What do you do?

I teach movement and yoga. My focus is on therapeutic and restorative movement, helping people recover from injuries, address chronic pain or find greater ease and efficiency of movement. In order to do this, I use principles and practices from somatics, movement therapy, yoga, Laban/Bartenieff Movement and Body-Mind Centering.

Who is this work for?

Anyone can engage in movement work and be benefited by it. All of us, as humans, move in order to live and relate with our world. Movement is the basis of every life. Bringing clarity, awareness and understanding to our personal movement history and patterns helps us come to know ourselves kinaesthetically. Movement work gives us more choices and opens up new possibilities that we can embody in our lives.

Having said that, many people come to movement work because of a problem or issue that doesn’t respond to other forms of work, or that they don’t know how to address. This is an equally valid way to enter into movement exploration.

Movement work can be done with people of any age; however, I am currently trained to work with adults. Working with infants and young children is possible but requires different methods and skills. If you are interested, I can provide resources and links to other practitioners and styles that specifically address the needs of young people.

How does it work?

A large part of my work involves movement observation, analysis and re-patterning. In a teaching situation, I will first try to clarify the mover’s goals: what are they looking for out of this particular movement? Or, why undertake this movement [practice]? Some goals are very specific—to recover from a hip injury, to reduce back pain, to build muscle tone—while others are more general—I want to move better as I age, to stay fit and active, to be more connected to myself. When there is less clarity about the mover’s aims, we can explore the general themes and patterns that are manifest in the mover’s life, and the direction or call that then emerges out of this reflection.

Once aims have been clarified, I can begin to observe and analyse the mover, asking questions like: how does it feel in your body [to do a particular action]? Which parts of your body feel alive and connected to this movement? How do you breathe as you move? How is it for you to change your orientation to the ground? Do you have preferences in terms of your use of space: near or far, high or low, right or left? Are there certain parts of you that feel open or closed to the world? Is there somewhere in your body that always moves or never moves? In your life, does your movement support your ability to relate to other people, or the outer world?

According to the mover’s goals, and my own process of observation and analysis of their moving body, I can provide: (1) approaches or styles of movement that may serve them; (2) specific exercises or movement phrases to help move towards their goals; and (3) ways to re-pattern existing movement habits that may currently be impeding the mover from achieving their goal.

What is movement re-patterning?

Each of us has specific ways of moving that feel natural to us. These ways of moving have developed over time, in response to our life situations, the activities we’ve engaged in, our emotional evolution, and many other factors. We call these ways of moving patterns. Patterns are always formed in order to help us in some way—to fulfill a need or a goal, or as a response to something in our environment. Many patterns may continue to be useful for a long time. However, most of us carry patterns that served us in the past but are no longer appropriate, or that even actively inhibit us from moving forward in life, from growing into our full potential or realising our goals. In these cases, we can start to re-pattern our movement to bring it into alignment with our current needs, goals and evolution.

Re-patterning is a process that draws on the brain’s neuroplastic quality. It involves dissolving old habits and creating new ones by laying down new grooves or pathways in the neural connections of the brain. The process can be facilitated through touch, sensory, proprioceptive and interoceptive awareness, visual imagery and other tools. When we repattern movement, we are deepening the mind/body connection, and providing the brain with new information and new ways of moving in a specific context. Over time, with repetition, intention and attention, these new ways of moving are integrated into our functioning and become our new ‘normal’. This is how the process of personal growth and transformation can happen through movement.

How long does it take?

This is entirely dependent on your body. There is no simple answer because each of us is unique in the way we respond to and process new information. Our body is constantly evolving, adapting and integrating all of our experiences, so you can be sure that whatever you do does land somewhere. But it may take a while before you start to notice changes. This is also because much of this work is so new, and we are not used to evaluating changes on a somatic or kinaesthetic level.

It is worth remembering that we are introducing new material into a system that may have been functioning as is for months, years, or decades. Your movement habits have grown roots, dug channels and carved out deep paths within you. It is natural for transformation to take time—the way water takes time to wear down rock, or the sun to heat the earth. The body takes what we do and absorbs it in its own way, at its own pace. If we are attentive, we may notice small shifts even from the first session. Over time, as we become more sensitised to the work, we are more able to pinpoint and describe the changes that occur.

How often are the sessions?

I generally recommend weekly or twice-weekly sessions to help the work land and be processed internally. If you travel frequently, our schedule can accommodate it, but the work will likely proceed slower. In these cases, I often give ‘homework’ or practice points that you can take home and work with, to help the learning and re-patterning process take root.

If you have more questions, or wish to arrange a session, please write to me at vaishaliiyer@tutamail.com.