The Art of Self-Inquiry: Self Massage for the Cycle of Yin with Giustina Easton

Updated: Mar 7


The change of season from fall to winter is always challenging. With longer checklists and more celebrations, it’s the time of year with less disposable time, even though the shorter and colder days are calling us to rest more often. Finding time to take care of oneself can feel simultaneously frivolous and indispensable for self-sanity. In both personal reflection and home practice, I realized that self-massage is an incredible tool to create mobility in targeted structures for various intentions in mind, and even further, bring awareness to areas of our bodies that we’ve otherwise become disconnected from. A lot of the time we hold tension in our bodies unconsciously, and it’s not until we apply an external mechanical force that we become aware of it. Since our life experiences can create holding patterns within our tissues, it is important that we tap into these parts of ourselves in order to move through mind/body imprints that can sometimes disrupt our ability to experience ease and personal embodiment.


I’ve invited a friend and fellow teacher, Giustina Easton, to guide us in a workshop focused on techniques that will nurture us during this time of year. I recently asked her a few questions about techniques we will be exploring in the workshop, different yoga practices, and their personal self-care practices.


How did you become interested in integrating self-massage techniques in your yoga teaching?


It was a natural unfolding that didn’t occur until recently despite being well versed in bodywork in the seat of a teacher. For many years I’d worn my “teacher hat” and my “bodyworker hat”, and it wasn’t until last year when Anatomist Tom Myers integrated self-massage into one of his lectures on the diaphragm, that I thought to myself “body techniques are not linear or separate, so how can I intersect two paths toward one goal?”. In both personal reflection and home practice, I realized that self-massage is an incredible tool to create mobility in targeted structures for various intentions in mind, and even further, bring awareness to areas of our bodies that we’ve otherwise become disconnected from. A lot of the time we hold tension in our bodies unconsciously, and it’s not until we apply an external mechanical force that we become aware of it. Since our life experiences can create holding patterns within our tissues, it is important that we tap into these parts of ourselves in order to move through mind/body imprints that can sometimes disrupt our ability to experience ease and personal embodiment.


What practices do you turn to personally to take care of yourself in the busiest of times?


For me, ritual is key. Adapting ritual while in a state of ease has allowed me to cultivate neural pathways that allow me to tap into these rituals when life becomes inevitably busy or overwhelming. As a space holder, my morning routine is key. It's crucial that I have a couple of hours of solitude each morning to meditate, journal, move my body, and Svādhyāya--self-study. My routine outside of those concrete rituals does change with the seasons, but one consistent pattern is my personal need for grounding as a double air sign who holds energy for others as my line of work. As most of us do, I can get stuck in my head amidst busy seasons of life, so home practice and self-massage of the lower body helps to distribute my energy from the headspace and mind chatter into my feet.


What excites you (if anything) about the transition to winter from fall. What (if anything) is more taxing, or exhausting about it?


Despite Detroit winters being quite brutal, the transition from fall to winter offers me the opportunity to really slow down and draw inward. After an expansive and outward summer into the movement and business of autumn, winter feels like a great annual rest and reset. The longer nights tap me into my early bedtime routine, so I tend to wake earlier in the winter. This allows for more space in my morning routine and time to study. The most taxing part of winter, by far, is the disconnection from nature. Living in the city grid has its challenges as it is when it comes to connecting to nature, and once its cold that challenge grows larger. Since my most humbling and grounding moments unfold in the midst of nature, I try to gear up and get a couple of winter hikes in when I’m feeling enough inner warmth to embark on that journey. :)


What draws you to Yin practices? Do you see any overlaps between Yin and Katonah Yoga practices? I think at face value they draw from similar traditions but use different methods, and I always find it fascinating to work with intersections, integrations, and in conversation with different techniques.


I am drawn to Yin practices because of the deep, somatic unfolding that occurs when the conditions are set up to allow for this transition. In our busy, active, production-based culture, a passive practice is actually quite a bit more challenging than an active practice. Holding the container for deep inner listening can be confronting and extremely challenging, and it takes conscious effort to sit in the seat of the listener when the brain signals the body to move away from discomfort while in the face of mental distraction. Those moments in practice when we want to bail are the moments where potency lies--and in holding that container it takes practice and courage, and resists the nervous system's tendency to repeat its neural communication as it's done to keep us safe.


 

Join Giustina on Sunday, March 20 for The Art of Self Inquiry: Manual + Movement Rituals for Spring

$30/$25 through March 7, 2022

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