About Donna Brooks
My name is Donna Brooks, and if you have come to this page you probably want to learn more about me. Well, I have shared my story below!
Quickly, my greatest passion appears to be liberating a sense of aliveness despite all the difficulties we face in life. I love that we can often make the process enjoyable and fun.
I approach life with curiosity and I feel it is a wonderful exploration. Let's discover what you need to bring more ease, integrity, calm and well-being into your life.
What you get from me as a registered somatic movement therapist & yoga therapist.
My Ability to Improvise and be Spontaneous
I have a strong intelligence and have a wide range of understanding but improvisation makes our work enjoyable and effective. I can create solutions for individual problems quickly and accurately.
My Presence and Clarity
I offer comfort, safety and acceptance.. I read subtlety that helps me meet you, track you and help bring you into cohesion with yourself.
My Voice and Imagery
I have the capacity to induct deep states of relaxation, heightened experience and awareness that give you a solid foundation for changes you must make to have lasting ease in your body and life.
My Healing Journey
I have experienced my own share of fear, courage, determination and despair which makes me compassionate and deeply aware of what is possible in life.
My versatility as a practitioner
After four decades helping my clients unwind limiting movement patterns and heal body-mind disconnection, I have put together simple but profound embodiment approaches that help everything from pain and pelvic floor issues to the trauma of grief and loss.
I have a broad toolbox that relieves stress in the nervous system, builds ease and integration of movement and helps you gain perspective, insight, and courage.
The end result of my work is that you can become fully inhabited in your body and mind. This offers a huge number of benefits including being more confident and comfortable in your body, resilience, overcoming physical and emotional pain, and a general leap forward in the enjoyment of life.
I am a certified Yoga Therapist and a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist and Educator. I hold a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Stony Brook. I have been teaching yoga since 1981 and somatics since 1993.
I am trained in Iyengar yoga, and I have studied with somatic movement/ embodiment pioneers including Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and Emilie Conrad. I learned about the geometry and physics of movement and momentum with tennis pro Art Carrington and through Contact Improvisation. I am trained in the healing ground work of Judith Blackstone.
A passion for the sharing of knowledge
I have a long history of developing programs in the health and wellness field including:
- Designing and teaching embodiment programs for cancer patients and survivors at Cancer Connection in Northampton, MA,
- Creating a Yoga for Menopause Program for Kaiser Permanente Insurance
- Presenting for Dartmouth Hitchcock on Fascia and Movement for Parkinson’s.
- Teaching yoga, meditation and relaxation for chronic pain through the Valley Medical Group.
- Assisting Iyengar teacher Karin Stephen in her programs for people with HIV-AIDS
In my own practice, as well as my movement therapy on a one-on-one basis, I also teach popular walking workshops in Northampton, pelvic floor therapy clinics, host weekly online embodiment group classes and create somatic yoga programs for YogaUniversity online.
My biggest lesson
Even with a lifetime of learning and experience, my biggest lesson was the sudden death of my 36 year old son. He died at a peak point of his career and life, and truthfully, without my history and experience in my work, this could have destroyed me.
Certainly, it has been devastating. But, instead of collapsing, I am experiencing and understanding the power of my work more deeply. I feel so fortunate that I have these embodiment tools that let me feel the goodness of being alive and in that goodness - my pain, horror, frustration and panic can arise without overwhelming my system.
I see embodiment as an act of courage. To grow into the full being of oneself, in the face of personal and social challenges. I believe this creates a solid foundation for enacting the change so many of us want to see.
At 48 years old I realized I needed to live more authentically
and honor my deepest and truest self.
I am telling my story so you can see how my own path highlights the value I have to share with you.
At mid-life I realized I would not live much longer unless I could do the work I am so passionate about, express myself fully, and put my skills to use in inspiring and supporting other people.
I had spent my entire adulthood creating a life with a man who could not, despite his best intentions, support me in being myself. So, claiming my personal freedom became a kind of holy grail. I felt my health, my sanity and my spiritual realization depended on it.
Two days after my youngest child graduated from high school, I left my marriage. I had no clear place to live beyond a summer of house sitting; I had an old car and one client! To say I was terrified and frantic doesn’t begin to do my feelings justice.
I built a new life beyond fear and despair…
Through a combination of miracles, calculated risks that worked, kindness, excellent support, and an innate talent for self discovery and creation, I learned how to show up and be present for myself. I found work. I built a business using my talents and serving people. I paid rent. I got emotionally healthy.
And, I did what today I ask my clients to do: I got the help and support I needed to change defeating patterns that were set into very deep grooves. Grooves that began in my infancy and even my formation in my mother’s womb.
Even when the mind doesn’t know the body does…
I always knew that something had happened to me that made me feel shattered and always on shaky ground. I attributed it to my upbringing but wondered why I still seemed so much more brittle than others who experienced more trauma than I did. Answers started coming.
In 2013, just a few years after my divorce, I found my biological father – a man I thought died when I was 3 years old. Through a series of coincidences, I met him just a few months before he died. The story that was never told to me is marked with a sense of shame and comes with cultural fears of the pre-sexual revolution America.
I was an early 60’s love child (although more Dean Martin / Frank Sinatra than Haight Ashbury). My mother desperately hoped my father would leave his wife and marry her. When he wouldn’t she gave me up at birth for adoption. That was loss number one.
There is considerable literature now on how at birth adoption causes grief and disorientation for babies but decades ago it was believed that if you didn’t talk about it no one was the worse for it. For my body, this was far from true.
Early experiences code our expectations and behaviors…
Maybe my infant self did okay with this disorientation and grief. Maybe I was placed with a loving family. I will never know. But at 6 months my father reconsidered leaving his wife and my mother got me back just under the legal wire. I wonder if, at 6 months, the loss of my primary caretaker was even more difficult than the initial separation from my mother, as so much bonding had occurred.
In any case, my mother, although she stayed in my life, did not become my primary caretaker. After my father again stayed with his wife, I was given to my maternal grandmother.
Unfortunately, it was a Cinderella kind of situation. My grandmother saw me as sinful and blamed me for how isolated her life was. I could never understand her resentment, but now I know. She would have preferred I had been adopted. The intense blame and dislike she projected at me consolidated my feelings of deep loss, permanent grief and a desire to find stability in myself. I was an outcast from my own family.
The gains that come from transforming pain…
Of course, from where I stand now, this experience has created so much compassion, sensitivity and empathy I can actually appreciate it. I understand what alienation feels like, how deep pain can run and how despair can color everything. But I also know about trust, transparency and how the world offers so much goodness.
When I left my marriage, I began living without really knowing what life might bring. But, by taking baby steps I discovered a crucial, but often overlooked, key to transformation with resilience. My own personal transformation showed me how embodiment is our deep anchor in turmoil and uncertainty.
A gift was always found in my body…And continues ro support my life through great loss and tragedy.
Despite the confusion of my life, I have always loved movement. As a child, I twisted my body into all sorts of pretzel positions—only later did I realize I was doing yoga poses intuitively. As a young woman, I studied ballet, modern dance, and hatha yoga. It has been through movement I have always found the courage to continue, to find joy and possibility amid sorrow, to connect to the more beautiful and precious things in life.
This gift of embodiment continues to nourish me as I navigate the waters of my son's death. He was my oldest child and we very very close. His death was abrupt and unexpected. It has cut me to the core.
Embodiment built, and continues to deepen, the resilience I needed to bear the difficulty of facing and transcending stress, strain and trauma.
How embodiment helped me…
Embodiment simply means feeling your own experience in your body instead of seeing your body as an object. Seeing it as an object makes you feel temporarily safe and also temporarily keeps monsters at bay. But, I found that by letting my body take the lead through exploration and an unwinding of habits, many of which I had for most or all of my life, I developed:
- Better self regulation of my nervous system.
- Faster course correct before I hit pain or burnout.
- More choice in behavior.
- Relief from muscle and fascia pain and ache.
- Better rest and sleep.
- Increased creativity.
- Relief from worry and anxiety.
- Movement that is fun and joyful and doesn’t hurt.
- Deeper self perception, intuition and trust.
- Let go of limitations in body and in mind.
Embodiment is a path for healing personally and for the world…
Embodiment is the leap in development the human race needs to make. As a species we can no longer afford to indulge in false beliefs about ourselves, shame, fears, bitterness or anger. We can no longer cut ourselves off from the visceral experience of living in our bodies and try to stay in our analysis and mental imaginings. Dis-embodied beliefs and emotions sap our power, destroy our creativity and limit our potential. Being disconnected from our bodies compounds illness and isolation.
People drawn to my work have been putting the pieces of healing and well-being together for themselves and to make choices that bring more sanity to earth. My work is often the missing, or an important, link for them.
Embodying consciously is ultimately about realizing we are an internal ecology that can be self sustaining in a good way. It is not a cure all, a substitute for therapy or friends and family, church or other important pieces in growth and life. But, it can and does build the resilience and insight we all need to face the difficulties of life while stepping up into full expression of our power, well being and contribution.
Meet Donna Brooks
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