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Archive for brain

Aug
29

Napping Towards Better Health

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Are you in the Nap Zone?

Napping Benefits

Want to remember more easily, be more productive and have better health?

Then take an afternoon zzzzz according to Brain Rules author, John Medina.

NASA found pilots performed better when they took a short afternoon siesta.  No wonder why my dogs use this same strategy and somehow continue to move well in a moment’s notice.

In the afternoon, your brain will try to get you to go down.  In our hectic, busy, everyday life, our mind has got to keep us going so we can go-go-go and do-do-do.  In the middle is a battle of the brain cells telling you one thing and you getting your brain cells to do another.

Or is it you ate too much pasta for lunch and you just wanna lie down with a fully belly?

The loss of sleep can harm you.  You can get in a foul mood, your logical reasoning can slow, and your attention can drift.

Napping On the Job

While it may be hard to convince your boss, napping on the job or napping during the day may help.  People like Pablo Picasso and many others knew napping, increased productivity.

The evidence is gaining and we can all benefit just like other countries or regions which understand how nature has some of the answers to better health built in.  Or you can watch or ask Fido.

Better Health

Check out John’s book, Brain Rules, and find out more napping benefits and other cool brainiac things which can lead to a healthier and fun productive life.

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Aug
12

What does Somatics Mean to You?

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The term somatics, coined by author Thomas Hanna, has been described as the body experienced from within.

What Somatics means to others?

When asked the question of what Somatics mean, I wanted to know what our class participants thoughts were. Below is a recording of one answer.


“It’s a fabulous method of healing and releasing muscles and tissues that are tight so they function more normally again. I had a lot of injuries that are resolving now. For me, it’s about releasing in a deep state body of relaxation that you get into when you do it.”

How Somatics Works, Against or With Our Mind

She then went onto to describe how she thinks somatics works at a physiological level.

“So every muscle has receptors that are constantly monitoring its length and its shortening. And very often when we get in tension patterns or have injuries, the muscles really shorten. Then this little feedback loop goes on and its shortened.

Somatics is a way of releasing that. So its really about working with the brain as much as it is working with the muscles. Then these stretch receptors in the muscles let go of that setting and begin to reset themselves to a more normal relaxed one. So… and it works!”

One of the guys in class had this to say: “For the first time in 5 years I had more spring in my step”.

Another woman chimed in: “It’s as if this is going against what our mind would think would work. We’re trained in yoga and every thing I’ve done before. Just gentle stretching is all we need to do. You know that’ll lengthen the muscle.

My experience is my body got tighter and tighter doing that. This morning I woke up and felt like I got run over by a truck because I had not been doing my somatics since I had been gone. It’s a way I manage discomfort in my body. Everything kind of crept back in again.

And I did it this morning. It’s like, it’s suddenly not everything is perfect but I feel perfectly fine. I can move again.”

Somatics, the Fountain of Youth

From one of our dolphin lovers in class…

“One of the things I say to people is… it’s the fountain of youth. It feels on every level to me.

One of the many things I love about it is I have memories what it feels like… and memory isn’t really the word… when I skied or swim with the dolphins… feeling that again, it’s so important and freeing to me.”

If you’ve experienced somatics, what does it mean to you? Please post your comments, let me know or heck even make a video and we’ll take a look at what you have to say!

If you haven’t experienced yourself somatically, you can join us for certain movement patterns we play with to free our hamstrings and back to discover deep relaxation. Find out more at our sister site how somatics can be the other side of exercise to set us free.

Categories : Somatics
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When trauma happens, our brain and nervous system naturally takes our body into a reflexive protective pattern. It doesn’t have to take much, a simple fall or repeated falls if you engage in more rough and tumble activities such as soccer.

Does the brain and nervous system let us live with stiff, tight muscles?

When we bear our weight more on one side or one leg, we tend to stand a bit shifted. Even if we mouse more on one side, we can develop a habit of using our muscles more on one side of ourself and before we know it, those side muscles tend to be a bit stiffer & less flexible.

Some of us tend to be more laterally flexed. You’ll see this when a neck slightly bends more to one side or the spine has what we call scoliosis. Either the spine is off center, the hip can be elevated, we feel short waisted or we’ve been told we have a leg length discrepancy.

brain and nervous systemTo let go of our holding, habitual, protective patterns which are being programmed into the brain and nervous system can be accomplished with a little neurological rewiring which somatics exercises provide.

Change the brain and nervous system with the mind and body

Far more encompassing that just a body approach. With somatics we are dealing with both mind and body and the relationship of the sensory motor system.

Wherever we are compromised, we take alternate routes neurologically which may be less than optimal yet serve to move us around as well as we can. These states are temporary and can become more fixed. We forget the feel of what youthful movement was like. This state can last for years or repeat itself in cycles when we can not overcome a niggling injury or have something reoccur more often than we’d like.

If the pathways of the brain and nervous system are clear, the lines of communication facilitate better overall movement and comfort. Moving with less effort leads us to states of graceful movement we can achieve through our very own self-corrective living process using the brain and nervous system.

If we end up dragging ourself around or into ourself or stumble and have lost our youthful coordinated ways. We’re only moments away from restoring more graceful and balanced movements. The brain and nervous system are set up waiting for us to use it to more positive means.

As we age, certain concerns like balance or breaking a hip come up. An animal survives when it can move well. As the human animal we can survive without moving well yet our animals teach us the way back to getting on track through the act of pandiculation which we’ve known for some time can bring our muscles to rest.

A mindful pandiculation uses both the brain and nervous system to reset ourself. Somatics exercises are a system of differentiated pandiculations to enhance our mobility and restore natural flexibility. By paying attention and using our conscious awareness, we raise our game of moving well for life.

Brain and nervous system class

Through the conscious use of our sensory motor system, we can undo that which has been our undoing for some time.

By adding depth and dimensions to our movements opens our proprioceptive ability. We can sense our joint position and self-adjust to more positive feelings. The brain and nervous system are effectively used.

Whereas other approaches focus on the body, we can use what the brain and body are exhibiting to use that information towards self-mastery and understanding our inherent nature to move well using the brain and nervous system.

Our very own keen senses can lead us towards the comfort we seek and the very one we can maintain as we age.

Please check out these somatics exercises classes for future enjoyment of your brain and nervous system as well both the mind and body to recapture those childlike feelings of moving well for life.

Apr
09

Cool Somatics Move

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Somatics exercises are the reverse way to lengthen muscles. Instead of stretching, you use the brain’s motor cortex to reset the muscles tension back to comfort.

Here’s how somatics works

Step 1 – You target the area you want to lengthen. You do this by contracting, instead of stretching, the muscles by being mindful of what it is you are doing. You have to pay attention, otherwise, the brain will not pick up the subtle cues you can notice in your body.

Step 2 – With somatics you pay attention to how you release the targeted muscles. Initially, this information may not always be clear. So no worries. With practice, you get better at feeling or sensing what is taking place.

You can immediately notice if there is any physical change when your body’s sensory-motor system is more intact.

Stretching the back can set off the stretch reflex, unlike somaticsHere’s an example. A lot of people will bend over to lengthen their back. Some will try to touch their toes… and some never make it despite all the stretching they’ve tried. Sound familiar?

When you “try” to stretch, this could lead the reflexes to turn “on” the switch of what is called stretch reflex. This can get the muscles to reflexively pull back, even into a back spasm.

If you push it or try to go for length or more range of motion, the brain will reset the tension back according to where it was formerly programmed to be held at. The brain’s cerebellum remembers this so when you point at something with your arm, there is pre-programmed point so your arm doesn’t go fly off of you.

So when you do somatics, you are going to get a change in length because the brain’s motor cortex can reset tension levels which cannot be reset by the cerebellum; which does preprogrammed learned movement.

The somatics movement below can relieve both the back and hamstrings of its excess tension.

In less than 2 minutes, you can feel what happens. You can listen through the first time and then replay it again to give it a go.

Otherwise, all you have to do is listen and follow along:

Check out this somatics move


So, how was that? A little different, a little odd?

Did you gain any length?

Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t, yet isn’t this a far different approach than stretching.

When you voluntarily use your muscles, your brain’s cortex can reset the length of the areas you target. Your brain will create chemicals of relaxation so you relax your self back to comfort and gain greater control.

Somatics movement classes

We offer many different kinds of somatics movement classes to help you lengthen, improve and gain greater control so you can recover more quickly and maintain comfort in the activity you enjoy.

Whether you go our book or our movement classes which target the brain’s cortex; all you have to do is follow along and let your muscles go along for a somatics journey which can give you the reverse way to feeling free once again.

Related Blogs

    Mar
    31

    Anti Aging

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    Don’t let the young punks think there aren’t any things we can’t do in terms of anti aging.

    Anti aging at 86

    While trying to find a means to anti aging may be filled with ideas on what to eat, what exercises to do and what good company to be in contact with.

    Watch this 86 year old women. You think she’s got a bead on anti-aging?

    Moving well as we age is one of our anti aging antidotes. It looks like Johanna Quess has got it down.

    How can we continue to move well as we age or move well in the first place if we’re already struggling?

    Simple. Learn to move well by refreshing the muscles the way nature intended.

    Our brain can be used to reinvigorate the muscles. The brain thrives on learning. By paying attention to the quality or lack of quality of our movement patterns, we can re-establish comfortable and successful movement at any age.

    Anti aging is a misnomer

    Instead of trying to defy aging, it may be high time to get with the program of using the brain and the nervous system to work for you instead of against you.

    Muscles will atrophy with disuse. The muscular system will slide ever so slowly downhill as we age yet we can remind our nervous system how to remember to reset itself.

    Aging gracefully comes with practice. Who says you’re too old to learn?

    Best anti aging products

    You can spend your time looking for anti aging creams, anti-aging supplements, anti aging lotion, etc.

    No worries though. A number of 15 and 16 year olds can no longer touch their toes. They are well on their way to being programmed to buy anti-aging products long before their time.

    Understanding the very organ we can learn to harness to remain supple does require a few moments to use it.

    The best anti aging product is the very process you were born to use. By employing the brain, anti aging happens naturally so we can move well at any age.

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    Did you laugh while trying this coordination exercise?

    It might have been easy for some of you. 

    Could you do it with a sense or feeling of ease rather than struggle or a lot of effort?

    For the rest of us who may have teetered or tottered, let’s break it down another way.

    Breakdown of this coordination exercise movement

    So let’s break down this movement.

    While you’re sitting on a surface, you let one knee bend out to the side, while the other knee is bent out in front of you.

    It doesn’t matter if your knee (which is bent out to the side) is jacked up in the air.  You do what you can with what you got.

    Somatics Coordination Exercise - Knee Out to Side

    Grab a hold of the foot of the knee which is not bent out to the side. 

    You get a hold of that foot with both hands.

    Somatics Coordination Exercise - Hold onto foot

    If you can’t reach the foot, then it’s ok to hold the ankle, above the ankle or somewhere on your lower leg.

    Then you start to move towards the knee that is on the surface or near it.

    But, instead of going for it like you initially might have tried…

    Somatics Coordination Exercise - Begin the Movement

    STOP HERE Instead.

    Stop Somatics Exercise

    Then you begin to reverse course.

    Somatics Coordination Exercise - Reverse course

    Then once you get back to where you started.

    STOP Again.

    Somatics Coordination Exercise - Stop, Rest, Pause

    When you move again.

    “IF”

    If moving over that far was a bit of a struggle.  Then on the next attempt you can either move less or try it again.

    When you do it again, try and feel as much as you can in terms of where the effort is coming from.

    If it wasn’t a struggle, then move out only that far (just a little ways).  See if you can make that smaller movement with a slower and smoother return.

    Next Move

    So now that you’ve got the idea.

    “If’ you want to venture out a little further, then go ahead and move a little further out or towards the floor.

    Remember you don’t have to.

    You could “think” about going further out when you reach your comfort zone of that movement.

    Somatics Exercise - Thinking or Just a Little Further

    Once again, stop if you ventured out a little further either physically or mentally in your mind’s eye.

    Then reverse course and…

    Somatics Exercise - FEEL as Much as You Can

    This is where the goods are at.

    By feeling what in the heck is going on.

    Like any of the shifts or wobbles.

    Now you’re using your brain to “watch” and/or “feel” what is going on.

    Rest again.

    Then if you’re comfortable or you wanna check it out.

    You can go for it.  (In your mind’s eye too).

    Somatics Exercise - Roll onto Elbow

    Then when you reverse course…

    Somatics Coordination Exercise - Reverse Course from this Point

    Once again “feel” as much as you can.

    What muscles are you using?

    Where do you feel all the action happening?

    If you wobble or weeble on the way back, that’s ok.

    By the way… Were you holding your breath or gritting your teeth to “do” the movement?

    The Other Side

    So when you go to the other side.

    Keep in mind you don’t have to go for it… unless you want to.

    Somatics Coordination Exercise - The Other Side

    If it’s hard or a struggle on the other side…

    Then either do less.

    Or “think” you can and simply feel whatever you can as you do or imagine that particular movement taking place.

    Coordination Exercise for Natural Flexibility

    First, a movement which looks easy takes a lot of:

    • coordinating actions
    • a good sense of mobility
    • and natural flexibility.

    Mobility, is the ability to move easily or freely.

    This is what sets up an ability to remain comfortably flexible.

    Things have got to start moving first before any of us can reach certain states of flexibility.

    The way we do this with somatics exercises – which is the reverse to most approaches out there – has more to do with the brain and body.

    See, we achieve natural flexibility by not stretching.

    We are targeting the brain in a precise manner so you can feel as much as you can using feedback loops like your sensory-motor system.

    Somatics Coordination Exercise - Sensory Motor Feedback Loop

    Since the brain communicates to the muscles, we get the muscles to be more adept at their jobs by reprogramming the brain’s software.

    This brain update allows us to use a more refined level of mobility, so flexibility is more easily maintained.

    So if you’ve got your mobility and flexibility, then coordinating movements or exercises like this one, can be relatively easy.

    No struggle, no fuss.

    Effortless Movement

    So what appears as effortless movement is a brain and body event.

    Many of us can do it or get back to it by reprogramming our movement software using an easy 3 step method.

    Get Our Free Report Here

    This mimics what is naturally done by ALL the healthy vertebrate animals…

    Healthy vertebrate animals are doing it

    But we take things a step further by applying more conscious attention.

    Developing or redeveloping the ability of effortless movement can be gained using the brain’s intent to do or imagine certain specific movement patterns.

    This coordination exercise is a kind of a higher level somatics exercise.

    This might be something we’d do at the end of putting together a number of other movements before we’d attempt it.

    Though it’s good to test it out first.   To see and feel where you are at.

    Then we can break it down further using other differentiated patterns of gentle, easy movements so you can arrive back with better control.

    Coordination Exercise to Build Strength

    You can naturally and quickly develop the requisite strength by setting up the building blocks of movement so a coordination exercise such as this one… becomes effortless.

    While it might feel as if you gotta give it some oomph.  Strength can be achieved in many ways.

    Somatics exercises lead us down this path as we need the requisite freedom in movement of our smaller muscles to move the larger ones.

    Then we can more fully appreciate different levels of easy coordination on the way back to recapturing lost or forgotten abilities.

    Somatics Exercises Coordination Class

    Somatics exercises were initially designed to help people overcome all sorts of pain from all sorts of activities.

    Even if we’re in the couch potato group – which don’t get me wrong – I love lounging out too.

    Easy, gentle movements, which are broken down into manageable parts, paves the way for easier movement overall.

    Conscious movement done with a simple 3 step method – frees the body so comfort returns again and again.

    We’d love for you to join our somatics freeing the back, hamstrings, coordination class where you’ll get the chance to see and feel how your hamstrings and back will lengthen, somatically speaking.

    You’ll get to explore movements for the back, hamstrings and knees too.

    And you’ll learn the simple trick of knowing what to use to make this coordination movement feel and look easy.

    Somatics Exercises Class 34 - Freeing the Back, Hamstrings, Coordination

    So, let me know if this somatics coordination exercise movement was easy or a bit of a laugh.

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    Jun
    20

    Mindfulness Exercises

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    Mindfulness exercises such as somatics exercises allow the brain to change how muscles behave.

    When we change the brain, we can create good feelings in how our muscles feel.

    A movement practice of mindfulness exercises relates to 9 pre-frontal cortex functions.

    You can improve how you regulate your heart and lungs for instance. You can affect how well your body’s regulation system works.

    The nervous system changes from what’s called the parasympathetic system which is a relaxed place to a more driven one called the sympathetic system.

    Mindfulness exercises gives us a window as to how we can sense the shift between the two systems.

    mindfulness exercisesAs we sense the shift, we grow fibers in the brain.

    The two separate areas of the brain, the right and left side, integrate more fully with mindfulness exercises.

    We can watch our self in an entirely new manner.

    Being observant of how we move by slowing down our movements rather than the traditional manner of activating muscles and increasing the blood flow gives us a different perspective.

    Mindfulness exercises teach us how to use brain’s inhibitory process.

    When you gain better control at the cortex by inhibiting muscles it’s like squirting a little neurotransmitter substance of relaxation down below. This will help us be more emotionally balanced.

    It’s ok to freak out, just as long as you can regain your senses. The flip side being you can feel dejected yet have the ability to bounce back too.

    Since mindfulness exercises give us a practice in pausing. We may be able to translate that to the idea of response flexibility where we can calm our self down.

    By tuning inwards rather than outwards in goal oriented exercises, we work with our sensory system and learn to trust our feeling and sensations. The more “I” can feel, then it’s more likely I’ll know how others feel.

    Mindfulness exercises can bring us towards resonance with others in states of empathy. People who lack it, can learn it if they choose.

    Another pre-frontal function is being in touch with your own intuition. This awareness
    happens when you heed the quiet wisdom of the body.

    Reflecting mindfully can be achieved with mindfulness exercises.

    When we realize how to be nonjudgmental in our movements, then we gain insight and the brain grows again and improves its function.

    To modulate fear happens when we use mindfulness exercises to explore parts of our self which may reveal past or present fears. It can be quite surprising and revealing what essentially a simple, slow, and easy movement can show.

    Join us online this Friday, June 24th from 1-2pm to learn how simple somatics exercises are delightful mindfulness exercises.

    When we gain this insight, this shift of perspective and improve along the other 8 pre-frontal cortex functions, then all 9 of these provide us with the resilience to free ourselves. We can learn this simply from mindfulness exercises.


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    Oct
    01

    Somatic Tips

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    How well you move, plays a roll in how well you feel.  Learning to move with greater ease isn’t always easy.  If you’re used to giving it your all or moving with more force than is necessary, chances are your over doing it unconsciously… and this could be the cause of your discomforts.

    *Move with Less Effort*

    A practice in moving easily is simply accomplished by dialing down your effort in moving.  Being more precise with your movements involves lessening your effort so your muscles work efficiently instead of shuddering with extra effort.

    Noticing where you contract from or the area you are using during a movement may not initially be clear.  When you contract and shorten your muscles, take notice to the areas where your contract, the level of effort, the feeling, the sensations aroused or lack thereof.

    As you contract your muscles, others are normally and naturally lengthening in response.  It’s not necessary to force the length, rather your observation of it happening, deepens your awareness and your coordination in what moves what and where and how it moves.

    *Be Aware of your release*

    If you can merely observe the release of your contraction, you’ll notice the resulting length is accomplished without force.

    If you force the length, a signal is generated by your brain to re-contract the tissues afterwards.  Traditional forms of stretching actually produce tighter muscles according to the latest research.

    To have the flexibility of a cat, the agility of a panther, and the ability to jump like a gazelle requires you to follow their lead.  Animals engage their motor cortex through the process of a series of pandiculations.

    *First thing in the morning*

    Since animals self-correct throughout their day, it would be wise once again to follow their lead.  When healthy, they engage the process first thing in the morning, every day.  There’s their key.

    Who else is going to ready your muscles for you each new day? Animals are wise enough to do it first.  They are not checking the emails nor will you find a way to ready to yourself in your emails, unless of course, you happen to be receiving the Somatic Classes via email.

    The natural process of engaging your motor cortex is always available to you… I know you have other things to attend to.  

    It’s just a process and as far as I know most of us have the ability to engage in the process since it primarily activates your motor cortex, which has been called your highest learning center.

    You can continue to learn and generate new brain cells.  Neurogenesis and neural plasticity perhaps becomes of interest as you age, unless you already engage the process everyday.  If you are, yoohoo, you’re way ahead of most people as the mass understanding of this process hasn’t reached them, yet!

    Somatics is merely applied neurogenesis.

    *Pay attention to how you move*

    Practicing Somatics is a matter of paying attention to how you manipulate yourself in the field of gravity.  How you contend or float in the field of gravity is known to you by the signals your body generates.  You can become more One with the field of gravity.  No this isn’t airy fairy stuff, I mean you can continually fight gravity and keep kicking yourself in the pants, which would naturally lead to tighter hamstrings and a sore back.

    *Use your self-correcting brain and mind*

    The power lies in your brain to self-correct, adapt accordingly, merely by spending some time in your self.  When you practice the variety of movements which are offered in the Somatics classes or through your understanding and application of Somatics, your brain feeds off of these differentiated patterns to present you with possibilities of change in your habit of movement.

    Your habitual and repetitive patterns lead to some of the negative results you encounter over and over.

    *Differentiate your movements*

    Differentiation provides an avenue to more integrated, more coordinated, more balanced and efficient movement itself.  You’ll know how, when, and at what speed, in order to move more cohesively.

    So as I said, learning to move with greater ease isn’t easy, but it’s very simple once you get the hang of the process.  

    The antidote for discomfort, pain, aches, soreness, etc, lies between your ears.

    Engaging the process is not under your nose, it’s in it.