Can You Reverse Aging Through Somatic Movement?
How often do we blame our physical ailments and conditions on just getting older? What if I told you that does not need to be the case? If you think about it, as we age, we get wiser from all the mistakes we made in the past which means we should be able to avoid doing things that hurt us. I did abuse my body when I was younger. I pushed through pain during training for the Women’s Four Miler race. I played tennis with reckless abandon. There was a point in my life where I had braces on my knees, ankles, and wrist to play my tennis matches. All these activities created traumas in my body. For years, every picture of me showed my head slightly cocked to the side, which may have either been the cause of my chronic neck pain or the result of these overzealous activities over many years. Either way, a dozen years of going to see various neck specialists gave me temporary relief, but not the understanding of the root causes or methods to self-correct my movements which over time created more pain in my body. The practice of Gentle Somatic Yoga is reteaching my muscles how to move with ease by working with my nervous system and my sensory-motor cortex—two parts of the brain that work together to send and receive messages from the body
There are Three Types of Involuntary Reflexes that result in Sensory Motor Amnesia
Two of the culprits in chronic muscular pain are known as the Green Light Reflex (Go) and the Red Light Reflex (No), according to the Founder of Gentle Somatic Yoga (GSY) James Knight. I am currently learning from Knight in the GSY Level 1 Certification program.
The Green Light Reflex is the urge in some of us to go, go, go. It shows up in the back body as tension with shoulders back, an exaggerated arch, and tight gluteal, hamstring, and calf muscles. If you are always on the go and have a tendency toward over achievement, you might end up with neck pain, shoulder pain, herniated discs, and sciatica. Sounds like a lot of us.
The Red Light or “No” reflex is our body’s natural startle reflex. Anytime you startled or are afraid, this reflex is the instinct is to round the shoulders, protect the heart and draw the head slightly forward. Over time if you have had many occasions in your life where you were startled or afraid, you might end up with very tight muscles in the front of your body, which often results in chronic pain in the neck and jaw, hips, as well as sleep disorders, depression, and fatigue.
Trauma reflexes as they are called in Gentle Somatic Yoga show up in the side body for many reasons. When we continuously move in one way or hold our body in a particular position repeatedly, our body gets torqued one way or the other. Think of it this way. A mother always picking up and holding her baby on the same hip, a phone being held under the chin on one side (I did that for years), climbing the stairs and always leading with the same leg, or an athlete who is swinging the golf club, bat or tennis racket the same way over and over.
Other more serious traumas like car crashes, accidents, and emotional trauma also show up in the side body. Injuries on one side of the body may eventually cause the other side of the body to compensate. What happens is the natural ease and flow of movement that was there when we first learned to move as a baby, is no longer there. Your body becomes like a half working electrical system where some of the lights turn on and others just are not connected to the brain anymore. In those areas that are not turned on, you either experience pain, discomfort, or even numbness because of this temporary state of amnesia. Over time the trauma reflex can lead to balance issues, a torqued spinal column, as well as one-sided pain such as “sciatica, plantar fasciitis, back, hip, neck, knee and ankle pain, all of which can be debilitating,” according to GSY’s Knight.
Gentle Somatic Yoga Helps You “Find the Inner Yes” Again
The purpose of Gentle Somatic Yoga (GSY) is to come back to being whole again and aligned through carefully researched Somatic movements integrated into gentle yoga flows. It’s a re-education of the body through the brain and nervous system to allow you to “regain control of the muscles so that they can cooperate and function together.” Through these movements, you can find lightness and joy that may be missing from your daily movements, which means you won’t be feeling your age. According to Knight, once you find your “inner yes” by reconnecting your muscles to your brain through your nervous system, it is like having an internal GPS guiding you daily in your functional movements. Try out Gentle Somatic Yoga with me as I begin incorporating more movement flows into my Tuesday and Thursday online yoga classes or in a private session. For more information, check out my website.