Sandra Heider is a practising body psychotherapist, trained at CBPC, and also a yoga teacher. We were lucky enough to have her at our Afternoon Session at this year’s AGM and to discover how biodynamic practice informs her yoga teaching.
Some of us there had done lots of yoga, some still did yoga, and some not very much at all. But we were all biodynamic massage therapists and were intrigued to find out whether there could be a meeting between yoga (which one attendee described as a more ‘top-down, structured approach’ to physical practice) and biodynamic massage. How would it make it different?
Sandra’s approach was one of allowing ‘gentle curiosity’ with ourselves, as our bodies followed her instructions. How does it feel to constrict the breath in ujjayi breathing? How does it feel to wrap our arms and hands around each other and bring our elbows together? What is happening internally when we take on the detailed positioning of each part of the body? Bringing a level of attention to the internal aspects of taking a pose not only meant we worked more interoceptively but also with an added sense of taking care of ourselves. Often Sandra would remind us to relax our necks and heads – often forgotten when we are concentrating on aligning ourselves. Using our hands to hold our own heads as we came out of a pose also gave an added feeling of safety and care. In a way that is more typical in body psychotherapy, we were also encouraged to make sounds and movement in the usually silent and still savasana (corpse) pose at the end of the session.
The session generated much discussion on the balance or co-relationship between outer and inner alignment. How much of either do we need? We like instructions but sometimes it can leave us needing more – a deeper investigation into what it is we are actually doing when we practise yoga. Can doing yoga practised in this way bring psycho-somatic changes similar to those experienced in biodynamic massage (Was anyone aware of their peristalsis)?
One attendee felt that whilst yoga and biodynamic massage can be complementary, there would always be a certain tension between them even thought they both encourage a greater attention to our bodies, and a healthier way of being embodied. While Yoga seems to offer a more top-down, structured approach, biodynamics are always more to do with individual processes and comfort level.
For my own part, I hadn’t done much yoga for a few years – mainly because biodynamic training can do strange things to your internal sense of yourself. The deepening of the sense of embodiment, the creation of new neural pathways and connectivity across the body, interoceptive changes, both horizontally and vertically, had meant that what ‘I felt’ when I was doing yoga changed. Taking poses became much more provocative in terms of energy and sensation, and often over-whelming. So I stopped doing it and concentrated on my process.
This time it felt different, and perhaps reflected how far I have come in my training. Although I felt I have lost quite a lot of internal strength, control and containment, on the other hand I was able to approach it with a new openness and an ability to let go of control which felt quite crucial and important to me. There did seem to me to be a quite powerful connection between the two practices.
Overall, Sandra brought new and creative thinking and practice to our work, which is just what our Afternoon Sessions are all about! We are very appreciative of her teaching and wish her well as she develops her own practice.
Branding and Authenticity can work together.
This was the message of the afternoon session of our Spring Meeting 2016, given by marketing consultant, Kirby Amour.
As she opened her talk, with her honed use of marketing terminology, familiar to those in the industry but not, perhaps, to those of us at home in the more advertising-shy world of psychotherapy, I, for one, wondered whether I could keep up. Was this all going to go over my head, overwhelm me or paralyse me into avoidance?
We were asked to address some questions: What can I offer that no-one else can? Why did I get involved? Who is my ideal client? What needs do they have? What is their energy like? What three traits does your ideal client possess? Slowly it dawned on us. In our marketing we need to look at much more than conveying information. As Kirby said, look at your offering, not just at your service. By this she meant, look at what you are actually selling. A shining example was given to us in the form of Colgate, which, in terms of its advertising sells white teeth, not toothpaste.
So in our branding we were asked to incorporate key words, catch phrases and calls for action. Identify a collection of words used across the industry (from other sites) and refine them for our own marketing. Really? The elephant in the room was finally revealed when new ABMT member, Hannah, bravely expressed qualms that had perhaps been implicit in all of us listening. Can this really be an appropriate approach for a profession which prides itself on authentic connection, privacy and confidentiality? This broke the ice for a fascinating discussion. Sue Fraser, a veteran of successfully 'waiting for the universe to bring clients' acknowledged that this was a radically different way of doing things.
For me at least, Kirby succeeded in challenging the notion that there was anything inherently contradictory or unethical for our industry in branding. For her, and ABMT member, Luke, who brought his own marketing material created under Kirby's guidance, branding is a way to ask yourself heart-felt questions about what exactly it is that we are offering to clients. It is a way (to use Luke's own catchphrase) of feeling more at home in yourself and clearly conveying this to clients - who after all need reassurance and clarity if they are going to overcome their fears and make contact.
So I think we all went away with a new respect for branding and what it actually means. A complete overhaul is ahead, I feel, both for my own marketing and the Association's. Watch this space - and thank you, Kirby. You spoke with intelligence and integrity. We are grateful for the time you gave us.