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Participant Stories 




Clinical social worker, Somatic Experiencing practitioner, yoga teacher, and activist based in Los Angeles, California.  


Senior Intern at the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine Clinic, Integrated Body Psychotherapy (Student), Vancouver, BC 

mason bresett

I attended Irene and Elia's 2017 Up and Down workshop in Vancouver. My intention was to increase my body-mind awareness to access healing, regeneration and to increase flexibility (in a non-traditional definition of this word).

I felt held and supported throughout the weekend by Irene, Elia and all of the other participants. Irene's depth and wisdom guided me into my own flow of curiosity, grace and awareness. Elia's creative and intuitive presence allowed me to stop judging my authentic movement and embrace my innate intelligence and express it via movement.

Below is a journal entry of mine after the first day of the workshop:

"I feel open, ease and lightness, I have more space and capacity within my body and mind, I feel okay with the okay & okay with the not okay."

I was able to integrate the teachings from the weekend into a daily movement ritual that I still perform almost every day. The workshop acted as the rain drop that has rippled me into an ever expanding world of embodiment, which I had no visceral or experiential understanding of before the Up and Down workshop.

mason bresett


Expressive arts practitioner, Somatic Experiencing Student San Diego, CA. 


I work in a school for kids impacted by homelessness and the way that Irene breaks down trauma, the nervous system and healing is so palatable that I have been immediately able to use her teachings to educate my students.

Last summer I signed up for Irene's 21-Day Nervous System Tune Up, and again had my mind completely blown. It was THE missing link in not only the healing work I do with my students, but more importantly exactly what I had been searching for in my own healing journey.

I wanted to attend her Up & Down workshop with Elia Mrak in August 2018, but fear of the unexpected, uncertainty, and the unknown held me back. But when I turned 50 in November the word that arrived to carry me through my 50th year was FREEDOM. I knew right away that I had to let go of this fear and resistance. I HAD to go to Vancouver in December and attend Up & Down. Fear be damned!

From the moment I walked into the workshop I experienced an overwhelming sense that I had arrived home. It was quite emotional for me. Have you ever known that you needed something different, weren't sure what it was, continued searching and then when you finally found it felt like it was like finding a long lost friend who knew your deepest darkest secrets and loved you unconditionally anyway? Irene and Elia's workshop was the beginning of my true journey home to myself. My path to FREEDOM.

Having literally lived the first 45 years of my life in my head, I have really struggled with grasping the concept of embodiment. It wasn't until Irene and Elia's Up & Down workshop that I truly understood and experienced embodiment that resonated deep in my bones. With the playful exercises Elia and Irene facilitated AND their common sense yet scientific explanations, an embodied knowing clicked for the first time. From this place I became aware of what living in true vitality FEELS like. All I want is more!!!

Irene and Elia create the safest container I have ever experienced to do some pretty profound work. Thanks to them I am now enrolled in Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing Training Institute and am also learning from Kathy Kain and Steve Terrell (the work of Somatic Practice).

It's like once you've found the golden ticket you want to share it with the world, and support others in unlocking their own path to freedom.


Orbit Healing Whistler, BC 

edward dangerfield

What is described as "A movement workshop for Function, Flow and Freedom" turned out to be a much more expansive experience than I could have imagined.

The setting of UBC has a geographical tone to it that created a state of relaxation within my body as I was arriving. Being close to the ocean, surrounded by trees, and yet with a subtle tone of academia reflected the experience that would unfold in the next two days. A balance between experiencing through feeling and thinking. The setting of the Old Barn was ideal. A great central location, ample affordable parking, lots of space to move around in, washrooms, seating areas and a great coffee shop. The room itself was bright, filled with natural light, clean and simple.

Irene and Elia are both experienced facilitators and hold space with powerful presence and ease. They rapidly created a sense of singularity among the group through movements and orientation. The space was safe, curious and exploratory. This combination of location, container and facilitators created a powerful opportunity.

I am a very active male, practicing yoga, Tai Chi and I am bodily aware. My own experience was that of exploring the movements within my own body. Finding the subtleties and nuances. Moving into more places of holding and tension that could be gently felt, and in doing so, relaxed. The combination of guided movement and free movement allowed me to explore my body in new ways. In doing so I was able to move into physically stored unprocessed emotions and create a greater sense of freedom within my physical form.

The exploration of boundaries allowed me to explore where I ended and where the earth began. I also could explore my relationship with other humans through movement, and a deeper sense of connectedness emerged as the weekend continued. I experienced a greater felt sense of Universal life force running through. I also became more aware of my physical body, and how this life force could support me.

After the event it took me several days to fully integrate the experience. I felt quite tired, and this was an indication that I had moved and shifted a lot. Subsequently I have a greater amount of freedom of movement and awareness. I feel more grounded and at the same time flexible. I came away with a great set of tools to continue this practice and expansion. I practice the techniques daily.

I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone seeking to improve physical, mental and spiritual health. All ages and outlooks can experience a greater sense of self and other through this beautiful process. The value and quality were excellent.

My biggest take away:

"How we move is how we think, and the mind is in the brain and the body!"

edward dangerfield


Naturopathic Medicine Intern Vancouver


Business Owner and Inner Game Coach Shingle Springs, California

Denise Warner

I wanted to share with you my experience of your Up and Down workshop with Elia. It was truly revolutionary!

As a person who has moved a lot in my work and in athletic pursuits throughout my life, I was blown away by the impact these two days had on the way I feel in my body.

My business is growing so I sit a lot more than I used to and it was making me sore and I could feel a new tightness in my hips that was often hurting. Learning how to bring more awareness to my movement has really helped with that soreness. Also, I am seeing applications for what I learned everywhere! I shared some of the principles with my spin class buddies and it has helped all of us feel stronger in class!

I was shocked at how I was not only able to get such benefit for myself but that I understood the material well enough to share with others too. Amazing. Everyone with a body needs to spend this time with you and Elia! It has made a huge difference for me. Thank you so much.

Denise Warner


Holistic Wellness Mentor, Teacher + Coach Deep Cove, British Columbia 


I really had no idea what to expect when arriving at Up & Down. All I knew was that I deeply trusted Irene and Elia's work and I had a profound curiosity and calling to attend their offering.

As a Holistic Wellness Activist I attend immersions in search for a deeper connection to my body, spirit and life, so that I can continue to be awake to my capacity and authenticity while living and breathing what I share. My continuous exploration of wellness modalities over the last 16+ years has been a gradual movement from superficial and linear layers of understanding my physical, mental and spiritual well-being to a far more significant and integrative experience. I say this only because this workshop provided the most holistic, integrative opportunity I have yet to immerse in. I can't wait for the next one!

There's so many specifics I could say about my experience, and yet it seems my words fall short of truly describing what it was like. In short, my body has never felt so free and my heart has never felt so interconnected - two things I cherish greatly. The balance between Irene and Elia's shared wisdom, guidance and invitation for self-exploration was so masterful. It completely fulfilled my desire to learn sustainable ways to re-connect to the deeper layers of my authentic capacity while increasing my whole-self wellness.

Beyond my pursuit for immersions as a wellness activist I vulnerably arrived at the workshop with exhaustion, grief, overwhelm, PTSD, and a general feeling of disconnect from Self. I share this because in no time I felt safe, supported, and comfortable to share in and explore my dis-ease. I was continuously reminded of what it means to surrender and coexist as a physical being, so there was a deep letting-go and acceptance that took place personally for me over those days. So much of the stubborn tension in my body literally melted away and my joints felt like well-oiled machines that had a range of motion far beyond what I had been working towards in my yoga practice for years. Other profound nuggets are that I re-established my relationship to gravity by accepting it's presence and learning how to work with it instead of fighting against it. My relationship to the immediate and extended environment suddenly became a tool for grounding and being more embodied, rather than the stressful place my body started perceiving it as since my traumas.

Tying it all together, my unique exploration of the mind-body connection has been so liberated since. I was gifted the ability to sense the origin of so much of my discomfort, while on so many levels, learning how to find resolve in the simple movement practices, guiding principles and joyous free-flowing explorations that Up & Down covered.

Like I said, I can't wait to continue this journey in the next one.

Thank you so much Irene and Elia. Your dynamic is such a gift.


Student of Counselling Vancouver


This immersive experience taught me far more about my body and my potential than 500+ hours of yoga teacher training and mindfulness training combined ever did. 

If you look at the pictures of this event it looks like we are just walking around and doing subtle movements, but what’s underneath is the growth and expansion occurring at a cellular level. That’s what it did for me at least! It opened my senses to a whole new level of inherent freedom that I didn’t even know I had. 

Moving up and down in a functional and effortless way is not only amazing for our health and longevity, it is also a way of honoring our symbiotic relationships; with the ground, the space inside and outside of ourselves, and with all the people and things around us. Truth is, I will always be working towards growth and expansion, but after this experience I can say that my bones and tissues have been imprinted with a clearer path towards the ancestral wisdom of my body.

There is an intersectionality of personal healing and global healing — we can’t have one without the other!


Online Business Support Manager Ontario, Canada

I have to say that I have tried meditation a few times and never really had a whole lot of success quieting the mind, but THIS sort of movement and flow I've discovered at the workshop, seems WAY more meditative to me. I am not focusing on anything but just being with myself.

I just wanted to really express my gratitude for the Up & Down Workshop - for being there, for experiencing it firsthand, but more importantly for challenging my body, opening my mind and body to new possibilities, and really gaining trust in the strength within that body & mind.

The day after traveling home from the workshop, I could still feeling the stretch in my upper back and glutes from our practices, and wanted more of that. So I downloaded some inspiring music and did my own practice based on some of my faves from the workshop and just flowed with the music naturally. It woke me up and grounded me to start the day.

I have to say that I have tried meditation a few times and never really had a whole lot of success quieting the mind, but THIS sort of movement and flow I've discovered at the workshop, seems WAY more meditative to me. I am not focusing on anything but just being with myself.

So thank you Irene and Elia! Thank you for the weekend. Thank you for the fun, the learning, the curiosity...THANK YOU. The world needs more of you both.


Edinburgh, Scotland

My curiosity and my experience in Irene’s 21 Day program led me to Up & Down. I knew in my heart this would be another life shifting (slowly changing) experience.

I am not a person connected to how her body moves. However, I found flow inside of me. I found space inside of me. A spaciousness that is new and growing the more I practice some of the resources I learned. I have touched rhythm in my body and am more aware of how my body moves in different environments. I have heard my body scream that it wants to move, I have discovered that it wants to go and play.. climb trees, slide down slopes, mess around on the beach, in rock pools, etc. My body wants to move using all of me.

This has seriously been the best gift I have given to myself in years. I laughed, played, connected and definitely challenged myself. I feel much more connected and this means I feel safer to be more open, present and connected to my clients.  


Vancouver, British Columbia


Truly was a life changing experience!  



Naturopathic Medicine Intern Vancouver


Embodied Flow Yoga Facilitator Whistler & Bali

This weekend immersion was so potent. I had no idea the playground that was available within the space between Up and Down. I found the richness to be in the simplicity. It made the ordinary, extraordinary.

I rise, stand, sit and lie down continuously in my day to day, however, by slowing down and consciously participating in transitions with awareness, I discovered a greater sense of easeful strength and supported fluidity. The course was a unique collection of explorations that pulsated with playful learning and meditative reflection. I felt clearly guided to use my body in new patterns and was left with enough space to marinade in my own experience and discoveries.

I was new to the practice of feldenkris, and really resonated with the principles. They made total sense in my body and saw so many ways that I could apply them in a variety of forms and activities. As someone who facilitates yoga classes, it has given me new awareness and tools to instruct mindful transitions between asanas.

Elia and Irene were such an amazing team, and ooze with their passions for movement and making a difference in the world. Each brought their unique perspective, expertise and flavour to each movement which added depth and dimension to the teachings.


Victoria, British Columbia

March 2017 I gifted myself Irene and Elia's workshop, a gift of time, space and guidance to play, explore and discover movements, connections and understandings my body-mind was unaware of, or had forgotten. At the end of the workshop I was surprised and delighted to acknowledge that the event had met all the points listed on the website description plus my own hopeful expectations!  



My self awareness grew from the workshop and I saw the possibilities on how to be more connected to the body and self in everyday life, in my movement practices and in working with others.

I enjoyed the experience, I loved how I was able to stay present in the body. Teaching was clear and grounded, and there was this vibe in the room that felt as if it was programmed for us to stay focused & safe. The work we did was simple but really effective. It's also very useful for further personal use, and for the quality of the work I do with people. Having personal experience rocks. It was a truly potent experience and thank you all SO MUCH for making it possible!


Victoria, British Columbia

I have participated in the Up & Down live workshops twice. Each time I was in very different places both physically and emotionally.

The first time I was thawing from an emotional blockage. Upon arrival Irene and Elia greeted everyone with warmth and smiles and snacks! The process to unfold was very gradual, beginning with time to familiarize with the room and an exercise to help notice how our bodies felt in the space. The timing of everything was perfect. We learned layers of movements and neuropatterning concepts that became fluid and integrated over our time together. After the second day though I became incredibly nauseous. But Irene had already mentioned that sometimes shifts happen in unfamiliar ways. The third day I was still queasy but then something happened. There wasn't an exact moment but through the gentle movements and awareness it let go. I let go. By the end of the day I was beaming. I hadn't felt that good… ever? My cup was full and I was hooked on exploring the plasticity of the mind. I proceeded to join Irene's 12-week course.

The second time participating I came in on a different level. My rheumatoid arthritis had gone into a giant flare and though I had started to unravel stored emotion and was feeling more emotionally connected my body still had other ideas. I was worried about weight bearing on my hands and getting up and down from the floor and being on my feet a lot (problems I'd never had to consider before). But the movements are so personal that I could still fully express myself even in my less mobile state. I found myself enjoying being quieter in the group and not "trying" so hard. I found the support of others in the room to bolster me and inspire me to be authentic when sharing with the group. I even cried in front of the whole group- something I've never done in my life. And though I was embarrassed at the time, later I was proud of my new vulnerability. There is a strength that comes from working with the softness of our hearts and mine was no different.

The workshops have been a beautiful condensed leaping point to embrace a new way of being in the world. They have left me forever changed and with brilliant nuggets of skills to move forward. I'm deeply grateful to Irene and Elia for sharing their knowledge so freely and emphatically.


Subtle Movement Therapist Park City

Up & Down Participant

It was a neuroplastic movement and social engagement experience that was also extremely fun and zany.

I have experienced large shifts that I’m continuing to integrate. There were physical shifts in my hip movement, shoulders, and a profound energetic opening around my respiratory diaphragm. I feel in touch with some joyful spirally energy in a way I have not felt in a very long time. I think some nonverbal somatic toxic shame lifted. I am moving differently and acting more silly and finding more humor. Loved it and want to do it again someday!!!”


Charlotte, North Carolina

Going into my workshop experience with Irene and Elia I was curious but also oddly nervous. However I shouldn't have been instantly these two amazing teachers put me at ease, gave me full permission to tap into my creativity and reminded me that beginner's mind is always the best place to do that.  

What a beautiful combination of structured movement and free playful movement it was a perfect balance. All of the instructions were clear and simple even, in my opinion, if you have never done any kind of movement before. After my time with them the learning kept coming. I was so present in my own body that my awareness kept building and expanding. I had zero pain in my body. I felt no tension ramping up any longer. Best of all I learned a practice so elegantly simple I still do it everyday. Thank you Irene and Elia I will attend again until then I'll keep getting down and getting up.


French Artist based in Hamburg, Germany

I wanted to experience for myself what Up & Down is about! I found it to be a full weekend of exploring movement and livening up every part of my body and just feeling present in my body.  


Guernsey, United Kingdom

Just back from the last workshop in Brighton and I have to say if anyone is on the fence about joining the workshop then do! 

It was amazing, I feel I have gained so much and freed up so much tension in my body. Feel more flexible physically and emotionally, I feel as though I have much more playfulness, empathy, connection. Viewing the world in such a different way. I feel connected to others, my environment and myself! I feel it has brought SBSM to life!


Three days of the most intuitive and deeply connective activities, nurturing and building safe space to reconnect on a deep level past habitual/compensatory defense both physical and emotional. A week later and the work continues to permeate and integrate my own “life shop” Inspirational collaboration (imho) ✌️❤️🙏  


Asheville, North Carolina

Elia and Irene made my experience very enjoyable. They are both personable, kind, easy to be around, and have a gift for teaching movement in an easily understandable way.

Coming from different movement disciplines actually worked in their favor and it was amazing to see how seamlessly their teachings blended. I have a love for movement in my life and my love was nourished in their class. We were able to get to a lot and experience a lot in a short amount of time. I look forward to taking another intensive with them again in the future. I think about them and the things I learned in the workshop every single time I move towards the floor and get up again.


Creator - Writer - Performer Los Angeles, California

"Get drunk in your movement." The words spoken to us at the Up & Down Workshop this year. Clearly, I enjoyed this exercise.

I just have to say this workshop was so incredibly transformative! I learned many subtle and powerful ways to shift the way I move not only in exercise but in every day life.

I felt like I left with an entirely new relationship to my body and how it moves with the world around me. So If you want to learn how to save yourself from some unnecessary body pain for a life of body wealth and longevity, and go deep into the connection of your body/mind while expanding your movement practice, I highly recommend checking out Up & Down Workshop taught by Irene and Elia. I am so grateful that I was able to attend, and I feel inspired to share this magic with all of you!


The Up & Down experience was brilliant! It has given me a new sense of what deep connection means. Meeting the ground was a game changer for me and I'm thinking how I might introduce this to my clients. At the very least I am incorporating this into my self-care regime so I can be the therapeutic presence I want to be in the world.

It was a physical, embodied experience of connection that I've never had before. Somehow I came to feel a little safer in the world purely through awareness and movement. So wonderful not to have to talk or do lots of thinking.You have to experience it for yourself. 


Portsmouth, NH

It was a neuroplastic movement and social engagement experience that was also extremely fun and zany.

I have experienced large shifts that I’m continuing to integrate. There were physical shifts in my hip movement, shoulders, and a profound energetic opening around my respiratory diaphragm. I feel in touch with some joyful spirally energy in a way I have not felt in a very long time. I think some nonverbal somatic toxic shame lifted. I am moving differently and acting more silly and finding more humor. Loved it and want to do it again someday!!!”


Vesilahti, Finland

Registering for SBSM in 2019 inspired me to attend Up & Down. The workshop is a great way to come out of your fears and shames by exposing yourself to others. The pleasure of play and presence is very powerful.

Anne Lise


The Up & Down Workshop is like experiencing the opposite of disconnection and alienation from ourselves and others. It’s about befriending, reconnecting and reaching out and in at the same time. Irene and Elia create a safe and sacred-felt space that the participants can just be in and explore.

From this workshop I definitely have more tools to stay in connection with myself while connecting (and talking) to clients.


Derbyshire, England

The workshop was great. The easy, flowing movements allowed freedom and flexibility in my body. I also felt a personal shift inside doing some of these movements/exercises. It moved me deeply and the people I met there were all so welcoming and friendly.

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