I dance in many worlds…
Here, I leave a couple answers to questions related to how I show up in the world. Like me, they are imperfect by nature, but honest and intentional. I hope they do not end your curiosity, but spark it.
InTouch Bodywork and Embodiment Counsel
Knowing ourselves is a full-person endeavor and requires that we get to know our whole person which is an unfolding process of mind, body, heart, spirit, intuitions, and creative capacities. In recently completing my MA in Psychology, my career thus far has embedded me in Somatic Psychology… and thus into the healing potentials and capacities of the body to help us negotiate any challenge that arises outside and within us. Below are my answers to some questions about this work.
What is Somatic Psychology?
Somatic Psychology, with somatic being derived from soma – Greek meaning the living body, is a “bottom-up” approach to psychology and psychotherapy. This essentially means that in this approach, the living body is valued as a essential element to the creation of self, and that to untangle the habits that keep us stuck in our lives, we must go through our bodies instead of strictly relying on cognition to help us “think our way out”. As such, movement, touch, internal awareness, and sensation provide us with avenues to unraveling our narratives and finding a sense of self that is holistic in form and function. This is not to privilege the body over the cognitive mind, but to honor the inherent wisdom of the body and how it relates to cognition. This approach has made space for not only indigenous and feminist perspectives in psychology, but is the foundation for all current trauma research that recognizes trauma as mediated and healed through the organism. Check out the work of Peter Levine, Pat Ogden, Stephen Porges, and Bessel van der Kolk for how trauma lives in the body.
Why does that matter?
Take moment to send your awareness to your feet. Feel them under you, whether you are standing on them or resting on the floor as you sit. Allow yourself to feel them, are they wrapped in socks? Covered in shoes? Bare and in contact with the air? Simply let yourself become aware of them, without needing to change their position. Hang out there and see if you can simply notice them. Or perhaps, allow yourself to become aware of your breathing. Notice how breath comes in and out of your body, how your ribcage makes space for your in breath, how it engages with your out breath. As you do this, see if you can sense that you are a living body, and that these parts of yourself are alive and participating in your aliveness.
Often, we are not conscious of our living body. We go about our day engaged in the world of the cognitive mind, jumping from one task to another without giving ourselves over to how we are, simply doing without attention given to our being. Even as we do, our body knows how to get us from one place to another, from one task to another, without our thinking about it. Embedded in this is our unconscious self – all the parts of us that allow us to operate in this world and do all those wild things we do in life. This unconscious aspect of the self, housed in our bodies, holds the keys to our behaviors and beliefs, those parts of ourselves that function in the background and give meaning to how we do things. To unlock our habits, to free ourselves from those habits that limit us, we can find access to knowing them and making them conscious through sending our awareness into our bodies. In doing so, we become more ourselves, with a more full access to what it is that makes us our individual being. This body is not a machine, but a living being – it is you – formed through millennia of transformation that has resulted in your existence. To be that full existence is to not leave our bodies behind, but to make them a conscious element of our participation in life.
So what is InTouch BodyWork?
In Touch Intuitive Bodywork is a form of physical manipulation that incorporates principles from cranial-sacral therapy, Rosen Method, Swedish and Thai massage, yoga, breathwork, ecospychology, Western Herbalism and Somatic Psychology in a way that helps to bring consciousness to all parts of the body. Working in this way allows for deep emotional release while making space for increased self-intimacy, self-understanding and self-compassion. Throughout the process, you and will use sound and language to help give understanding and meaning to points of contact, allowing you to get in touch with yourself in new and meaningful ways. Following our combined intuition, we’ll find the healing pathways of your unique body, mind and spirit.
So…what is Embodiment Counsel?
Embodied Counsel is an approach to unpacking life’s mysteries and our individual life paths through the body. Using principles from Hakomi, Ecopsychology and Somatic Psychology, this interpersonal form of counseling allows you to dive deep into your internal world and untie the knots that have limited your access to free movement of love, peace, acceptance, and engagement. By awakening the fire within, we will work together to deliver you to the current moment with a toolkit of skills and resources designed to help navigate the ever changing world we inhabit. This confidential process brings you back to your skin so you can exists as a joyful expression of life. We will find and free your wild inner being, the one that knows how to flow in the tides of life without reservation.
How do I know which one is right for me?
Working into an embodied sense of self is something that comes to life for us when we have a mirror, someone who – without judgement – is willing to witness us as we navigate that which stifles us and offer us ways to slow down and understand ourselves more deeply. Being in relationship with ourselves is best achieved with someone else. Knowing which path you want to take to get to yourself starts exactly where you are and there is no hard or fast answer. If you tend to be more talkative and like to start with your story, I recommend starting with Embodiment Counseling. If you prefer to find more non-verbal ways to express yourself, I recommend starting with InTouch Bodywork. The two forms give way to one another graciously, and you may think you want to start one way, and discover your more interested in another. They are not distinctly different or opposite to one another, but rather two ways of working toward the same goal, two paths that often cross each other. The trick with getting started (which you already have if you’re reading this here description) is to follow your impulse. Whichever method feels right is right for you.
How is InTouch Bodywork distinct?
In my opinion, what makes InTouch distinct from other forms of massage and physical manipulation is the relationship built between you and I. Throughout the session, we stay in contact with one another, verbally naming and exploring whatever you notice as we come in contact with parts of your body. For example, I may rest my hand on the back of your skull and you may get a warm sensation, or the impulse to laugh, or an image of a hummingbird. All of these things are arising from your body, and together, we will begin to decipher that language and connect your conscious mind with the unconscious knowing of your body. Together, we go into new territory and find out what lies beneath. Not only does this distinguish it from massages, where you may “zone out” instead of “zone in”, but this is what also makes this work so profound and transformational on many levels.
** It is important for me to note that this is not a claim that this kind of work is “better” than any other form of bodywork, and I am not attempting to create a hierarchy of modalities. There are many ways of working, and this is just but one in that larger field. I owe this method to many of those other modalities that have taught me how to work with muscle, bone, breath, and energy. What works for you is unique to you!**
How do you (Tayla) know this is good medicine for what ails me?
I could run off a list of credentials and fields of study, but that would lose my interest before it would lose yours. Frankly, I don’t know if it’s the “right” medicine for you. What I do know is that it has allowed major transformation for me, and those I have worked with report the same thing. In working this way, I have found a larger sense of self that allows me to connect more deeply and authentically with myself and those I love most. I have gained more capacity to live in our troubled world, and learned how to live within it without being overwhelmed by it. I have let go of some chronic pain, resolved old traumas, and rewritten my story. I have let go of that which doesn’t serve me, and learned how to dance with my shadow. I have learned how to love myself not for who I wish myself to be, but who I am now and the potential that lives within me. I have learned the art of showing up for myself, for my loved ones, for my community and for our shared world that stems from an authentic ability to be in relationship. I know I am nowhere near done, and celebrate that fact as a testament to my never-ending development and becoming. I know this because my body feels this. I don’t claim to know what will work for you and the burdens you shoulder, but I do know I am willing to be there right beside you as you learn what works for yourself. And I trust, without a doubt, that that kind of medicine can change the world. As cliche as it sounds, I say to you don’t take my word for it – find out for yourself.
Yoga – Asana
As a yoga teacher for the past several years, I find there are many questions about this practice and what it represents. As a westerner offering these practices, I do not consider myself a teacher, but a willing student happy to share what I know, including postures, lineage, and practices. Below are some basic questions. I encourage you to continue from here into more research. It’s a big world, lose yourself in it.
What is yoga?
Yoga is the integration of mind, body and spirit. In Sanskrit, yoga translates “to yoke” or connect all parts of the being through various spiritual, physical and mental practices to help generate strength, peace and alignment. Through the various limbs of yoga, we are striving to yoke the mind and body so we can move through life and remember we are not spirit, mind or body – everything is connected. You’re not just wiggling around in a yoga class, you’re working with the breath to soothe the nervous system and stilling the mind to find patience, equanimity, and joy. Looking slick in those Lululemon’s is a nice bonus. 🙂
Why should I try it?
There are so many reasons people come to class. To find flexibility in tired hamstrings, to strengthen the core, to release stress, to sweat, to laugh, to do handstands, to find community or to heal injuries. These are all valid reasons and if they’re going to get you into a class, in my opinion, that is the perfect reason to jump in. If your looking for yourself… I’d say pop in.. see what it’s about. You may be surprised – and not by what you learn about yoga – but what you learn about yourself.
I’m not flexible at all – can I do yoga?
Of course!!! Just as anything in life, practice makes progress.
I’m in terrible shape – can I do yoga?
Of course!!! Just as anything in life, practice makes progress. 🙂
How often should I practice?
As often as is true to you. Start with a schedule that you can honor. Add on as you like – you can practice everyday if that’s what is true to you! It’s your yoga!
Should I get a mat? Do I need one?
I would always recommend snagging yourself a mat – you can stop, drop and yoga any time. Plus, we all get pretty sweaty so though a lot of places let you borrow a cleaned mat, having you own is comforting. The more you visit it, the more it becomes your home base. They’re pretty affordable and great for not just asana, but breath work and meditations as well.
What language are you speaking?
I’m trying my damnedest to speak Sanskrit – the philosophical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and the ancient language of India. All yoga postures (asana) have both a sanskrit and correlating english translation. It’s not an easy language, but it’s a fun one.
What are the different kinds of yoga?
There are 8 limbs of yoga – 8 different practices that we can tap into to achieve alignment, comfort, strength, stability, trust and fulfillment. This includes yamas (ethical code of conduct) niyama (self-discipline observations), asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (inner world observation/meditation), dharana (inner world concentration/meditation), dhyana (uninterrupted meditation/concentration) and lastly samadhi (transcendence to the Self). All of these limbs are described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – the foremost ancient yogic text. By exercising and practicing the first 7 limbs, we can be lead to the 8th limb. But it does take practice.
Or were you wondering about the different kinds of asana practices? Oh oh.. THAT!
Well there are many structures for asana practice – remembering asana is the physical practice of postures.
Hatha Yoga – folks are simply speaking of the physical practice if they are using it in a classical sense. Often, if people state they teach a Hatha Style class, they often mean there is a not a flow between poses, but longer, more concentrated holding of postures to lead to strong alignment and breath control. These classes are typically a slower paced practice, really allowing you to get into the breath and heat of the posture.
Vinyasa Flow – folks are typically discussing a class structure in which movement and breath are consistently flowing together throughout the entire class (or majority) allowing for fluidity. Broken down – the sanskrit term vinyasa is nyasa “to place” and vi “in a special way”. The intent is to yoke or connect the breath and movement of the body tightly together, creating a space and sense of oneness in the practitioner – this is your most popular form of yoga.
Iyengar Yoga – developed by B.K.S. Iyengar is a form of Hatha yoga that emphasizes detail, precision, and alignment in postures and breath control. This is a systemized structure of over 200 postures and 14 types of pranayama practices that students can gradually move through to help develop the body, mind and spirit. This practice is deeply tied to the 8 limbs of yoga.
Bikram Yoga – Popularized in the 1970s, this practice is also structured, with 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises. What makes bikram special is the practice is always held in a hot space – typically heated to about 104 degrees F. The benefit often attributed to Bikram and other hot yoga practices is due to the all the sweat, practitioners release toxins from the body, in effect detoxing deeply while the heat allows for the muscles to deeply relax and release. Lots of water and towel needed here!
Ashtanga Yoga – this is a very classical set of asanas that are also predefined in 3 distinct sets outlined as series all in a dynamic flow. The postures vary, but some of the more complex expressions of the body are cultivated in Ashtanga. For a deeper understanding, head here!
Kundalini Yoga– I like to think of Kundalini is the fun uncle of Yoga asana practice. Kundalini is deeply focused on awakening the kundalini energy (an indwelling spiritual energy that can be awakened in order to purify the subtle system and ultimately to bestow the state of Yoga, or Divine Union, upon the ‘seeker’ of truth.”) through meditation, pranayama, asana, and chanting. It’s the yoga of awareness that aims “to cultivate the creative spiritual potential of a human to uphold values, speak truth, and focus on the compassion and consciousness needed to serve and heal others.”
Bhakti Yoga – This is the devotional practice of yoga – seeking to help develop a relationship and clarify oneness between practitioners and the universe. Based heavily in the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Bhakti practice emphasizes love and devotion both to other human beings, the individual and the Self (universe, God, whatever you want to call oneness) through vinyasa asana, kirtan and deep meditations.
How do I decide which practice is right for me?
Try them all! No one can tell you which road is best for you. You have to find one that connects to you, that encourages you to come back.
Well, what do you teach?
I teach a Vinyasa class – dynamic and fun, we connect breath, movement and the mind leaving everyone calm, sweaty, energize, and peaceful. My training is in Bhakti, so we do spend time expressing compassion, love and gratitude to the experience as well – a little compassion can go a long way in healing the mind and spirit as well as strengthening the person.
I can hear you (and other people) breathing.. what’s that about?
In yoga, the breath is very important. It allows us to connect the mind and the body, provide life and energy to our muscles, and keeps us from getting injured. Throughout most classes, you’re going to focus on the Ujjayi breath or the victorious breath. This conscious breathing technique is a slow and controlled diaphragmatic breath in and out through the nose. You’re going to move the glottis (back of the throat) to create the ocean sound often heard in a yoga class. To practice, open the mouth and act as though you are fogging up a window with the breath. Try to create the same sound by constricting the vocal chords the same way both on the inhale and the exhale. When you think you’ve got it down, close the lips and try to keep the sound of the breath flowing. This is the breath you will come back to and utilize in your practice. Feel it filling both the belly and the chest. Like all parts of yoga, it takes practice. Enjoy bringing that energy and life into your body. Here’s a little help.
I have some injuries, can I still do yoga?
This is where listening to you body is essential. While some injuries can be healed with certain postures, some can be exacerbated. Speak to your instructor for guidance and potential modifications before starting an asana session. Definitely be honest – pain is no ones friend.
I can’t keep my mind from racing during the meditations or when I’m holding deep stretches – is that normal?
YES! Yes this completely normal! The human mind runs wild – all the time. Everyone has this going on. Yogis call it the drunken monkey or puppy mind. It is always flitting around to anything and everything other than the current task at hand. The first step to calming and centering the mind is noticing how it wanders. By gently bringing it back over and over, you are practicing stillness and over time, you will experience more stillness than wild puppy brain. Tie the brain – the puppy – to a post – the breath. Focus on how it flows. How it comes in and out. What it sounds like. What it feels like. Come back to the breath time and time again. Eventually, you’ll calm down. It just takes some practice.
When do I start?
Right Now! Join me for class (see my schedule), find a yoga class near you, take one online.. get on your mat and play. Though it’s a deeply enriching practice, it should be fun and exciting – you’re celebrating life. Don’t wait! Live NOW!
Namaste (I bow to the divine in you)