Hope you’re settling into the cooler weather and finding ways to enjoy the season. Since I last wrote to you, we’ve had a record snow fall (yay?)!
My post this month centers on ancestral DNA which I find fascinating. At the end, I’ve included an archived post from a previous post I wrote about this subject.
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The Body Remembers our Ancestors
The other day, while teaching a Zoom Yoga class, I offered the cue of rocking forward and back along with the classic up and down motion while on all fours doing cat/cow pose. This is a standard suggestion offered in my trauma-informed yoga classes and is offered as an option for soothing the nervous system. This flow also lubricates more joints, adding some shoulder, elbow and hip lubrication to the standard up and down flow.
I do this gentle cat/cow flow daily in my own, private yoga practice each morning. My mom shared with me that I used to rock myself to sleep as a child in my crib using this same flow. She had to put stoppers under the wheels of my crib or the crib would roll up and down the wooden floor. Children find ways to soothe themselves, don’t they?
During my trauma-informed yoga training, I learned that “According to the new insights of behavioral epigenetics, traumatic experiences in our past, or in our recent ancestors’ past, leave molecular scars adhering to our DNA.”
Some studies say “changes to the epigenome, a swirl of biological factors that affect how genes are expressed, can be passed down through multiple generations.”
I’d always interpreted these studies in a negative light—“Traumatic experiences” only. This was, after all, trauma-informed training.
With so much negativity surrounding us lately, I’ve been searching for the good wherever and whenever I can find it. Suddenly during this Zoom yoga class I had what felt like an ”a-ha” moment—if not an “a-duh” moment. If trauma can be passed down, then soothing practices can as well.
During my classes, I suggest my students find the position in a particular pose that “makes them happy” (to steal a line from Emeril Lagasse). I’m constantly suggesting they drill down to sensation, reminding them that the only way their body has of communicating is through sensation. So we must listen to have a conversation with our nervous system. It’s this continual feeling into the body that’s also grounding and soothing to the nervous system. The more we listen to our body, the more our body trusts that we’re taking care and the quicker we can go into the rest and relax/digest/parasympathetic nervous system state. This is the only time our bodies heal and regenerate.
As we move into a more comfortable version of any pose, even if it’s a slight shift, we’re telling our nervous system “I hear you and I want more of this. I want more ease and comfort here.”
We can’t be in our monkey minds if we’re sensing into our bodies. As I learned from Richard Miler, PhD, we can’t sense and think at the same time. When you’re calling on your senses, you monkey mind stops. When stressed, take the time to bring in your senses: What do you see, smell, feel, hear, and taste? I often open my classes with this mini-meditation on the senses to bring my students to a calmer, more meditative state. Then they can proceed with class more focused and aware of sensation.
Some trauma survivors may find it hard to be aware of where their feet are in space. They can’t feel their feet on the ground. This continual bringing your mind into the body’s sensations is a way of grounding into the physical.
As I cued the rocking version of cat/cow, I suggested that if traumatic experiences can travel through our ancestral lines, soothing experiences can as well. Yes, research shows that rocking does have an effect on our ability to fall asleep, regardless of age.
Rocking is part of our human experience. Yet, I’d like to suggest that if this rocking flow forward and back brings comfort, it could be because your great, great, great grandmother used to find comfort in it.
“All the eggs a woman will ever carry in her ovaries, are in her body while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent five months in our grandmother’s womb, and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother’s blood before she herself is born, and this pulse is the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmothers to the first mother.”
Layne Redmond, When The Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm
Don’t doubt what position or flow makes you happy. Your body knows. As Bessel van der Kolk, MD quotes in his book: “The body keeps score.” Trust your inner sensations to let you know where comfort lies. Always listen to your inner guide. They won’t let you down.
Stay well and be happy.
Better Day Yoga, LLC
~ Mail to: 5024 Oxborough Gardens
Brooklyn Park, MN 55443-3990
(612) 708 6900
Zoom, zoom zoom!
I’ve converted all of my private classes onto Zoom during this unusual time and plan to stay that way for the unforeseen future, given social distancing requirements, the age of many of my students, etc. Here are some other Zoom options to consider!
As you may have read in my previous emails, I have been studying to be an Ayurveda Practitioner for the past two years! I have recently submitted my application for graduation as I continue to attend internships to learn as much as I can this final semester in this school! (I will, of course, continue my studies as I consider this is a lifelong learning process!) My thanks to all who have contacted me for an Ayurvedic consult!
An Ayurvedic consult is a series of Ayurveda therapy sessions, where we work together to determine your unique mind/body make-up which then helps us to determine where you might be out of balance. We look at diet and lifestyle, including time spent in relaxation, movement, breathwork and meditation/prayer. Then, considering all aspects of your unique mental, spiritual, emotional and physical life, together we will begin an individualized approach to bring you back to center, back to your true nature. Please let me know if you would like to participate in an Ayurveda consult! I would love to work with you!
Yoga Nidra is often referred to as Yogic Sleep. It is said that a 30-minute yoga nidra practice is equivalent to 2-4 hours of sleep! In yoga nidra, the benefits are immediate, from reduced stress to deep rest.
I have completed over 100 hours of Yoga Nidra training with my mentor, Indu Arora, as well as completed Kaya Mindlin’s in-depth “Nectar of Nidra” training and YogaFit’s Nidra training based on Richard Miller’s iRest Nidra program.
This ancient practice has incredible relevance in the modern world. With an excess of tension and worries, discomforts and uneasiness, fears and phobias, Yoga Nidra is a vehicle to connect deeply to our true nature, to peace, health, and self-awareness. Would something like that interest you? Please let me know! Contact me here.
Needing a little spruce-up but not wanting to leave the comfort of your own home? Try my online:
Facial Exercise, acupressure, self-massage class
Turn back the hands of time and learn some basic facial exercises that add muscle tone and a fresh glow to your complexion—and have a lot of fun in the process! No needles or chemicals involved. Be prepared to touch your own face (deciding whether you want to wear make-up to class is up to you!). We’ll cover specific exercises for your eyes, cheeks, nose, chin/neck, as well as your overall face. I’ll also cover some facial acupressure points, self-massage techniques, skincare tips, essential oil considerations as well as some tools of the trade you can consider. Learn more here.
Have you grabbed your Free
“21 days to optimizing your innate energetic potential”?
Using various segments from my archived newsletters I provide a dedicated 21-days of easy-to-do practices, meditations, diet/food recipes and suggestions plus other fun topics to follow along as you get to know your energetic/chakra system! This piece will explain what your seven basic chakras are, why they’re important, and how to work with them to bring balance. Just scroll down the “start here” page of my website to find the link!
Here’s an archived post from a previous discussion on ancestral DNA if you’d like more on this amazing subject:
Our Ancestors: “We Are Them; They Are Us.” And they can help us—or not. Within our DNA are our ancestors’ memories, which can nourish the dreams of our souls.” ~ Cyndi Dale