress as they learn to reconnect to a safe, intelligent and empowering sense of themselves.

This year was like none I'd ever taught: 17 students, all from different backgrounds, abilities, and ages. These students came from education, nursing, business, yoga, coaching, massage, and physiotherapy backgrounds - and seven of them were over 70! Your age does not determine whether you "fall apart" as you get older; what determines it is how you adapt to the stresses of your life. More and more teenagers are displaying a stooped posture of rounded shoulders and depressed chests. This is no longer the posture of senility – it's the posture of stress. How you engage with what happens in your life, and whether you adapt to it and allow it to define you is what makes the difference in whether you will "fall apart" and slow down, or continue improving, growing, and learning. 

Of the 17 people in this course, there was a group of women all between 75 and 87 years old. They were hikers, musicians, adventurers, and all around butt-kickers: awesome, inspiring ladies who weren't going to slow down as they aged. But they had serious pain; for some, they knew it came from a life of emotional struggle. These women forced and pushed and muscled their way through their movement because it's how they'd learned to adapt to the struggles of their lives. It had worked – up to a point.

Like everyone else in the group, an "aha! moment" was when they learned that our thoughts, emotions, beliefs, mindsets, and physical habits all show up in our bodies either as tension, or as space and freedom. We have the ability to improve our physical experience from the inside out.

These older ladies were the inspiration of the group. They learned that slowing down was the first step in improving their awareness and physical skill. Less is more, and slow can translate into quick, ballistic movement. Their pain began to wane, their bodies straightened up, their hips began to move, their faces changed, and their stories began to come out. It was clear that letting go of tension – through movement – was creating a new possibility of the future for them. They were beginning to hone the skills necessary to stay in the game for many years to come.

Here are a few takeaways from our group. I am always moved by what students learn when they turn their attention inward, use their brain, develop patience and compassion for themselves, and return to the joyful, curious movement they once had as children.

  • "Learning to let go in your body allows more of who you are to come through."
  • "This course was a game changer; now I know I can eliminate my own pain and continue to do what I love."
  • "This work has given me my life back. I am hopeful."
  • "I feel empowered!"
  • "I realize I'm not as 'galumphy' as my wife says I am. I can actually walk smoothly."
  • "I've taken a lot of courses, yet this one will come with me for the rest of my life. I'll use this information and apply it to everything I do."
  • "A lot of older people say 'When you get to a certain age, it's all downhill.' I realize that I have an opportunity to turn it around right now."
  • "We always want to go for complicated stuff. I realized that the basic movements we learned are the building blocks for all movement."

As I left this workshop, I was so incredibly grateful for the learning that I received through the older participants and the group as a whole. When people come together in the pursuit of their willingness to shed old habits and views, and learn – even at an advanced age – it is deeply inspiring.

Hanna Somatics to Make You A Better Horseback Rider

Horseback riding is a wonderful sport that connects rider to horse in a dance that is powerful to observe and wonderful to experience. Over the years I have worked with many riders whose primary goal is to be able to get back on their horse and ride without pain. Nearly all of them have fallen off their horse, been bucked or kicked, or sustained a minor riding-related injury – after all, it's part and parcel of horseback riding. Even if their injury has not landed them in the hospital, it has a lasting effect on their riding ability in the form of Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA).

It's not a wonder that Essential Somatics is attracting knowledgeable riding teachers who are taking an interest in helping their students get back on their horses, so that both they and their animals can continue to feel move freely and easily, and without pain.

I'd like to introduce you all to Lisa Weiben. Lisa is a Clinical Somatic Educator-in-training in the Canada 1 training class in Calgary, AB. She isa Centered Riding teacher, using Clinical Hanna Somatics with her horseback riders, both in movement classes and one-to-one clinical sessions at the Mountain View Training Stables. Here's what Lisa has to say about how Somatics can benefit horseback riders:

"Hanna (or Clinical) Somatics is about muscles and movement. Important things to everyone, but extremely important to anyone who rides a horse! It is wonderful for people suffering from chronically contracted muscles. Even if you don’t think you have contracted muscles, the contractions can build up over time and form specific patterns in the body.

The Somatic Movements are easy for anyone to do. A short daily practice of Hanna Somatic Movements can reset the muscles and prevent future tightness from occurring. We will always have stress in our lives, we may sustain injuries, or be in accidents, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t keep our bodies free from the muscles tightness that can limit our potential as a rider. We want to be able to sit on the horse as in balance as possible so that we can help our equine partners perform to the best of their abilities. Somatics can help us get there!"

To read Lisa's article in full, with specific tips for horseback riders, click here! Lisa offers one-to-one clinical Somatics sessions, Hanna Somatic movement classes, riding lessons in centered riding, Western Dressage, English Dressage, and horsemanship. If you're a horseback rider who wants to eliminate pain, get back on your horse, or simply improve your riding capability, contact Lisa.

And you don't have to ride a horse to do Hanna Somatics. If you are active, you can learn to stay active and improve your level of activity with less tension, and more intelligent and efficient movement. You don't even have to be in pain to enjoy Hanna Somatics; you just have to want to move! 

Moving Forward, Moving Up

 Taking a break in Bear Creek on a hot day.

This past year has been one of overall growth and expansion. Since my last blog post I have been busy with life and work, forging new ground with Essential Somatics® and Hanna Somatics, and I am pleased to say that I have found my way back to writing. I know many people say that 2016 wasn't their favorite year, yet in my life and work I experienced growth, learning, newness, change, and a deepening of awareness that only gets better. Thomas Hanna once said,

As we grow older, our bodies and our lives should continue to improve, right up until the very end. I believe that all of us, in our hearts, feel that this is how life really should be lived.

Since last I wrote, I made a significant life change and moved to Colorado to be near my grandson. Children are the most fun and often humorous beings to observe in their movement explorations, imaginary play, and expressions. They're the epitome of what it means to be "somatic." 

Transitions take time and I am feeling at home, and excited about expanding my teaching to the American West. Now that I've settled in, I will be posting more often! I will be shining the spotlight on some of my practitioners-in-training and recent graduates, sharing tips for your Somatic Movement practice, sharing client testimonials and stories as inspiration, and giving some sneak previews of my next book. 

And if anyone has a topic they would like to hear about, please let me know in the comments section. 

Until next week... move well, explore, and be present!

Why Do I Have Shoulder Pain?

"Richard" was a tall, young athletic man who worked long hours as a computer consultant. He suffered a rotator cuff injury years ago in a car accident. This left him with chronic shoulder pain even after months of physical therapy, massage, and medical treatment. He said that he had never felt the same since and, despite the fact that he was only 38 years old, he was beginning to think that he was just "getting old." His daily computer usage only made his already painful right shoulder tighter than ever. He was close to developing a "frozen shoulder." The truth was that his shoulder wasn't frozen - the center of his body was.

The shoulder joint isn't just the joint itself; the muscles that move and stabilize the shoulder and coordinate synergistically to move what we think of as "the shoulder" originate in the center of the body. Tight chest muscles pull the shoulders forward and tight upper shoulder muscles (trapezius) hunch the shoulders up. Tight muscles of the side body will pull the shoulder joint downward.  When you learn to release and relax the center of the body, movement in the periphery – the shoulder in this case – will improve dramatically.

Richard was motivated to figure out how to reverse his shoulder pain and regain control of his muscles for two reasons: he had been physically active before his injury, and he had a six-month-old baby he wanted to hold without experiencing pain.

Accidents can cause accumulated muscle tension throughout the entire body.

I wasn't surprised that Richard's right side was so tight; he'd had several car accidents. He had also fractured his left leg in a sports accident without realizing it and had continued to play, compensating strongly with his right side. His right side had been accumulating muscle tension for a long time before his shoulder injury became apparent. His brain had done an efficient work-around; because the brain could no longer sense or control the muscles he should be using, it had recruited other muscles to do the job. Now everything was tight! 

If muscles can learn to stay tight, they can also learn to relax.

In our first session, I taught Richard to relax the deep muscles of the back of his body (the Green Light muscles), including the muscles of the shoulder: the upper trapezius, rhomboids, and lower trapezius. I taught him to pandiculate these muscles, so that his brain could take back voluntary control of muscles that had been involuntarily contracted. He learned to soften the muscles so that they were ready for action again.

After his session, Richard was amazed at how much better his shoulder felt and how much more movement he now had after doing such simple movements. I sent him home with four basic movements to do daily to reinforce the new and improved range of motion that he had achieved.

Release the center of the body for quick relief of shoulder pain.

I saw Richard for one more session in which he learned to release and relax the muscles of twisting and bending. These muscles, known as the "core," are merely the muscles of the center of the body that allows us to flex, extend, side bend, and rotate our spine. If they are involuntarily contracted, they restrict movement of our periphery – from the shoulder and neck down to the pelvis, legs, and feet.

Richard also learned to release the tight latissimus dors muscle on his right side. The latissimus is the broadest muscle of the body and while it attaches up into the front of the shoulder, it extends all the way into the center of the body and attaches to the pelvis. By the end of his session, his pain was completely gone. The changes he had made himself, using his brain to retrain his muscles, were impressive and inspiring. He left my office with a huge smile on his face saying, "this work makes so much sense." He vowed to continue his daily Hanna Somatic Exercises. I look forward to not seeing Richard again for any more sessions; he now has the self-awareness and skills to take care of himself. 

To learn how to relieve neck and shoulder pain on your own, you can purchase my instructional Pain-Free Neck and Shoulders DVD.

How Your Response to Stress Contributes to Pain

The Three Somatic Reflexes

We know why muscle pain occurs and how to release it, but how much do you know about the Three Somatic ReflexesFamiliarizing yourself with these reflexes and how they cause Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) is an integral part of understanding your own muscle pain. It isn't enough to know that the pain in your hip is from SMA; you need to know how your responses to stress causes your SMA to begin with.

There are some 44 reflexes in the human body, yet the Red Light, Green Light, and Trauma reflexes, as outlined by Thomas Hanna in his book, Somatics, are predictable when it comes to habituating to chronic stress. When you can recognize your specific “stuck” reflexive patterns that occur when you are stressed, you will become more skilled at understanding why you have pain, how it's connected to a stress reflex (or a combination thereof), and how to release it in order to self-regulate and create homeostasis and balance within your own body.

How do you respond to stress?

Familiarizing yourself with the Three Somatic Reflexes will better equip you to nip your SMA in the bud and help you to self-correct. Your awareness of how you personally respond to stress mentally, physically, and emotionally will allow you to recognize when you are falling into a stress reflex pattern and how it is affecting your posture, pain, and psychological state.

  1. The Green Light Reflex (Landau Response) is the reflex of forward movement which involves the muscles of the back. The back is typically arched and the shoulders are drawn back. Do you tend to rush around? Are you "always on"? Are you very active?
  2. The Red Light Reflex (Startle Response) involves the muscles of the front. The shoulders are rounded, back is slumped, and chin jutted forward. Do you often feel anxious? Do you spend long hours at a desk or computer? Do you struggle to breathe deeply?
  3. The Trauma Reflex involves the muscles of the trunk rotators and occurs involuntarily in response to accidents and injuries. Do you have a hip hike? Have you had an accident, injury, or surgery? Do you routinely engage in one-sided movement (golfing, holding children on your hip, etc.)

More than just a physical experience...

Understanding each individual reflex and applying your knowledge to your daily life will help you understand yourself better as a person. The Green Light and Red Light reflexes are deeply emotional.

  • The Green Light Reflex can become habituated when we never allow ourselves to stop, rest, relax and let go. We’re always “on” and concerned with not losing control.
  • The Red Light Reflex is well-known in psychology and trauma work. It is a deeply primal, and protective posture, both emotionally and physically.

These reflexes are life-saving and life-giving, and are there for us to respond to, yet we are not supposed to live in them! 

4 Ways to Understand Yourself and Take Back Control

  1. Take a minute to simply BE. Check in with yourself throughout the day. Tune in and feel how it is to be you in this moment. How are you feeling physically and emotionally? What is making you feel this way and how are you responding to this stimuli? Use this time to slow down, calm your mind, and listen to your body.
  2. Recognize your reflexive habits. Use your knowledge of the Somatic Reflexes to understand how these habits contribute to your specific muscle pain. This will help you choose Somatic Exercises that help you regain and retain balance and a sense of neutral.
  3. Be aware in the moment. If you notice yourself slumping, was it because of your response to the outrageous electric bill you just opened? If your right shoulder is hurting, is it because you've been carrying that heavy bag on one shoulder for a bit too long? Did your whole back tightened in response to a phone call? Notice when and how you respond, correct as you go, and...
  4. Do your Somatic Exercises every day. If you've been sitting at your desk for 2 hours straight, utilize the Somatic Exercises from the Pain-Free at Work DVD to reset your muscles and brain to neutral. If you've been golfing all day, wind down with Somatic Exercises so that you don't fall into a Trauma Reflex. Standing for long hours at work can take a toll on your lower back (and create a domino effect throughout your body), so release the day's built-up SMA with Somatic Exercises. If you have done steps 1-3, step 4 is intended for you to use your awareness to customize your daily Somatic Exercise routine to how you felt and what you experienced today.

Without awareness of how you respond to stress mentally, physically, and emotionally, you will undo your progress in no time at all.

The latest research on neuroplasticity is clear: in order to keep our brains healthy we need differentiation and challenges. Understanding how stress affects you personally and your movement habits and physical pain and movement in particular comes from the brain. It's use it or lose it.  The less habituated to stress you are, the more you can keep your brain in a constant state of learning and regeneration.

Somatics Takeaway for August

IMG_8055 I have just returned from a three-week trip to Australia. After experiencing the rainy, chilly winter there, it's great to return to the long, lazy days of summer. It's traditional vacation time and to me vacation has always been one of activity: mountain climbing and swimming. This year the next three weeks will involve a different kind of vacation for me. My daily life is one of travel and movement and different time zones.

So this year August will be a month of no travel, plenty of rest, walking, and doing something most of us don't give enough attention to: integrating.

Integration is like digestion; it allows the brain to process and absorb the feedback of your everyday movements (or your Somatics practice). At the end of your day, allow yourself to come to a full stop, let everything go, and allow your brain to absorb all the sensory feedback from your day. Do the same in your Somatics practice. Without this information, you are unable to hone the awareness needed to determine if your actions are benefitting or detracting from your overall health, movement skill, emotional well-being, and goals.

For those of you who say, "I just can't relax," remember to stop and rest after your somatic movement, or at the end of your day; this is a practice in learning to relax. It truly is an art these days. When you let go completely, your brain and nervous system begin to know what true relaxation is. (And what a wealth of information it brings to your awareness!)

So, remember to pause after each movement (or each day) in order to let your brain and body truly release and reset.

Rushing from one thing to the next leads to burnout and prevents us from sensing our bodies, how we relate to them and how our actions affects them. We don't want to be surprised by a body that seems to suddenly work against us. We all need time to integrate. Take the time; it's worth the rest of your life.

 

The Fastest Route to a Pain-free Body: Clinical Hanna Somatics sessions

Janet (not her real name) came to my office this week complaining of hip pain. Walking upstairs was painful and laborious - and she was only in her 30's.  She had, as she put it, "a list a mile long of things I've tried" in her search for long term pain relief.  "I'm told I have piriformis syndrome. If I could just get my right buttock to relax, I think I could finally begin to feel better," she said. In a Clinical Somatics session that focused on the Trauma Reflex, Janet learned - very quickly - to release her tight waist muscles, ribcage and trunk rotators.I taught her to release the entire pattern of contraction that was causing her buttock to spasm: her tight buttock, abdominals and abductor muscles. Working with sensory feedback from my hand, she contracted these muscles as a pattern, then slowly released them into a fuller, more relaxed length. This technique is called assisted pandiculation - it resets the muscle control, function and length at the level of the central nervous system.  Twice more she pandiculated those same muscles, until she reached her own comfortable limit, flopping her leg inward easily.  She also learned the Back Lift to begin to relax her tightly contracted back muscles.

What happened next took me by surprise:

She began to yell, "Oh my God, oh my God! I can't believe it! I can't believe it!"

"Are you alright? Does anything hurt?" I asked. She'd scared me!

"No, no, no, it's just that I finally relaxed my buttock! I've been saying this all along and nobody believed me! This is my eureka moment!"

Janet left the office with an ability to move her hips in a way she hadn't been able to for eight years.

Most muscle pain problems are functional in nature, not structural

Why did this clinical Somatics session help her when years of physical therapy, trigger point therapy, massage, acupuncture and medical treatments hadn't? Because Janet's problem wasn't structural; it was functional. She suffered from Sensory Motor Amnesia, the habituated compensatory response to two traumatic accidents. Her muscles had learned to adapt, resulting in a twisted pelvis, altered gait and tight hip joint.  As Janet learned to release the entire pattern of tightness on her right side (and compensatory tightness on her other side) and improve the function of her muscles, her hip pain abated, and her muscle coordination and balance improved.

Janet wasn't completely out of pain. She has more to learn and practice in order to change her old way of holding her body to a new, more free sense of movement. Her brain's "new normal" will take time to integrate. In addition to a few more clinical sessions I told her to attend every Hanna Somatic Movement class and workshop she possibly could.  Being free and in control of your movement involves life-long learning. I give this same advice to every client I work with. While private clinical sessions are profoundly and rapidly effective, attending only a few sessions is like taking a few piano lessons and expecting to perform like Chopin or Mozart!

People often ask, "why do I need to come to class if I'm doing private sessions and feel much better?" The answer is simple: life is dynamic, as is movement. Every day there is the possibility of change and stress. Classes gives you the opportunity to learn more, differentiate your brain and movement, and become more skillful. Learning to override old habits and takes time! The more you sense and feel as you move, the more you can learn. The more you can learn, the more you can master. The more you master an awareness of yourself, from the inside out, the more adaptable and resilient you will be throughout your life. Eventually efficient movement will become your brain's default mode as you become more self-monitoring, self-correcting, and self-healing. Varying your daily Somatic Movement routine with classes and workshops and fun, functional movement makes your brain smarter and keeps you out of pain.

Click here to find a workshop, class or training near you.

Click here to purchase Martha's Pain Relief videos.

Hanna Somatics Retreat - Hollyhock

HollyhockBeach-3_5B872-1

Hollyhock Retreat Center on Cortes Island, BC was founded in 1982 as a center for skill-building and life-long learning. They seek to inspire, nourish and support people whose work serves and educates others in bettering the world.

I love the people who come to workshops at Hollyhock – open, curious, positive – the kind of people who make me more optimistic about our society and the world.

- Andrew Weil, MD

The Myth of Aging at Hollyhock | August 24 - 28, 2016

You can register here or call Hollyhock at 1-800-933-6339 x232 to reserve your spot.

We will explore what Thomas Hanna, Ph.D called "“The Myth of Aging.” This is the Image 14commonly held belief that limited movement, disability and decrepitude is the inevitable result of aging. In reality, it is the way in which we unconsciously adapt to the physical, psychological and emotional stresses of our lives – the accidents, injuries, surgeries, traumas, adaptive behaviors – that determines whether we will become “creaky and old” or maintain our physical freedom, self-awareness, and independence. Participants will experience why it is time to turn the page on that perspective.

Through lectures, movement sessions and interactive participation students will learn:

  • The root cause of most chronic muscle pain – Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) and how to reverse it IMG_2442
  • How your movement habits and reflexive responses to stress contribute to conditions such as low back pain, neck, shoulder, hip and joint pain, sciatica, and chronic headaches
  • How all humans respond reflexively to stress within three full body reflex patterns
  • How to lengthen muscles and re-set muscle function without painful stretching
  • A simple daily routine of somatic movements that, when practiced regularly, will relieve chronic pain and maintain freedom of movement for the long-term. The result is more fluid, efficient movement, improved breathing, drastic reduction of functional muscle pain, and improved somatic awareness.

Learning [at Hollyhock] is authentic and powerful. The ripple effect far exceeds the physical boundaries of this special place.

What Causes Sacroiliac Joint Pain and How Somatics Can Help

I recently taught Somatic Exercises online to T.G., a woman suffering from sacroiliac pain, commonly referred to as SI joint dysfunction or SI joint instability. When we began our sessions, she stood tilted to one side, clearly stuck in a Trauma Reflex. She was unaware of the severity of her tilt; she told me that her posture although technically out of balance, felt normal to her. She knew from reading my book, Move Without Pain, that her tilt was an unconscious habit that her brain had set as "normal" because she'd been standing like that for a very long time. She had a few falls, accidents, and a particularly difficult childbirth and labor.

How SI joint pain arises

"After working with me and watching me move, do you think the SI joint is the issue? I'm so amazed at the changes taking place in my body after learning Somatic Exercises. The psoas release you taught me made me feel so much more relaxed in my torso."
T.G., New Mexico

To answer her question: her Trauma Reflex — not her SI joint itself — was causing her pain. The painful joint was merely a symptom; the underlying cause of her pain was Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) in the muscles that attach into, and move the pelvis and SI joint. These muscles were pulling unevenly on her pelvis so that whatever activity she did caused pain in the joint. Her hamstrings were also tight because she had to alter normal, natural use of her legs to compensate for the tilt in her center. Because her muscles were in a state of chronic contraction, her movement was inefficient and painful.

How the 3 Stress Reflexes affect the SI joint

Some symptoms of SI joint dysfunction are:

  • low back pain on both sides

  • a feeling of weakness and instability at the bottom of the spine

  • sciatic pain

  • pain at the waist, towards the center of the back

  • aching in the front of the thigh and down into the groin

One-sided SI joint pain suggests that the muscles that connect the SI joint and the center of the body are pulling unevenly on the joint. An asymmetrical muscular pull often rotates one side of the pelvis. There is an feeling of being "jammed up" in the sacroiliac joint because the Trauma Reflex puts a painful torque on the pelvis, inhibiting it from moving up, down, forward, and back.

Bilateral SI joint pain suggests habituation to the Green Light Reflex, which creates excessive contraction through the muscles along our spine; this puts excess pressure on the SI joint and lumbar spine. If the Red Light Reflex is habituated, the pelvis doesn't move freely when walking; the iliopsoas is tightly contracted and the joint feels stuck.

These are all cases of Sensory Motor Amnesia and can be eliminated through Somatic Educationpandiculation, and a daily practice of Somatic Movements.

The key to regaining stability and mobility

A critically important aspect of reversing SI joint instability and pain is to learn to move the pelvis freely again. It is precisely that lack of freedom in the pelvis that is absent in those with SI joint (as well as hip and pelvic) pain. In order to regain stability and mobility, you must be able to sense, feel, and control yourself fully from within.

T.G. learned quite a few Somatic Movements (in this order):*

* These Somatic Movements were taught over the course of several sessions*

Through consistent repetition of these movements she learned to slowly and intelligently reduce muscle tension in the muscles of the back, waist and front of her body so she could extend, flex, bend, and rotate her body with ease and comfort. These Somatic Movements pandiculated the muscles causing SI joint pain and reconnected her brain to her muscles, and reset muscle length, function, sensation, and control.

How to eliminate and prevent SI joint pain – on your own!

Below are some options for learning to prevent and eliminate SI joint pain and instability and learn to move freely again. It is highly recommended that you seek the help of a skilled Clinical (Hanna Somatic Educator) for more precise guidance and rapid improvement:

Move Without Pain Fundamentals Immersion Course: Learn to Live Pain-Free

In my last blog post, Back Pain: It’s Time To Ask Why, I discussed yet another new approach to relieving back pain: mindfulness-based stress reduction which addresses the symptoms of back pain, but, like most other approaches, does not address the cause.

When it comes to back pain, many people find themselves without answers or a long-term solution to help them live life pain-free.

Have you ever found yourself asking: Why does my pain keep coming back? Why do I feel as though I'm falling apart? What am I doing wrong? Why can't my doctor get rid of my pain? What should I do now?  Is something wrong with me? Is this what aging feels like? If so, Hanna Somatics can help you answer these questions.

The answer to most muscle pain lies in learning about Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) and how it develops in the brain and manifests in the body, and learning about pandiculation, the safe and effective alternative to stretching that resets nervous system control of muscles and movement memory. The truth is that most muscle pain is the result of our habituated responses to the myriad stresses of our lives.

How can I learn more so that I can live pain-free?

The Move Without Pain Fundamentals Immersion Course focuses on the core principles of Hanna Somatics: the science, philosophy, techniques, and Somatic Exercises. It is an excellent introduction to this highly effective, yet simple method of neuromuscular movement education and pain relief. In addition, there will be group discussion and plenty of time for questions (and answers!) about Hanna Somatics and how to address your particular muscle pain condition.

The Fundamentals Immersion Course is for anyone and everyone interested in Hanna Somatics - no prior experience or training necessary!

Hanna Somatics is not just for those with chronic muscle pain.

Most people who seek me out have been suffering from years of muscle pain without finding a long-term solution. Some people come to me with  no recurring muscle pain - they feel pretty good, but want to learn to keep it that way. Hanna Somatics gets to the root of most muscle pain and the gradual stiffness that many people experience as they get older.

Through gentle pandiculations and Somatic Movements, my clients:

  • Achieve awareness of their bodies and their reactions to stress
  • Experience reduced muscle tension and pain
  • Learn how to relieve muscle pain whenever and wherever they want
  • Rediscover their ability to move efficiently and skillfully with the least possible effort
  • Learn that they can continue to improve their mobility, strength and stamina as they get older

These five benefits are something that can improve the quality of life for everyone - not just people in pain. You will learn to restore precision, efficiency, and skill in your movements, through improved proprioception and internal awareness, so you can create a base of control, strength, coordination, and balance. Reducing muscle pain is simply an added benefit.

Who can benefit from Hanna Somatics?

  • Athletes and dancers (young and old, professional and non-competitive)
  • Anyone experiencing chronic, or recurring muscle pain or injury
  • Those who want to exercise or increase their level of physical activity
  • Parents and daycare workers who carry and lift children daily
  • Anyone who sits and works for long hours at a desk or in a car
  • Anyone seeking to restore their motion and muscle control after a surgery
  • Movement teachers, athletic coaches, fitness trainers, doctors, physical therapists
  • Anyone wanting to improve their body awareness
  • Anyone who wants to be able to move freely for the rest of their lives

Come and experience a renewed awareness within your body and learn to transform the way you move for the rest of your life.

Check out our upcoming Fundamentals Immersion Courses:

 

Back Pain: It's Time To Ask Why

A mindful approach to back pain

A recent New York Times article discusses a new approach to easing back pain, called "mindfulness-based stress reduction." This method involves "a combination of meditation, body awareness and yoga, and focuses on increasing awareness and acceptance of one’s experiences, whether they involve physical discomfort or emotional pain."

The article cites a study conducted on mindfulness meditation and behavioral cognitive therapy for back pain, which reports that "many people may find relief with a form of meditation that harnesses the power of the mind to manage pain."

It is a relief to see an article in a major newspaper that reports a different perspective (a somatic perspective!) on back pain. The somatic perspective is the understanding that we humans are not inanimate objects that can fixed like a broken toy or washing machine, but are self-guiding, self-sensing, self-teaching synergistic systems that are experienced from the inside out and, given the right feedback and stimulation, can improve through retraining of the mind, brain, and body.

Somatic Education pioneers as Elsa Gindler, F.M. Alexander ("the Alexander Technique"), Moshe Feldenkrais, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and Thomas Hanna, PhD, have known for decades that by turning our attention inward to the sensations, through movement, of our own bodies, we can affect profound improvement and change our ability to function in an efficient, balanced, coordinated, and controlled manner. We can reverse the adverse effects of stress, relieve our own pain, and improve life through reeducating our brains and our movement.

This paradigm shift was bound to happen because, as the article states,

Sixty-five million Americans suffer from chronic lower back pain, and many feel they have tried it all: physical therapy, painkillers, shots.

This is something I hear every day when I work with clients: "I've tried everything to relieve my pain and only gotten short-term relief. There is something I'm doing - or have done that is causing the pain." I have written previously about the questionable use of MRIs as a diagnostic tool for back pain, as well as why muscle pain is not a medical problem, but a functional problem in need of reeducation.

The Importance of Asking WHY

And yet there is still something missing from the mindfulness approach to healing back pain: an understanding of why back pain (or neck, shoulder, hip, knee or foot pain) occurs and an interest in finding the answer. The simple question, "why does this happen?" is not being asked. When that question is left out of the equation, comments such as this one from the New York Times article, will be repeated:

It may not be for everybody,” [Dr. Goyal] said, noting that some people with back pain find yoga painful.

Until the day that researchers pick up the books and research of Thomas Hanna and begin learning about Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA), brain reflexes, and pandiculation, nature's "reboot" for the sensory motor cortex, they will always come up short in their quest to help those in pain. SMA is what researchers and practitioners the world over are looking at when they study back (or neck/shoulder/hip) pain – they just don't know it.

Meditation is a wonderful tool for self-regulation, stress reduction, and pain relief, yet the root cause of muscle pain - the brain, and the way in which it habituates to stress reflexes, and thus organizes and moves our bodies - is where the gold lies. When you lose the ability to sense and move yourself fully, you will find yourself moving with less freedom, more pain, and more frustration. The answer lies within you and your ability to regain your movement. Without addressing the sensory motor system, brain reflexes, and how and why muscles become tight and painful, studies will continue to report that "this approach doesn't work for everyone."

And that would be a shame for those 65 million back pain sufferers across the United States.