Cranioga is an integration of therapeutic
yoga and a gentle form of hand contact therapy which encourages the body to move beyond patterns of discomfort, overwhelm and trauma
It is a bodywork therapy designed to enhance the functioning of the tissues,
fluids and inherent vitality and potential deeply seated at the core of everyones body
Cranioga is not just another hybrid distortion of yoga attempting to appeal to the contemporary memes of modern minds. Neither is it intended to be a didactic process blinkered by the confines of ‘orthodox yoga’. It is, however, a genuine inquiry of relevant felt-sense contact and resource, which serves to catalyse the expression of health, awareness and insight.
The mind often requires excuses to keep it occupied (focused) whilst being able to appreciate the passing nature of one's tendencies and habits. When the mind is tamed and sharpened in this manner it will start to illuminate the existence of subtle intentions (patterns) residing in the body. If unnoticed these patterns can cause tension, whereas the very act of calmly noticing them can provide release and unlock vitality.
Health (balance) is often waiting to express itself and many times all it requires is the presence of skilled contact combined with the application of appropriate resources which help to sustain and deepen this expression of health.
Cranioga is a form of restorative yoga and 'non-doing' hands on therapy helping to access awareness of the subtle expressions of the body.
The therapist is encouraged to develop seven elemental qualities, within themselves, in order to help and support their client entering into a sense of embodiment (safety, sense of wholeness, and stillness).
Fundamentally this therapy is designed to help clients lastingly move beyond patterns of discomfort, overwhelm and trauma
At a later stage this approach helps the health practitioners themselves become more skilful in the art of listening with their own body whilst providing appropriate space for the clients body to subtly adjust
Here are a few of the fundamentals for both clients (receiving treatment) and therapists (providing treatment):
Establishing felt-sense awareness in oneself
Establishing a grounded sense of ones own body (which reciprocally helps provide grounding for another). Whether learning how to establish this as a client, or learning how to teach it as a therapist, it is the foundation.
Becoming aware of the felt-sense nuances expressed by the body e.g. the way the various tissues feel when releasing or the fluid nature of the body when it feels embodied and whole.
Noticing the subtle transformation which occurs when ones own tendencies, impressions, memories and expectations (T.I.M.E) are perceived for what they are, especially their inherent ephemeral nature (quality of passing). The felt- sense of this passing is here called 'potency'.
Developing an ability to be aware and encourage any inclination the clients body has to return to balance. Encouragement is provided with the sense of safety, space and stillness, rather than trying to change something.
Realising that the felt-sense of space and stillness is not a quality of stagnation, rather it is alive with expression.
Understanding that when the passing of T.I.M.E is established as a felt-sense insight a sense of connection (relational field) opens to both therapist and client. It is here referred to as 'relational Insight'.
Appreciating that the embodiment of relational insight opens to a felt-sense of wholeness which helps the client also open to the sense of wholeness. However, it is also useful to be aware of the world of discernment fed by the senses and identify with objects and circumstances where necessary. By being aware of both wholeness and fragments is referred to as a state of balanced awareness. Such awareness provides room for the clients tissue and fluid expressions to adjust and integrate. In turn the clients physiology also finds balance without a mechanical or 'energetic' agenda getting in the way.
Learning to establish these qualities in oneself (client or therapist) helps the long term expression of health in a client's body rather than providing temporary mechanical fixes.
The elements outlined above are a selection of the prerequisites to help prepare and resource the bodymind of both clients and therapists. Once established the therapist will be able to approach and contact a client in a balanced and grounded manner. This is invaluable for providing the client with a felt-sense of safety, space and stillness in order for their system to reorganise and reintegrate.
Depending on the condition/capacity of the clients body/mind it is relevant to incorporate all, or a number, of the following client specific approaches:
Here are a few of the progressive skills learnt and applied by therapists (providing treatment):
Approaching and treating clients
How to relevantly pace treatment sessions
Listening to the expressions provided by the clients body (key to enhancing safety, space and stillness)
Educating an appropriate level of felt-sense awareness (body tissues and fluids)
How to advise on postural alignment to optimise the expression of health
Breathing exercises (breath-work)
Autonomic neurogenic release exercises
Pran-ayama (non-intentional breath attention) *Pranayama is often incorrectly interpreted as breath control. So in order to avoid ambiguity I have included a hyphen to emphasis 'ayama' (non-control) rather than 'yama' (control)
Non-doing contact (touching without intention)
These elements are key aspects of the process which promote and encourage a sense of embodiment for clients presenting in a variety of ways. Understanding where the client is at, both physically and mentally, helps the therapist to approach them in a manner where they feel met. Such approach lets the therapist accommodate and attend to the T.I.M.E which is inhibiting the expression of the clients health without trying to change it.
The assessment process is an in depth aspect of this therapy and will require in house tuition to cover it fully. But it is suffice to say that the main part of the assessment is to establish the presenting nature of the clients autonomic nervous system and how it effects the reactivity of their body.
A clients access to their body awareness can vary hugely, from vague awareness of their skin, to awareness of subtle external or internal sensations. When awareness is limited methods such as finger tapping on relevant areas of the body, or, helping the client become attentive of the skin stimulated by atmospheric air or the clothes touching the skin can be useful. Other forms of promoting sensation awareness involve the expression of various emotional gestures, for example, those mimicking openness or friendship (stimulating an aspect of the autonomic nervous system which promotes social engagement) etc.
Therapist education to help optimise postures to help address asymmetries caused by autonomic nervous system imbalance. These postures are offered based on physiologic reasoning, rather than needing to obsessively mimic a pose from a text book, or to try and adopt acrobatic feats to look cool.
Breath-work (breathing exercises) helps to increase embodiment, sensitivity and the willingness to let go.
An autonomic nervous system release (neurogenic release) generally evolves from the breath-work exercises when the body is positioned in a few unique postures. Such release is an expression which is not controlled by subconscious defence patterns and/or dissociation tendencies which reduce body sensation awareness.
Preparing the body/mind with breath-work (breathing exercises) and facilitating postures which produce a spontaneous neurogenic release (which usually expresses as an involuntary body tremor) are very useful preparations for a type of felt-sense attention called 'pran-ayama'. This is awareness of the natural breath (i.e. without intentional control) and the body expressions/sensations which unfold/unveil with this manner of awareness (pratyahara).
Once a client has become familiar with pran-ayama, or any other relevant attention which provides a sense of the body’s natural expressions, then relational touch can be of optimal benefit without them getting side tracked by body/mind reactions, including tendency to dissociate from the body.
Cranioga acknowledges the inherent potential of the body, the intelligence that heals from the inside. This intelligence can sometimes get hidden or caught in patterns of stress and overwhelm, which can require help/support to re-establish its inherent nature of expressing health.
In other words, patterns of resistance and/or dissociation can interfere with the expression of this intelligence, causing imbalance and even altered cell formation, which in time can create physiologic disorder. Fortunately there is usually potential to re-establish this innate organising force.
The cranioga approach boosts the ‘digestion’ of life’s undigested experiences by helping the body’s natural tissue and fluid expressions to reorganise and reintegrate.
These are the same expressions of health which keep the heart beating, intestines pulsing and help the autonomic physiology of the body to function optimally.
"Under the weight of a heavy snowfall, pine branches break off. But by bending, the willow can drop its burden and spring up again"
The therapy incorporates a method of working with trauma processes. The embodied experience, touch and presence the therapist are key components in creating a relational field which generates a deep sense of safety and a capacity to heal from within, in a client led and paced approach.
Animate physiology thrives in a relational field which provides the body with the sense that it is okay to let go of protective holding patterns and move beyond previous habits of dissociation.
Progression: When a clients body has reclaimed balance the renewed vitality and presence is ready to be optimally conjoined with day to day life interactions and rest.
Occasionally, after receiving a few treatment sessions, a client might feel a volition to learn more about this therapy and in order to obtain skills to share with others. In that instance we offer periodic training. These are associated trainings called Cranioga and Body Intelligence.