Dr. Somer Nicole is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, teaches alignment-based Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Meditation and has been teaching Yoga since 2002. She has studied many forms of Yoga, including Iyengar, Anusara, Ashtanga and Kundalini, and teaches workshops and retreats internationally. She also has her Masters in Occupational Therapy, is Manual Therapy Certified and has integrated Yoga into her Physical Therapy practice since 2006. Somer considers herself a non-traditional Physical Therapist, as she integrates CranioSacral Therapy, Soma Emotional Release and Reiki Energy Healing into her healing sessions. Author of the upcoming book, Being Your Own Medicine.
The Journey Of Discovering Kundalini Yoga
Personally, I have found yoga to be healing of many different levels. Whether it’s physical or on the more subtle energetic level. I would love to hear more about the inception of Yoga Doctors.
I went to get my first 200 hours yoga certification right out of college and went to this program where I got my doctorate in physical therapy. Yoga has always been my first love and I really love anatomy. And then I studied physical therapy and kind of went down that road. I wanted to learn physical therapy because I wanted to be a more “valid” teacher; I created Yoga Doctors about 5 to 6 years ago. I had gotten to a place where I taught weekly yoga for 13 to 14 years and I knew I was going to transition into teaching more workshops like 4 to 6 week series instead of teaching weekly; I wanted to get all these classes that I knew I had in me out of me because I wasn’t going to teach weekly anymore. I have both a background in Hatha Yoga and Kundalini Yoga; the Hatha Yoga is all physical therapy based alignment practices and Kundalini Yoga is for the energy body. It has it all on there, there’s a practice for those who want to work on their physical alignment, strength and flexibility and kind of workout the kinks in their body which Hatha Yoga is amazing at. And there’s the people that want to go a little deeper as far as energetic emotional work and that’s where Kundalini Yoga comes in; there’s Kundalini meditations, Kriyas and Mantra and breath work in there that are really powerful.
What kind of yoga did you start with?
I started with my first 200 hour training with a senior level Iyengar teacher and so that’s a great alignment based therapeutic form of yoga. For many years I stayed in that realm of alignment based yoga – therapeutic yoga. Things that I would be able to integrate into my physical therapy practice.
What brought you then to Kundalini Yoga? Which is such an integral part of your yoga today and how you help others as well.
One of my best friends and I, we really wanted to go and do a Kundalini training together. I just had become really interested after physical therapy school in all the things that I felt physical therapy school left out; the energy body, the emotional body, the nervous system, all that stuff. I studied reiki, inaudible therapy and how to emotionally release and all these things; In Kundalini, I was naturally guided to it. I started taking Kundalini class in California when I lived there; I thought it was so strange at first because there was no emphasis on alignment or sequencing. Kriyas are a set of exercises used to produce an energetic effect and there are thousands of them in Kundalini yoga. I had to really work to shut off my biomechanical physical therapy brain because there’s no alignment or anything like that in Kundalini. Even though I had that, “it’s so strange why would they do a shoulder stand right after a back bend or something like that” but I would just feel so good after the class and this is what kept me coming back. I then went to India to study with a teacher who studied with Yogi Bhajan. We did the Kundalini yoga teacher training, did the whole deal and stayed in an Ashram. We dived head first did the 4:00 to 6:30 am Asanas and you’re doing Kriyas and lectures and meditations all day., everyday for 21 days. It was super intense but very transformational. I still love my standing poses and my Hatha yoga practices that kind of workout the kinks in my body; but I really love kundalini, it’s so effective and so quick in clearing energy and helping you get the root of something or transforming emotions.
Is Kundalini For You? What Is Unique About Personalised Yoga Consultations?
Is there a type of person or a certain stage in someone’s life where Kundalini would suit someone best?
It’s a great question. If you talk to very traditional Kundalinis they might say – it’s for everybody. You can sit in a chair and practice Kundalini; you don’t have to be sitting crossed leg on the floor. Kundalini is not super into modifications so if you can’t hold your hands up for 3 minutes, then sit there with your arms down continue the breath work, whatever is being instructed but visualise your arms in that position. So basically, anyone can do it. I would say that that’s true unless someone is in a very unbalanced state or ungrounded or hasn’t had a lot of foundational work done. Honestly it depends on the Kriyas, that wouldn’t be true to everybody because there are kriyas for grounding. A lot of Kriyas are upper chakra kriyas but also there’s many kriyas for the navel point. Even for somebody like that you would have to modify and I would say work with a Kundalini teacher one on one that is really knowledgeable and can read energy and can really take in where that person is before prescribing a certain kriya. You hear about people having kundalini awakenings and then there’s no foundational support for that upper chakra activation. If anyone is in a traumatized state or highly emotional state then it would be wise to work with a teacher that has the background with those types of things; with trauma and knows about the nervous system and can read energy.
And that’s something you help with at yoga doctors, right? Where you do one on one consultations and also offer personalised videos which I have also done myself.
The personalized yoga videos are specific to yoga meditations. The 1-1 consultations that I do is more through my other brand called Soma. A customized program of walking people through somatic work, the physiology of trauma showing up in their body and how to manage their nervous system, how to deal with emotional intensity. And using Kundalini yogas as one of the modalities that I pull from and I teach a method for pelvic floor recovery that is everything from diaphragm to pelvic floor that balances both sides of the nervous system, so there’s that piece. I’m a reiki master and teacher so there’s the energetic piece; I’m also a craniosacral therapist which is also where I’ve learned how to do Soma emotional release, where we’re using the body to access the subconscious mind and inner child. A big part of my work and passion I feel is to help people connect to and almost like retrieve those wounded parts of their little girl or little boy and integrate them into their present day self. So they are not playing out these trauma responses all the time within their current relationships and behaviour.
The Chakra System & Imbalances
Could you talk a bit more about upper chakra activation?
If you think about the Chakra system, we could say 7 chakras from the root to the crown or you can say 8 chakras which would include the electromagnetic field; the heart is the center of all that and then the lower chakras are related to the physical realm and the upper chakras or the third eye and the crown are related to the spiritual realm. It can be easy for people just play in the upper chakras all the time but a lot of unresolved trauma or unresolved emotions are in those lower chakras. You can’t just work on upper chakras, it will eventually be very unbalancing for you.
If you’re working with a upper chakra kriya or a meditation for the third eye, to put it very simply, you’re directing your consciousness, your presence, your focus, your awareness to that area but also as you do that where your attention goes, your energy flows. Your life force energy and blood flow is going to that place and whenever you have energetic movement or blood flow or new blood, new oxygen, new Prana bringing more light to that area it always will illuminate what’s dark. The activations of any chakra specifically for upper chakra can be very powerful. Just take the third eye, for example, all of a sudden you sit down and I’ve seen people do a Kriya or meditation that is specific to the third eye and they start seeing colors and it just starts to open for them and activate for them.
How can you tell if you’re over stimulating a certain chakra?
In third eye and crown chakras, you can start to become light headed or dizzy or all of a sudden you have a raging headache, stuff like that can mean that the energy is moving a lot and moving fast. For anyone out there that’s even new, if ever you’re in a kundalini class, you just feel a lot of energy moving fast and almost it can feel overwhelming, you can always ask it to slow down. You can always come back to long deep breathing, in and out the nose. Let’s say you’re in a class where they’re doing breath of fire and it’s very activating and producing a lot of energetic movement, you can always ask it to slow down. A little bit personal as to what each individual would specifically feel but those are some examples.
Are there any imbalances in particular that you commonly see?
The most common one, because I work with a lot of women, is the Solar Plexus being like a black hole of not having enough energy. The Solar Plexus being our power sensor, centre of personal power, self worth, self esteem that’s really common in women and it’s a lot from the conditioning that everyone is a part of collectively and unravelling. That conditioning of women being abused or shut down in some way where they are in their power; that’s the one that jumped out of me the most so it would be that. In men it’s interesting, I think it’s in the book Wheels of Life Anodea Judith talks about this where she says “The Evolution of humanity is going from the Solar Plexus chakra which is the love of power to the heart chakra which is the power of love.”. That as a collective now just seems very true, right? If you just look at what’s playing out in the collective in politics and everything right now that feels very true.
Dr. Nicole Somer’s Recommendations
Are there any books or resources you could recommend if people are interested in understanding more about the human biofield or Kundalini?
One of my favorite Kundalini books is called ‘Meditation as Medicine’. It’s kind of old but it has some beautiful meditations in there and it goes through a lot of common imbalances and blockages of each of the chakras then it will give you a Kundalini meditation specifically for each chakra. It’s a really beautiful book, I still reference it all the time which is why I mentioned it. It is old and needs a new version but it is still really good. And I’m a really big fan of Lee Harris, he’s an energy healer. He has a book called ‘Energy Speaks’ that I love.