We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of life our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
… T.S Elliot
The longing I've always held for travel and exploration was born into me. Back when I was only a child, I used to cut out travel ads in newspapers and magazines, making scrap art from those unfamiliar & exotic images, lost in the luring landscapes of misty mountains ranges, panoramic lookouts, architectures from another world.
I'd imagined the sights, sounds, smells... the touch of snow. This was back in the days before budget airlines existed and global travel became as ubiquitous as hopping on a subway. I remember taking buses to the airport just to wander about, looking at travellers and their multi-coloured suitcases and coats. I'd listened to announcements over the PA and wondered about the adventures that await them or the experiences they had returned from.
I didn't get on a plane till I was 21. But I was hooked long before the journey started. I needed so much to explore beyond the little red dot on the map that's Singapore, the mysteries that laid in store beyond the little island city state on the equator. It was also this insatiable wanderlust that led me to subsequently leave behind my self-contained life, my cosy apartment, corporate career.
After I stepped into my 40's, something shifted in me, made porous by the lessons learnt on the road - solitude, adaptability, grit, courage, respect, resilience, fear, love, and impermanence. And all that frenzy of looking outwards for mirrors of self-expression started to change course. As I delve further into the practice of self-inquiry and introspection, a different longing begins to take shape... a beckoning from a familiar place, calling out to me to not forget, to remember - of who I am and where I come from.
To retrace the story of my own becoming.
This subtle stirring in my heart a few years ago became a visceral yearning when I lost my father last year. Now the ambers have been stoked into a wild fire of recognition, a deep sensate resignation from the nomadic seeking, to return to the birth place of my karmic imprint, like a fish swimming back into familiar waters.
“Take your attention down into the tiny, miraculous stitching of the life you are creating from nothing, and trust that each small thread is connecting you to the greater body of belonging. One day, maybe today, you will look back on everything that came after your decision to attend to your life like an artwork, and you will see a great number of years symbolized in moons and stained with blood, stretching across a great landscape behind you, and you’ll know you have come a great distance. Here, with your great cape of wound-moons, a piercing presence in your eyes, a living history on your skin, you will know you have always belonged.”
Toko-pa Turner, Excerpt From “Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home”
I'll be moving back to Singapore in a few weeks time, after 12 years of wandering to be in close proximity to my family and friends who have stood by me through all these years. I'm also looking forward to bringing more of my skills and practice in therapeutic modalities to serve the local communities in Singapore and around the region.
Starting from November, I'll be offering regular Yoga Therapy and Integrated Bodywork 1:1 Sessions in Singapore, with the flexibility of in-house, home visits and clinic sessions at Soma Clinic and Terra Luna Yoga.
I'll also be launching teaching and therapist professional development programs for those who'd like to learn more on working therapeutically with a sensory approach in bodywork and movement.
Singapore-based sound healer extraordinaire Jasz Lau and I will be partnering up again to offer a deeply therapeutic embodiment series of four Somatic & Sound Healing special classes at her lovely new studio The Senses Therapy from November through to February. And look out for the Somatic Wisdom Therapeutic Workshops at the trauma-aware Terra Luna Yoga which caters specifically to women.
For teachers and practitioners looking for continuing education, don't miss out on two Somatic & Yoga Therapy trainings that I will be offering in Cambodia (December) and Thailand (February).
If you are a teacher trainer or wellness education provider, I'm now available to help you create customised therapeutic curriculum that I can also facilitate or deliver in your existing training programs. See below for more details.
Reframing therapy: to heal is not to fix
Yesterday, my sister sent me a message from Singapore to tell me she went to a TCM doctor to sought help after experiencing some pain from her neck that was radiating down her right arm and hand. The therapist proceeded with lots of needling, tissue manipulation and left more than a dozen of cupping marks on her body. She also told my sister that she now has a myriad of physical issues that isn’t going to get better, in addition to emotional baggage and energy blockage she’s carrying. The treatment consequently caused more pain in the aftermath, as my sister’s condition is exacerbated by the invasive techniques and her nervous system went into overdrive, creating more inflammation.
Allopathic (so called Western) medicine and complementary therapies has had a long-standing strife in regards to a symptomatic vs holistic approach. With the rising popularity of alternative therapies, more people are seeking treatments away from the allopathic healthcare system. But even though alternative and Eastern traditional medicine are supposed to address the whole person rather than just the symptoms, I think it is also imperative that we (collectively as complementary therapists) reframe how we can move towards a more human-centric, constructive, and empowering approach in our duty of care.
Though often well-intentioned, the No Pain, No Gain and Fear-Based treatment philosophy is counter intuitive and counter productive. We need to let go of the negative narrative that is often isolating, disempowering, re-traumatising and fear breeding. I’ve so often heard from clients that they’ve been told by their therapist that their pain or condition is due to a much bigger, scarier issue of their own doing - be it lifestyle, diet, emotions etc. Some are even told that their energy or anger or grief is stuck in this chakra or that plexus, and which if not dealt with via external intervention, will culminate in devastating consequences.
And for some this is when sales pitch is cued - a 5-step program or 6-month Transform your Life package, and all the bad stuff will miraculously dissipate.
This person then spirals into a state of self-blame and self-doubt, and becoming ever more resentful, and untrusting of their own body. They might feel that they have no other option but enter into a relationship of co-dependency with their “therapist”, or they shut down, disassociate or numb themselves further to avert the pain.
For those of us working in complementary healthcare - PLEASE STOP THE FEAR MONGERING, even if you think that it is all in the name of service.
We need to stop self-aggrandising as the healer or the fixer, and start to see our very own humanity in the treatment room or the massage table.
We need to stop assuming that we know better than our client, prodding into their pain physically or psychologically to promote a “cathartic release” can be re-traumatising. Being presumptuous and soliciting / fabricating storylines to their experiences are most of the time NOT WITHIN OUR SCOPE OF PRACTICE.
We need to step into the supportive role - to hold space and not to overwhelm, to use our knowledge and intuition and skills to create the conditions / environment for the client’s nervous system to regulate and biological systems to re-integrate.
We can help to lay down the groundwork for the person to find a symbiotic relationship with their body through safety, connection and trust.
We can serve as guides for our clients uncover the strength and intelligence of their body to cultivate resilience, balance, and homeostasis.
We need to let go of our persisting ego to fix and get out of the way for the person to take ownership of their healing process for it to be sustainable.
So how about this. The next time you treat someone who has a back issue or dealing with pain or is always stressed and anxious. Instead of creating storylines of their trauma, try to offer something constructive - like “if you sit too long at a desk, how about setting a 20 mins timer to walk around so you’re not slouched over all the time?"
OR “When you feel overwhelmed, notice if you’re clenching your jaw or anywhere else in the body? And if you are, can you consciously unclench? Notice what happens.” etc etc.
There is so much more we can do if we also do our own shadow work and look within, into our own human conditions, our own fears and tribulations. As therapists we might have the tools to heal, but in order to do that we need to step off that pedestal of power differential, and hand the agency back to our clients / patients so we can enter into a effective, ethical, compassionate, heart-based therapeutic relationship.
Order amidst chaos
Within and without
An alchemy of life and sentience
A secret volition
lays beneath perception
Organic but inexplicable
Of divisions and multiplications
Of cellular intelligence and divine technology
in the womb of my Ma
Someone once said...
Someone once said...
Hurt, is a sensate feeling
Pain, is the storylines
We build around it
Into grit and
Navel Radiation by Lana Yang
Navel Radiation is a pre-vertebrate pattern within the Basic Neurological Patterns/Developmental Movement paradigm of Body-Mind Centering® developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. It is the pattern of radial symmetry and relates to our earliest connection with our mother, underlying attachment and support at the navel centre. This principle organises the body from our centre (navel) to the distal parts of our 6 limbs, including the 2 upper limbs, 2 lower limbs, head and tail. Exploring this principle help us embody pivotal physiological and structural systems, including the diaphragm, the psoas muscle, the latissimus dorsi muscle, the relationship between each limb, and the kidneys.
As part of a training course work in which students will apply movement principles into their practice. Lana worked with the single principle Navel Radiation through the different relationships with gravity. Using her navel centre as the anchor from stillness in supine, morphing into dynamic balancing poses into creating the balance of both stability and mobility.
#somaticmovement #yogatherapy #yogawithdaphne #movingfromwithin #navelradiation
The case of Yoga & Therapy
The IAYT model of Yoga Therapy (often 1:1) integrates the whole being through relationships in the Pancha Maya Kosha model, i.e the physical body, the energetic body (e.g chakra system and pancha vayus, prakriti and vikruti etc), our emotional afflictions, our thought patterns, cultural / moral beliefs and frameworks, as well our core essence. These relationships are always in flux, each aspect flowing into or resisting another, a creative play of the conscious and unconscious.
In a therapeutic setting, we are working with the Soma or the living body - recognising our body is the construct of our relationships within and without will help us to find different access points. Through movement, breath, visualisations, sound, touch, or simply holding space, we allow our cellular intelligence to come out of the shadow, a window for change and homeostasis to take place.
As teachers / therapists, we need to juxtapose the insatiable quest for knowledge, while simultaneously honouring the liminal, unique, spiralling, blueprint of each person. We are co-regulating, co-creating, co-existing in each moment that unfolds.
The biggest challenge is often realising that this is not a linear process, that healing isn't fixing, that therapists / teachers are merely facilitators - so we can keep uncovering, inquiring, connecting, titrating, supporting.
Registered Yoga Therapist, Somatic Movement Educator, Bodyworker, Yoga Teacher Trainer