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Tired of the ever so common athletic power yoga experience? For those that want to take their yoga practice deeper, Dallas Yoga Center's Soma Yoga classes are dedicated to providing yoga that is integrative and embodied.
DYC offers Soma Yoga, a yoga path that is about awakening the awareness of being that resides within the mind/body connection. Soma Yoga is a field which employs holistic body-centered yoga to assist people in integrating and transforming self and building the life essence. Through non-linear movement awareness practices that nurture the innate mind/body/spirit intelligence inherent in our being, Soma Yoga develops greater connectivity, vitality and life-force.
Soma means life-force and Soma Yoga will change your life and your yoga practice. Over time you will find your body will become much more supple and relaxed, making activities from walking to playing tennis to doing the dishes much more enjoyable.
Soma Yoga is a gentle, lifelong system of movement. Somatic Yoga can help almost anyone maintain the pleasures of a supple, healthy body indefinitely. Unravel tension, increase mobility and create new brain pathways. Discover the joy of full embodiment, ease of being and peaceful expression.
Fluid movement sequences incorporate lying on the floor, prone, supine and side lying to promote deep relaxation and freedom of movement. Traditional yoga poses are rarely incorporated, but sometimes offered. Somatic Yoga is comprised of a system of gentle movements - while breathing and mildly focusing (and sometimes simple "looking" in certain directions)- which through a combination of neuromuscular stimulation and the gentlest of stretches (no postures!) manages to roll back years of stiffness, aid injury recovery, and significantly relieve some of the stresses of aging.
Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen at DYC 2013
DYC's Soma Yoga program is based on the work of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, founder of Body Mind Centering and who teaches workshops at the Dallas Yoga Center, and both Feldenkrais and Pilates are related. But Somatic Yoga movements require no equipment and any level of fitness can benefit.
Every Saturday from 9:00 am - 10:15 am.
Click here to sign up for a drop-in Soma Yoga class.
Click here to read 'Why Do Soma Yoga' by Carla Rudiger.
Embodied Asana is designed by DYC instructor Jessica O'Keefe to engage students within a vinyasa flow format from a somatic approach. This is an asana/flow class centered around experiential anatomy & somatic principles which supports conscious, free, easeful movement. This movement meditation allows the student to observe habits, increase body awareness, enhance motor learning, sharpen mental focus & increase overall understanding of themselves & the world around them.
EMBODIED VINYASA FLOW
Embodied Vinyasa Flow is designed to engage students within a vinyasa flow format from a somatic approach. This is an asana/flow class centered around experiential anatomy & somatic principles which supports conscious, free, easeful movement. This movement meditation allows the student to observe habits, increase body awareness, enhance motor learning, sharpen mental focus & increase overall understanding of themselves & the world around them.
BONNIE BAINBRIDGE COHEN
Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen is the developer of Body-Mind Centering® and the founder and Educational Director of the School. For over fifty years, she has been a movement artist, researcher, educator and therapist. An innovator and leader, her work has influenced the fields of bodywork, movement, dance, yoga, body psychotherapy, childhood education and many other body-mind disciplines.
She is the author of the books, Sensing, Feeling and Action and The Mechanics of Vocal Expression and currently has ten DVDs: The Organ System, The Nervous System, The Fluid System, The Endocrine System, The Ligamentous System, three on the Skeletal System (The Lower Limbs, The Upper Limbs, and The Axial Skeleton), Embodiment and Expression for Musicians and Singers, and Four Special Children. She is also featured in the following DVDs: Dance and Body-Mind Centering, and The Origins of Movement: The Embodiment of Early Embryological Development. She is currently working on a number of other books and DVDs.
Bonnie is a Registered Occupational Therapist and a Registered Movement Therapist. She is also certified in Neurodevelopmental Therapy, Laban Movement Analysis, and Kestenberg Movement Profiling. She has practiced occupational therapy and taught in university hospitals, helped to establish a school for occupational and physical therapy for the Tokyo government, practiced bodywork and movement in psychiatric settings, taught in the masters program in Dance Therapy at Antioch New England College, taught dance at Hunter College and at the Erick Hawkins School of Dance in New York, and presented workshops throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia.
Also you can visit her website at http://www.bodymindcentering.com/
Lisa Clark, began her studies of BMC in 1983, she has become one of the leading innovators of the integration of Yoga and Body-Mind Centering, actively engaged in the training, teaching and development of this form for over 30 years. Lisa was the program coordinator and co-teacher with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen of the first BMC & Yoga programs in Amherst, MA from 2000-2004. She continued as faculty and teaching assistant in the NYC program 2005-2007. Lisa then became the Educational Director of the first European BMC & Yoga Embodied Anatomy & Yoga program in Berlin, Germany 2009-2012. She has taught in the Somatic Movement Education programs in the United States and Brazil from 2007 to currently.
Lisa Clark is the Co-owner and Educational Director of Yoga On The Square in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2002 she founded EmbodiYoga, a 500-hr RYS with Yoga Alliance, which offers advanced workshops and trainings that integrate Yoga, BMC and Somatics, for the last 14 years. She is a ERYT-500 with Yoga Alliance, registered with ISMETA as a Somatic Movement Therapist and Educator, a BMC teacher and practitioner, and has done the EAY, EDMY, IDME BMC trainings. Lisa teaches and leads workshops internationally at schools and studios throughout the United States, South America, Europe and China. She has a private BMC and movement therapy practice in Pittsburgh.
Visit Lisa’s website at www.embodiyogalisaclark.com
Amy Matthews began the BMC & Yoga program with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and Lisa Clark in 2000. She has been teaching movement since 1994 and is a Body-Mind Centering® Teacher, a Certified Laban Movement Analyst, an Infant Developmental Movement Educator, a movement therapist and yoga teacher. Amy was the Program Director for the Embodied Developmental Movement and Yoga, and Embodied Anatomy and Yoga BMCSM programs in NYC and Portland OR from 2009 - 2016. She co-taught with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen in Berkeley, CA for five years. Amy is faculty of the Somatic Movement Education program in Oregon, and was faculty of the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies for ten years. She teaches embodied anatomy and movement workshops in the United States and internationally.
Amy co-authored with Leslie Kaminoff the book Yoga Anatomy, and is the Education Director of The Breathing Project in New York City, where both Amy and Leslie teach. Amy also works privately, integrating Laban Movement Analysis, Bartenieff Fundamentals, yoga, Body-Mind Centering and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF). She is E-500 RYT with Yoga Alliance, registered with ISMETA as a Somatic Movement Therapist and Educator, and with IAYT ( International Association of Yoga Therapists), CMA, IDME, RSMT/RSME.
Visit Amy’s website at www.embodiedasana.com
Body-Mind Centering and Yoga
Excerpt from Yoga Journal Blog by Rhonda Krafchin
For my final somatics exploration, I made an appointment with Diane Elliot, a Body-Mind Centering teacher with an eclectic yoga background, including the Iyengar and Kripalu styles. “What would it be like,” she asked, “if your sense of yourself included an awareness that went right down to the cellular level, so that you could imagine the movement between the cells? Wouldn’t that provide a much deeper and subtler way of entering into movement or posture?”
As Elliot explained, a basic premise of Body-Mind Centering (BMC) is that we can develop awareness, receive information, and learn to move from each of the body’s systems—from individual cells and their components up to the larger, more obvious systems like the skeletal, glandular, circulatory, and nervous systems.
“Somebody might be very tuned into their muscles or their skeletal structure,” says Elliot, “but they might only ever enter movement from those systems, because that’s what they’re familiar with. Those are the systems that tend to get worn out. So I’ll look for the systems that aren’t being used. We use the term ‘the shadow’ for that which is less expressed.”
BMC also explores the movement patterns that develop from the time we’re in utero through fetal development, birth, and the early years of life. The founder of BMC, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, sees all of these movements as echoes of nature and of other animals that form the evolutionary chain. For example, she compares the fluid patterns within our body—like the ebb and flow of craniosacral fluid—with the fluid patterns in nature, such as ocean currents.
Understanding such subtle complexities takes more than one lesson, Elliot cautions. Rather than trying to explain them intellectually, Elliot starts with the concrete. She asks me how I feel about my yoga practice. What do I enjoy? What do I find difficult? Then she asks me to lie down on the floor and begins touching me lightly. Once she touches a student, she explains, she can get a sense of which systems and movement patterns operate strongly, which may be hidden, and which may be in distress.
“I often begin with breathing to get a student in touch with her body,” Eliot says, “because the work is going to unfold as a dialogue between us, not as me doing something to make her feel better. What I’m looking for is a way that I can begin to connect with her, and help her connect with her own body. Breathing is a great way to do that because it’s something that people have control over.”
Elliot explains that the breath can help move the body from solidity to fluidity. When most of us think about how to initiate movement, we approach it from an awareness of bones and muscle. But the body is 70 percent water.
“If you think about the interfaces between the organs and soft tissues and functional joints,” she says, “then there’s a lot more possibility for movement at many levels. Oftentimes we have a concept of certain parts of ourselves, even unconsciously, as being glued together. If you can infuse those places with a consciousness of the potential of fluid movement, that actually helps things unglue.”
At one point, both Elliot and I wind up on the floor in an attempt to help me understand some of the more subtle BMC principles, such as awareness of the inner organs. I think of the story of the yogi from India who could stop his heart at will. My hope is that we’ll start with something a little less indispensable.
Elliot begins by demonstrating a basic twist, first by initiating movement from the more obvious structural sources (bones and muscles), then contrasting this with movement initiated from within the actual organs themselves.
“The mind of each organ is different from the mind of muscles,” she says. “Not that one is better or worse. If I always use one way of movement, the other avenues atrophy because they’re not getting use.”
When it’s my turn, Elliot attempts to guide me in search of my liver by placing her hands over my diaphragm and on my back. She reminds me that twisting poses are excellent massages for all the internal organs. Now, however, the idea is to access the “mind” of just one organ and to initiate movement from it.
My liver is obviously part of my shadow, and my shadow is eluding me. In fact, I have no sense of my liver at all. All I can summon is the image of that lifeless slab of meat my mother used to bring home from the butcher.
When I mention this to Elliot she laughs good-naturedly. She does this occasionally throughout our session, usually after some deeply esoteric explanation. Perhaps she understands that to most people, the idea of communicating with each of our cells or the idea that the liver has some kind of intelligence sounds a bit, well…esoteric.
Part of the challenge in learning Body-Mind Centering, says Elliot, “is that it’s an actual value not to engage cognition right away. If you approach movement with your conscious mind and nervous system, you tend to be looking from the place of what you already know. It’s very hard to actually have a new experience from that place. So part of the method is to go into the depths, into the shadows. One of our maxims,” she adds with a laugh, “is that the mind is the last to know.”
There is, however, a logic to BMC’s systematic investigations that reminds me of yoga. In yoga, for instance, we’re often told to “open our hearts.” This is partly metaphorical, yet in another sense it’s grounded in physiology. A tight chest cavity constricts blood and oxygen flow, so opening it can have an obvious physical benefit for the heart.
Similarly, there is both a physiological and a more metaphorical, spiritual aspect to BMC. On the one hand, BMC uses the basic language of Western science—anatomy and physiology—but it also encompasses a more Eastern spiritual quality—the experiential nature of the work, the more existential understanding that we can root our awareness deep in our bodies.
“If you think about yoga as a spiritual and a lifelong practice,” says Elliot, “then what you want is the sort of stimulation that’s going to keep opening the postures for you rather than pinning them down. I think that’s something BMC can do. This is the kind of many-layered work that can help you open up a posture or any sort of movement practice. You find so much to work with, so much to pay attention to. It creates a richness that helps you understand why yoga and BMC are lifelong practices.”
SOMATIC YOGA PSYCHOLOGY
Anodea Judith, Ph.D. has been called “a prophet for our time.” A groundbreaking thought leader who is the founder and director of Sacred Centers, and a writer, therapist, and spiritual teacher. Her passion for the realization of human potential matches her concern for humanity’s impending crises — her fervent wish is that we “wake up in time.” She holds Masters and Doctoral degrees in Psychology and Human Health, is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher (E-RYT), with lifelong studies of psychology, mythology, sociology, history, systems theory, and mystic spirituality.
Anodea Judith integrates both mind and body within a spiritual context by exploring the inner psychology of the Chakra System as a model for transformational healing and personal growth. Since 2010 Anodea has visited DYC to teach yearly workshops designed for yogis and healers of all types who wish to learn new skills, as well as laypeople in the process of their own healing journey. Her classes combine guided trance journeys, yoga asanas for opening the chakras, bioenergetic exercises, and partner work for integrating your process. And her more advanced trainings go to deeper levels with psychological exploration, therapeutic demonstrations, and group process, giving participants a chance to work on their own issues, and to practice these techniques with each other.
Also you can visit her website at http://sacredcenters.com