A Few of My Favorite Things: A Pleasure List

  1. Marie Calendar’s frozen key lime pie
  2. The sound of a gentle stream
  3. Thick fuzzy socks
  4. Ernie Isley’s opening guitar solo in Voyage to Atlantis
  5. Voyage to Atlantis by The Isley Brothers
  6. Toe-curling orgasms
  7. Sweet and salty popcorn
  8. Purple and orange sunsets
  9. Hot morning coffee (or matcha green tea latte)
  10. Astrology stalking people
  11. Spending time in connection

What are a few things that bring pleasure to your life?

“Mirrors”

Our “mirrors” (those who reflect aspects of us back to ourselves) aren’t necessarily cosmic punishment unless you choose to receive them that way.

They’re an opportunity to see who we are from another point of view. They help us understand who we are and how we contribute to others’ life stories.

They reveal and grant us the choice to be someone else or more of the same; the choice to reject or embrace; the choice to martyr or forgive.

A chance to be with ourselves through others.

What is “Somatics”?

Over the last 50 years or so, the concept of somatics have grown in popularity in the U.S. Stemming from the Greek word soma, meaning “the body”, somatics refers to the field within bodywork and movement studies that stresses the importance of the mind-body connection.

The term was coined by Thomas Hanna, a professor of philosophy and movement theorist, in the 70s. He concluded that a wide range of health issues came from a dissociative happening between the mind and body called Sensory Motor Amnesia in which “the sensory motor neurons of the voluntary cortex have lost some portion of their ability to control all or some of the muscles of the body.” Hanna’s studies of neurophysiology led to the development of voluntary pandiculation exercises and hands-on bodywork as a remedy.

Natural pandiculation is the involuntary response of stretching and yawning after long periods of non-movement, as we see with cats and dogs as they deeply arch their backs and take in breaths after waking up. Voluntary pandiculation, on the other hand, requires participation from the client with the purposeful engagement of a muscle or muscle group during a stretch or specific posture.

Hanna’s work is highly influenced by that of his predecessors, actor F.M. Alexander and physicist Moshé Feldenkrais. Alexander developed the Alexander Technique in the 1890s which emphasizes the undoing of unnecessary tension in movement. The Feldenkrais Method was developed some time during the mid-20th century as a means to improve physical and mental well-being by replacing harmful movement patterns with more efficient ones in order to retrain the nervous system. Hanna used these influences to created what is called Hanna Somatic Education. Other somatic systems include:

  • Structural Integration
  • Body-Mind Centering
  • Somatic Sensing
  • Ortho-Bionomy and
  • Continuum

These are just some of the somatic approaches to alternative healing that have become available to us in the West.

A yogic offspring of Thomas Hanna’s method is Somatic Yoga. This style of yoga marries Hanna Somatics with yoga while emphasizing neural functioning as it relates to movement. The focus is to improve posture not so much by muscle exertion but the combined use of breath, meditation, mind-body integration and guided relaxation. This approach is a continuation of Hanna’s work by his widow, Eleanor Criswell Hanna.

While each method has its own distinct differences, they all seek to improve one’s sense of Self, mobility and overall well-being. Through the integration of the multiple bodies that make up the human being, the wholeness of a person starts to come into clearer view. By enhancing internal awareness of the biological, psychological, neurological and even spiritual (in some cases) components of who we are, we can essentially activate the body’s ability to heal itself.

Better Bodhi provides a 1:1 eclectic somatic coaching offering to clients looking to reshape the relationship with his/her/their own body. Email brittney@betterbodhi.com to schedule a free consultation call to see if it is right for you.


REFERENCES

Hanna, Thomas (1986). “What is Somatics?”Somatics: Magazine-Journal of the Bodily Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 17 November 2014.

Raypole, C. (2020, April 17). Somatics: Definition, exercises, evidence, and more. Healthline. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/somatics#What-does-that-even-mean?

Sokoloff, L. (2007, August 8). Somatics: The Yogas of the West. Yoga Journal. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from Somatics: The Yogas of the West.

Warren, S. (2019, April 29). What is pandiculation? Somatic Movement Center. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from https://somaticmovementcenter.com/pandiculation-what-is-pandiculation/.

July 2021 Forecast & Self-Care Tips

Here we are. Already more than half way through 2021 and so much has unfolded thus far. Time flies when your raising your vibration!

WE’RE IN A 5 YEAR

The numerological theme of 2021 is 5. We gather this by adding all the digits of the year together. Five represents change and our ability to transform our thoughts, behaviors and, consequently, our lives. Yogic numerology specifically describes 5 as the representation of the Communicator archetype as well as our sense of authenticity and the well-being of the physical body.

As motifs around choosing our associations wisely and truthfully continue to peak on social media and real life, we may notice a nudge to become more militant about improving the conditions in which we regularly immerse ourselves as it relates to our overall state of joy and health. While this may not be the beginning of that journey for some of us, it is no coincidence as to why the urge to grow in this area may feel amplified.

Still, there are other numbers in the coming days to consider as we live out the current month. See video below:

Since we are in the 7th month, it will benefit us to engage in self-care that strengthens the 7th body. This is the auric body or the electromagnetic field that surrounds the physical body. The health of the aura impacts our ability to be guided by our intuition and significant in the protection from the energetic imprints of others.

The auric body plays an important role in the stability of the immune system as well.

3 WAYS TO STRENGTHEN THE AURA

Hydrate.

Drinking a lot of water, in particular, is cleansing to the physical body as well as the aura. Water’s ever-shifting nature can, also, change the energy of that which it comes in contact with. Therefore, water immersion can be healing as well.

Wear white.

The aura usually extends up to about 9 feet. However, the reflective nature of white not only balances the auric body but can increase its reach up to an additional 3 feet!

Ego work.

Kundalini yoga employs kriyas or spiritual exercises for unblocking and balancing our flow of energy, including the Ego Eradicator which supports the well-being of 7th body. Carrying out any inner work that help us tackle our feelings of insecurity and self-doubt is, also, beneficial for this body.

Yoga-Triggered: Pasasana

I am a member of a Facebook group dedicated to black women who practice yoga. A community space in which we get to share our collectively unique thoughts, opinions and experiences of our demographic living in a society that primarily markets this South Asian practice to thin white women. And while our cultural experiences are similar, it’s is a mixed bag of personalities.

Obvious from the posts and comments, we do not agree on everything and, naturally, are on different spiritual paths and/or parts of our paths. A woman shared a photo from Yoga Journal that depicted Pasasana which is translated as Noose Pose. Anyone familiar with Black American history knows that the sheer sight of a noose or sound of the term can be quite triggering. Heavily affiliated with the terrorist practice of lynching, nooses tend to be perceived as quite negative by the Black community, even in a neutral context. I am no different.

When I initially came across the pose, I felt triggered. I immediately asked myself, “What the hell is this?!” My feels jumped suddenly into anxiety mode as the images in my brain teleported me to the days of my grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ youth and my mind flooded with the countless images of “picnics” black people strung up on trees amidst a crowd of smiling white folks. But then, my yogi skills kicked it. I stilled myself long enough to breath and gander at the posed question: “Did ya’ll know there is a yoga pose called noose pose? What is your immediate reaction when hearing that? How would you feel if a teacher used that word to describe this pose in a class? I’ve attached a photo of the pose for reference.” And just like the group itself, the answers were mixed.

A few responses were, “Should definitely update the name. It is insensitive.”, “Folks just make up poses and put asana at the end …pass.”, and “I completely agree that using the name is not mindful of trauma informed teaching.”. Others were more like, “…No, it’s never triggered me as I’ve always been taught the Sanskrit names …”, and “I personally wouldn’t care. To me thats like being offended at the word cotton.” This was my response:

“As yoga is a practice that reveals ourselves to us, I think triggers like this (while not [likely] the original intent for the pose) are meant to guide us into diving into those traumas so we can heal and learn to experience things as they actually are in the context they come.

I’d be mindful of the audience and my approach but I wouln’t let my trauma of black history stop me from teaching it ever. I see a way it can be done significantly and purposefully. So long as I could tell the instructor was on a similar page, I could respect it being taught in a class I was taking.”

To elaborate, I would likely implement my personally understanding of these negative feelings into a very specific type of class geared towards this trauma in the Black community. Even in my own practice, I can imagine the nooses that hung our ancestors from trees like strange fruit; swinging and burning in the wind. Then I imagine myself as that noose but hugging them lovingly and holding up their spiritual bodies. Not burning, but the memory of them being carried in my being in strength and courage. Understanding that they are forever with me in my work as a yogi – internally and externally.

I truly believe in the stance that I posed wholeheartedly. I’m sure that my view will not be accepted by everyone but it is my truth and I’d like to hope that anyone attracted to a class of mine will be receptive or at least neutral. It is, also, my hope that all yoga teachers – while practicing mindfulness and sensitivity – will not shy away from challenging their students and themselves to address their pains as much as they support their peace. In fact, I see these focuses as going hand-in-hand.

My 2020 in a Nutshell

Teacher certification. Collaborating. Misunderstandings. Severed connections.

A birthday at the top of a global pandemic. Lockdowns. Social Distancing. No work. New creative ideas.

Diagnoses. A surgery. New medications. Shadow work. Heartbreak. Therapy.

Brink of divorce. Losing friends. Death of family. New job. New friends. New opportunities. Reconnections.

Yoga. Self Care. Bodywork. Healing retreats. Back slides. Wellness events. Forgetting face masks in the car. Vaccine debates.

Car wreck. Whiplash. More drugs. More expenses. Long lines. Quick recovery.

Black lives. All lives. My life. Political parties. Conspiracies. Protests. Anxiety. Depression. Loneliness. Addictions. Agendas.

Existential crises. Venting sessions. Fear. Epiphanies. Growth. Gratitude.

Acceptance. Truth. Release. Love.

Namaste.

Wellness Wake Up Challenge

I am excited to announce that I will be collaborating with a few awesome ladies this winter to present a 6-week virtual program that will assist all participants with achieving their wellness goals as we enter the new year!

2020 has been rather stressful and a more unpredictable year than most. That is why we are excited to support you with the offering of holistic tools and classes such as yoga therapy, cosmic readings, meditation and more as we journey forward into a better state of well-being during these confusing times. The program will run from December 14, 2020 to January 23, 2021.

The program is led by me, Brittney Shawnee’ of Better Bodhi, Maury Browning of Learn with Maury, The Cosmic Doc – Sowande Mustakeem, and Casey Stinemetz of A Creative Balance. Visit the ticket page for more details on the program. We understand finances may be a concern and do not want it to be the biggest hinderance for participation, so please check out our payment plans and/or apply for our full scholarship!

Also, follow and Like us on Instagram and Facebook to stay updated on news and other details regarding the Wellness Wake Up Challenge.

Namaste.