Thursday, June 21st, 2018

Yoga, Bodywork, Healing & The Brain

Published on August 17, 2011 by   ·   No Comments


Weaving The Strands

In my recent Touch, Energy & Healing seminar, the pertinent question was raised as to what we mean by the word “healing” and if indeed the sometimes dramatic and powerful experiences that people can have on the massage table or yoga mat can be designated as “healing.” We didn’t have time on the day to really get into this important and juicy conversation, so I wanted to take a little time right now to share some of my thoughts on the matter.

There is also considerable tie-in here with the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind Yoga Teacher Training that I offer with Hala Khouri, as we share a passion with the relationships between yoga, psychology and brain science.

There are three schools of thought I want to reference in pointing out what I think are substantive claims of healing:

1. The work of biologist Peter Levine in creating his Somatic Experiencing approach.
2. The broader understanding of the post-Reichian body-based psychologists. (That’s Reich, not Reiki in case you’re wondering!)
3. The rapidly advancing discipline of Neuroscience.

As we will see these three converging areas of inquiry have significant overlap with one-another as well as with yoga and bodywork.

The Physiological Self (Nervous System)

Peter Levine created his physiology-based trauma healing model because as a biologist he observed that animals in the wild handled trauma differently than did contemporary humans. After surviving a life threatening interaction, like being hunted as prey, getting into a territorial fight or being scared by a helicopter that carried biologists who were tagging the animal for conservation research – they would allow a physiological discharge of the “energy” that had been mobilized via the secretion of adrenaline, autonomic nervous system activation, increased heart rate, blood rushing to the fight or flight muscles etc.

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