Balance Body and Mind: A Somatic Education Workshop taught by Deirdre Mullins of Soma Yoga held at Green Lotus Holistic Centre in Salthill, Galway
I had the pleasure of attending my first Somatics workshop this past weekend. I had heard of Somatics a few times over the last couple of years and was vaguely interested in it though I brushed it off as it seemed a bit like gentle yoga (heaven forbid!). As many of you know, time passes and the idea of a gentler, more thoughtful practice becomes a pretty good idea. So off I went to Salthill Saturday morning, a gorgeous morning. I arrived early and had a nice leisurely walk on the Prom. It would have been criminal not to on a day like this…
Even though I had heard of Somatics I didn’t know what to expect. But Deirdre started us off lying on our backs, which I do know how to do fairly well. She guided our attention up through the body, asking us to feel how the calves or the backs of the thighs might be touching the floor. How one foot might be turned out more than the other. Is one shoulder lying more flat than the other? There was nothing for us to do but notice our movements and stay within ourselves.
Deirdre then asked us to move in different ways. The movements were not big, surprisingly small in fact. We were encouraged to move even less if we needed to. Deirdre asked us if we felt tight or crunchy bits when moving and to maybe stop and investigate these areas.
We spent a lot of time on the lower portion of the spine, gently arching it and pressing it into the mat. Back and forth this way, all the while paying attention to how and where else we might be feeling the movement.
We opened the shoulder girdle. We worked the body at diagonals. Deirdre steadily guided us with an informed, calm voice. No ‘ehms’ or ‘ehhs’ to be heard. Deirdre clearly understands how the body works and moves and is able to translate this to the practitioner.
Interestingly, there was no real demonstration. Deirdre just stood and directed us. This allowed each person to explore his or her own movements without consciously or subconsciously comparing themselves to the way a teacher does the move. This can sometimes be a little dangerous in yoga classes as students try to emulate a teacher’s pose by pulling and pushing themselves into shapes their bodies may not be ready to do.
At the end of the class we were asked to lie on our backs again. I was shocked at how much more aligned my body felt, especially considering the very gentle movements we were doing. I also felt extremely calm and clearheaded, not stupid or dopey as I can sometimes feel after very long yoga nidras. I was still feeling the good effects today.
I would recommend a Somatics workshop to anyone and hope Deirdre will come back to Galway soon to teach more workshops. We would love to have her at one of our Yoga Teacher Gatherings as incorporating Somatic Movements into yoga classes seems like a natural fit.
Deirdre Mullins can be found at somayoga.ie.