My approach to Arts, Health and Wellbeing (part 1)
I’m not completely mad about yoga. I’d say I really like it at times and at others I struggle to like it much at all. You could say I am a Reluctant Yogi! I’m certainly ambivalent about it. Having attended local classes on and off for many years! trained as a yoga teacher in 2016 and completed lots of inspiring and intense courses, both short and long… I’ll be honest – I wouldn’t be able to say I love it.
This year, I have finally become clear about why I feel like this and honestly… it’s a relief. The reasons are complex and I am keen to explore them more fully here. For now, it feels important to say that I have often not felt safe enough in a yoga class and I have struggled to find comfort, my place or a sense of belonging here.
That is not to say – BTW – that I do not experience positive benefits from physical yoga practices. Yoga has a massive impact on my body, heart, mind and spirit ongoingly. Yoga philosophy helps me make sense of how I want to move through life and connect with others and the planet. The pull to the practices of yoga is real and strong and consistent over a long period of time. The learning is deep, profound and has only just begun (I’ll reflect more in another post on my experience of ‘yoga’, what it feels like to me, what I get from it and why I’m so committed to learning and sharing).
I’m convinced now that what I want to offer as a Yoga Facilitator/ Teacher will make a big difference to others who like me – aren’t loving yoga! Those of you who have maybe tried yoga but didn’t like it (for whatever reasons – and these are valid and important to understand), would like to try it but don’t think you’ll be able to do it or that it’s just not for you!
I can only share or teach from what I know and have experienced – it’s the only truthful way to move forward.
So I’m going to start exploring my reservations and hesitations about yoga here. I’ll also share what I have learnt in particular from trauma sensitive approaches, yoga therapy, women’s wellbeing and embodied relational yoga which I thoroughly respect and I’m genuinely excited about. Also, my work with teenagers living with ongoing chronic medical conditions and how that informs my approach to working with the body. I’ll tell you more about why I am (despite not loving it) actively committed to finding different ways to make yoga part of my everyday life.
I’d love the chance to share genuinely with you and I hope you’ll find everything you need here to make your mind up as to whether you’d like to work with me one to one or as part of a small group of 4/5 others.
My intention for sessions is that all participants have the chance to develop their own individual felt knowledge of their bodies and experience of being in their body. You’ll get to know and explore the ‘yoga postures’ and feel comfortable recognising your own experiences in these shapes over time. You will become confident to attend any yoga class with a good knowledge of what feels right for you. You can participate/ or not and feel empowered to own your own experience and make your own choices (not deferring power to a teacher).
In January 2020 I’ll begin Yoga and Somatics for Healing and Recovery course: moving beyond stress, trauma, burnout, anxiety, fatigue and post illness through embodied awareness with Charlotte Watts. This will be an explorative journey to delve into how a compassionate and subtly attentive relationship with our bodies, practice and teaching can help address these common dis-ease states. I’m looking forward to being able to share this with people I work with.
I’m currently working with Kate Ellis in my second year of her Art of Teaching One to One training. Drawing on insights and theories within yoga, body psychotherapy and developmental movement, we are exploring how embodiment impacts our capacity for relationship whilst exploring the innate and profound intelligence of the body. This training is deepening my teaching skills to effectively meet the needs of the individual and develop my relational skills for working with depth and intimacy. I’m really excited to be able to start exploring how to combine this approach to yoga with art psychotherapy in sessions with clients.
My intention is to offer something nourishing and healing, to support you in finding your way back to your body. Back into feeling (not looking) inside the body. Learning to listen in and developing compassion for self. With patience and respect. I also want to explore how art therapy and yoga can be used together to support you to connect with yourself and others.
Over reliance on talking and thinking rationally is challenged in art therapy which offers an opportunity to more directly connect with one’s inner thoughts and feelings (inner landscape) through using art materials to explore and express; without words and getting stuck in the thinking.
Yoga complements this approach to developing a stronger sense of ourselves; identity, self awareness, acceptance and compassion for self and others. In yoga and in art therapy we get the chance to become present in our bodies and to notice what comes up (without judgement and criticism).
Yoga and art therapy can both support us to become more aware, responsive and grounded in a stronger sense of our own selves. Becoming also more respectful and kind towards our own (often hidden and well defended) fears and vulnerabilities. This helps us to connect more deeply with other human beings; feeling more understood, supported and less alone!
Key ideas informing my approach (summarised here)
Being – Not performing ourselves. Or our bodies
Free to be with what is – right now
Standing fully in our lives with all our experiences, knowing and wisdom
Respecting and honouring our own experiences and insights
Noticing, Curious and Compassionate
Following our attention, our eye, holding ourselves close, being a friend.
Allowing ourselves to be fully present
Understanding the context (social, cultural political, economic) the bigger picture, and the dominant narratives of our lives (keep busy, strive for more, strain, achieve, reaching, be good, be kind, proving to self and others and more…).
Space to confront and undo programming – rewire
This is all underpinned and rooted in my ongoing interest and developing knowledge of movement and alignment principles, fascia (and the relationship between bone, muscles, fascia, nerves etc. understanding different tissue types and how they affect our sense of embodiment), polyvagal theory and the nervous system, trauma sensitive approaches and embodied relational therapy principles (contact, information gathering, amplification, integration and how they can be applied to a yoga therapy session).