Connect the dots between key Yoga philosophy topics and what recent research in the west has discovered.
Understand the science behind mind-body health and the integration of ancient wisdom and modern psychology.
Designed for you, Yoga Teachers & Mental Health Providers & Personal Practice Junkies, we’ll give you information and tools so you walk away with key tips to bring to your classes, clients, patients, and your own practice – things like how to read posture and behaviors to give your clients and students what they really need to create a shift.
Many of us LOVE the way Yoga helps us balance our lives, increase our sense of wellness and balance, and regulate our emotions, but why does it work? If you have ever asked that question or wondered what your teachers and trainers are talking about – this class is for you.
In this conversation on the relational implicit podcast, Serge and I talk about a blending of disciplines – – specifically, using exercise science to bridge understanding in somatic psychology interventions. The goal is to bring together the science of the physical body with the science of the emotional body to go beyond symptom reduction and reconnect the self and body.
Interview with Stacy Reuille-Dupont and Serge Prengal: Using Exercise Science to Bridge Understanding in Therapy
See more conversations like this at Relational Implict. On his podcast, Serge explores somatic psychology, relational therapies, mindfulness and trauma therapies. Most of this exploration takes the form of conversations with psychotherapists, occasionally researchers. Stimulating ideas are discussed, as well as clinical examples. The style of the conversations is reflective, to slow down and deepen the process. Many of the conversations are available in video as well as audio.
In my undergraduate studies there was a moment in time when I was a communication major. In the end I graduated with a bachelor of science in exercise science and a minor in business and communication studies. You are probably pretty familiar with the “regular” ways we communicate i.e. talking and body posture. Did you know that communication is mostly non-verbal? And that we as mammals can understand and pick up subtle nuances based on somatic markers? These somatic markers are based on the chemical, electrical, and vibrational communication patterns our cells and atoms use to communicate to each other.
It all starts with slime mold (see video below, it’s old but good). This is the stuff all living things are made of. From single celled organism, life evolved to have specialized cells. Bring together enough specialized cellular structures and you have … a human. To make the human system work, you have to have communication between all those specialized groups. This communication is done using chemical, electrical, and vibrational patterns.
Chemical is probably the easiest to conceptualize. Most of us in the therapy field have a basic understanding of how neurotransmitters and hormones play a role in mental and physical health. Most of us know that dopamine is connected to pleasure, serotonin to depression and contentment, and GABA to anxiety states. Many of us understand that estrogen and testosterone play a role in our ability to connect and assert ourselves. Lots of us understand that many of these shift and change based on the environment.
Diet plays a huge role here. The body is an amazing system that can make what it needs and recycle or eliminate what it doesn’t. We use food, the sun, and nature to help us develop and synthesize the neurotransmitters we need from the nutrients, vitamins, and phytochemicals we are exposed to. Biology also plays a huge role here. We often consider genes of ancestry to understand our physical structure functions.
Overall, chemical communication is fairly slow. The hormones and neurotransmitters have to get into the blood stream, enter the synapsis, hook up with other chemicals, and “dock” for uptake to keep the system going (Fields & Stevens-Graham, 2002). This is a lot of steps. The endocrine system and nervous systems use chemical patterns and electrical signaling to communicate between specialized cells.
Electrical patterns are faster and extend out beyond the physical system (Brian & Lamb, 2014). As a result, this kind of communication can be “read” by other electrical systems. When you have one electrical system next to another and they share the same frequency they create a larger field around the electrical objects. The heart works on electrical signals and is the “battery” of the human body. As your heart rate changes, it impacts the field around you. If you are in connection with another mammal and your electrical fields are similar, you will create deeper connection by collapsing the wall between you and create a larger field that both are part of (Tozz, 2014). Ever sat at the coffee shop and watched people connecting in conversation? Those who are deeply connected appear to “be in their own bubble” or we get the feeling that they are oblivious to the outside world. Maybe you’ve even had this experience yourself.
Let’s talk about heart rate variability. If you can influence your heart rate (electricity) and shift your nervous system (chemistry) and your electrical pattern moves beyond your physical body you are now influencing others near you. As the clinician you can work to regulate your clients by slowing your breath rate, shifting your heart rate, and calming your nervous system. Just like a parent does a child. Your most important therapy tool … your body. If you are working to calm yourself or others, work to slow your breathing and shift your heart rate to a slower signal. POST HRV Email on my therapist blog site.
Humans, like all things, are made of molecular structure. Molecular structure is made of atoms. Atoms are tiny parts of matter that vibrate. Is high school physics coming back to you? When things vibrate they send out ripples. In humans these ripples extend beyond the physical structure. Just like water ripples out from the point of the dropped stone. As a result we “read” each other based on our “vibes”. You know the sayings … “that guy has bad vibes” or “I really felt good around her”. When our vibrations are similar we feel better, we “resonate” with the other person. When we do not resonate with the other person we often find ourselves feeling unease or “off”. We influence our vibrational patterns by shifting our focus points and influencing the physical structures around them (Trivedi & Mohan, 2016). Waves, like electricity will enhance or cancel each other based on how they match up when they meet. This is the communication we are experiencing between two human bodies.
When we talk about these deeper, subconscious ways humans communicate we would be remiss if we did not speak to the need for boundaries. For many of us we have physical boundaries – my chair, my office, clothing, home etc. We also have professional, ethical, and other mental / thought based boundaries around our activities, but have you thought about your energetic ones? Now that you understand how we communicate beyond the physical structure what are the ways you create energetic boundaries for success and safe connection in your life?
Now that you have an understanding of ways we communicate how will you shift your personal practices to make sure you are taking care of your own chemical, electrical, and vibrational communication influencers? What will you do to make sure you are prepared and ready to communicate in these somatic ways that allow a deeper and subconscious connection? How will you boundary yourself to make sure you are taking care of yourself?
Embrace the power of your soma to impact and influence others – both in traditional verbal / non verbal communication tactics, but also with the more subtle and powerful subconscious ways humans communicate in their environments. Give it a try today and let me know how it goes.
Fields, R. D., Stevens-Graham, B. (2002). New insights into neuron-gila communication. Science, 298(5593). 556-562
Pain is bi-directional it runs from the body to the mind or the mind to the body. We can interrupt these signals and you will not feel as much or any pain. In a meta-analysis of studies examining how our brains register pain Apkarian, Bushness, Treede, and Zubieta (2004) found evidence for using distraction as a non-medical pain management treatment. Participants in the studies reviewed had decreased rates of pain when distracted in a variety of activities (activities were dependent on study performed).
If you are a person who lives with chronic pain what methods have you employed to help yourself shift perspective, accept, and create a life that meets your needs now? So many who experience chronic pain feel dejected, disappointed, and angered when medical treatments fail, and they are unable to reduce their pain with pharmaceuticals. Pills are estimated to be about 40% effective with pain states (Turk and Winter, 2014). They are miracles for certain types of pain and negligible for others. If you are someone who has hit a wall with medical treatments, are tired of the side effects (drowsiness, lack of engagement, constipation, stomach/digestive issues, brain fog/cognitive decline) it may be time to look into options for non-medical pain management supports.
Many find relief using a combination of treatment models, acceptance, and perception change. Psychological treatments can be helpful in these areas. They can support the medical prescriptions while supporting behavioral changes, processing the grief and loss the pain has created, and help build a new paradigm for successful living with the physical changes.
Pain is an interesting signal. It is here to help us pay attention. Sometimes our signals get crossed. We find pain in situations that are not physical, yet feel physically painful – the broken heart, gut response, or goosebumps rising. Physical and emotional pain run on the same circuits and there are a variety of options for treating it. Use your mind to help your body. Seek psychological treatment for chronic pain states.