Amanda spent most of her adolescence and adult life escaping the physical experience in her body. This took many forms, but ultimately looked like addiction of some kind:
-Alcohol and substance use
-Over-exercising (s very socially acceptable addiction!)
-Controlling her diet and disordered eating
And other small ways in which she would avoid the feelings, sensations, memories and pain that she held in her body.
As a gymnast, an athlete and beautiful young woman, this pain that she experienced (which was, simultaneously, mental, emotional and muscular) was not something anyone could see from the outside. This made it even easier to escape the truth, since her experience was mostly invisible to the world, sometimes even to those who knew her best.
This strategy to keep moving forward, despite the pain within was a intelligent strategy of her soma and even though it was painful, messy and unhealthy in so many way: it served a purpose: a twisted attempt to keep her safe by avoiding intimacy with her own body.
Back in 2018, Amanda and I met while training and teaching at the same Yoga studio. She had recently discovered the realm of somatics through the book "The Body Keeps The Score". The concept of holding your life experiences and emotions in your body and it having an impact made complete sense to her, although it felt monumentally huge to try to address. She got in touch with me and we did a series of hands on sessions and she became one of my on-again-off-again students. Over the years, I watched Amanda be simultaneously drawn to and repelled by this subtle, powerful, movement practice.
When I began to develop the Radiance Program, she was one of my biggest cheerleaders. Finally in the winter of 2022, Amanda heeded the call of her soma and joined the 6 month program, feeling it was time to reorganize herself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually: SOMATICALLY.
In this intimate interview, Amanda shares:
-What kept her from fully embracing this practice
-Her addictive patterns and how they related to stress/trauma
-The way somatics has shifted her body and changed her relationship to exercise
-The little known way that Yoga and Exercise can become a mindless escape tool
-Her personal internal experiences as her body began to truly relax and open
-How relationships in her life have shifted since joining Radiance
-How she cultivated somatic safety in her body and how it feels to finally be connected
AND SO MUCH MORE!
Amanda Weiss is a Trauma-informed Yoga Teacher and an Operations Manager for a Start-Up Tech Company. She spends her time hiking and exploring the natural world with her two doggies and her long-time partner. She is a recent graduate of The Radiance Program and now incorporated somatic movement into her yoga classes as needed.
To find out more about the Radiance Program go to www.freeyoursoma.com
Next round starts Nov. 4th! Podcast listeners save $500!
AI: Every day there is a forgetting and every moment there is the possibility of remembering. Remembering who you truly are, awakening to your body, to the inner world and experience of being alive. Here is where you find the beauty, the joy. Here is where you free your Soma. Hello and welcome to Free Your Soma, Stories of Somatic Awakening and How to Live from the Inside Out. My name is Amy Takaya and I'm here today with a wonderful guest, Amanda Weiss. She is a trauma-informed yoga teacher. She's a recent graduate of the Radiance Program and as her day job, she's an operations manager in the startup tech world. She's here today to talk about her personal somatic development over the last few years since we've met each other and how that's really been impacting her life, her body, her consciousness and especially been supporting her own addiction recovery journey. So thank you for being here, Amanda. I'm so excited to have this conversation with you.
AM: Thanks for having me.
AI: I'm super excited. Yeah, great. So we met each other at a yoga studio where you had just completed a yoga teacher training and you had heard that I was like the somatics person or the person who knew about somatics and you had recently, I think, read Bessel DeVander-Korke's book, right? Yeah. I think I said his name wrong. I might have added a vowel there or something. I don't know how to say to either. The body keeps the score, right? And so you were fascinated by the idea, the realm of somatics and the idea that we fold memories and life experiences in our bodies and it's part of the perpetuation of things like trauma and addiction and these things we would generally describe as like dysfunctions in our nervous system. So can you say a little bit about what that was, what time in your life was like when we first met each other and your discoveries?
AM: Yeah, so it was actually a really, really scary time in my life. I had been having health issues that were kind of like just scary and no one could really tell me what was going on and for lack of a better way of putting it, Western medicine was failing me. They were scaring me every time I would go in, telling me I had everything from cancer to leukemia to, you know, they didn't even know. And I just knew in my heart that that wasn't what was going on and I knew that there had to be something else. It just felt deeper than that, which sounds crazy to talk about cancer, but it just felt like it was something else. And I started doing all this research on my own and started reading these books and when I would read that it was these emotions like stuck in your body, like I felt that. And I didn't know how or why or where, but any sort of thing that I could grasp that that was in that world I just wanted to know more about and somehow you wandered into my life, which has been such an amazing thing. And I just, I knew I had to know more like I just immediately felt drawn to it.
AI: Yeah, yeah, I remember we had this like conversation while we were sitting at a cafe and we kind of just like talked about everything around the subject of like what had been going on with you and what you had been experiencing. And this was also so early in my somatic journey with somatics. I was on a program through the Nevada Institute. I wasn't certified yet, but we did a few hands-on sessions and then you started coming to my classes and it was this thing like that, you know, you'd come for a while and then, you know, either I would like switch where I was teaching or wasn't teaching all the time or there'd be these like pauses, these like pauses in our communication or in, you know, your connection to this work. And then we would link up again. And that's kind of just how it was for a few years. But there was a consistent interest that I could tell like that you felt like this work, these movements, these like tiny little things that we were doing with your body were really providing relief in a way that nothing else really had. And you were living with and it's so interesting because I think we talked about this too. You were living with and have lived with a lot of chronic pain that nobody can see from the outside. Like you're not walking around with a limb. Like you're, you know, you don't have any visible, like, you know, injury to your body, but your internal somatic experience has been one of living with a lot of chronic pain. And yeah, and it's an interesting thing when people can't see that, when there's nothing to cue people in from the outside, like from the outside, you look like this fit healthy, beautiful young woman, but like what you're experiencing is very different.
AM: Yeah, absolutely. And you touched on like so many things ironically that I was thinking about earlier today, but I think part of the like ebb and flow of my connection with the somatic work was the ebb and flow of the connection with myself. And it was like every time you would give me like, and I mean this in a good way, but you'd give me like a tiny little key to a door and I would like crack it open. And sometimes I wanted to see what was up there and sometimes I didn't. And it was all these little steps to myself. And, and, you know, there would be times where some of that chronic chronic pain that you were just speaking of would lessen. And sometimes it felt worse to not be in pain because you're so used to this like tightly wound, you know, internal system and to have that sort of relax. I think, you know, a lot of us have been through that experience where you let it go and it almost makes you feel like sick. Like it's all this other stuff that comes up with just, oh, my shoulder moves a little bit better. It's so much more than that, that like I would get scared and it would make me sort of like, maybe I'm not ready for this. Maybe this isn't the time. And, you know, I had so much other stuff going on that, you know, I know you saw it and we talked about it, but, you know, there, there was this ebb and flow of connecting with myself that corresponded with somatic.
AI: Yeah. And that's really true. I went through that as well with, you know, releasing tightly wound spaces in our body releases some of the emotional experiences that are held there. And then there's a shift in, in everything in our nervous system, in our, you know, memories might start to resurface feelings that we were not facing start to resurface. And it can be very confrontational. So I totally get what you mean about, you know, sometimes cracking open that door and not sure if you're ready for it, you know, and, and it's actually funny because that process and that going through that myself is actually part of why I created the Radiance Program so that people could go into a deep dive of this stuff with a lot of support, with a lot of structure so that they don't just feel like they do a session with me and then they're, they're kind of flailing. They do a session and then they have, they have support, they have a structure, they have like a time commitment of like space that this is for, you know, for this unwinding and letting go process to take place. You know, with the, the chronic pain that you were in, you know, having it less and you mentioned it being like almost hurting more, like because of that flood of feelings and sensations and emotions and maybe memories, but also just like we get used to what we get used to and something new and different, like being able to actually like move comfortably, you know, there can sometimes be like a pressure of like, well, what am I going to do now? Now that I'm not wound up by this, you know, is, and we can maybe you felt some of that, like, who am I and what am I going to do with my life if I'm not just focused on maintaining all of these tensions and all of this pain, like who would I even be?
AM: So much so, and I think not even just the like, who would I be, but it almost made me feel like I had failed not being able to figure this out earlier, because like I had spent and I'm sure we'll touch on it, you know, throughout this conversation, but, you know, I had spent my most of my life, that's not my whole life, trying to run away and avoid my body. And, you know, to finally take this time to like listen to it, like made me feel bad in the way of like, you know, when you don't connect with a friend for a long time, and you have that conversation, you realize, oh, like, you've been hurting and I should have been there for you. Like I was having that, but internally. And, you know, with the Radiance program, you're right, like there is this like huge support system, and it's like a safe space to be able to let go. And, you know, we were both growing so much when we first met, and we were going through this. And I think that like, I wasn't ready to let go. And, you know, I think you were still learning how to be the person to lead people through this experience. And I think it was so perfectly timed the way we got to do all this together, because, you know, the tiny world that is it feels inside of you is massive. And, you know, as you're opening these doors and letting stuff go, it's just the good, the bad, and the ugly has a chance to all come out. And having the place to do it was incredible. And I wasn't ready before, you know, this last year.
AI: Yeah, yeah. Well, and you did a lot of releasing right before you joined the Radiance program, because you moved across the country and you let go of a whole life and lifestyle that you had been living. And it seems like there was this really big shifting that was sort of taking place in your life in general. And so I remember that like, I had reached out and kind of said, hey, like, I don't know if you're interested, but my program is going to start in like a month or two. Do you want to join? Like I had reached out and just sort of asked that of you. And I guess I asked it just like the perfect moment. Can you say a little bit about like what that was like to receive that message?
AM: Yeah, so I can say the picture was actually at my friend's house here in Georgia. And I was in an upstairs bedroom as we're having the conversation. And I'm like pacing back and forth. I don't know if you could hear it in my voice, but like, I like, I knew it was time and I like knew I was scared. And I had been, you know, for 20 something years, someone who used a statism to get away from emotions. And I was addicted to not feeling. And, you know, that comes in a lot of socially acceptable and socially unacceptable behaviors. And, you know, like you said, you would never know that I was in pain looking at me outside. I don't think most people knew that I had an addiction issue from the outside either. And it ranged everywhere from exercise addiction, which is one that's highly encouraged, unfortunately, restrictive food addiction, alcohol addiction, drug use, I mean, just everything that you can think of, I tried tried it along the way, just to escape. And, you know, with my partner, we chose to move from California to Georgia, which people thought was crazy. And it was just this we were just ready for something different, like we knew what life was. And we wasn't that everything was bad or anything like that. But we just wanted to see what else there could be. And, you know, I thought it as this moment to be able to purge and I had been keeping my addictions at bay for so long. And I can curse or not, but fuck it. And just let them get bad. I let all my addictions take over me. And I let my drinking get bad. And I let I mean, just everything you can think of, I just let it overwhelm me. And it forced us to a place to be honest with one another. And it was this whole new life and this whole new communication. And it just was like the bubble pop. And it was finally quiet. And it was that like perfect moment. And it was like, right around that time that you called me, and I'm in this new like trying to figure out what it means to not avoid emotions and not avoid myself. And then here you are with this like, gift on a silver platter. And I'm like, Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It's not so it was just it was so serendipitous. It was it was amazing.
AI: Yeah, yeah. You know, I super relate to what you're saying about like letting things get really dark as like a way of basically reaching the point of no return where you're just like, okay, like, it's almost like the last hurrah of like a part of yourself that's just like, you know, going to keep this thing going and this thing alive until it literally runs itself out. Right. And it sounds like that's where you where you went like, you know, and moving across the country, leaving behind like the whole lifestyle and like, you know, support system that you did have and kind of being on your own with your partner, probably like really catalyzed that, you know, first of all, that like deep dive into the darkness to like emerge, you know, it, it just seems like it was a really strong catalyst for all of that shifting to occur. And, you know, having you in a radiance program was really exciting and wonderful for me because you were someone who had been with me like on my journey a little bit through becoming, you know, a somatic educator after being a yoga teacher, you know, as my primary mode of like, you know, supporting other humans and their well being, right. And I knew that we related a lot in terms of how we like taught and experienced yoga. And I remember early on, like we had a lot of conversations about somatics and somatic, like ways of helping people in their yoga practice. And I know you went on to do like a trauma informed yoga training. And it actually, when you told me things about trauma informed yoga, when I've gone and like looked it up, it's actually really similar to somatic yoga principles. Will you say a little bit about like your training from just what you learned when you first became a yoga teacher and how you taught, how you practice and then like discovering somatics, discovering trauma informed yoga, how that kind of shifted things for you?
AM: Yeah, I mean, the thing that probably a lot of people don't want to hear is the way yoga is taught in the West actually feeds into addictive behavior a lot. It is a way to escape from your body. And that's honestly like the way that I had grown to love it. And kind of the way initially I went into learning it, because it's like this intense and hard and you know, you're holding things for as long as you can. And you're getting those gold stars and you're doing the form the best you can. And it becomes this like form of escaping. And that was kind of what drew me to it was it was this hour where I suggest not exist in my body because I was forcing it, and I mean forcing it to do these really tough things and it was doing it. And you know, as I was learning how to teach it, it was not from a harmful place intentionally, but I think it was coming from this place of like, that's how people want to be taught. And so like you hold it for a long time and you breathe through it and it's you know, uncomfortable is good and you know, all the things that we've all been in those yoga classes. But learning from trauma and form yoga I actually learned from and I'm totally blanking on the name, but it's a group that teaches yoga in prison. And it does the exact opposite where it's not you tell people how long to hold it, you don't tell people how much effort they put into it, you really don't give them that many poses to do. It's very much just follow your breath, follow your heart, become present, live in your body. And you know, that to me is very much somatic from having done a lot of that. And you know, learning trauma and form yoga was really scary, because here I was wanting to learn these things wanting to help other people. And I would do some of this work myself. And I would have an anxiety attack, because it wasn't safe inside my body. And it was scary inside my body. So it was like, for whatever reason, I just kept doing and taking on these things that were scaring me like crazy, and were really uncomfortable. But like, I knew I needed to get there. And I knew I needed to, to learn it. And I knew I needed to hear it in all these different ways. And you're so right, like somatics is so connected, or somatic yoga, so connected with trauma and form yoga, because it takes the instructor out of it a little bit, and it takes the expectations. And it takes like the addictive nature of being the best out of it, because there is no way to be the best at it. You just do what feels right for you. And it may look so small and insignificant from the outside world, and it could be changing your whole universe. And I think it's sort of just shedding that ability to be the best, but I think made it really, you know, approachable and great for what I need.
AI: Yeah, yeah, well, there's a certain kind of like, you know, especially in, you know, the United States and different Western countries and this certainly bled over to all the other countries because I taught in many different countries all over the world and so like I could kind of see the way that, you know, there's this like sportsmanship, kind of, you know, athleticism that has, you know, created a branch of yoga and a branch of yoga style that, you know, emphasis on the sizes that it's hard physically, right? And that things that are hard physically, yes, are also hard mentally. But there's another kind of like challenge which you just touched on and spoke about, which is the challenge of being gentle, the challenge of listening attentively and responding to your body's cues as your body is giving them to you rather than simply forcing and overriding and conquering your body, right? It's a different kind of challenge. It's a different kind of difficult. I would actually say that for me, going slow, being tender and facing the parts of myself that were holding pain and sorrow and sadness and like, you know, despair, facing those parts of myself was much, much harder than simply just cranking my body into a deep backbend. They were. It was harder. It was a different kind of challenge, you know? And we, you know, when we do something really physically intense, we get all these like hormones and like feel good chemicals rushing through our bodies, right? Because we kind of put ourselves into that like intense level of survival mode, right? But there are other, like you said, there are other kinds of things that will also trigger that survival mode that don't come along with like this big surge of chemicals, you know? So you could be doing what looks like from the outside, like barely anything in a yoga pose, but you could be having this very confronting internal experience of facing yourself, right? In this really intimate way that like, you know, from the outside, it just looks like you're in child's pose. Just looks like, oh, she's taking a break. She's not doing anything, right? Versus somebody who's doing this really intense, like super bendy pose, everyone looks at that and goes, oh, wow, look, she's doing something so hard, right? But that could be actually easier than, you know, doing that really, really slow child's pose and sensing in and paying attention to everything that you're feeling, right?
AM: Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, for me, like I had spent so much of my life like learning to dissociate from my body and like not be present in it and all those sort of things. So like you said that really hard back bend or the hands and or the whatever, like there is this level of like dissociation you can do when you do this a lot that like, I'm not really present in my body. I'm not really not really looks like you're holding this posture and it must take so much effort, whatever, but like, you just do it all the time and like you really aren't present and you know, you, not that it's for everybody but like, I wasn't present and I wasn't really experiencing what my body was going through because most of the time my body was in pain. I'm doing these poses and I'm doing these things and they're incredibly painful and they don't feel good. And so I'm shutting off inside because this is what I do when my body isn't safe. And I'm, but I'm doing a good job and I'm getting told I'm really good at it. And I'm getting told I should keep and I'm getting to you know, like I'm getting all these things that then feel good because it's this external validation. But like inside of my body, it was just another damaging thing that I was doing to myself under the guise of I'm taking care of myself. And you know when it comes to when I got to do somatic with you and like trying out some medic yoga and stuff. Like you said, it was just the amount of stuff that's going on when you're doing those little movements is just, it's just insane. Like I can't tell you how many times we would do stuff and I'd go sit in my car and my heart would be racing after we would, I would do a class. And it's like, if you've never done it, it's hard to imagine, but it would just be such an overwhelming experience that like I was having like you said that that rush of emotions are endorphins or you know whatever it might be and it was, it was so much more of a experience than doing those really hard poses, which, you know, 10 years ago I never could have imagined something like that.
AI: Yeah, yeah, it blew my mind too. It definitely like with these things to me that like, you know when I first started I was very associated from my body and so you know someone like my dad who was my first somatic educators would ask me like, oh, how does your leg feel. You know, it's like, oh, it just it feels like a leg or it hurts like there were these really simple answers and it almost felt like why are you even asking me this, you know. And then as I kept getting that question asked as I kept developing like awareness, it was like, oh, like my leg had like feeling in it wasn't just, you know, that it hurt my leg was angry, you know, my leg was feeling sorrow and you know all of these things like there was emotion and stored memories and experiences that were locked up in there, you know with the pain that I was feeling. So I completely relate to what you mean about like the way that these tiny, tiny experiences have such a huge impact on our bodies. You know, but there's also like this point and I know that you went through it with you know the deep dive we did in the Radiance program where like you, you kind of move through things enough times that you actually start to experience being relaxed is actually relaxing. Instead of like strangely triggering right you actually meet yourself in the place of like, oh, I'm relaxed. I'm actually comfortable being relaxed because I've practiced it enough and I've been hearing that times that I know that it's okay to relax and I know that I'm safe, you know, and so I know that, you know, there's been points especially during the Radiance program where you really kind of like broke through to feeling that sense of safety in your body.
AM: Yeah, and for me it was twofold. You know, part of it was I didn't know what it felt like to feel safe in my body. So, you know, anything that's novel is scary. So, you know, getting past that to where it was like, oh, this is what it feels like to relax. This is okay to feel this way. And the other part of it, which to me was the biggest and the hardest hurdle was I deserve to feel this way, because I didn't feel like I deserve to be comfortable and I didn't deserve to feel safe and that was like huge going through the program and you know being able to talk with everyone in the group and talk with you and like be able to share those sorts of things of like, I never thought I was going to feel safe and I never saw I deserve to feel safe so those two things were massive.
AI: Yeah, yeah, and we don't even, that's one of those things that's very unconscious most of the time we hear that voice of judgment or that voice of negativity so often in our heads that we don't even question it we just it's just how it is, you know, and then suddenly you like hear yourself one day and you go oh wow like, I am, I am keeping myself from being able to enjoy my life or enjoy my experience because I have this, you know, voice of this protector who's maybe trying to protect me from something. That happened a long, long time ago, right, who's still speaking to me and I'm believing that I am unworthy I'm believing that I am, that it is not okay for me to enjoy and receive and feel good in my body. And yeah, I love, I love that that was something that you really started to shift during the program and then I'm sure it's a process just like it is for me as like a continuous process of shifting out of the lifelong patterns right, but one of the things you brought up while you're in the program that I'd love for you to say something about. Is how this impacted, you know, your relationship with your partner and your ability to actually be present with him.
AM: Oh my god, I'm like every way possible. I mean, for one, it like really allowed me to like not drink. And that was something that like I had never done. I mean, we've been together forever and you know it wasn't that it was always a constant thing in my life I wasn't constantly drinking every day all day every day but like I always did and we'd go out and we would, you know, do something fun and there was always alcohol involved and I, you know, it was in every facet of my life the good the bad and the ugly and so you know having the support of this program and everything allowed me to not drink alcohol and to not do these avoidance things and to like force myself to be present and it, you know, allowed us to have conversations that we never knew we needed to have and get to know each other in a way that after, I mean I don't even know how long we've been together but you know we met when I was 18 and 36 now and I think we've been together like nine years this this go around. And you know there's things that I learned about him because I was able to be open and be present and it helped so much like with my anxiety and being able to be open and honest with like mental health stuff that I have like I get embarrassed when I feel depressed. And that kind of went away. It was like, this is how I feel today. And it's nothing you did wrong and it you know there's no way to fix it at this like this moment and happy to do this thing with you but I'm probably going to seem a little bit like you are all day. And that helped because then he knew like he didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't mad at him like I wasn't not enjoying myself. It wasn't this I wasn't that it was just I was depressed that day. But the day was fine and like everything we were doing was great and you know being able to have those open and honest conversations was just, I mean, massive for both of us.
AI: Yeah, so awesome and like, and say it and just speak it out loud. You know, and we did actually for anybody who you know is on my Instagram or YouTube I think I just added this to YouTube we did that whole jaw work session. You know, and in working semantically with like the rest of your body but then also doing jaw work and any work that we do with like your neck. I mean, your neck is a been an area that you've really done a lot of work with, especially during the program right. It frees up your expression it frees up your ability to actually say and let out what's inside, because so many times like, first of it's kind of twofold it's like first, if you don't have that connection inside yourself and if you're just used to like avoiding and turning away, like you don't even know what it is that you need to say. Like that's you're just like someone asks you how are you and you just like give them some answer because like, you don't really know like you're not actually asking that question, you know, but in the somatic work we not only like, ask you to check in and feel in and sense in, but then we ask you to like literally do these tiny little things to address how you feel, you know, to like make the movement more comfortable, or to make the movement, you know, more smooth or just things like this that are really they seem really small but it's you like attending to your inner environments like attending to what you're experiencing, and then combined with that opening process of like opening up your chest opening up your back opening up your stomach opening up your throat, you're allowing what is inside to start moving moving in you and out of you, and that comes in the form of like better communication. And like, that's something that will often, you know, if I'm doing a, you know, first time session with someone and I did a couple this weekend actually will be did like jaw work I will let them know I'll be like just so you know, this is, we're doing something pretty intense here we're freeing up your ex your self expression, we're going to make that more comfortable and easy for you. So just know that know that like, things are my things might start shifting, hopefully in a good way but you know if you are having, you know, relationships where like the communication has been an issue and the person that you're communicating with is not ready to receive you, then it could be a little murky, you know, but it sounds like with your partner, he was really ready to receive you and probably had been waiting, kind of probably been waiting to receive you for a long time so it sounds like it was a really beautiful opening your relationship.
AM: Yeah, absolutely. And it's funny that you say that because one of the things that probably people need to be warned is like when you do all of a sudden have this like feeling of wanting to share because you know how you feel, and it's not something that you're used to doing. You're not very good at it. So like, you know, I think one of the things I learned that it corresponded with going through the program was like, at first it's just this like, there's just so much coming up and so much coming out and there's such a huge difference in how your body feels and so many changes week over week and like all this stuff is happening. And, you know, I was able to share so freely with you and our one on one session that like sometimes I think I would just just throw it all out there, and you would just sit there for a minute be like, Hello. You know, because it's like, not that he wasn't able to hear it or perceive it or anything like that it's like learning, like how do you talk to another human being when you've never really been able to connect with yourself and so it was also learning that. You know, when we go through a somatic class and when you're taking us through the radiance program it's bit by bit, it's piece by piece and really like taking that in and going okay well maybe this is how you then share yourself with the world, and maybe it doesn't have to be this big grand display to get it all out.
AI: Right right and sometimes it's just about experimentation and like letting it all be big and messy for a moment and just see how that goes. And then next time that happens maybe you do it a little bit differently because you have that experience of what it would like to just kind of like let it all hang out. And then the next time you're like you know maybe maybe this time I'm just going to share this piece and I'm going to let the rest of this kind of marinate and I'll let the rest of this kind of settle. And this is like the thing I'm going to focus on this time, you know I've definitely been through that with my communication and this, you're so right like we don't have practice at it. When we've never really done it before we're in new territory of that kind of self expression. So totally totally relate to that. In terms of like some of the you've had some really interesting experiences, especially at the beginning of the program like, I remember you were having these dreams. Do you say a little bit about your dreams.
AM: Yeah, so. Yeah, I don't even know if I can like articulate how weird it was so when we first started. And if anyone isn't aware of the program like it is you get a lot of like attention for yourself and like the most positive way and there's you know you're forced to again in a positive way. Spend time with yourself and do this work on yourself and you know there was so much that we were doing that I had never done before and was releasing all these things and feeling all these things and I was having these like incredibly lucid dreams and it was like I was walking through life and experiencing life and things I've been through in a way that like I didn't get to when I was experiencing it because I wasn't equipped it wasn't present I wasn't you know I was numbing I was doing all these things to avoid life and I felt like I almost got to like go back and redo them and have conversations with people that I didn't get to have because I wasn't open. And I got to connect with people and like forgive people and ask for forgiveness and you know just all these things that you know you kind of wish you get to do as you know when you grow and change as a person and like I was having these dreams are I was able to do this and you know whatever that means it was it was incredibly powerful and it just made me feel like I think it was working for lack of a better way to say it like I was like I was walking down the right path and that it was really healing these memories and these experiences that I had and it was just incredible.
AI: Yeah it reminded me you know because you were also going simultaneously and you know as you went through the Radiance program you were choosing you know an intentional period of sobriety in your life you know and a lot of And there's people usually pretty early on in the beginning where they like done or wrong to and they apologize that they, you know, did that under the influence of whatever the drug or alcohol thing they were on was almost like your brain like did that with you and for you. So like go back and like kind of self correct these experiences and allow you to really like be heard and express and like, you know, say the things that needed to be said. And it was like a really, I mean, when you told me about that, I was, this is so beautiful. This is like such a beautiful internal work that your consciousness is going through. And it seemed like very beautifully tied to your sobriety, you know, and facing these things in yourself and making space for yourself in your own body that you were doing in the radiance program, you know, going back to that about the way that we, you know, the way that trauma and addiction are correlated and interrelated with each other. You know, there were things that happened in your early childhood, right, that were and then continued like they do, you know, like they did in mind, like they continue to kind of cycle through that we keep re traumatizing ourselves or finding and attracting certain experiences that replicate like what we went through at one point when we were younger, right. And this fuels our dissociation, this fuels our escapism. Can you say a little bit about that? Because I know you've been learning a lot about this as well from a lot of different perspectives.
AM: Yeah, I mean, there's there's so many interesting things to it because, you know, like I was really, magically was able to find ways to replay all the things that happened in so many different ways. And there were, you know, ways that were clearly unhealthy and partying and all that sort of stuff. And then there's also the ways that I saw were healthy and were good and were, you know, whatever words to put to it. But I was still perpetuating the same thing because I was still whatever way I was coming at it, it was still this telling myself I'm not good enough, still playing that narrative in my head of like, yeah, well, they're doing it better. And, you know, whether it was staying out till five in the morning, partying, or, you know, exercising like crazy or being strict on my diet, like whatever it was, I wanted to be the best at it to impress. I don't know who, but it was, you know, replaying that that childhood, like trauma and fear of like, if I don't do this, I won't be good enough. And, you know, just playing it out in all these different scenarios. Yeah, and it's just it's interesting that the somatic journey like allowed me to correlate them all together because I hadn't. And for me, I think when we started having the food conversation was where it sort of clicked that like I was doing that re traumatizing and that replaying and staying in that uncomfortable place because it's what I knew and it's, you know, it's comfortable to be uncomfortable because that's all I knew. And, you know, I realized that like I had been so conscious about what I was eating and doing all those sorts of things. But there were two things that I had never really thought about. And it was a I cared so much about what was going in my body that I only wanted organic and no preservative and I drank like a fish. So there was that. And there was also the fast that like I cared about it being quote unquote good. But I had not really thought about how it made me feel. And when we had that food conversation, it was like this light bulb going off that even when I was like, doing what I thought was best, I was still continuing to re traumatize my body, make it feel bad and then have to escape from it because this healthy food I was eating, my body didn't like.
AI: Right, right. And also just, you know, some of the things we talk about in the food conversation, it's like, I try as best as I can to kind of present them like here's some matter of fact, like information and then like how are we processing this information, what does it bring up in us? You know, and it was interesting because I remember it was when I think it was when we were talking about like sodium and like the impact of like high amounts of sodium on our system. And after like that presentation, you were like, it may sound weird, but knowing this like actually just knowing this information while it seems kind of heavy, like actually makes me feel safer because it like just helps me like be like real or something or just like know like what's really happening so that like I can, you know, understand that navigate it instead of like not knowing that this is going on, not knowing that this is happening. And then like, you know, wondering why I'm having the experience I'm having, you know, same with like food that we might consider, you know, really healthy if we're eating it and our attitude towards ourself over eating it is like an attitude of like self punishment, you know, like we're trying to make up for something that we did or, you know, punish ourselves in some way for like some food we ate that wasn't healthy or, you know, drinking a lot or something. We're like putting that energy of like, you know, yeah, of like harm into the way that we're eating, we're putting our nervous system into this tense and fearful state while we're eating and tense and fearful states are not good for our digestion. Like you said, if it's if it's that same cycle of that same like issue that we've been like perpetuating in our lives, it's like we're just we're creating that same experience again.
AM: Yeah, intense and fearful is probably going to be the title of my autobiography if I ever ever, right. But yeah, I mean, that's how like I had navigated through everything. It was this perpetually keeping myself in this state of and I hope I can explain this right of like needing to be massively in control of my body and even doing things that seemed wildly out of control still allowed me to have control over my body. So even though they were making me not feel good and they were making me sick and they were making me anxiety so worse and all these sorts of things, like I still had control over it. So it wasn't a good thing, but it was this like I feel out of control, but I have control over feeling out of control. And the thing with going through the Radiance program and really deep diving into somatics was this like being able to be in out of control situation and feeling okay because I now knew I legitimately had control over how I felt. And like I didn't have to feel good all the time and I didn't have to move from a space of fear because I knew that no matter what happened, like I always had this safe space to come back to that was inside of me that I didn't need anything to access and I didn't need a drug or an alcohol or a you know a person or you know anything else to get to it that all I had to do was just take five minutes for myself and lay down on the floor and I could come back to this like place of safe that all of a sudden the world just became way less scary in a way that I genuinely didn't know existed prior to doing it.
AI: Yeah, yeah that's so wonderful because it really is like you know doing these little movements and that's what you know it's what I've designed like this program to really do is that it's a concentrated amount of time that you spend practicing this way of moving this way of stimulating your neural pathways in your body so that even if for example somebody completed the radiance program and like decided to never like practice their somatic movement again they would still have built this like ability it would be like riding a bike you know that at any time in their life that they wanted to return to this they would have already developed those pathways you know like obviously like if you continue to practice this on and on throughout your life as I know you continue to practice you know after the radiance program ended like you continue to develop and deepen those pathways but it's those pathways that access to your body internally that I believe is what you're speaking about when you're talking about returning to the feeling of connection and safety it's returning to the internal experience that you have built inside yourself that you've built this like this this world this space and it's literally represented in neural pathways that are sending signals through throughout your body and then sending signals back to your brain giving you information about where you literally are in time and space and that you know it sounds kind of like I don't know like geeky or something here but it's it's part of what I have experienced making me feel a sense of security in myself that I also didn't have before that I can return to this this self that I have now actually literally developed sensory pathways to experience
AM: Well and I think the part that is so like and I don't mean this word to sound cliche or anything like that but like so revolutionary about like what you're putting together and like what you're able to give people is just we live in a world in a time in a society and everything is exciting and it's loud and it's this and it's distracting and you know we're being convinced on a daily minute by minute depending on your social media presence you know timeline of if you want to feel this do this and it's never if you want to do this take a moment of quiet time and lay on the floor it's if you want to feel happy take this drug if you want to feel happy drink this drink if you want to feel happy eat this food if you want to feel happy go on this dating act if you want like it's all these external inputs that were convinced on a daily basis and that I bought into for my entire life happily and you know all those things no no shame in any of that but um you know just we're told all these things are what we need to feel better and even getting into more of a like holistic healthy side of the world is also very scary because there are the people that feed that same line in that space so there's a lot of very unsafe spaces in that and so to have you be being given like I said this revolutionary thing of like I hear all that but what if we just did these tiny little things and what if we just took this time to you know to give to yourself and what if you just took a moment to feel how does your leg feel does it feel angry does it feel this does it feel that all these things that like when you said that like I didn't know a leg could feel that till I started doing somatics and so you know having these um these tools to learn that like all these things that we're taking and being given aren't how you feel safe and comfortable like it's already in you you just have to be given the way to access it is I don't know it was mind-blowing for me like when you were talking about like can your leg that you were so not present in your leg and then as you were moving through it you could feel that your leg felt angry and it or it felt sad like those were things that I didn't even realize like a body could feel until I started doing these things and um just being able to know that like I was could access this safe space and and this release and everything that I was looking for internally as opposed to needing external input or help or you know anything like that to be able to truly connect and feel the way I was trying to feel that was the part that was revolutionary to me
AI: yes and also the you know the idea that you know so much of what we are interacting with is about selling something to us and selling something like a product right or selling something like a like an app right um and that what you know what you're learning to do in the radiance program is you're learning to access your own like self and your own happiness without you know you don't need like you said you don't need anybody else you don't need any special device or any special environment to lay down on the floor and do five minutes of somatics to release the tension in your back or your shoulder it's a very like independent kind of practice you know um and that's something that I have really loved about it is just that you know with I loved teaching yoga I did but there was this element to it that was like a business and we have to keep this person like coming back to the studio for ever right and we have to like make the studio indispensable versus you know in the radiance program like it's a commitment of time and energy but then like once you're done with it like you have a you know hopefully you have a practice you know they mean that like can you can carry with you and I feel like there are some yoga studios and some yoga environments that cultivate that that you know encourage that kind of independence and say okay you learn how to do these poses in such a way that you can do your yoga anytime anywhere on your own and then there are yoga environments that almost kind of encourage like that you need to come back to this studio and you need to be part of this culture in order to get the teachings you know that like you need you know the the teacher there to tell you what to do right yeah and it's it's funny that you say that because one of the things that really stood out to me like as we were starting to get to know each other was you know you would come to my classes sometime and I remember one day I don't know if we were I think we were talking obviously outside of class um but you were like I really appreciate you letting me do my somatic movement in your class and it like I it was so confused when you first said that to me because it didn't occur to me that someone would be so consumed with themselves that they would want you to do exactly what they were saying and so like to me it just made perfect sense that like sure I'd be talking the class through you know how we're going to cool down from yoga but if someone wanted to take a nap or someone wanted to put their legs up on the wall or someone wanted to move through a slightly different practice to cool themselves down like it never once occurred to me to come up to you and be like hey Amy you know we're all doing this pose right now so just like it blew my mind when you told me that and it made me feel like really happy that I was creating this space where people could do what felt best in their body
AM: yes absolutely and I mean that's probably because I came from a background of yoga that was very strict and rigid and like we wanted everybody doing the same thing and I was trained as a teacher to like try to keep everybody doing the same thing you know so that there was this like tight energy you know kind of this conformity within the class you know and we were you know encouraged to to kind of call people out sometimes on doing other stuff and so that was the background that I came from so you know to be in a yoga class where that wasn't happening and I felt more free you know and sometimes not even that like the yoga teacher's gonna come up to me and say something but I can like feel it in their energy I can like feel it in like the way that they're like looking over at me or like not looking over at me that like they would prefer that I do something else you know what I mean I think it's just kind of an energy and then you can also just feel it when when teachers are just like yeah you do you and they just have this kind of relaxed like attitude about it you know so it's uh it's been very interesting for me to just go from such a different like way of being in my own personal practice but also as a teacher to kind of the other end of the spectrum where you know when I am teaching somatic movement classes or even doing sessions with people if people do something different than what I said to do I do not like I might like let them know like oh actually the movement we're doing is this but usually I'll actually let them do whatever it is they were doing like the first few times and then I'll let them know that like there's another way of doing this and sometimes people will apologize and be like oh I was doing it wrong and I'm like no no no you weren't doing it wrong you were doing exactly what your nervous system needed and wanted to do that felt right like based on like what you heard me say so like what you were doing was was right and there's also like five, 10, 15 other right ways to do this too.
AM: Yeah, absolutely. And it makes me think back to when like when we first started working together and we did some like one-on-ones and I remember one of the times I don't remember if it was my arm or my leg. It was who knows at that point with my body. I was so disconnected. But you had asked me to relax some part of my body like into your arm. Like you were like holding I think my foot or something like that. And you were like, okay, just relax into my arm. And I thought I was. And you were like, okay, relax into my arm. And again, I thought I was and then eventually you just were like, we're going to do this instead. Because it was I think it was so obvious that like, I didn't I really had was so disconnected that I didn't know what that meant. But like, I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. And I feel like you bring that sort of energy through, you know, the whole Radiance Program that I did and just teaching in general of this like, you gave me a couple opportunities to try my best at it. It clearly wasn't working. And there was just this total feeling of like, that was okay. And yeah, like, I loved that. Like, it was it was so nice to know that like, I didn't have to be able to do that. I would get there. And I think that's how the whole program is.
AI: And in regards to like that space in your body that wasn't quite accessible yet to like, have it be able to relax or to know how to relax, right? Like, we, you know, it was probably different in a different area of your body, like, you know, and then that that's one of those things that I have discovered a lot is that it's all connected. And so maybe it's not really like working with, you know, this part of your body at this moment. But if we just move on to like a different area where you maybe have more neural connection, like, then suddenly becomes easy, right? And that's what we're always looking for. In somatic is what we call the direction of ease. Like, what can we do that feels easy? That's going to tell us like, what the pattern is, like what the primary pattern is in your body or in your consciousness. And we go with what's easy, a number of times, so that we can like, really get that area to know how to change, right? Even if it's changing only like 2% of the time. And then we can go over to those more difficult spaces that don't really have that connection. But the entire time that leg or that arm has been listening and learning from the work that we're doing over in this other area that like has the ability to like do these things. And so it's just been so cool to like really feel and see with my clients that it's all connected. And no matter where we're working, whether we're working, you know, in in like a way that seems really big and noticeable or whether we're working in a way that seems really tiny and like change seems to be happening really slowly. Like, it's all going in, you know, at the right pace for this person and in the right timing and just continuing to trust in that and help help my clients help people like you trust that on this somatic journey, there's no pressure to like arrive at a specific time, right?
AM: Well, and I think that's the thing how, you know, with the Radiance Program, I feel like you have it so like beautifully sort of spread out and you know how you were saying the left side is listening to the right side as you're doing the movements and and everything sort of connected. I feel like that was how it was going through the program. Like it it felt like you're doing all these different things and you know, learning somatic yoga and the food conversation and the all the different things but your whole body is listening and learning through every single part of that and it was like yes, the movement part was so important and doing the classes and and doing all that but like so really was like the one-on-one time and feeling like, you know, I deserve to have this time and I need to focus on me and then having the food conversation and you know, being able to do that and you know, the somatic yoga, like I said, was probably the greatest yoga class I've ever taken in my life and you know, just feeling like my body was was present and listening and learning through all these different things that we were doing really felt like it just came together into this like beautiful feeling of presence like at the end of the whole program.
AI: Right, that's awesome. I love that. It's it is experiential and that's something that I've gotten a little bit better at like kind of impressing upon and letting people know like I have a round of the program going right now and you know, there's some a couple of people in the program who like right away like maybe they already had been doing a little bit of a daily practice and then there were others that were you know, for the first two months or so like kind of struggling to develop a daily practice you know and while I you know, definitely say like that's an important part of doing this work and being able to do a little bit on your own every day, it was not something that I had like strong pressure on anybody to like do this now you know or that you're failing if you're not doing it right. But what I did tell people is that you know the experience that you're having and the one-to-one the experience you're having when you show up to the to the calls you're going to be you're learning how to recreate that for yourself in five minutes literally on your bedroom floor or on a hotel room floor anytime that you want to and that's part of what the daily practice is going to give you is this experiential learning that you don't get like from just talking about it right you get it through experiencing and and doing it like enough times that it becomes something that's now part of you.
AM: Well and you know I struggled with a daily practice and it's something you know that I wouldn't I either wouldn't make time for it because I didn't you know think I needed it or whatever reason I was telling myself. But you know not ever feeling that pressure of needing to show up to the you know the sessions we would have together and be like oh yeah I did it every day and I was really good at it like you know being able to come as I was and you know I I'm one of the things I experienced as I was going through this like somatic journey intensively was you know I felt emotions that I had never felt and they were a little wild like I would feel these moments of like elation and anger and you know all these things that I had never felt and just being able to move through those and not feel like oh I also then have to do this thing every day or I'm going to get in trouble you know not feeling that pressure was huge because it allowed me to to do it at my own pace and to come as I was and to get there at my own time and you know I do my practice in between work meetings I lay on the floor of my office and you know I'll do it when I have something stressful coming up or I right after I get done with a stressful call and just having sometimes even three minutes to just close out the rest of the world and just help myself feel better has been I mean incredible.
AI: Yeah yeah I love that and you were also like doing a lot more like you were pretty physically active during the radiance program and it was interesting because you were renovating a house you were you know doing a lot of hiking and weightlifting and stuff and I remember you talking about like some ways in which your body was changing like you said that you felt strong you felt like really strong carrying like big bags of concrete you said that your butt became squishy which I thought was so funny and so great you were like I never knew my butt could be squishy and yet feel like really strong at the same time would you say a little bit about like that as like you know as someone who has an athletic background like how was it to have your body shift?
AM: Oh my god okay so huge so one of the things you know like I talked about earlier about my active addictions would be like massive amounts of exercise and this feeling of like being firm and strong and all those sorts of things and there was this big shift as I was going through the program and like my body did feel like squishier and softer and like my butt wasn't rock hard for like the first time in probably a while because you know the muscles were actually relaxing and things were you know allowed to not be tense all the time and it was interesting because as things were starting to feel softer and relaxed and all these things I was feeling more comfortable and I was carrying you know bags of concrete and 40 pound things of tile up and down stairs and it felt I mean as easy as those tasks can feel but like it felt easy because my body wasn't on the verge of tensing and hurting itself it was relaxed and it was able to do these movements with ease and I you know I backed off of the really intense exercise having gone through this program I haven't been weightlifting and you know I don't feel obligated to do those things like I'm I'm walking and I'm hiking and I'm you know I'm still doing all these things and paddleboarding and still being really active but like it's no longer like that gold star that I have to get to be to have exercise to earn x y and z it's moving because my body wants to move and it feels good to move in it
AI: yeah yeah and being I mean the things you just described like hiking and kayaking or paddleboarding or whatever like there's other elements to that that are also enjoyable rather than just the physical exertion right it's like being in nature it's like maybe being with other people maybe you know being with your dogs or whatever it's like being out in the world you know versus like some of the ways that I used to exercise were very I'm kind of obsessive and isolating you know versus ways of exercising or ways of using our bodies that feel like connecting you know what I'm saying
AM: absolutely and I think part of it is just knowing how to move my body in in I mean period it's knowing how to move my body like I had been forcing it to move in the way that I had wanted it to move for so long and now sort of like taking the time to honor like how it wants to move and how like what feels good in my body and I don't know it's just been a really interesting journey that I can't imagine having gotten to without going through the program
AI: yeah oh man it's just it's been so cool to to just watch you grow and develop and so tell us a little bit about like since you've completed the program which you graduated in May right and then you've been continuing you know your practice like you had a few moments like where there were like pain flare ups but that you were able to do things that you learned how to do in the program to turn down that pain and that tension and then more than that I would also love you to share a little bit about like what it's been like you know to be there for other people because they know that like you know one of the things that you you know were very good at throughout your life was like you know helping others and being in support to others but often like kind of added kind of like an expense of yourself and that I know that that has shifted in some ways or that that has changed maybe you could say a little bit about both those things
AM: yeah absolutely so um I definitely like it isn't some magic thing where now you're magically never gonna feel pain again once you learn how to do this but you know I just doing the things that I do I you know tweak my back or like you know had a flare up of something that used to bother me and it got really tense and instead of panicking and freaking out and trying to distance myself from my body and all those sorts of things I was able to give it kindness and give it love and give myself all those things and um you know do do the tiny movements and um help it to feel better and part of it is you know there was always this drive of I hurt and I don't feel good and I have to fix it immediately and being able to be patient with pain has been like a huge thing of knowing like this is uncomfortable and it's going to get a little bit better every time I do this and it's not going to go away right away but if I'm just patient and I don't panic I know that I'm going to get back to a place of ease and I think that has been one of the biggest most mind-blowing things because that was not something I could have done before it would have been I have to take this that and the other thing and go do these other things so that I don't have to deal with this uncomfortable situation and now it's like it's okay give it a day or two keep doing what you're doing like it's gonna get better
AI: totally like doing those little movements even laying in bed or like you know taking five minutes and be like oh okay that that helped I feel like I'm a little bit more relaxed the pain's not completely gone yet but yeah just that patience I love that
AM: and then also with like helping other people um to me it was like that was always how I like added value to relationships was I helped other people with whatever it was that they needed and it wasn't you know ill-intended or you know anyone was trying to do anything to hurt me but I would put anything and everything aside to put another person's needs ahead of mine and it was because like that's how I felt good it didn't matter that it didn't actually make me physically feel good because it would you know oftentimes be at the detriment of myself and um learning how to be present in my body and learning how to feel good in my body has also helped me establish like boundaries with helping other people so it's you know I'm here for you and I can do all these things and and be that person that you need and also remembering that that doesn't mean I'm a martyr and I have to go down you know too like I can take care of myself and still be able to be there for other people and and um not let it take control of everything that I'm doing and that I mean it's just been huge and it's really allowed me to to be there for people in a way that I couldn't before.
AI: Yes I think that that what you just described about like the way that we would put everything aside and put ourselves aside and put ourselves last and I can so relate to that that's why I'm saying ourselves here but like that compulsion to be like helpful you know to be someone's like savior to to really like give somebody our energy it it could turn very easily from something that had good intention to something that was just another form of escape from ourselves and escape from our own feelings and our own challenges would just be like to pour all of our love and energy onto somebody else and like while that has good intentions and there are going to be people who are like hungry for that it's not always the best for the receiver it's not actually like helpful for them sometimes it's more helpful sometimes for someone to get like some of your help and support and energy and then also to have some space and so like be given some boundaries like that is also to their benefit.
AM: 100% and like I could have never fathomed this concept until I you know got into a healthy space myself but it's so true I mean um I think having that to me it was almost like a desperate energy that I think I would give off of the like whatever you need I'm here whatever like I'm here for everything I think isn't always comfortable for other people to receive and I think being able to do it in a way that's respectful to myself and to the people that I love I think has really been um it's been great.
AI: Yeah yeah well it's been just so amazing watching you go through the Radiance program and thank you so much for sharing your story and sharing about like all the things that have opened up for you in the last year I'm very excited to see like where this will take you I know that like very early on in this process you were like someday I'm going to also be a somatic educator I don't know if you've considered that still but I think you would be an awesome one someday if you decided to take that on.
AM: It is still on the table I would still love to do it yeah I think I see it as like a like one of the future future goals when the timing is right for sure I feel like it's gonna wander into my life the way that somatics has on so many occasions and I would love to I think it's a really beautiful practice to share with people.
AI: Excellent yes thank you thank you so much for your candidness and just for sharing the you know yeah the pain that people can't see from the outside right the the suffering that like human beings are experiencing that is not um it's not visible unless you ask unless someone tells unless someone like is able to like express it in whatever way like those things that have remained hidden it's it's not only amazing that you've been able to open them up and release them and move them but that you're able to also share and talk about them at this point in your life so bravo I say Amanda thank you well thank you thank you for allowing me to share it yeah great well if anyone wants to connect with you if someone resonated with your story where could they reach out to you
AM: oh my goodness I don't have any public facing social media at this given moment so I actually don't have anyway um I yeah I don't know I don't have anyway if I decide before this airs to um open it up it would be Amanda W yoga on Instagram but I have been quiet on it for so long it's currently private but I'll think about it
AI: yeah yeah think about it that's just an option just if somebody you know connected with your story and wanted to reach out but totally totally optional so thank you again um we'll hear from you maybe sometime later on the program um and catch up with you about how things are going awesome thank you yeah thank you so much
AI: hello everyone thank you for listening to the free your soma podcast if you enjoyed this interview with Amanda and feel inspired to learn more about the radiance program please go to www.freeyoursoma .com the next round starts November 4th podcast listeners will receive $500 off of the six month program I'm so excited to see you blossom and shine as the soma the being that you truly are so much love to you