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Clinical Somatic Education & Yoga Therapy

ALANA BURTON

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Certified Clinical Somatic Educator (CCSE)

  • Registered Somatic Movement Educator (RSME)

  • IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist


As a Registered Somatic Movement Educator with the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association, I meet the high Standards of Practice and uphold the Code of Ethics.


The International Association of Yoga Therapists’ definition of yoga therapy is “the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and wellbeing through the application of the teachings and practices of yoga“.
 

The journey to receive these certifications has been an incredible experience and Alana is truly grateful to all of the teachers who have shared their support and knowledge to teach her how to best serve others as a Certified Yoga Therapist and Certified Clinical Somatic Educator as well as to students she has shared this practice with who have believed, practiced and benefited through receiving these teachings.

AREAS OF SPECIALTY

  • Joint and muscle pain

  • Shoulder immobility

  • Neck, shoulder and back pain

  • Hip, knee and foot pain

  • Hip or knee replacement recovery

  • Cancer recovery

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

  • Breathing problems

  • Arthritis

  • Bursitis

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Lupus

  • Plantar fasciitis

  • Shin splints

  • Sciatica

  • Scoliosis

  • Sacroiliac dysfunction

  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)

  • Tension headaches

  • Sleeplessness

  • Anxiety

  • Repetitive use injuries

  • Postural imbalances

  • And more…

PHILOSOPHY

“The purpose of somatic movement education and therapy is to enhance human function and body-mind integration through movement awareness. Our profession, as represented by ISMETA, encompasses distinct disciplines each with its own educational or therapeutic emphasis, principles, methods, and techniques”.

 

The practice of somatic movement education and therapy includes:

 

  • postural and movement evaluation

  • experiential anatomy and imagery

  • movement patterning and re-patterning

  • communication and guidance through touch and verbal cues” - ISMETA
     

Alana’s passion is in supporting her client’s specific needs through identifying methods which may include gentle somatic movements, breath practices and/or guided meditation to improve muscle function and soothe their nervous systems while providing relief from symptoms or a health condition that is causing them discomfort.

 

Alana blends Clinical Somatic Education with Yoga Therapy to create a revolutionary practice in neuro-muscular re-education or, in other words, it retrains your brain to communicate to your muscles how to safely contract, lengthen and relax in a more effective and efficient way.   This increases strength, flexibility and balance providing newfound freedom where before there was restricted movement and possibly pain.

EDUCATIONAL & PROFESSIONAL PROFILE

  • 200 hour Certified Yoga Teacher training with Gaiatri Yoga

  • Yoga Thrive (Yoga for Cancer Survivors) with Functional Synergy

  • 400+ hour Certified Yoga Therapist with Functional Synergy

  • Relax and Renew Yoga Teacher Training with Judith Hanson Lasater

  • iRest® (Integrative Restoration) Yoga Nidra Teacher-in-Training Level 1

  • Level 1 and Level 2 Critical Alignment Therapy with Gert van Leeuwen

  • 1000+ hour Certified Yoga Therapist with Yoga North International SomaYoga Institute

  • International Association of Yoga Therapy Certified Yoga Therapist

  • Essential Somatics Fundamentals Immersion Course

  • 600 hour Essential Somatics Certified Clinical Somatic Educator

  • ISMETA Registered Somatic Movement Educator

 

And I said to my body. Softly.

“I want to be your friend.”

It took a long breath. And replied.

“I have been waiting my whole life for this.” – Nayyirah Waheed


Alana is an IAYT Certified Yoga Therapist and ISMETA Registered and Certified Clinical Somatic Educator. She credits Yoga Therapy and Clinical Somatic Education as being instrumental in improving her health and wellbeing after having a spinal fusion as a teenager.  As a result of how her body compensated from the spinal fusion, Alana suffered from headaches, neck, back, shoulder, hip and sciatic pain through the many years that followed.


After being introduced to and practicing the healing modalities of Clinical Somatic Education and Yoga Therapy and experiencing the incredible benefits first-hand in her 40s, Alana set out on a journey to learn more about how and why these gentle movement practices created so much freedom and ease in her body, breath and mind.


Alana has made a home in Calgary with her husband, two daughters, and Bernese Mountain dog Paisley. Alana also has an 18-year-old Morgan horse named Dandy.  She has always dreamed of helping equestrians improve their movement patterns to communicate more clearly with their horses. She is passionate about Somatics and Yoga Therapy and has made it her mission to empower and help others discover their own journey through this lifestyle and practice.

Clinical Somatic Education and How It Works

The word “Soma” is Greek and its meaning is the living body with first person experience – only you know how it feels to be you from your life’s unique experiences. We are all somas and have the ability to:

  • Self-sense

  • Self-guide

  • Self-correct based on what you sense, and

  • Self-transform – experience freedom from self-sensing, self-guiding and self-correcting

  

Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA)

 

Your brain is brilliant at adapting to stressors you may be experiencing in your life such as physical or emotional trauma, accidents, injuries, surgeries or performing repetitive activities.  New neural pathways for maladaptive movement patterns are learned to help you get through these stressors.  When you repeat these movement patterns they become habituated and your brain goes into “auto-pilot” involuntarily controlling the muscles that helped you through the stressful experience.   This "new normal” when consistently repeated creates full body habituated reflexes.  The ability to fully relax the muscles will be lost and you will no longer have full control and free movement of your muscles.  This is called Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) and produces muscular tension, aches and pain with the following stress reflex patterns.


Red Light or Startle Reflex

We are born into this world knowing only the Red Light Reflex.  Envision a newborn baby and how they naturally flex into the fetal position.  They have not yet learned how to use the extensor muscles in their back because there is no awareness of those muscles.

 

When we consistently experience movements that bring us into a forward flexed posture such as those used when we text, sit at a computer, work on a puzzle or play a sport that requires flexion we are being influenced by the Red Light Reflex.  However, it can also be a result of emotions such as worry, fear, sadness or anxiety.

 

In the Red Light Reflex our posture may show shoulders raised and rounded forward, chest depressed, trunk collapsed forward, arms and legs internally rotated, head and neck forward, pelvis rotated posteriorly,  inner thighs tight, jaw tight and feet inwardly rotated.

 

Green Light or Landau Reflex

The Green Light or Landau Reflex begins in the first year of a child’s life.  It brings them into movement or action.  They will move from being comfortable in the forward flexion they were born with to being curious and exploring their body’s movements in order to lift their head while contracting back muscles to move them in to their new world with sitting, crawling, standing or walking.

 

When our lives become stressed with constant demands on our time, meeting deadlines and constant striving our posterior muscles become habitually contracted.  This posture brings the head and shoulders drawn back, arms and legs externally rotated, pelvis anteriorly rotated and belly protrudes as the back arches.  We may also experience the emotions of joy and excitement in this posture.

 

Trauma Reflex

 

Trauma Reflex may occur as a result of one-sided repetitive activities such as using a mouse at the computer, holding a child on the same hip or playing a predominantly one-sided sport.  It may also occur from injuries or surgeries on one side of the body such as a sprained ankle, knee or hip replacement or a shoulder injury.  We cringe and twist away from a source of trauma to protect ourselves. 

 

With the Trauma Reflex an individual’s posture may reveal one shoulder lower than the other, head tilted to one side, pelvis elevated on one side, or imbalance through the feet.  There may also be a twist that occurs through the torso.

Pandiculation

 

The fantastic news is that because Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) has been adaptively learned by the brain we can retrain the sensory motor cortex of the brain to sense and move the muscles to be more effective and efficient, reversing the effects of SMA.  This technique is called a Pandiculation.

Pandiculation requires your active participation and involves three elements:

 

  • Consciously increasing the contracted state of the muscle(s) from their current “resting” state

  • Consciously slow and deliberate lengthening of the muscle(s)

  • Complete relaxation of the muscles

Key to pandiculation is that the cortex senses and feels the sensations that are present throughout.  What does the contraction of the muscle(s) feel like?  What does the slow deliberate lengthening of the muscle(s) feel like?  What does complete relaxation of the muscle(s) feel like?  The uniqueness of this practice is that it is not the quantity of repetitions of specific movements done but the quality but how much one allows the brain to truly focus awareness on all three parts of the pandiculation. 

 

With Alana’s guidance through hands-on Clinical Somatic sessions reinforced with your own home practice you will learn to bring a beginner's mind cultivating curiosity within the practice and take into account how the Four Stages of Learning are involved:
 

  • Unconsciously Unskilled - when you don’t know that you don’t know

  • Consciously unskilled - when you know that you don’t know

  • Unconsciously Skilled - when you know how to do something through unconscious habit

  • Consciously skilled - when you know how to do something through conscious movement


You will shine a spotlight on your movement patterns to discover:

 

  • What's moving that should be?

  • What's moving that shouldn't be?

  • What isn't moving that should be?

 

The following principles will guide you through your movements:

  • No Pain, All Gain - moving in your tension and pain free range of motion from a place of ease through all movements

  • Quality over Quantity – it is quality of the movement, slow and mindful, that creates lasting change.  You will notice a difference in 3-5 repetitions with intentional movements.

  • Patience, Positivity and Persistence

  • Slow is Fast

  • Less is More

  • Simple to Complex

What are the Benefits of Clinical Somatic Education?

 

The end result of your somatic self-discovery is you unlocking your full potential:

  • Turning your attention inward to reconnect to yourself on a physical level as a complement to talk or trauma therapy

  • Providing you with strategies and tools to manage, reduce and/or completely resolve pain on your own

  • Preventing recurring injuries by changing how your brain communicates information to your muscles

  • Increasing your mobility, energy, strength, coordination and balance

  • Establishing a sense of relaxation and ease in your body, breath and mind

  • Improving your quality of life as you gain more freedom and choice through your movements so you can do what you love to do for as long as you want to

  • Complementing and supporting physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture and other methods of healthcare

 

Do I Need Previous Experience?

 

No, Clinical Somatic Education can be practiced at any age with no previous experience.


How Often Should I Practice at Home?

 

Creating a quiet space for a daily somatic movement practice of 15 minutes at home will help you to teach your brain and muscles how to move more effectively and efficiently, re-establishing freedom and ease in your movements.

 

How Long Will it Take to Feel Results?

 

For some there will be a noticeable difference within one week of beginning their practice, however, If you’ve had long-standing Sensory Motor Amnesia from experiencing years of stress or compensatory movement patterns it may take longer to re-pattern your movements releasing the muscle tension they have been holding.

What is Yoga Therapy?

Clients of Yoga Therapy seek out this practice to help them find relief from a symptom or health condition they are experiencing.  They may not have the mobility, stability, strength, or balance to attend a regular yoga class.  An individual intake and assessment is done through listening, questioning, observing and appropriate touch.  Alana will identify and share methods that may include breath work, somatic movement, or guided meditation practice dependent upon the individual client’s needs.  

A personalized program for home practice will then be provided to help the client take an active role in their self-care that best supports and empowers them to manage or reduce their symptoms.  Clinical Somatic Education also falls under the umbrella of Yoga Therapy.

What is the Difference Between a Clinical 1:1 Somatic Education Session and a Somatic Movement Group Class?

Clinical Somatic Education sessions and Somatic Movement Group classes will both provide you with a means to support you in self-sensing, self-guiding, self-correcting, and self-actualizing to reach your greatest potential.

Clinical Somatic Education Session

In a Clinical session the focus is on your individual health concerns. Your movement patterns will be assessed to determine where you are holding muscle tension from stress reflexes that are the root cause of your tension or pain. You are then guided through hands-on clinical somatic education techniques encouraging you to grow your awareness of where you are holding habituated muscle tension (Sensory Motor Amnesia) and how to gently release it to improve muscle function and decrease discomfort. You may also learn breath practices or receive guided meditation. Your practice will vary each session depending on what your needs are on that specific day. These sessions are done while laying on a table similar to a massage table, sitting in a chair, or standing. As Clinical sessions are focussed solely on your needs with hands-on guidance, you will find a faster transformation in your movement patterns than in a group class.

Somatic Movement for Mobility and Pain Care

Bring your curiosity to discover where you hold muscle tension and learn self-care practices that will empower you to move with more ease, freedom, and joy. You will learn about the stress reflexes and how they may be impacting your movements creating tension or pain. We will explore slow, gentle, mindful somatic movements educating you to release muscle tension through the front, back, and sides of the body, the hips, shoulders, and the periphery. You will always be encouraged to move in your tension- and pain-free range of motion, allowing for the body to trust in this process of restoring health and wellbeing. These movement practices are explored on the floor, standing, or sitting in a chair. We will also explore breath practices and guided meditation.

Whether you choose Clinical sessions or Group classes, you will be provided with a typed description in a pdf format to support you in continuing to develop your home practice and journey to more mastery and freedom in your movements and abundant choice in the daily activities you wish to participate in.

How Many People are in a Group Class?

 

Our group class size is limited to a maximum number of 8 participants.

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SERVICES

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Testimonials

RATES

INITIAL INDIVIDUAL VISIT

ASSESSMENT AND SOMATIC MOVEMENT
 $150/90-minute session

INDIVIDUAL FOLLOW UP
$125/75-minute session

Group

GENTLE SOMATIC MOVEMENT FOR MOBILITY & PAIN CARE

$150/Six 75-minute weekly sessions

UPCOMING GROUP CLASS:

Dates to be determined 

BOOK A SESSION

Gloria

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“Meeting Alana and being introduced to Somatics has been a turning point in my life. Because I have a number of chronic conditions including arthritis and scoliosis, I had lost agility and flexibility.  Finding an exercise program that worked for me, that actually helped rather than make things worse, generating more pain and discomfort was difficult. However, Alana’s wonderful way of teaching movements, her kindness and understanding have allowed me to improve so very very much. I am now able to use muscles and move specific joints independently. What a wonderful feeling of freedom. Plus, a great boost to one’s self confidence. Thanks, Alana, for everything.”

Don

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“Over the past few years, I have had a couple of equine assisted ground impacts. These have resulted in a number of fractures that with time and caution healed but my body also took some precautions which left me with a number of issues. I had worked with Alana on previous occasions and decided I needed her help again. In the past 3 months she has helped fix my posture which relieved some of my ongoing pains. We have also worked on a number of other issues that had shown up because of the fractures and I can now ride my horse pretty much pain free. The material she has provided for my homework has been very informative and easy to follow which has helped us getting such good results.” 

Carlann

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“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Alana in her group therapeutic yoga classes. During the sessions, Alana was very responsive to concerns and adapted exercises to fit individual needs. One of the best benefits for me was the centeredness physically and emotionally that I carried with me to horse riding class.”

Brenda

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“When you live with pain for so long, you forget what it is like to live without it. You don’t realize the restrictions that come little by little. You don’t notice the things you have to give up bit by bit. But when the pain is finally gone, you are free of so many things - limited mobility, exhaustion, worry. You get the life back you didn’t realize you lost.” 

Randy Jo

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"I didn't realize how much tension I held in my body (even when I thought I was relaxed!) until Alana positioned me and encouraged me to release it ..."Can you relax just 10 to 15% more?"..and I did. I didn't realize that the low hum of emotional discomfort I felt was anxiety until I felt truly calm and quiet through guided breathing and meditation.  After each class, I felt better physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  I also learned skills that, when practiced :), improve my daily life. 

Thanks Alana."

Maggie

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“Doing Somatic yoga with Alana has allowed me to dare to physically challenge my body again. Her gentle, non-judgmental teachings have helped me start moving in ways in which I haven't moved for a long time.  I have more of a sense of ease and less pain with daily activities. Somatic yoga has also helped with core strength. Engaging my core comes more naturally when I am working out or doing recreational sports. I feel much stronger and more fit. I recently completed a 23 km hike in the mountains without injury, and I credit this to what I have learned from Alana.

Thanks Alana!”

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Set in front of the picturesque Rocky Mountains, lays 160 acres that Mission Acres calls home. A fully equipped equestrian facility with one-of-a-kind amenities and a tranquil environment that houses Equestrian, Psychology and Learning & Wellness services. Our facility includes a large indoor riding arena with a viewing area, two outdoor grass  arena's, 1/2 mile race track, individual paddocks, large pastures for our horses to roam, generous horse shelters, and well-maintained water feeders. 

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