Simple movement exercises to soothe your body and mind.

Dr Renee Ostertag, of Green Tree Mind, has a Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT). Her melding of physiotherapy and mind-body medicine practices (her CV is here) is a powerful blend of skills she teaches that can help move stress in positive ways.

I connected with her on Zoom to talk about her YouTube channel and with her permission and input, I have collated some of her gems that support creating more calm, safety and a sense of peace.

Please reach out directly to Dr Renee if you’d like to work with her here.

Reference: Philosophy The following has been taken directly from her website with her permission (images mine) to provide a framework for her concept of green trees, red trees, and dark roots which you may see her mention in her videos.

The first important piece of education is that our brain and nervous system operates like a computer.


If we want a new experience in our conscious reality, or output, we need to provide new inputs. It really is that simple. When we are provided with new inputs (such as knowledge and/or a shift in our attention), our system creates new pathways for processing, which results in new outputs (what we feel in our body and consciously experience in life).

Our body gives highly accurate information about which system, or mode, our neural circuitry is operating in. There are three modes (and it’s a dimmer switch with greyscale between them, not an on/off switch) that your nervous system can be in: fight / flight (RED TREES), balanced / regulated (GREEN TREES) or freeze / collapse (DARK ROOTS). I call these modes “trees” because neurons look like trees when seen under a microscope. Neurons also have a lot of similar qualities and characteristics to trees, which is pretty cool.

If your nervous system is in RED TREES, your nervous system is hyper sympathetically driven, or in a fight/flight response. When in this mode, it is normal to experience symptoms such as anxiety, muscle tension, pain, insomnia, diarrhea, inflammation, irritability, rapid breathing and behavior tendencies such as people-pleasing, hypervigilance, perfectionism and driven hyperachieving.

If your nervous system is in GREEN TREES, your nervous system is regulated and balanced with its fight/flight (sympathetic) and rest/digest (parasympathetic) systems. When in this mode, it’s normal to experience peace, calm, love, joy, fulfillment, meaning, purpose, pleasure, a relaxed muscle body, connection and resilience for life’s inevitable challenges and stressors. Who doesn’t want those things?!

If your nervous system is in DARK ROOTS, your nervous system is hyper parasympathetically driven, or in an exaggerated freeze response. When in this mode, it is normal to experience depression, autoimmune disorders, constipation, low energy, fatigue, memory loss, concentration difficulties, migraine headaches, loss of sex drive, shallow breathing, pain, shame, low self-esteem, flat affect and lack of luster.

So, the philosophy to living in your relaxed muscle body is quite simple. Do less in your life with RED TREES and DARK ROOTS while doing more in your life with your GREEN TREES. The nervous system is like a muscle – the more you work it in any given direction, the better and stronger it gets. So, when you run the circuitry of your GREEN TREES more, they get better, stronger and more efficient … and shifts you more into the life you want to have.

There is a Three-step Process to the Philosophy

The first step is to identify what mode you perceive your system to be in. Checking in with the body and its truth – moment to moment – is a powerful practice of somatic self-awareness. It is the key to activating your prefrontal cortex and executive thinking, which is what “grows your green”.

The second step is to learn to “turnaround”. Nervous systems are highly adaptable and plastic; they can change with new input. With some simple tools and strategies, you can learn to activate new firing of the synaptic connections from a state of red or dark and head right back towards your green.

The third step is to grow the green forest within your nervous system. This means fostering and growing the green that already lives within you — such as your felt sense of safety, repairing and building energetic boundaries, and allowing yourself to experience rest, pleasure and peace in the midst of life and all its happenings.

YouTube Exercises

Here are some movement exercises that Dr Renee recommends. For all of Dr Renee’s YouTube content, click here.

Dr Renee has many more videos on her YouTube channel. See her Stress Relief Playlist.


Dr Renee recommended the following two podcasts from Sounds True with Deb Dana.

Deb Dana, LCSW, is a clinician and consultant specializing in using the lens of Polyvagal Theory to understand and resolve the impact of trauma and create ways of working that honor the role of the autonomic nervous system.

Befriending Your Nervous System

Becoming an Active Operator of Your Nervous System