“For years, I have struggled with significant stiffness and pain related to arthritis. My neck pulls to one side, I have trouble moving my shoulders and pain radiates all the way down to my knees and lower legs. Elen helped me identify how tightness in my shoulders and pelvis were contributing to my pain and loss of movement. Working with small movements, in somatic yoga therapy, I’ve learned to move into the pain in small ways to begin to retrain my muscles and joints to respond differently. After six sessions, I have much more flexibility, and have significantly decreased my pain. I’ve been able to go back to activities I love, like long walks with my dog and moving through my days with very little discomfort.”
“Elen was very responsive to my needs. In my first session, she observed how I moved, listened to my concerns, and explained the principles of somatic yoga therapy and how it might be different from the yoga I had practiced in the past. In this one and subsequent sessions, she taught me movements that connected my mind and my body, and understand where some gaps might lie. This was more about small mindful movement than achieving a “big stretch”. I have learned that somatic yoga therapy isn’t just about the movement, but about my mind knowing what my body is doing.”
Low Back & Sciatic Pain
“I never knew what somatic yoga therapy was but looked into it when my lower back and sciatica pain was really giving me trouble. I tried my orthopedist first and did steroids, pain meds, and muscle relaxers. They helped initially but then the pain returned. I was so tired of limping around and feeling restricted. I babysit my two-year-old granddaughter three days a week and these restrictions were just not working!
Elen told me about somatic yoga therapy and how she could help me. Her private studio was comfortable and made me feel safe during Covid. She explained how and why my body was reacting with pain. After just a handful of sessions, I feel better, have stopped limping, and am able to do more with my dear little granddaughter. I do follow-up exercises at home daily and am just so glad to be able to respond to my pain without heavy meds. I definitely recommend Elen Bahr as a yoga instructor and yoga therapist. She’s a great listener and really responds to your needs.”
“I was injured and spent some time in recovery. When I first met Elen I had just emerged from the walker and was moving in a pretty tentative way. I have now been working with her for about a year and a half. We began with my participation in her SomaYoga class twice per week. After several months, we supplemented that with weekly personal sessions for about two months, then returned to twice-weekly classes.
In the last six months, I have walked more than 1,000 miles. I am averaging 45 miles per week. She has taught me about posture and strength and balance (well, physical balance; I still have trouble with the emotional kind). She is supportive, kind, directional, and sensitive. Somatic yoga therapy in general and Elen, in particular, have been key to building the strength and agility that help me enjoy life.”
Neck & Shoulder Pain
“I have had neck and shoulder pain for many years, and have had migraines at increasing frequencies for the past two years or so. I have benefited in the past from other body work and therapies but still had pain. My work with Elen has helped me in several ways. My posture and alignment have improved a lot and my neck feels longer and straighter. I now have tools I can use that directly address whatever is bothering me, whether it is an approaching headache, a stiff neck, or shoulder stiffness. I am not pain-free, but I can usually address headaches before they turn into migraines, and my posture, energy level, pain, and mood have all improved as a result of practicing somatic yoga. I practice it every morning as well as continuing to take classes. Elen is a wonderful teacher, and I am grateful for the impact somatic yoga therapy has had on my life.”
“I’ve had issues with sciatica off and on for 30 years and had a flare up two years ago that caused severe pain in my left hip and leg. Before I saw Elen, I had been to see a physical therapist who prescribed exercises for my left hip and leg that made the pain much worse. I was eventually diagnosed with a cyst on my spine that was putting pressure on the nerve. Elen was recommended by a friend as having helped her with back pain and so I made an appointment. Elen’s assessment of the factors leading to my pain was a revelation—rather than focusing on my left hip and leg, she assessed my whole body. She identified a host of crossbody issues that were contributing to a serious imbalance in my hips, along with pressure on the nerve-related to a lack of flexibility in my ankles and feet due to a childhood surgery.
Over the course of several months, Elen helped me unlock tension across my body and rebalance my hips, which helped ease the pain from the cyst. I started out as a bit of a skeptic (okay, a big skeptic) because the moves were so subtle and slow but have been impressed with my gains in flexibility and movement over time. While I eventually was treated at Mayo Clinic for the cyst, I credit Elen for helping me strengthen my body to support that treatment and providing the skills needed to maintain the gains from the treatment over the last year. I’ve continued to incorporate my somatic yoga therapy exercises into my daily practice. I credit what I’ve learned from Elen about my body with helping me stay pain-free.”
Stress & Anxiety
“I was skeptical but tried somatic yoga therapy after living with stress and anxiety for years and feeling like I’d exhausted all other options. I rarely felt relaxed. I tried medication but still felt a dark cloud following me around. My body ached. Elen helped me learn to relax. She helped me find places in my body that have been holding tension, maybe even for my entire life (I’m 55!). When we could let the physical tension release, my stress and anxiety decreased. Elen taught me the connection between my physical body and my emotions and mental state. I still feel my stress and anxiety but to a much lesser degree. I’ve learned to better recognize how I’m feeling and I have the tools to manage where I’m at. Overall, I’m more relaxed and I feel happier.”
“Elen has helped me redefine what pain is and what it means. The common idea that we need to “stretch out” injuries and pain was working against my body; all the stretches that I was faithfully doing were causing me more pain! Moving into the pain and making connections between my mind and my hip, my shoulder, my knees, and the rest of my body through small, targeted movements led to greater progress than I had experienced in six months of conscientious treatments. While my pain is not completely gone, it is a calmer, more manageable pain. I am taking very little OTC medication for pain, I am able to walk, sit, stand, and move around. I can meet friends for dinner, sit through a movie, and do the activities I love without planning for, and enduring acute pain.”
Ready to get started?
If you are currently under a doctor’s care, receiving physical therapy, or visiting a chiropractor, please schedule a free 30-minute phone consultation to discuss when would be the best time for you to begin your somatic yoga therapy.
Otherwise, schedule your first appointment, either in person in my Saint Paul studio or as a virtual visit.
YogaFresh students, email Elen to schedule your appointment.
I look forward to working with you!