A Surprising way to release tension... the way (other) animals do!
by Nicole Becker
Stress, tension, and even trauma are nothing new to living a life in an mortal body. Scientific researchers of all stripes have long been interested in the mechanisms involved in how creatures respond to, process and recover from stressful experiences.
As we all know, even though a particular stressor and/or stressful situation is over, our body can cling to the associated tension and fear, even mild over-alertness, long after the event. Our body tends to remember and store tension and trauma in order to be able to better predict and prevent threats to it's survival.
Animal researchers have observed (and you may have too in your pets) that shortly after experiencing a threatening situation, like being chased by a predator, that the prey animal will shiver/shudder for a few seconds/minutes. You may have experienced this yourself if you've ever been in shock and found yourself shivering even if you weren't cold. What's happening here is a very interesting primal version of "shake it off". The nervous system produces a "tremor" or "shiver" which is a rapid tense/release of large muscle groups. This is not just a symptom of shock, but a way for the body to release the muscle tension that was evoked during the stress and to reset back to neutral.
This natural recovery process from "fight or flight" mode has been harnessed and is being taught all over the world to everyone from survivors of war to everyday folks with normal everyday stresses. TRE: Tension/Trauma Relieving Exercises take you through a simple series of 6 standing poses similar to yoga postures that engage the large leg muscles. Afterwards, you rest on the floor in a comfortable but specific position that evokes this gentle "tremor" or "shiver" response in the legs (and sometimes other parts of the body). The first time I did it I was so surprised by the feeling - which was pleasant - of this sort of involuntary tremble of my limbs. It feels in a way like a percussive massage but it's happening from the inside out. At one point I was laughing because it was such an odd sensation. Resting afterward, I felt a little teary for no apparent reason other than I could feel the sweet catharsis of having moved some unknown tension out of my body and the subsequent lightness and freedom was poignant.
Twice a year, local TRE trainer, Brooke Deputy brings her expertise to Ojas Yoga Center and teaches to a sold out room of lucky folks who get to experience this simple practice that can easily be done at home after learning the technique. Come check it out Saturday, April 28 from 1:00-3:30 p.m. Pre-registration is required - $55 - SIGN UP HERE
To learn more about Brooke and TRE, click here