Somatic Psychotherapy for Embodied Living
I came to be interested in mind-body practices and somatic psychology after years of exploring my own healing journey through personal psychotherapy, meditation, and yoga practice. Doing these practices together revealed to me how my emotions were intimately connected to how I related to my body, and how this, in turn impacted how I viewed and related to myself and the world.
These mind-body practices helped reunite me with parts of myself that I hadn’t known before. I saw first hand how my sense of well-being, integration, and health came from a combination of deepening my connection to my body and developing psychological insights and understanding. At this time I was also teaching yoga daily and noticing the emotions and habit patterns that were coming up for my students as they worked their way through practice.
My personal practice as well as my teaching have showed me how imperative it is to include all parts of ourselves–body, mind, and sprit–if we are to truly heal. Somatic Psychotherapy puts the body as its primary focus, bringing awareness to the moment and keeping the experience and the inquiry very practical and real. It is a deep exploration of the mind-body connection and it gives us the tools to live a whole, healthy, connected life. I earned a degree in Somatic Psychotherapy from California Institute of Integral Studies and received my license as a Somatic Psychotherapist. My graduate studies gave me the skills, tools, and language to facilitate the healing process of another in a holistic way.
Yoga as a Doorway to Inner Wisdom
I began the practice of yoga at age 18, in 1989. Five years later I met my teacher Sri K Pattabhi Jois of Mysore, India, founder of the Ashtanga Vinyasa system of Yoga. At that time I was struggling with physical challenges and pain, which was also triggering a lot of emotional distress. During my many visits with him, Pattabhi Jois taught me to not turn away from the pain but to meet it, breathe into it, work with it. As counterintuitive as this sounded I found when I did this the pain always shifted and changed and a new depth and understanding always showed up. Pattabhi Jois helped me to move beyond and transform what I had previously taken as my limitations.
After several visits, Pattabhi Jois gave me his blessing to teach the Ashtanga system and I have been doing so in and around the bay area since 1998. I now own Mission Ashtanga, a Mysore based Ashtanga studio in San Francisco’s Mission district where I continue to teach weekly classes. I also teach yoga to students privately. My Yoga Therapy practice comes directly out of this experience.
Yoga Philosophy and Non-Dual Study for Deeper Inquiry and Understanding
As my physical practice deepened a deep curiosity of the more subtle aspects of the practice naturally arose. I was introduced to yogic scholar and nondual teacher Dr. Richard Miller and have been studying the traditional practice of Yoga and Tantra with him since 1999. Richard models for me the ease and authenticity that come when we honor all parts of ourselves and have the willingness to face whatever it is that confronts us.
A large part of my studies with Richard has been spent learning and integrating the practice of Yoga Nidra, an ancient mediation practice which provides tools for staying in touch with the sense of health and well-being that is there for us at all times. I am a certified iRest Yoga Nidra teacher and I use this practice as a foundation for all my work because of its emphasis on the wholeness that is always present. Yoga Nidra gives a simple systematic method for contacting this in ourselves.
The Value of Working in Relationship
Throughout my years of study I’ve been guided, supported and inspired by many, but the special relationships I’ve had with my primary teachers–Sri Pattabhi Jois and Richard Miller–have been most powerful for me. Pattabhi Jois modeled unyielding commitment, discipline, and embodied practice, three guiding principles of my life. Richard models a relentless willingness to face all that is present, and that in turn has helped me to trust in the practice and myself. They both demonstrated authenticity and fierce determination and helped inspire me to find those qualities inside myself.
My teachers and the practices they taught me have helped me to discover a deep pool of inner wisdom that, even though has always been there, I wasn’t able contact on my own. In my work, I am carrying on this tradition and am sharing what I’ve been given, so that others can find the wisdom and healing that lies within themselves. If you are interested in this journey and would like some guidance as you walk along your path I’d be honored to talk with you.