The work of yoga and somatic movement therapy (YSMT) involves cultivating attention to the life of your inner body, with the support of a skilled and experienced practitioner. The body is an ancient storehouse of emotional experiences. These are stitched into our tissues – cells, organs, fascia, bones. Whatever we have been too young, scared, overwhelmed or frozen to feel, the body holds, until we are ready to let it into consciousness and express and integrate it. YSMT offers a safe space to gently unpick some of the seams.
A YSMT session is time-out-of-time to experience, notice and be. Exactly how we work depends on your individual needs. For many people, particularly those bringing experiences of childhood trauma, what we do is very simple, based on noticing different parts of self, using dialogue techniques to get to know them, and bringing awareness to any physical sensations that arise.
As your capacity to connect with and stay present to your somatic experience (what you’re feeling in your body) increases, or if you already have greater capacity, we can expand into other inquiries. For example, I may invite you to follow your own impulses into movement, into particular physical positions, or into intuitive touch on your own body, or I may suggest a position or movement for you to explore. If it’s appropriate and wanted by you, I may occasionally also offer therapeutic touch to help you to engage more fully with what’s happening, or to help you to integrate what you have experienced. You are always encouraged to make an active choice about whether or not to accept any of my suggestions, and any touch is carefully negotiated in words and through noticing how your body responds.
As a practitioner, I’m not there to interpret or advise. My role is to help you to be curious, to listen without judgement, to witness with compassion, and to navigate those pathways towards healing and integration that your body already knows.
Who is it for?
Yoga and somatic movement therapy can be helpful in negotiating a wide range of psychological and emotional experiences. Some of the things clients have brought to sessions include eating disorders, depression, questions of gender and sexual identity, grief, life crises and making transitions. Many of my clients are working with complex trauma – experiences of childhood sexual / physical / emotional abuse, and / or neglect. Other people don’t have any particular 'problem’ but use yoga therapy as a tool of general self-growth and awareness.
My work integrates elements from many somatic and therapeutic approaches, and receiving a session isn’t like doing a yoga or dance class. There are no postures and no steps, and you don’t need to be fit or flexible to receive a session. No movement experience is necessary; however if you do already have a movement practice, this work is a great way to offer more attention to the somatic dimensions of your physical experience, making space for sensations, emotions, thoughts and images to arise and be received into intuited meanings and words.
While yoga and somatic movement therapy may sometimes contribute to the healing of injuries and illnesses, the main intention of this work is to enable you to inquire into your own embodied feelings and experiences, so if your aim is simply to find functional solutions to injury or illness, this is not an appropriate form of therapy for you.
As an Autistic person, I love working with other neurodivergent people and have found that my approach often works very well with Autistic and ADHD / multi-attentive processing styles.
Read an article about what it's like to come to yoga and somatic movement therapy with childhood (complex) trauma. Read about Aileen’s experience of yoga and somatic movement therapy for complex trauma.
Background and training
I have been in therapeutic practice since graduating from the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy programme in 2003. Around 2010, I began to integrate influences from dance movement practices such as conscious dance and Authentic Movement into my therapeutic work.
Yoga and somatic movement therapy is rooted in mindfulness practice and also incorporates elements from Person-centred Therapy (in which Phoenix Rising has its roots), Clean Language, Somatic Experiencing®, and Internal Family Systems, and I am certified in Janina Fisher's CPTSD-specific TIST approach. I am registered with the International Association of Yoga Therapists and with the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association and am in regular supervision.
What clients say
“Yoga and somatic movement therapy with Jess reached me in a way that no other therapy ever has because it works on both mind and body. The sessions had such a profoundly positive effect on me. I have never felt so calm or in my body. I was very much in the present, in the now. I noticed I could breathe and there wasn't the same tension in my shoulders and thoracic area. Being able to trust someone does not come easily to me, but I felt able simply to surrender without ever feeling judged.”—Clara
“I had my yoga and somatic therapy movement sessions at a very painful time in my life and found them (and Jess as the conduit) exceptionally insightful, grounding and powerfully engaging. The safe space Jess created allowed me to open doors within myself that I would have struggled to confront alone.”—Sukhera
“Jess built up a very calm, supportive environment which gave me strength and bravery to face emotions and give them space, which I normally would not do. The whole-body focus felt important to me as we experience everything we deal with with the whole body, and other therapies I have received have mainly focused only on the mental part. Jess included the whole body, and that gave me faith to open up, not only to her but also towards myself.”—Anna
“Having only had a few yoga and somatic movement therapy sessions, I have been astonished how much they have moved things around for me. At a time when I was scared that there was no way out of the darkness, yoga therapy helped me gently lift myself to a happier place. I think I am still digesting some of my discoveries and am amazed at how gentle a process the practice is and yet incredibly powerful. I can leave a session feeling as though I can literally take more air into my lungs.”—Jana
Sessions last between 60 and 90 minutes. I work both in person, from my own space in London SE18, and online. The cost for an initial session is £90. There are some reductions for blocks of sessions if you decide to continue longer term. (Please note that for international payments, there is an additional 10 per cent charge. This is to cover transfer fees.) It is sometimes possible to subsidise sessions for clients in financial hardship. If you need subsidy, please enquire.
Booking and enquiries
Please contact me.