Sometimes we just want to know, but...

“The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.” 
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

And so I have learned from my Somatic Teachers that curiosity brings questions which leads us to explorations, which leads us to more curiosities and more questions. By doing this over and over again, our practice, whatever it is, grows and flourishes. It is kept alive. If we hold too tightly to what we know, we cannot grow. 

Experience with Chronic Pain

Illness as a Gift: My Experience With Chronic Pain

This article was written by a student and now college of mine regarding her experience with chronic pain. Worth reading if you have chronic pain.

When I was studying to be a Somatic Movement Therapist, one of the key learnings was that healing happens in the present moment. This is really difficult for chronic pain sufferers because we are usually trying to get rid of our sensations and not embrace them.  Ultimately, you have to really understand and surrender to your present reality in order to gather the support to make an informed decision about where you would like to go and how you are going to get there. 

This sounds really dumb in a way, but I remember my own experience with pain. I had to stop fighting with it. I needed to learn how to be with it. And in a sense, this relates to the work I learned from Neil Pearson (Explain Pain) where once you settle into what is happening, once you stop fighting it, you can ask yourself, "is this dangerous?" Often it is not the tissues that need to be healed in chronic pain, but the nervous system itself. I remember thinking after a year of pain, that I needed to figure out how to "make friends" with it or I was going to go crazy.  Funny enough, as I surrendered my whole being to this idea, I started to get better.

Go figure! 

Moving For Life Classes




at WEST END COMMUNITY CENTER  870 Denman Street ph: 604 257 8333

at PERSONAL BEST    731 West 16th Ave. ph: 569-3390


COST RANGES FROM $10 to $15 for drop-ins. Call for more information.

MOVING FOR LIFE (MFL) is a unique evidenced-based dance exercise program designed to meet the needs of breast cancer patients and survivors through the integration of active aerobic activity, gentle stretching, and dance-movement expression. 

Our routines are designed for symptoms associated with treatment, including fatigue, lymphedema, and joint or bone pain, neuropathy, weakness, and weight gain. 

I am Cinzia Toniolo, Moving for Life Certified Instructor, DE-SMT (Dynamic Embodiment Somatic Movement) Therapist, and Pilates Instructor (over 10 years of experience). I started DE-SMT training and Moving for Life with Martha Eddy’s mentorship in 2010 and have certified in April 2013. 

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The Psoas

Ok! Now the psoas. This is a tricky muscle. The whole inner sling can be tricky because it is connected to our breath. By inner sling, I am referring to the "Deep Front Line" discovered by Thomas Meyers in his development of what he calls the "Anatomy Trains". All muscles are invested in fascia, but the trains define a continuous pathway in the body that maintains a more direct relationship. We must keep in mind that everything is connected despite our determination to divide. We must also keep in mind that we can and do make our own beautiful and complicated connections despite the neatly packaged pictures we see in text books. In a workshop I attended with Gil Hedley in 2012, he said there is only one muscle. The scalpel divides. Regardless, we use divisions to help us to understand various relationships, communications, and coordinations in our body.  Hopefully, it is more commonly understood today that all systems make up the whole and are intricately intertwined.

The psoas originates from the 5th lumbar to often the 12th Thoracic vertebra on the bodies and transverse processes. It inserts onto the lesser trochanter of the femur. I am of the camp that believes that the psoas should assist as a stabilizer of the lumbar and is important in holding the femoral heads in the acetabulum. Gibbons and Comeford 2001 has cited the posterior fascicles of the psoas as local stabilizers and the anterior fascilcles as global stabilizers. Some researchers believe that the role of the psoas is not flexion but purely stability. I am not sure if the argument has been settled yet. I have a hard time believing the psoas is not flexing. Regardless, in my practice, I can surely feel that connecting to my weaker side psoas before moving global muscles gives me a lot more stability and ease of motion. On the stronger psoas side it just happens. I don't have to think about it.

If the tone and strength and communication between the multifidi, transverse abdominus, and the psoas is optimum, the abdominals don't have to work so hard to hold you up. The multifidi originate on the transverse processes of the spine as well as the posterior surface of the sacrum, and insert into the spinous processes of the spine 2 to 4 vertebrae superior to the origin, including all spinous processes. If you imagine elastic bands on the transverse processes pulled back and up to the spinous process above, you get the idea of multifi. If this is not working properly, either the abdominals work too hard to gain stability, or the upper fibres of the psoas work too hard to gain stability, or the back starts to sway under the force of the psoas, or the psoas stops working and the other muscles take over. There are other possibilities and usually there are combinations of things happening. That is why in my work, you have to be a good detective.

I am going to go back to the idea of the abdominals "working too hard" as this may be a weird thought for many. Sometimes we need to strengthen abdominals and that can really help, but that is not the whole picture when we talk about core support. If the abdominals get to rigid to compensate for weaker core muscles, this will challenge our ability to have a full and natural breath and put unnecessary pressure on our organs. Pressure on our organs, challenges our internal processing.

Now I am going back to the psoas - multifidi relationship. Use your transverse processes like handle bars from anterior to posterior (back and up to the spinous processes above) to hold the spine steady as you lift your leg up to shorten the psoas and as you extend your leg back to lengthen the psoas. See what you notice. The movement at a joint is a relationship between the movers and the stabilizers.  So with that in mind, it is not the leg moving that is important but that the relationship between the mover and stabilizers is coordinating towards the same goal.

Play and have fun.



I made a very bold business move mid November and just received this quote from a very great friend

"In the song “Hallelujah", Leonard Cohen writes, "Love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah."

Love is a form of vulnerability and if you replace the word love with vulnerability in that line, it’s just as true. From calling a friend who’s experienced a terrible tragedy to starting your own business, from feeling terrified to experiencing liberation, vulnerability is life’s great dare.

It’s life asking, "Are you all in? Can you value your own vulnerability as much as you value it in others?" Answering yes to these questions is not weakness: It’s courage beyond measure. It’s daring greatly. And often the result of daring greatly isn’t a victory march as much as it is a quiet sense of freedom mixed with a little battle fatigue."

Brene Brown

from her book Daring Greatly




“The thinning of the cortex into adulthood is thought to occur through the apoptotic genocide of excess synaptic contacts. The thinning of the cortex was also associated with higher IQs in children at the ages around 7-11. This makes one wonder if the loss of childhood–to develop the focus that is required for an IQ test–is a good thing. To not care to think in the most wild and creative ways only a child can are eliminated to prepare us for the tasks in adulthood.”

       Andrew Koob in “The Root of Thought”



Levity is a magical thing when there is a weight to be suspended over legs. Our internal organs provide voluminous levity due to the high pressure below the diaphragm moving to the low pressure above. See if you can balance your overall tone (not too tense and not too loose) by visualizing your lift supported from the natural pressures within you.