FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS YOGA?
Yoga means “Union” – that’s all.
Etymologically, “Yoga” is a Sanskrit word derived from the root yuj, meaning: “to attach, join, harness, yoke”.
Here’s two of my definitions in alignment with traditional translations:
“Union” – a state of harmony and integrity; the action or fact of joining or being joined.
“Concentration”– the process of unification toward integrity; the action or power of focusing one's attention.
Here’s two of my definitions in relation to the practice of Yoga:
“The practice of mindful embodiment.”
“The discipline of integrating the sensitive, cognitive, and affective aspects of the nervous system.”
From a poetic perspective, I like the definition: “Yoga is the journey of the Mind through the Body to the Self.”
Please visit Our Truth Within Our Words, where we offer more information about the words and definitions at the heart of Integrity Yoga.
DOES YOGA CURE SYMPTOMS?
Perhaps. The practice of Yoga does not cure symptoms, directly. Instead, the practice invites your nervous system to perform descending modulation to resolve tension within your body (see Benefits of Bodywork).
There is one thing your body does better than anything else: Healing.
However, there’s one vital caveat: Healing can only happen within a human body when it has the appropriate resources to do so.
At Integrity Yoga, we do our best to provide you with the appropriate resources to heal (and grow) within sessions and, more importantly, within your daily life.
DO YOU DIAGNOSE SYMPTOMS?
As a bodywork therapist, my professional responsibility is not to diagnose my clients. Instead, it is my obligation to help you develop a better relationship with your body – to show you how to safely learn from your body and to understand of how specific symptoms fit into the greater whole that is you.
Additionally, in the event that I believe there are symptoms, signs, and risk factors of underlying pathology that are beyond my scope of practice, I will refer you to a relevant medical professional to receive an appropriate medical evaluation.
DOES THE PRACTICE CREATE PERMANENT CHANGE?
Yes and no. Yoga with integrity reveals the changing nature of your being, which allows you to see the changing nature of everything. Nothing is permanent. In fact, change is the only constant in the universe, and you too are always changing – in every moment, with every breath.
Here are two terms in regard to human change for your consideration: Bioplasticity and Neuroplasticity.
Bioplasticity is a term that applies to your biological being. It represents the impermanence of living creatures; and thus, how the human body is a fluid, dynamic structure of systems, with an inherent disposition toward self-ordering.
Neuroplasticity is a more specific term that applies to your neurobiological being. It represents the ability of the nervous system to form and reorganize synaptic connections in response to experience.
At Integrity Yoga, we give respect to principles of biology and their clinical relevance. Because your nervous system is the only system we can influence directly, for better or worse, we respect the awesome power of your mind within our sessions, and the general rule of thumb “where your mind goes, your body will follow.”
Overall, the practice invites you to embrace change and impermanence, internally and externally, and to direct your personal change to unite with your intentions.
Yoga is not permanent – it is progressive. When your practice is mindful, you change the body’s course, and unless an accident intervenes, you will continue along your new course toward a new destiny and a greater sense of integrity.
IS A SESSION EXPENSIVE?
Expensive is a relative term, which invites the following questions:
What is valuable to you?
Is it possible to put a price on your health and well-being?
How expensive is it to not have a healthy relationship with your body? – or to not understand how to measure whatever that means?
Obviously, these are personal questions. Your answers are unique to you.
That said, “If you do not invest in your wellness, you will inevitably invest in your illness.”
So, if you’re hesitant about the financial expense of sessions, please consider the fact that I give everybody a free consultation. This allows me to learn about you and you to determine whether my method of bodywork is appropriate for your needs.
For more information, visit Policy and Rates.
WHY DO YOU CALL YOUR BUSINESS "DONATION-BASED"?
Good question! Integrity Yoga is a donation-based business as an acknowledgement that each session is a choice made in the spirit of Yoga.
Donation does not mean free.
Donation is "to give for a good cause." It is the act of giving.
Giving is “to freely transfer the possession of something to someone.” It is the act of choice.
Choice is “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.” It is the act of empowerment.
Empowerment is “authority or power given to someone to do something,” and therefore, “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights.” It is the act of integrity.
Integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness” as well as “the state of being whole and undivided.” It is the act of Yoga.
Donation. Giving. Choice. Empowerment. Integrity. Yoga. These are all qualities of beneficence (i.e. action that is done for the benefit of others) and this is the whole beautiful point of our practice.
WHAT ARE YOUR CREDENTIALS?
Jackson Penfield-Cyr is a licensed bodyworker serving the Upper Valley in the states of New Hampshire and Vermont. He holds current certifications in:
Rolfing® Structural Integration through the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute®.
DermoNeuromodulation through Diane Jacobs, DPT.
Autoimmune Protocol Coaching through AIP Coaching LLC.
Jackson’s practice is also informed significantly by his Rolfing® SI mentor Robert Rex, owner of Rolfing Vermont, and his practice of hatha yoga with Ryan Daniel Smith, Annie Carpenter, founder of SmartFLOW Yoga, and Bryan Kest, founder of Power Yoga.
Nevertheless, when all is said and certified, the single most important teacher to Jackson is his own body, mind, and self. Jackson lives his practice and embodies his work. He’s invested thousands of hours and millions of minutes to self-experimentation to better understand how to leverage scientific principles in his practice of Yoga.
For more information about Jackson and his story, please visit our About page.
WHO BENEFITS FROM YOGA SPARŚA?
Everybody. This work is appropriate for the newborn baby and the centenarian alike, because it is based on basic principles of neurobiological health and well-being.
It is valuable for clients with acute and chronic conditions, trauma survivors, and professional athletes, including mothers and fathers.
Please schedule a free consultation to learn how the practice can benefit your relationship with your body.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
This is a question of gravity and humanity (i.e. nature and nurture), and requires a knowledge of principles of biology and their clinical relevance. Therefore, the true question is: "How do you work?"
Basically, you work because your nervous system (i.e. your mind) works within your body (i.e. your tissues). Here are some basic facts of human biology for you to consider.
Your nervous system:
Controls and influences 99.9 percent of body functions. (The only reason we don’t say “100 percent” or “all” is because science isn’t based on absolutes.)
Consumes 25 percent of your energy (i.e. oxygen and glucose), approximately.
Constitutes 2 percent of your body mass, approximately.
Fascinating, right? But wait, it gets better!
Humans and other mammals evolved the ability to regulate their bodies through social engagement – prominently, social grooming (i.e. touch). Skin neurology is clear evidence of this fact, and research shows a caring touch on the skin has the ability to reduce heartrate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels – all factors related to stress – in both adults and babies.
Therefore, principally, through strategic touch (i.e. dermoneuromodulation), we promote neurovascular circulation – the byproduct of stimulation and prerequisite of regeneration – in order to produce whole body, human being integration (i.e. peace of mind, within your brain and your spine).
The short answer is: Yoga Sparśa Integration Therapy works because it helps you integrate your nervous system (i.e. you mind).
Integrate – to combine (one thing) with another so that they become a whole; bring into balance, optimal coordination, and appropriate participation.
Please know there is abundant opportunity to discuss the clinical relevance of principles of biology and neuroscience within a free consultation or within subsequent sessions.
IS A SESSION PAINFUL?
No. Ask yourself: "Why would any therapy be painful, if the only way to take care of any living creature on earth is to touch it gently?"
Therapeutic touch is administered with the intention to prevent new pain stimulus. There will be times within a session that you will be challenged – physically, mentally, emotionally – by learning how to find your ‘integral edge’. This is your personal place between too much and not enough, where you’re challenging yourself but there’s a sweetness to the challenge, where you learn how to be comfortable with uncomfortable feelings until your discomfort disappears.
To learn about the resolution of pain and discomfort, please visit Benefits of Bodywork.
WHAT IS PAIN?
Excellent question! Pain is a phenomenon within your nervous system. Neurobiological complexity aside, what’s most important for you to know is you experience pain when your brain concludes that there is more credible evidence of danger related to your body than there is credible evidence of safety.
Basically, it’s your brain’s autonomic (i.e. nonconscious) warning signal when it doesn’t feel safe; thus, a request for self-care.
The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage.”
What’s also important for you to know is that pain does not equate to tissue damage (note definition above). This is a most welcome biological fact – so hopefully, if you’re in pain, it gives you some peace of mind.
At Integrity Yoga, treatment plans involve an education in pain science and nerve mobilization, therapeutically and strategically, to ensure the physiological health of your nervous system and to consider potential contributors to your pain experiences.
Remember, the only way to take care of anything, especially yourself, is with a gentle touch.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I BEGIN TO FEEL PAIN OR DISCOMFORT?
Foremost, I will always respect and honor your feelings. It’s my job.
If you ever begin to feel any unpleasantness within you, like pain or discomfort, please let me know immediately. We will stop the treatment, let you be with your emotions, and move forward per your judgement.
Of course, there will be times when I challenge you to lean into your perceptual boundaries, only because you need to push boundaries in order to know whether or not they’re truly there, which is a decision for you and you alone to make.
Overall, the purpose of this work is to teach you how to control of your mind (i.e. nervous system), so I want you to stay in tune with what you’re feeling, so that you can learn to guide your growth and healing.
HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL I NEED?
This is your own personal choice depending on your intentions and aspirations, which I will always respect.
That said, I invite you to consider this question: "How do I learn to achieve proficiency at something?"
The answer: Repetition – importantly, high-quality repetition.
Through repetition, a skill is practiced and rehearsed over time and gradually becomes easier. Well, guess what? Developing your sense of mindful embodiment is no different.
As I like to say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body.” In other words, there’s a lot of habituated patterns of conditioning within your nervous system, and reprogramming your body won’t be a walk in the park (especially if you’re having trouble walking in the first place).
But if you’re motivated to change your relationship with your body, to ask tough questions of me and yourself, and you’re willing to put in the work in sessions and outside of sessions, I’ll be here for you, no matter how many sessions you feel you need.
WHAT'S THE TEN SERIES?
Most clients choose to practice mindful embodiment via the Yoga Sparśa Ten Series, a series of ten sessions inspired by Dr. Ida Rolf’s classic Rolfing® Ten Series.
The Yoga Sparśa Ten Series serves as a systematic approach to integrate your nervous system, producing greater alignment and optimization of both the structure (shape) and function (movement) of your body. Each session builds upon your last and prepares you for the next, and the series is organized in three sections:
The Surface Sessions (Sessions 1-3) serve to educate yourself about how to notice tension and restrictions at the superficial layers of the body and how to release patterns creating posture and movement limitations.
The Core Sessions (Sessions 4-7) serve to alleviate deeper tension and restrictions that traverse and impact territories within your body, particularly along the spine, that obstruct optimal function within your structure.
The Integration Sessions (Sessions 8-10) serve as an opportunity to fine tune and clarify the body in order to achieve resilient posture, optimal movement, and natural integrity.
There is a standard anatomical territory for each session; however, no two sessions are alike, due to the distinct physicality of every human being. Each session and series is as unique as the person within it.
Overall, the Yoga Sparśa Ten Series provides a map to guide you on a sensational journey of integration.
For more information, please visit Yoga Sparśa Integration Therapy.
WHY DON’T YOU PRACTICE ROLFING® STRUCTURAL INTEGRATION?
Yes, I’m a Certified Rolfer, and no, I don’t practice Rolfing® Structural Integration for several reasons.
Primarily, I do not prescribe to the biologically implausible explanatory model of this method of bodywork, which is principally, the belief that a practitioner can influence fascia via manual therapy.
Secondly, I have an aversion to cults of personality and dogma, both of which pervade the community of Rolfing® Structural Integration, unfortunately.
Thirdly, I don’t like the word “Rolfing”.
Fourthly, the term ‘structural integration’ is a term coined by Dr. Ida P. Rolf, who studied the yogic tradition prior to developing, marketing, and branding Rolfing® Structural Integration. The principles of Dr. Rolf’s brand of manual therapy appropriate directly from yogic principles without attribution to the tradition. The now various forms of ‘structural integration’ do not acknowledge the appropriation either.
Finally, for me, bodywork is the practice of Yoga. Historically, it’s the original name given by humanity. (Remember, Yoga means “Union” – that’s all.) Honestly, you may call it whatever you like.
WHAT IS FASCIA?
Fascia is connective tissue (primarily collagen) beneath the skin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs, and it typically classified in layers.
The embryological origin of fascia is the mesoderm, a germ layer that arises during gastrulation. The mesoderm is present between the ectoderm, which becomes skin and central nervous system cells, and the endoderm, which produces the gut and the lungs. This is important because mesodermal derivatives consist of non-excitable cells.
Excitable cells refer to cells that do not generate action potentials (i.e. the change in electrical potential associated with the passage of an impulse along the cell membrane). With the exception of neurons, muscle cells, and some endocrine cells, all cells in the body are non-excitable – that includes, you guessed it, fascia.
Yes, almost all living cells and tissues exert and experience physical forces that influence biological function, but that doesn’t mean all living cells are clinically relevant in the context of therapeutic bodywork.
In fact, nothing in the body is more excitable than a neuron. Each neuron fires (on average) about 200 times per second and connects to about 1,000 other neurons. While fascia evolved to provide structure to a body, neurons evolved to predict, respond, and adapt rapidly to changes in their environment to ensure the survival of that body.
Therefore, neurons (not fascia) is the best biological target for any intervention in any therapy.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE FROM ROLFING?
Yoga Sparśa Integration Therapy is distinct from other methods of structural Integration due to its incorporation of neurobiology research and the tradition of Yoga.
As a bodywork therapy, Yoga Sparśa Integration Therapy may be considered a method of structural integration; however, it draws specifically from the clinical relevant principles of neurophysiology that inform the DermoNeuroModulation. This term was coined by Diane Jacobs, DPT, as a result of his desire for a straightforward term that accounts for what’s actually happening during any contact-based therapeutic intervention.
While other methods of structural integration choose to preserve and perpetuate outdated explanatory models of manual therapy (i.e. fascial distortion), Yoga Sparśa Integration Therapy is informed by academic and clinical research in the fields of neuroscience, particularly neurodynamics and pain physiology, which offer a healthier scientific basis for its practice as a bodywork therapy.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE FROM MASSAGE THERAPY?
These two practices of bodywork therapy are distinct, and complimentary. The primary differences reside in the approach and the administration of therapeutic interventions.
Massage Therapy is a technique-based practice, mostly targeting tissues, in which the therapist works with the client to elicit a state of relaxation, applying various skin contact techniques from various traditions, often resulting in short-term decreases of tension within a body. Generally, it is a relaxation experience.
Yoga Sparśa Integration Therapy is a neurobiology-based practice, targeting nerves, in which the therapist works with the client to integrate their nervous system, communicating and contacting the client based on principles of neurobiology, often resulting in the elimination of tension within a body. Specifically, it is a sensory rehabilitation experience.
Notably, these are generalizations I’m making about massage therapy based on common practice and advertising within the profession.
Massage therapy has therapeutic value for many people; however, it is often not ideal for self-motivated people searching for a means of sensory rehabilitation or for learning scientific principles of posture, pain, and performance.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE FROM PHYSICAL THERAPY?
These two practices of bodywork therapy are distinct, and complimentary. The primary difference is in professional licensure and state regulations, and the secondary difference is in the approach and the administration of therapeutic interventions.
The most significant clinical difference is perhaps that physical therapists can ‘diagnose’ their patients, while I cannot. Diagnosis is often challenging, because many signs and symptoms are nonspecific, and should be done by a qualified medical professional. That said, I refer to myself as a survivor of physical therapist diagnoses, because I’ve found, personally and professionally, it’s not uncommon for ‘musculoskeletal’ diagnoses to be speculative, inaccurate and highly nocebic (i.e. ‘negative’ language that suggests damage or poor prognosis, or non-therapeutic).
Another significant clinical difference I’ll mention is the most unfortunate fact that many physical therapists perform and proliferate pseudoscientific interventions. This includes interventions such as dry needling, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, deep tissue mobilization, muscle energy technique, craniosacral therapy, and custom orthotics, to name a few.
While these interventions may have therapeutic value for some people, the explanatory models and alleged therapeutic elements (i.e. physiological mechanisms) are not plausible biologically. Instead, it appears these interventions rely heavily on contextual effects, such as placebo response and regression to the mean.
So, yes, these interventions do help some people; however, I take issue with the fact that they’re administered by so-called ‘experts’ in a manner that misleads people into believing the benefit is derived from a specialized intervention, when in reality it’s the fact their brain has just been given a context to heal itself.
Even more unfortunately, the incredible amount of obscure interventions, especially patented techniques, sustain an enormous and spurious continuing education industry, to the detriment of an increasingly confounded general public.
At Integrity Yoga, we respect basic principles of human anatomy and physiology and, most importantly, we respect you and your ability to understand basic scientific principles that can empower your health and healing and well-being. No special, expensively obtained techniques necessary. We’re here to teach you that, ultimately, you are your own best therapist.
WHY BRING A NEW NAME INTO BODYWORK THERAPY?
I named my method of bodywork Yoga Sparśa Integration Therapy to integrate the practices that hold meaning to me. It is a name to honor the scientific practice of searching for truth through therapeutic contact with the human being. In this way, it serves to give bodywork therapy a modality with a name beyond a cult of individual ego and to remind practitioners of the selfless and timeless principles of healthcare and well-being.
WHAT WILL MY FIRST SESSION BE LIKE?
Preparation: Prior to the first session, you will fill out a confidential health questionnaire.
Introduction: In the first session, we will begin with an introductory conversation, in which you express your intentions and goals for the session/series and review your health history. I will listen to your aspirations, concerns, and interests, answering your questions and offering you information about the practice of Yoga Asana.
Pre-Practice Assessment: Together, you and I will determine a movement principle to serve as a focal point for your session. You will be asked to stand up and move around the space as I perform a visual assessment of your posture and movement patterns.
Practice: You will practice therapeutic postures in a quiet, heated room. The majority of the session will serve as an exploration of the chosen movement principle, with the use of traditional yoga postures. I will instruct you in proper biomechanics, using verbal cues and gentle hands-on adjustments, in order to guide your self-exploration of the habituated patterns of conditioning within your body.
Post-Practice Assessment: The session will end with another assessment to determine the progress achieved. I will offer homework (i.e. embodiment exercises) to support your integration in daily life until the next session.
HOW MANY SESSIONS WILL I NEED?
The number of sessions required is dependent on individual goals, and each session is as unique as the person within it. Most clients experience sessions of Yoga Asana to complement their integrative process within a series of Yoga Sparśa Integration Therapy.