I recently travelled to Wicklow Town to attend a weekend workshop taught by Brian Siddartha Ingle of Living Somatics: The Ingle Institute of Somatic Education. That’s Brian below and I promise I didn’t steal his passport photo for this. I just hate bothering teachers for a photo after they have taught a long workshop. So in my haste, I usually come up with great passport photos! Need to rethink my photo strategy…
I had been convinced by a couple of Brian’s students that this was a workshop not to miss. The workshop was held at Ananta Yoga Studio in Wicklow Town, an absolutely beautiful studio in the middle of the town.
This was my first trip to the southeast coast of Ireland. I would have liked more time to explore, especially to satisfy my horticultural appetite (Glendalough, Powerscourt, Mount Usher…). But as the workshops were the two full weekend days there wasn’t much time for extracurricular activities. I had to settle for a leisurely stroll along the prom in Wicklow Town.
Firstly to say that the weekend ran very smoothly. We started promptly and ran to schedule, which I think allows for everyone to relax a bit more. It seems counterintuitive that structure can allow for relaxation, but I feel this is often true. The student doesn’t have to worry what time it is or what is coming next because it has all been planned out and thus runs well. Relatedly, I’d like to point out that we didn’t actually receive any kind of formal schedule. Normally, I like some kind of schematic in my hand to refer to, but I felt it liberating NOT to have one in this case. I didn’t really know what to expect anyway so without being give a sheet of expectations I was allowed to just go with the flow. This is something my pitta brain sometimes struggles with, but I have to say I really enjoyed feeling free and just moving from moment to moment (literally and figuratively), being guided by an experienced teacher.
After we introduced ourselves to each other, we went straight into movement. As with the classes I have attended taught by Deirdre Mullins (a student of Brian’s), I found the movements small and manageable. I like Brian’s instruction to stop the movement once it feels like you are ‘”moving through honey”. I found his approach and delivery very clear and mindful, hallmarks of the very experienced teacher, and therefore very relaxing and liberating. Brian was assisted with Vanessa Peare, who is a student of his and teaches somatic movement lessons and yoga in Wicklow Town (Slow Awakenings Somatic Movement and Yoga with Vanessa Peare). Vanessa was so helpful and full of enthusiasm for this work. I love meeting people who love what they do.
As I have said before my intention here is to give a brief overview of the workshop or class and to record how I found it. I never go into too much detail as I don’t want to give too much away. I would like the reader to take away an idea of what the workshop or class is like in hopes that they might attend a future workshop if they are interested. I do think it is important to respect the work that the teacher has put into these classes and workshops so I don’t want to give away trade secrets, so to speak. In this case, I can say that most of this workshop was movement based, though there was a bit of learning about how the body works and explanation of Thomas Hanna’s work. I’ve noticed that most full day workshops usually put in a non-moving bit after lunch so you have time to digest, which only makes sense.
After each lesson we were invited to walk around to see if we felt any changes in the body. Actually, even within a lesson we were told to rest and sense any changes in the body. I am thinking that these rest periods are probably as important as the actually movements themselves — reconnecting the mind to the body. I felt taller at the end of the workshop, like my head was sitting properly on my neck for a change — I felt nothing less than majestic and regal as I walked. I also noticed a couple of days after the workshop when I was practicing (or attempting to practice) handstands that I was able to stick a handstand for much longer than usual — twice as long really, though twice 2 and half seconds is really only 5 seconds! But still, this was a huge improvement for me. I felt so balanced and centered up through the middle of my body. As I am only practicing handstands about once a week, I’m going to chalk up the improvement to this workshop.
My favourite part of the workshop was the introduction to somatic therapeutics. We partnered up and were taught how to observe and work on a student’s neck movement — the idea being to bring more ease and space in neck movement. It’s interesting and says a lot about the somatic movement ‘discipline’ that it is truly an education. Brian calls the person receiving the therapeutic hands-on work students and not patients, since this is deeper than treatment alone — it is a re-education of the mind and it’s relationship to the body. The student’s mind and body are taught how to be friends again.
This workshop was well worth the trip to Wicklow. The good news for movement junkies in the west is that Brian is planning a workshop in November in Galway. I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in how the body moves, yoga practitioners and teachers, those suffering from little niggles in the back, anyone really. Keep an eye out for upcoming trainings at Living Somatics: The Ingle Institute of Somatic Education and on FB at https://www.facebook.com/livingsomatics/.
Remember, if you have a workshop you would like to tell me about, you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I am looking to go to yoga workshops in every county in Ireland. I am just starting to fill in the calendar now so do get in touch.
Next up: a very balanced day of yoga at Cregg Castle in Co Galway, led by the wonderful Marese Cregg!