MY first neurogenic yoga class starts off like any other. “Now we’ll move into the shaking,” our teacher Jo Hamilton (itsallaboutfeelingbetter. co.uk), announces. We lay down on our mats with our legs in butterfly, feet together, “Start bringing your knees together,” says Jo. “Find the point where your legs start to shake.” This is where neurogenic yoga diverges from any other form of yoga. It combines standard yoga postures and pranayama with a technique called TRE — tension and trauma releasing exercises — a tool for allowing the body to release tension and trauma. TRE was created by Dr David Berceli. He realised that shaking or tremoring is a technique all mammals use to rid themselves of harmful stress. Think about what happens when you’ve been in an accident or had a severe shock — your hands shake, your stomach spasms. If you watch nature programmes you’ll see similarly — when the antelope escapes from the lion, it shudders all over, as if literally shaking off the fright. Back on the mat, I can feel my own legs shaking. Then the movement changes, becoming more of a shuddering sensation moving up my thighs and into my pelvis. I feel a curious clutching sensation in my belly. Jo kneels down by my side. “How are you doing?” she asks. “It’s weird,” I say. “But in a good way.” She smiles. “You’re doing great. Just take it at your own pace. If it gets too much, just lower your knees down and have a rest.” TRE emerged from Dr Berceli’s work with large traumatised communities in Africa and the Middle East. An international expert in trauma intervention, he realised that shaking is the body’s built-in system for calming the brain and releasing muscular tension. He found that inducing the tremoring response helped release chronic stress, tension and even old trauma (it helps soldiers recover from PTSD). It’s now used globally. I carry on shaking for around 15 minutes and then Jo leads us into a gentle yoga nidra practice. I’m so deeply relaxed that the room falls away and I float in serene bliss.
“The shuddering moves up my thighs
and into my pelvis. I feel a curious
clutching sensation in my belly”
If yoga is not your thing, Jo also teaches TRE. I took a class in London where very simple preparatory exercises took the place of the yoga — the tremoring was just as deep. What’s great about TRE is that you don’t need to delve into the causes of stress in your life. You just give your body the space it needs to get on with releasing its pain all by itself. For now I’m sticking to my weekly class — it’s the most curious form of yoga I’ve ever experienced, but it’s shaking wonderful! l Jo is hosting a residential weekend of Self-Healing and Simply Being at Sharpham House on November 17-19. For more information contact Jo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07714253992. for Jo’s weekly classes, 1:1 or retreats please go to www.itsallaboutfeelingbetter.co.uk