Deanna Defrietas is a yoga student at Open Door Yoga, and is also a professional counselor with knowledge of many therapies such as cognitive therapy and reality therapy, specializing in person centred therapy and Gestalt therapy. Deanna is now adding Integrative Body Psychotherapy to her tool belt, and has combined receiving this therapy, also Biodynamic Cranial Sacral therapy, with yoga classes recently. Deanna discusses the releasing of energy and old patterns with a new awareness that she has been experiencing via this combination.
First a little background in IBP and BCST: Integrative Body Psychotherapy is an experiential practice that enable clients to break through their old, somatically maintained dysfunctional behavior patterns by reawakening and establishing fully integrated states of well-being, constancy and sense of self in the body. This facilitates a transformation of consciousness at the core of their being.
Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle and subtle whole body approach to the human experience. BCST works with our core, the core of our being. Physically BCST influences the central nervous system; brain and spinal column, as well as the fluid that bathes it. This fluid is called the cerebral spinal fluid. Emotionally BCST can affect very deep and primary patterns, while providing you with resource and space to explore your emotional landscape. Spiritually- Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy can open doors to both hearts and soul, with the possibility of profoundly changing lives.
Maya: Could you talk about the big changes you have been aware of since recently combining Open Door Yoga classes with BCST and IBP?
Deanna: I went from feeling very disempowered in a difficult time in my life and feeling triggered at work to feeling large, very whole and large and being able to take control of my life, to empower myself to be the best possible person I could be at work, and everywhere else too, with my kids. A significant yoga class for me was laughing yoga. When I did laughing yoga something completely changed with that addition. Suddenly I was able to just let the child within be really playful and creative and move in and out of life with ease, like swimming through life, like dancing through life, playing with workmates, with my boss easily. Being able to laugh at little things like my children do. So Open Door Yoga was really imperative to keep the flow going, to keep myself open. Also the last yin yoga class I did I got to a place where I have never been able to breathe so deeply, and I felt super connected to myself and to the universe. In that class with the stretching, I was able to move into the stretches like never before, really deep deep soul stretching.
There was one side of my body that wasn’t connected with the other part and when the Biodynamic Cranial Sacral therapist started moving that I also started working with Open Door Yoga classes too, so I started moving the energy and unblocking deeply held places. I started doing the yin yoga and Tomas’ class. Those two classes really helped to fortify and move my body more. The stretching and the breathing kept opening me up more and more. Then I started doing some more training in IBP with Maecan Campell, and the three combined were magical and insurmountable in being able to get to the places that were held, because IBP also uses a lot of breathing and movement in similar ways to yin yoga.
Maya: Could you describe the process in a BCST session. What literally happens from the moment the sessions begins, how does the therapist work with your body? Could you relate a specific experience of yours to us?
Deanna: The therapist starts with my sacrum. She puts her hand on my sacrum and she says that she is just there inside of me, that she becomes aware of and witness to what’s going on inside me, of everything, the spinal fluid, my organs, my skin, she can feel it and she is in constant communication with me and I communicate with her, and I notice, just notice what is moving and what isn’t moving and what hurts and what doesn’t hurt. I notice that suddenly my arm hurts, there is a pulsing pain, not horrible pain, it is achey. I notice that one side of my body is very full of energy and active and the other side isn’t at all. There is nothing going on on the other side. And over time my energy starts to shift and move and I can feel my leg that wasn’t moving at all filled with energy suddenly, and it’s like when your foot has fallen asleep and the blood starts flowing again, it’s like that. It kind of pushes through. It tightens up then it releases. And it happens all the time as she is working. Then she moves once the area has moved as much as it’s going to move. She moves up higher. She can move underneath my shoulder blades, then she stays with that for a while, and the last time she got up to my cranium, and I felt for a long time nothing was happening then suddenly the left side started to get really strong and active, and then it moved into my right. I’ve had a paralysis on my right side so it moved into my right and started to pulse through my face and my head, and my face started twitching. And she’s not doing anything outwardly, she’s not massaging or anything, just holding me, but my whole face started to twitch and energy pulsed through my face. Ever since then my ear that had been damaged has been healed. I had a fluttering in my ear, and the fluttering in my ear has gone ever since then. With BCST I have also had serious emotional release as well as physical, because it does move held places, deep places. Then I’d get into Integrated Body therapy with Maecan Campbell, and instantly almost where I left off with BCST I would get to, that held place that she found.
Maya: Could you describe the process of IBP. How is your body worked with in conjunction with psychotherapy?
Deanna: With IBP you do a lot of series of breathing exercises and movement which help you to get really quickly to trauma, to whatever needs to be worked on, unfinished business. The last session I started with the breathing exercises and started getting a twitch in my hand and a heaviness in my chest and instantly found thoughts of my mother, and I hadn’t worked with my mother before at all in therapy, so it was a surprise. But with IBP it comes so strongly, the feelings are so strong and you work very closely with the therapist and the therapist is there to really help you look inside you and go gently and breathe and help you to really be with yourself and notice what’s going on, and notice if there is any pain or discomfort to release. You are just being with it. So when I was with the feeling in my chest and noticing this, when I had to speak instantly, I was fourteen again and with my therapist I worked through unfinished business with my mother.
Maya: With IBP, what kind of physical movements and breathing are you guided into?
Deanna: You start with making a physical boundary. I have a boundary and Maecan has a boundary around her. It’s a lot about personal boundary and space and moving energy. So then you lay down on the ground with your knees up so your feet are grounded. Then you start with raising your arms up above your head and following them with your eyes, and breathing in and then quick release breathing out. You do that a bunch of times until you stop, and the therapist asks you to be aware of what is happening and to communicate what is happening, if anything is coming up for you. And usually right away you’ve got a lot more oxygen flowing through the body. There are lots of other exercises too. Then you go arms into the chest and out from the chest, and pushing down on your chest, every time breathing and pushing the air out. There’s another exercise after that, a throat release. You stick your tongue out as you are breathing in, and you make a sound as you breath out, whatever comes out of your mouth. And every time you are checking in with what is going on and often for some reason you’ll find yourself crying, just feeling your body, feeling the emotions in your body that you just don’t feel every day. It is something to do with the exercises and the oxygen and the connection with the therapist. It somehow brings up the emotions and whatever is stuck, whatever is held in your body comes out. Another exercise is lifting the hips up and down, breathing in as hips go up and out as they come down. By the end of it so many different things have happened to me, I remember one time I had done this immense amount of clearing mostly to do with the throat release exercise, and I looked so unbelievably glowing and alive and youthful. But at the beginning I was tired and haggard and crinkley, just a mess, and by the end of it I was so vibrant. It was incredibly amazing the difference.
Maya: Can you do these exercises on your own, or do you find they are only as dynamically useful in a therapy session?
Deanna: I’ve tried to do the exercises on my own and I’ve got a lot of energy and personal power from doing it on my own, but there is something about having a therapist there that lends a lot of energy. Somehow her witnessing my process lends energy and power to releasing and being able to really get into it, and make more connections that bring more awareness. There is something about another person being witness to my process that brings out everything that I need to work on. Also some similar reasons to be at Open Door yoga, because you are convening with others and your energy is intensified by the attention of a therapist (the teacher), that knows what they’re doing and has done their own personal work and can help to guide you through your personal work. It’s a very different experience to doing yoga by yourself. Probably the same with meditation. I’ve never done it with a group but I imagine it is a lot more intense than doing it on your own, I think it goes along with what I’m saying. If you were meditating with a yogi you’d probably be guided to a higher level of meditation. I think of Maecan as a shaman to me. That she exemplifies a higher realm of energy and helps draw that out in me instantly.
Currently it feels like there is this combination of holistic therapy that is really moving me forward into the next stage of my life.
Thank you Deanna!
Contact info for all therapies discussed:
BCST Agnes Hombach, CST and Shiatsu
firstname.lastname@example.org, 604 312 9073
604 730 1174
778 887 9667