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Archive for Relaxation

When you play with the brain in a mindful way, the body can get a boost.

Targeting the brain’s sensory-motor cortex can help relieve stiffness, stress, ease pain, and improve the body and mind.

Motor Cortex and Sensory Cortex

The brain’s motor cortex sits atop the brain adjacent to the sensory cortex.

The motor part is where you can “turn on” the motor of movement. The sensory part lets you perceive or feel a variety of sensations or feelings about the quality of movement itself.

This feedback loop of information can help you in effect, move well and be freer to move around.

This little guy is called the homonculus, the little man.

Homunculus

This represents how our body parts are reflected in the brain in terms of how we use them and sense them.

As you can see from this representation:

Cortical Sensory Homunculus

The hands and mouth have the largest areas in terms of how we sense ourself.

In order to help both the brain and body as you age, you can zero in on your sensory-motor cortex so both a movement in and of itself and the quality of how you move your body is addressed by paying attention to the information you can perceive or feel.

Motor Cortex Command to Move

Plus, you can do this in a playful type of manner without a lot of hard work.

You see, the brain functions better with a variety of movements which opens up the possibilities of new neural connections since the brain itself can be changed, formed, and reformed.

Brain Exercises

Normally, we think of brain exercises like doing a crossword puzzle or doing some type of cognitive training. Any number of ways can sharpen us mentally such as learning to play an instrument, trying new recipes and good old fashioned doing math in your head.

Regular exercise itself, is good in general, and can help the brain too.

The brain thrives on novelty and our 600 muscles and 17 layers of muscles and fascia (which surround the muscles) can be used in a unique un-exercise approach by focusing our awareness on the conscious nature of movement itself.

This wakes up the brain and body since we can tap into the flow of information in our nervous system.

This non-traditional approach can augment any traditional type of exercise and can actually let us exercise pain free or be able to do the necessary movements you engage in with less tension and a different felt sense of ability.

Less Tension

The brain can be used to lessen tension through a natural process of updating our movement software.

When we have less tension or when we can sustain more neutral levels of tension, then we can move easily and agilely over the long run.

So when our brain gets challenged with paying attention, our body can actually feel the difference. Even when small, easy, gentle micro-movements are used to help set up or be the foundation for the moveable building blocks of overall coordination of movement.

Slow movements help brain functions

Watching someone do small movements, is similar to watching grass grow.

We might think not a lot can be accomplished by little or slow movement.

When you shift upstairs to target your motor cortex and do conscious specific types of movements slowly, gently and with as much awareness as possible – the brain can help the body make a number of changes.

Target Brain's Cortex

A slow movement practice is about how you pay attention to a number of areas of the body.

The conscious application of movement done slowly forms the system of somatics exercises which is essentially brain based.

9 Advantages of a Brain Based Practice

Brain Tub

1 – Pain Relief Using the Brain

Since the brain thrives on novelty, the brain and body can be used in unique ways to affect the flow of information in the nervous system.

This is set up with simple movements that can be done in a lazy, gentle manner where the mind is highly engaged.

One of the brain functions of the motor cortex is that it can reset the resting levels of the muscles. The muscles are left more relaxed.

As the muscles become more relaxed, the brain creates more feelings of relaxation and pleasure.

brain software

2 – Improved Memory

Movement is memory.

The lower part of the brain, the cerebellum remembers much like a programmed computer program which does our quick, fast movements. We don’t have to think about it, we get up and go.

Using the brain’s motor cortex allows us to change the program by noticing what is happening in our overall quality of movement as well as the actual movement.

By improving the quality of how well we can move at any age, the brain functions at a higher level since the brain’s software is getting updated.This helps us remember and experience our former youthful movement.

Strong Brain

3 – Gain Strength

Normally we exercise our muscles to get stronger.

Strength is also resiliency and flexibility.

So rather then a brawn approach, you can use the brain to lose excessive or amped up tension and stress.

Our body becomes more balanced. We remain strong like animals in the wild who reset their muscles naturally since the slow movements are done along certain chains of connections which help us move more effectively.

Posture Change - We can Change Our Shape

4 – Posture Changes

We can change our shape.

By losing compensations such as a curved spine which has our belly hanging over or the reverse when we’re too slumped.

Our new appearance results from letting go of the tension which held us in place by the lower brain and its programmed ways.

Change Posture, Gain Strength, Improve Memory and Find Pain Relief – the Easy, Brain Way

Learn More Here to Change the Brain & Body

When the brain remembers to reset to neutral, the brain functions much better and now we appear more easily upright and relaxed.

Brain Makes Powerful Chemicals of Relaxation

5 – Natural Stress Alleviation

The brain can create powerful chemicals of relaxation.

Healthy animals with a spine tap into this natural source.

They do this through the act of pandiculation as they target the brain and body.

You can zone in on the brain in a similar conscious manner to create natural chemicals of relaxation so you’re left feeling content, relaxed and in control.

Easy range of motion to squat comfortably

6 – Regain Natural Flexibility

Regaining flexibility is not about getting longer or going for range of motion.

Simply being able to squat is one thing, getting up is another.

When we let go of the binds of stress, tension and long held-injuries and compensations, the body knows where to reset to neutral so it can in effect move easy and be in comfortable positions.

You can move more freely and naturally by reprogramming the brain so a natural flexibility can be easily maintained.

Stop triggering flight or fight

7 – Improve the Immune System

When we’re constantly triggering flight or fight response in our busy lives, we’re not giving our self the chance to calm things down.

Resetting our brain and body so we can ramp it up and then back it down, allows us to live more easily with a nervous system which can be reset so our immune system is less burdened as the inflammatory response is cooled down.

This allows more good feelings to flow through us so it can aid in healing, for instance.

Sleep Better

8 – Sleep Better

Tuning down tension levels using the brain relaxes our body.

The body and brain functions much better when we can rest easy so our tissues can repair.

Resting easy happens when we feel calmer and can let go of the body and the mind.

Peace and Tranquility

9 – Greater Sense of Peace and Tranquility

When you use the brain to reset the entire body system of movement, you can move with greater ease and comfort like any other healthy vertebrate animal.

As our earlier sense of freedom returns, movement can nurture us towards more tranquil states.

This also brings us a vibrant sense of confidence to move, relax and have a calm mind.

As you use the brain and target certain functions, you can return again and again to levels of comfort where you can fully understand or appreciate the mind and body connection.

Better brain functions

When we go back to the well of movement itself and harness the power of the brain to tap into our very awareness.

The brain’s intelligence is aroused (with a little practice) so you end up with a better brain and body.

When you reset yourself with a certain level of conscious awareness, the brain functions at levels which may continue to delightfully surprise you as you age.

Get the Brain and Body on Your Side

Keep the Brain in Shape & Move Well for Life!

Categories : Brain, Brain Fitness
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Nov
21

A Somatic Check-in Anyone Can Do

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A somatic check-in is how you normally start doing somatics exercises or when you want to simply notice your feelings or sense perceptions right now. 

It’s simple, all you have to do is notice yourself in the present moment.

For instance, how or what are you feeling right now throughout your entire body?

Somatic Check-In

So let’s do a somatic check-in.

When you check-in, you can lie on the floor and let your body sink into the surface and then wait.

While your waiting, this is the time to sense or feel what you can right now.

The time can be short and sweet or last up to a couple of minutes or more as you take the time to feel, notice, sense and appreciate what your body is telling you.

As you lie on the floor and check in – How do you make contact with the floor?

How did you choose to arrange yourself on the floor?  Knees bent, legs straight, legs crossed?

Do you feel your breath?

Do you feel or notice any aches, pains or stiffness? 

Taking an Internal Inventory to Self Sense & Appreciate

Your simply taking an internal inventory to feel what signals, both good and bad arise in the present moment of now.

As you lie there:

Do your legs feel the same?

Does one side feel longer or shorter than the other?

Does one feel heavier or lighter?

How do your hips feel?

Do they feel the same or a little different?

Take the time to linger, compare and contrast.

Notice how you positioned your arms.

Are your arms at your sides?

Do you have them folded in a comfortable or familiar way?

Are your palms facing the same direction?

Are your shoulders lying level on the floor?

Do you feel tilted on one shoulder more than the other?

Now, focus your attention on your spine.

Feel the length of your spine from your tailbone all the way to your head.

Then feel how your entire body makes contact with the surface.

You’ve now checked in somatically speaking.  The body experienced from within is available any time you choose.  It’s a matter of you giving yourself the precious gift and time to check in now.

So many people do not check in and feel themselves unless there is pain.  The more you check-in, the easier it is to take a moment here or there as life speeds busily by.

Watch and listen to this somatic check-in.

Doing Nothing is All Right

If someone were to see you lying there, they wouldn’t necessarily know the flashlight of awareness your shining on or within yourself.

You could have checked in with your 4th toe on your left foot for instance.  How often do you that?

Then you might decide to travel up to your right eyebrow and feel its length, width and breadth.

So whether you choose to focus on certain specific parts of yourself or your entire self, this flashlight of awareness uses your brain and body in a more conscious manner.

Leisurely checking in lets you feel any stress, tension, stiffness or tightness.  Then you can feel or see if things let go on their own accord.

If not, then you can use your brain-body with some wonderful somatics exercises to change discomforting signals into ones of pleasure.

Then at the end, you can check-in again and feel what changes have taken place or what new sensations or feelings you are now aware of.

So, let me know if you took a moment in now to lie down and check-in.

What did you feel?

How would you describe your sensations, feelings or perceptions now?

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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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