By STEVE KRAH
Through her own journey and study of bioenergetics, Amanda Alwine has found the connection of psychology and physiology and she shares those as a mind-body-movement specialist, athlete development specialist and strength and flexibility coach at 1st Source Bank Performance Center in downtown South Bend, Ind., and with her clients across the globe as a part of Gracious Heart Healing Center.
The Performance Center is located at Four Winds Field — home of the Midwest League’s South Bend Cubs.
“As a parent, it’s hard to watch a kid who’s trained hard and has the mechanics down,” says Alwine. “They’ve had 1,000 batting practices. They’ve worked with all of the teachers. Then all of a sudden we see them hit a mental slump.
“The mechanics can be on. The desire can be on. But what’s not connecting? I’m here at this facility for kids and parents who might be confused.”
The longtime yoga instructor also works with people at other locales and via Skype.
“I work on developing athletes as a whole,” says Alwine, a 1996 Mishawaka (Ind.) High School graduate and mother of four — three sons and one daughter. “This includes their mental, emotional and physical aspects.
“I integrate practices that help them achieve kind of their maximum flexibility and mobility. I use yoga as one tool in what I have coined as the unified athlete practice.”
Alwine says it’s bringing together the things she’s learned about physical, mental and emotional self-regulation.
Alwine has many affections.
“I feel passionate as a mother,” says Alwine. “I feel passionate about baseball. I feel passionate about human development. I feel passionate about bioenergetics and looking at ourselves differently.
“My passion goes into the studying the whole human, the unified self. We can’t separate the athlete from the son. We can’t separate the athlete from anything else he is in this world.”
One definition of bioenergetics is a system of alternative psychotherapy based on the belief that emotional healing can be aided through resolution of bodily tension.
Offering her knowledge on the subject to the public, Alwine gives back.
“Once you find something that has profoundly changed your life and healed you as a person there is an instinct to want to give this away,” says Alwine. “We all want to feel like were are happy and safe and unified in who we are, how we express ourselves and what we do. All of those things together feel congruent (consistent).”
Alwine says yoga is a practice that allows people to remain mentally-focused and connect with their bodies.
“It’s definitely a discipline in being in that ‘now’ moment with yourself,” says Alwine.
Since she works with children and adults, she keeps her teaching appropriate to her audience and their level of development.
“When we’re talking with little kids we’re just asking them to settle down and maybe be with their self for a minute and asking them ‘how does this really feel?,'” says Alwine. “We have these little kids who are just learning about what disappointment means. What does it feel like when I get to the plate and I’m really anxious or how do I feel when I have failed?
“We’re introducing the idea of letting them experience those feelings fully out, name them and then be with their bodies as they feel this and this is a way for them to be less afraid of those intense emotions.
“Because it never really goes away. Whether you’re 5 or 25 there’s this anticipation of always wanting to execute your best. We always want to be our highest performance.
“It’s just you and your bat at the plate, and how do you create an inner coherence where you can be in that moment and be clear and focus for every single pitch?
“Once this barrier of fear of being human kind of comes down — believe it or not — we have more access to our energy and our potential.”
Alwine often talks to teams, especially at the younger levels.
“It’s very easy to get little children to talk about how they feel if the feel supported by their peers,” says Alwine. “That kid feels nervous or like he’s not good enough. His biggest fear is that he’s the only one who feels that way on the team.
“Sometimes alleviating or dissipating (lessening) the fearful energy is just letting them experience where they’re not alone. Your buddy is not mad at you because you struck out. You remind them that adults fail and repeat and fail and repeat and they’re not expected to be the best when they’re 10.”
Baseball is performance and execution-driven.
“There’s this idea that if you aren’t doing excellent performance all the time then you have failed,” says Alwine. “We help them build resilience in their failures because life it going to be full of them.”
Alwine notes that people have an autonomic nervous system that “hard wires physical sensations that you have a fraction of a second before it is through your body and you are experiencing everything.
“Once that has happened, that’s a hard train to back up.”
It’s a matter of recognizing that feeling — rather than fighting it.
“Once it’s named, the emotion has about 30 seconds before it can go,” says Alwine. “You can tell yourself ‘I can do it. I can do it. I can do it.’ But your body is having a physiological response of the opposite thing.
“This is where you know my study of bioenergetics comes in because we have many different energies working together. We have our mental, which is an energy field in of itself. We have our nervous system. We have our body. We have our heartbeat. We have all of these things that make up the human.
“This is why yoga is a good thing to implement with this because this teaches us how to get our thoughts in rhythm with our breath, in rhythm with a heartbeat and in rhythm with how our feet feel on the ground.
“If I can regulate my heart rate, I can get my emotions to dissipate a little bit.”
Alwine says sometimes the energy shoots through the body almost before the person can have the thought.
“If your mind’s doing one thing, saying ‘I’ve got this; I’m great; I’m calm’ and your heartbeat is telling your something completely different,” says Alwine. “We talk about simple techniques like our breath, the grounding to bringing these things back into where we need them to be. Sometimes it can be words we say. It also can be just a feeling. It can be a focal point.
“But — ultimately — not everything is going to bring everything right back into that focus without a little bit of training.
“It really is a training process just like anything else you want to do,” says Alwine. “You don’t take a guitar lesson, go and learn one chord and then you’re a rock star. I’m a ‘wax off, wax on’ girl. We have to really start with fundamental things.
“These techniques work for everybody. We’re all human.”
Alwine wants to help people tap into the locked-up energy.
“We’re just opening the door into the bioenergetics of what it means to be human,” says Alwine. “We understand that our heart emit an electromagnetic field. We understand that our brains do the same. We can see at some point when those things are in coherence (working together).”
While Alwine — who calls herself a “collector of certifications” — says there is not yet a PhD. in bioenergetics, its study has become less fringe as Major League Baseball has brought into mind-body-movement specialists like herself.
“This is not secret anymore,” says Alwine. “We have major league athletes talking about how this changed their performance.”
Alwine sees the practice of self-regulation as helpful in many aspects of life.
“One thing I love about this is the true self-telling in that moment,” says Alwine. “We always like to pretend we’re not who we are. There’s this instinct to not claim what it is right now.
“I love having this vocabulary where my kids can say this is how I’m feeling right now. This is exactly what I need right now.”
“It takes so much less misunderstanding or quarreling when we’re free to say exactly what the moment is.”
Self-regulation means to “know thyself.”
“Nobody else can make you feel better in that moment,” says Alwine. “Nobody can bring you back to your most centered self but you.”
Alwine helps this process by investing in human development.
Reach her at the 1st Source Bank Performance Center (574-404-3636 or email@example.com) or through the Gracious Heart Healing Center Facebook page.