Acquaviva Marc pic

Marc J Acquaviva

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Put simply, the enviro-somatic principle is the understanding that people’s subjective experience of their bodies is a direct result of their relationship to their environment (enviro-somatic).  When it comes to certain situations, and from the outside-in perspective this is pretty obvious:

If environment is cold, then we experience “I am cold”.  If environment is hostile, the response to it is either hostile or defensive, and that’s what we become so that is what we feel.  This obvious relationship can also be understood the other way round… if the way I behave is hostile, then the world will seem hostile around me (because those that I encounter will become defensive in response to me).

There is a clear relationship between action and outcome that we all understand, however when it comes to our own bodies, this karmic understanding of things seem entirely missing – the body is treated as something that needs ‘controlling’ or ‘adjusting’… I discovered, through looking for solutions to complications in my own practice and body, that these things are sourced in conflicting relationships between parts of myself.  Resolving, harmonising and embodying these relationships was originally a long and complicated task of unravelling habits of a lifetime, and understanding the body-relationships in brand new ways (some of which are talked about in yoga, some of which were completely oppositional to standard thinking).

​But through my own practice, one day I suddenly realised that whenever I had landed upon a real ‘solution’, the thing that I was actually doing to create and sustain the relationship, was relating directly and physically to the contact I was making with the earth, AND I was expressing/relating to/engaging with the space around me as if it were a surface, and it was these actions that were giving me the change in relationship within that I was looking for.

When I was teaching, as long as I was offering ‘relationships’ within the body, people were kind of happy because they were learning something, but I could see that nothing real was actually happening, and any ‘relationship’ they had been working on, simply disappeared the moment they weren’t thinking about it… which meant that nothing really had changed, and that practice had been a very heady process (not the right location for body-work!).

​However, the moment I could persuade people to engage with their touch and start actually relating to contact with the intention of finding a quality of engagement that gave them the style of support that they wanted – it was like seeing people actually turn up in their bodies, and something beautiful started to happen.  Something even more wonderful happened when I managed to persuade them to engage with the space that they occupied… wholehearted expression and expansion occurred, that might have been beyond the normal remit of the personality, but which none-the-less the person could enjoy and benefit from in an entirely physiologically-sound way.

I have been developing the Envio-Somatic approach to body work ever since (for the last 15 years or so) – calling it various things related to yoga (like ‘creating the conditions’) – and I ran teacher training courses and the like using it as a structure for my courses.

​But more recently it dawned on me precisely what it is – it is a fundamental principle that understands that a person’s felt-sense of their body, whether it is pleasure or pain, peacefulness or agitation, trust or fear, freedom or restriction, whatever the issue, it is a direct result of how they engage with their environment (which in turn is influenced by how they currently feel about ideas like ‘support’ and ‘space’).  Change how you think, change how you feel!​

So the solution for that person is for them to take their attention to the quality of their engagements with their environment, and measuring the accuracy of their ideas about things through how the body responds to what they do and the way they do it.​

The outcome, is that the person gets to experience different ways of being in the world, and if they enjoy the feeling, with practice it simply becomes who they are!

This, for me, is what the yoga is all about – true liberation from misconception, and a real and practical tool for personal evolution.

More About Marc:

Marc J Acquaviva has been passionate about yoga since his early childhood (since 1968), and from 1991 he studied and practised exclusively with people that have worked directly with Vanda Scaravelli, such as Diane Long and Sophy Hoare, as well as with the highly respected osteopaths that have been called to further understanding of her work, such as Pete Blackaby and John Stirk.

During his intensive yoga study years, in the spirit of following Vanda Scaravelli’s influences, Marc also explored and has drawn from other wellbeing practices, such as Feldenkrais Qi Gong and Thai yoga massage.

After 8 years or so he eventually decided to teach, and qualified in 2000 with Natural Bodies of Brighton, doing Gary Carter’s anatomy for yoga course.  He developed his own unique take on the work after suffering from a prolapsed disc during training.  The prolapse meant he wasn’t able to walk, but he found that it was possible, through his own innate somatic sense of the body-relationships involved, to relieve the symptoms and restore function.  He ‘healed’ the prolapse for himself within a few weeks, and has been developing and using his unique approach to help others ever since.

More recently (2019/2020), in realising that his work involves an entirely different understanding of how the functional body actually works, Marc coined the term ‘Enviro-Somatic’ as a description of his methodology.  It refers to the fact that a person’s experience of themselves through the body, is a direct reflection of their physical responses to the environment they occupy.