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It’s not a big deal, unit it happens to us, right?

What we might think of as an uninteresting movement where we throw out our back from reaching for something.

Or when we throw out our hip like Devi who experienced agonizing pain from a Bollywood dance class.

Afterwards, she couldn’t walk because of the hip pain and her doctor told her, “Well if you’re like me, you’ll walk through the pain. Assuming the pain would still be there”.

So she got her crutches and decided there might be a better way out of this.

See, I had planned to teach a different somatics exercises class and had to scrap my plans since Devi was in obvious need as I saw her walk from the car to the building with crutches.

While she couldn’t lie on the floor (which is how we normally go about it), she was able to sit on the floor and that too wasn’t easy for her.

Then I found out what she could do and created a set of easy, gentle somatics exercises which are movements which would help release stored trauma in the body.

It was simply modifying a few things and coming up with a couple of patterns where she could initiate the smallest of movements.

As she listened to the guided instructions and followed along, she was able to free herself from her hip pain.

While a number of doctors aren’t aware of this brain processing possibility (some are, of course). Our brains have the ability to reset our nervous system so our body can feel more comfortable.

People who practice conscious Somatics Movements already know how to target the brain or are continuing to refine their ability in a precise way to restore trauma stored in the body so it can let go.

A week later. Devi went dancing again.

When you redevelop your sensory motor system in a unique way which is how somatics exercises are done.

You learn to use the least effort to gain more flexibility.

This shift, of your body experienced form within, is what a practice in Somatics Exercises can lead you towards.

Want to feel, know and experience the moves Devi learned?

These are same of the same types of conscious movements that have helped people who are in bed finding it difficult to move, only to discover that the struggle and holding tension levels and pain ease off.

Moves to Get Back on Track

Feel the Easy, Gentle Way to Help the Hips, Thighs, Waist, and Shoulders Too!

Learn to Use the Least Effort and Feel Flexibility Return in a Delightful Way.

[Click here to Find Out More About this Easy Somatics Exercises Class].

Categories : Pain, Somatic Exercises
Comments (1)

My name is Carol.

Carol Zakula

I’ve always been a mover and a shaker, and lucky to have actively moved through more than six decades without any chronic stiffness or pain.

Well, okay…there is the one little disc that occasionally and gently reminds me of the unintended back flip when I was body-surfing in South Africa twenty-nine years ago. (I found out the Atlantic’s surf was not like the lapping lake waters in my native Minnesota.)

So, anyway, the moving and shaking part…

I’m a retired teacher and principal, and a part-time freelance writer and yoga instructor—plus a globe-trotter over the years.

Always ‘wanted it all’ and have spent most of my life going after just that.

It’s all been mentally, physically, and spiritually challenging and exciting….and I guess I thought I was just blessed by an absence of physical pains and limited mobility, while many friends and relatives of various ages around me weren’t.

Just the way it was… no reason for me to give it much thought.

Lesson #1: No Pain Until


After all, I wasn’t the one in pain.

But then 2 things happened that got my attention.

And suddenly, pain had just gotten personal…

Three women with fibromyalgia found their way to my gentle yoga class, desperate for:

  • Relief from Pain,
  • Stiffness,
  • and, Scariest of all, Hopelessness.

Secondly, I realized that some intermittent pain in my right leg and hip—originally attributed to a minor fall or maybe heavy snow shoveling–was not going away, and was getting worse over the months.

Stepping into a small corner of the lives of the three multi-gifted and dynamic women–whose lives were on hold—was eye-opening and gut-wrenching.

The dilemma was how to help them rather than hurt them more.  So, we talked a lot.

I researched yoga for people with fibromyalgia.

They shared what they’d learned at the Mayo workshops they’d attended.

Alternative Ways to Process Pain

One of the woman, Gayle, mentioned one of the Mayo doctors talking to them about alternative ways to ‘process’ pain—changing the ways the nerves communicate with the muscles.

Suddenly…I remembered something.

A yoga workshop I’d attended a year or so earlier on something called “somatics”.

It was about re-educating the muscles and nervous system to communicate more effectively with each other.

The benefits centered around:

  • Maximizing Body Functions,
  • Mobility,
  • and Reducing Stiffness and Pain.

I’d been impressed with the concept, and a brief internet search led to more information and a couple of especially intriguing videos by Ed Barrera….himself a ‘survivor’ of fibromyalgia turned somatics practitioner.

Ed had also written a book, Move Like an Animal, teaching people the animal concepts of applying conscious pandiculation which had been systematized as somatics exercises

But life was busy, and I’d soon forgotten about somatics….until Gayle’s comment.

The two of us immediately set out on a lively pursuit of current information and materials on somatics, which led us back to Ed Barrera–with lots of questions on how to offer therapeutic movement to three committed fibromyalgia ‘warriors’ in Northern Minnesota.

He quickly, enthusiastically, compassionately, and in detail, responded to emails from both Gayle and myself.

The ’warriors’ and I began some group sessions, but Gayle never does anything half-way….and began an intense daily somatics routine at home.

The result? – Moving Like an Animal

She started seeing and feeling some improvement in movement and mood within a few days.

The progress continued over the weeks, and within a few months, she’d transitioned from some 10 years of dependence on her husband to help her move and do basic activities around the house, to an increasingly active life style…

Plus a a jaw-dropping run up the driveway one day when she got out of a friend’s car.

Gayle was hooked on somatics exercises and what moving like an animal was doing for her.

She and I read, studied, emailed Ed, and then offered a couple of classes introducing somatics to others in pain here in our community.

In the last year, I’ve also have incorporated some somatics movements into both my hatha and gentle yoga classes, and occasionally offer introductory somatics instruction upon request—yes, right up in anything-but-urban Northern Minnesota.

Participants’ comments (20-70 year olds) have been reaffirming of the benefits of somatics…and I celebrated the victories of those who had successfully decided to take charge of their pain and stiffness.

Lesson #2: The Wakeup Call

But all that good news still wasn’t enough to establish and expand my own regular practice of somatics.

Life got busy again.  So then came wake-up call #2.

Yes….my right hip and leg—had me in on-and-off discomfort for more than a year.

When I realized that I needed regular Ibuprofen to get through our community theater rehearsals, I had to admit the deterioration of the situation.

So with the natural misconceptions of most 63-year olds, I started to obsess about what it actually was, and what medical/surgical interventions I probably needed to start thinking about.

Arthritis, Old Age, Hip Replacement, Surgery, Drugs

That’s right, I completely disassociated my hip and leg pain from everything I’d learned and been preaching about somatics, and was instead thinking “arthritis,” “old age,” “hip replacement,” “surgery,” and “drugs.”

I was in the midst of internet searches and yellow pages under “doctors,” when I realized what I was doing….or rather, what I wasn’t doing.

What I wasn’t doing.

Somatics.

However, because of the state I’d worked myself into, I also decided I needed Ed’s reassurance to make sure somatics would take care of this.  After all this was MY pain now…and not ‘just’ somebody else’s.

A short diagnosis and download of a couple of appropriate somatics movement classes later, I was on my way to relief within 48 hours and in a few weeks, I was pain free again. But slow learner that I am…

Lesson #3: Go Back to the Well

I started taking all that freedom from pain for granted, and gradually slacked off of my few minutes of daily somatics…until I fell into another stiff hips and lower back issue….and one that seemed to be exacerbated by my yoga instruction.

What’s more, ironically, the pain peaked just days before leading another 4-week introductory Somatics session.

Fortunately, the panic I’d again worked myself into, quickly reminded me of my panic of two years earlier.   I immediately set into some intense somatics, and got another ‘shot of encouragement,’ from Ed.

So, as it turns out, I’m taking somatics and mobility seriously now—finally.

I don’t want to stop learning or practicing it…for my sake, and for all the people I get to share it with.

More Than Not Having Pain

It’s about a lot more than simply NOT having pain.

It’s the whole feeling of freedom and absolute joy in MOVING and in the awareness of the marvels of human body.

When you feel that way, you get to remember how truly wonderful life can feel, and you almost can’t help but make the world a better place.

Does life get any better than this?

Carol Zakula is a Yoga teacher and writer. You can find her at www.carolzakula.com.

Join Carol and All the Other Happy Movers & Shakers

Take Charge of Pain and Stiffness

Click here to Learn More to [Regain the Freedom to Move with Joy Again!]

Categories : Pain, Recovery
Comments (1)

The Cat Stretch is what Thomas Hanna called the daily maintenance somatics exercise program in his book, Somatics.

The cat stretch is a misnomer even though we often see our furry felines appearing to stretch.

Cat Stretch is not Stretching

Cat Stretch - a part of the daily somatics exercisesThe result of a cat stretch could make one more restful.

When a cat stretches, it is actually tightening or contracting a series of muscles. We’ve come to find out this is called a pandiculation. When we do this entire act, our muscles lengthen and become more relaxed.

Our clever cat uses its brain’s motor cortex to initiate a movement, which at first glance looks like a stretch. You’ve seen a cat round its back. It’s not stretching the back, it’s pulling the belly in and using the abdominal muscles to pull back.

Then… it’ll release itself. The abs are reset and ready to be used. Healthy vertebrate animals naturally reset their muscles and movement system periodically throughout the day. No wonder they rest so well. If only we could do the same.

Cat Stretch – 7 Simple Movements

Fortunately, some 300 years after we learned about pandiculations. This very act brings muscles to rest. The system of somatics exercises teaches us how to go cortical and re-establish length and comfort in our movement system. Watch the fast version of the cat stretch below.

Here is what the 7 simple movements of the cat stretch address.

1. The first movement wakes up the brain, spine and hips.

2. The second movement helps to release tightness in our front side, such as the abdomen. This will allow the back to further lengthen.

3. This movement relaxes the muscles of the back, from the neck all the way down to the foot.

4. The fourth move releases held tension levels in the hips and chest. If we’re locked-in from too much sitting or hard work, this is a go to release.

5. Most everyone’s favorite movement, this delicious move lengthens the spine, frees up the hips and shoulders… and is enough to purr along.

6. A 3 part lower body sequence to free up the feet and ankles and connect up to the hips, back and head. This helps to straighten out the legs for better walking and balance in running.

7. The final movement of the cat stretch addresses the neck, back rotation and hip mobility in a delightful seated manner. You may not need the car mirrors anymore after this.

Cat Stretch Audio Recording

Healthy animals do a number of morning resets. We can simply follow along with a morning routine of the cat stretch somatics exercises designed for the human animal. Once you learn the routine, it only takes minutes to remind the muscles of their natural length, while at the same improving the mobility we need for the day.

Just like a good cat stretch at night, we can drift off and sleep more easily too.

The Cat Stretch daily maintenance somatics exercises program is now available to download and enjoy in the comfort of your home – meow.

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    Mar
    19

    Walking with pain

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    Walking with pain everyday

    Are you walking with pain when all you want to is go on a leisurely walk and be comfortable?

    Being able to walk comfortably can be ours again when we remind our muscles of their connections to each other simply through the natural act of a pandiculation. Fortunately the “p” word has been systematized as somatics exercises

    Walking with painWalking with pain can seem like we’re dragging a heavy weight around. Lose that heavy albatross and we can be free again.

    I remember what it was like to walk a mere 50 feet and my shoulder would sear in pain. It was no fun to go on a walk.

    The hips on the other hand, had felt off track and had been clunking around since the age of 14 when I first noticed it. Pain seemed to come out of nowhere on the side of the hips, that stitch in the side, or the back of the legs when I experienced that hot poker of sciatica – ouch, ouch, ouch.

    When we get off track, we can get back on by losing what un-tracks us. Sounds complicated. It really isn’t.

    Walking in pain is miserable. Who wants to walk when we know if we do, bad things can happen. So why bother.

    By not doing one of our more natural acts, we’re doing a great disservice to our self. It’s a tough situation to be in, you want to walk and then you end up walking with pain.

    Walking has been considered one of the best exercises we can do for any number of health reasons but doesn’t that sound kind of lame. We’re the two legged animal, this is what we’re here to do. Walking in pain isn’t the option we’d like.

    Walking with pain and compensations

    A couple of considerations to amble easily is to have things arranged with less compensations or habits of movement which no longer serve us.

    If we live with a rotated hip and it clunks or doesn’t move well, this can have negative effects on the knee, ankle or our back. We’ll do a walking rather than ambulate with ease and grace.

    Tight, stiff, overly tensed leg muscles which restrict or inhibit movement may result from compensatory habits, injuries or even lack of water. Diet plays a role since the muscles need fuel. Re-programming our movement patterns, on the other hand, has been lost on many people.

    If we’re not self-correcting, we’re missing opportunities to lengthen muscles back into shape. Those lazy dogs which sleep all day usually don’t miss a beat and pandiculate themselves after periods of being sedentary.

    If we’re sitting for hours on end for instance, this type of day in day out programming doesn’t help us walk any better. The muscles atrophy towards dis-use which furthers our inflexible hobbling ways.

    The good news is, we can reprogram the muscles so walking in pain no longer afflicts us. We can improve the connections of our muscles by moving our parts lazily around in a conscious manner where the brain resets tension levels.

    Reducing tension allows us to self-correct, change our compensations and gives us new ways to move so walking with pain no longer is an issue.

    Walking with pain online class

    To end our uncomfortable ways, you can learn some simple, easy movements which resets our muscles back to comfortable resting levels. When our muscles are programmed to be more relaxed, they remember how to get there more quickly.

    Please join me for an online class of somatics exercises where you’ll learn how to lessen walking with pain. All you have to do is lie down, listen, and follow along to free things up.

    Recapturing our youthful ways of movement is a memory not long forgotten, we just haven’t accessed the part of our brain which can restore and refresh our muscles so walking with pain is a thing of the past we can forget.

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      Feb
      13

      Hip Pain Relief

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      Hip Pain Relief Made Easy

      Oh those aching hips which cause us to not to be able to sit comfortably in car rides or while we walk, if only there was some natural hip pain relief method we could use to be comfortable.

      Our hip may have a slight glitch so our giddyup feels impaired and not the way it used to.

      Sometimes our hips gets out of whack when they are cranked too far forwards or backwards making it hard to walk up or down the stairs.

      Maybe one of our hips is tilted up higher than the other or rotated so when we walk we’re either dragging one of our legs around or throwing our hips about trying to catch up.

      All this effort and strain can be minimized when we re-learn how to reset muscular tension levels which will allow us to strut and swivel our hips with ease.

      Hip Pain Relief May Not Just Be in the Hips

      Even though we may feel soreness and pain in the hips, it may be that some of our other muscles have forgotten what to do or are too tight or restrictive to prevent us from our natural birthright of moving easily like we did as children.

      Try this hip movement.

      Did you make the connection? When we start to pay closer attention to how we move not just as a part but as a whole moving living unit, we can unwind that which has led us to our binds so hip pain relief happens naturally… just like some of think it oughta be.

      Hip Pain Relief Online Class

      Tight, tense hip muscles are no way to live, so why bear it any longer?

      Join me for an online class in hip pain relief. We’ll explore a variety of simple, easy moves you so can discover which ones can release your hips to more freedom and ease.

      All you have to do is login, listen and follow along. You’ll be able to let those hips be smooth so they can glide, slide and get hip again.

      Are you ready to enjoy a walk rather than push or hobble your way through it? Ready to sit more comfortably and not be wiped out?

      Do your hips a favor and join me for a Mo’Better Hips – Pain Relief Class.

      Yes, you can do this – even if it’s your first time.

      Simple, easy moves will provide the hip pain relief you thought is possible.

      Oct
      17

      Hip and Knee Pain

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      Watch Hip and Knee Pain Video.

      Easing hip and knee pain

      Was that an easy move for your hips, knees and your back? To ease hip and knee pain, the back needs to be supple and flexible.

      While some people will argue the case for strengthening the core, we can find ways to ensure the middle of our self is loose enough to have the requisite mobility to move easily.

      Hip and knee pain can often be alleviated when our middle, the spine, begins to unwind itself from holding patterns which prevents us from moving our hips and knees comfortably.

      Better mobility lessens hip and knee pain

      Hip and knee pain sometimes go hand in hand when the hips have lost their mobility as well as the spine. Our knees may continue to get pounded in the same manner day in, day out when our mobility is less than optimal.

      To move the knee around comfortably is to regain the ability and mobility we once had. Since movement is a memory, we can refoster those memories by going back to the well – of youthful movement in the artful ways in which somatics exercises remind us to move easily and with the least effort.

      Natural flexibility allows hip and knee pain to abate

      Instead of hard work or over zealous exercising, somatics exercises offers us a reverse way into the brain by slowing things downs so our hip and knee pain gives as we regain our natural flexibility once our mobility returns.

      This week, you can join me for an online somatics exercise class where you’ve already seen the last movement. Now all we have to do is do the steps before that so the hip and knee pain abates when our movement software is updated.

      We can learn to our way back to getting out of hip and knee pain by regaining the mobility we had and rediscovering our natural flexibility…otherwise you can kiss your knees hello!


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        Learning to play with technology was introduced to me just a few years ago when my kids thought it was weird I didn’t have an ipod… little did I know I would soon have a website, and even a twitter account – for reasons still a mystery.

        Whether you’ve been experiencing back pain, hip pain, neck pain, etc… you can take care of it at home.

        For some time, I’ve been working with fabulous people all over the world offering private online somatics one on one sessions… all in the comfort of home.

        Online Somatics at home This compliments the ongoing online classes which are also offered.

        From my experience providing online webinars where you watch a presentation and follow it with some live somatics movements… combining the low techiness of somatics with a computer has been a revelation.

        In fact, doctors are now using this approach too.

        Cisco has been teaming up with them. They’ve discovered this is a highly effective approach which works well for many people.

        All you need to do is answer an email and your computer does the rest, otherwise we can use the Free Google Video interface, Skype and if you happen to have a mac, we can use Facetime.

        For those of you on the go, we’ve even done it over an iphone too while away from home.

        Your initial session includes a health background intake.

        Followed by:

        • A posture assessment

        • Movement sequences specifically tailored to your needs and concerns

        • And you’ll receive an audio recording of the easy movements you did, so you’ll know exactly what to do

        • + You’ll have access to a private members only area with videos and written files to further enhance your progress.

        Press here to schedule a private video session.


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