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Tips From a Chick on Using Stress to Get Healthier!

In somatic based therapies like Neurogenic Yoga™  it is understood that the mind and body share the role of holding and releasing stress. Indeed many students initially come to Neurogenic Yoga because talk therapy alone has failed to assist them in fully releasing and recovering from tension and trauma.

Many arrive at my Neurogenic Yoga™ classes seeking to let go of whatever is holding them back from returning to a previous level of physical and mental wellness. One of the first things that I share is that we are working toward something even more valuable than simply returning to a previous state of wellness. Neurogenic Yoga™ actually sculpts the nervous system to become stronger and more resilient than it has ever before been.

How does Neurogenic Yoga™ do this? By combining yoga poses and breathwork with the body’s natural therapeutic shaking response. The human (and animal) nervous system has an instinctual shaking response that is genetically coded to help us discharge long-held tension and trauma. It is an unconscious muscle contraction that restores the body to wholeness after stressful or traumatic events.

This vibration and shaking automatically occurs when the nervous system identifies that the body has responded to a threat and now needs to release. Unfortunately, the negative social constructs that see shaking and tremoring as a show of vulnerability or weakness, mean that this innate release mechanism is conditioned out of us at a very early age. Neurogenic Yoga™ reawakens the body’s intrinsic release mechanism to optimize health and wellness.

As a birth doula it is not unusual to see a birthing mother begin a minor or full body tremor during or after the late stages of birth. The usual compassionate response of their caregiver is to immediately cover her in heated blankets to stop the shaking, even if she has not reported feeling cold. Unfortunately however the unspoken message conveyed by this kind act is that these tremors are not good; that she should try to stop them from happening. We might also see this misunderstanding of the therapeutic value of tremor in an attempt to stop a child from shaking after a scary dream or accident rather than allowing it to happen. A better approach would be to assure them that the tremors are ok; that this is how the body will bring them back to calm.

The fact that post trauma tremors can be observed in animals as well as humans gives us opportunity to learn much about what may be happening in neurogenic yoga from animal studies. One example is a study done by with baby chicks by a researcher often called “The Father of Stress”, Hans Seyle.

He gave baby chicks a swim test and then exposed them to a “trauma” (held them upside down). Following the swim test they were either allowed to tremor, or held by the researcher so that the natural tremor effect could not occur. The control chicks performed the same before and after the swim test having had no intervention. Chicks who were held after the trauma and not allowed to tremor performed poorly on their second swim test (some sank!). Most interesting however is that the chicks who were given trauma, and then allowed to tremor, actually performed BETTER after the trauma than they did on the initial swim test. They had more endurance and could easily swim longer.

What this study teaches us is that allowing the tremor response that we have spent a lifetime trying to stop is key to not only releasing the negative aspects of stress, but also leaves our nervous system better equipped to overcome and recover from future traumas!

In Neurogenic Yoga™ we work to trigger the natural tremoring response. Much like the baby chicks in the third group our goal is to go beyond simply performing as well as we did before our original stressor. Like those resilient chicks, we are working toward becoming better than we have ever been at recovering from future stress and trauma!

Find out how you can experience the restoration of goodness that Neurogenic Yoga™ brings at Shakti Neurogenic Yoga™ classes take place weekly at 7pm on Monday evenings at the Yoga Kula Co-op in St. John’s, Canada. If you do not reside in St. John’s, private and group sessions may also be booked virtually.





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