Somatics comes from the word “Soma” which means “bodymind” where body and mind are integrated. Somatics is a movement practice based on this analogy. Somatics is taught as an education in that it teaches us to become more independent with our own path of healing.
Somatic Movement Education (SME – In the Tradition of Thomas Hanna) is a system of neuromuscular education (mind-body training) which helps you to enjoy freedom from pain and more comfortable movement for the rest of your life. Somatic Movement helps the body to enjoy freedom in daily movements.
It was designed by Dr Thomas Hannah in the 1970’s who was a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method of movement where the connections from mind and body were repaired through specific movements.
Somatic Movement was developed on the back of the Feldenkrais method by cultivating our own innate ability for kinaesthetic awareness of our body through our sensory awareness. Tailored and gentle movements are designed aid the body to repair the pathways of communication through the nervous system and muscle together relieving pain conditions in the body.
We also cultivate this ability of sensory awareness over time through practicing other forms of mindful movement practices such as Yoga, Qi Gong or Meditation. We learn to sense the body through placing our awareness and attention on sensations through breath awareness. Somatic Movement also draws on this sensory perception. Through gentle tailored movements, we learn to bring our awareness to where we our moving and continue to assess, observe, track our movements. We learn to develop our own “inner GPS tracking” as we move. This is paramount in Somatic Movement; mind working with body, body working with mind.
Somatic Movement compliments all sports and movement practices. We encourage students to use Somatics through specific movements to help with any restrictions in their own movement patterns where sometimes yoga or other movement practices can’t quite reach to release. Once we sense it, we can change how we apply our Yoga or other movement practices to our body with grace and ease.
I have witnessed amazing transformation from students over the years whom have been attending Somatic Movement classes regularly and they have been so grateful to the wonderful benefits of Somatics. Somatic Movement is taught as an education, teaching students how to develop their own practice at home as a maintenance program with amazing results.
Somatics Movement works through a pattern of pandiculating, lengthening, rest (integration).
If a muscle has stopped working, this is known as Sensory Motor Amnesia. Sometimes we can experience a “burning” sensation in very tight muscles. Massage can sometime release but then the old pattern can reset itself again to the muscle and back to square one. Somatics works by re-patterning or re-setting old patterns through the neurological pathways to muscle through tailored movements to free tight muscular pain. Old patterns can be inherent for a long time in our own body’s structure and nervous system. We are mostly not consciously aware of these old patterns. Somatics teaches us through Sensory Awareness of these old patterns, then we can begin the gentle journey of re-patterning through Somatic Movement bringing a sense of freedom, lightness and release to old trauma patterns stuck in the body. It’s just so wonderful with plenty of “a-ha” moments!
Many of the beliefs with the “no pain, no gain” was the only way many of us were taught to approach movement. But this can increase our risk of injury through over stretching risking tearing muscles. With new awareness, we learn approach our movement in a completely new light while respecting our body’s limitations as our safety nets.
I have been practicing Somatics for the past 3 years now and I can honestly say that it has been a gift in my own life. It has changed my approach to how I practice Yoga now with self- compassion and to be comfortable with my limitations. I have learned that they are there to keep me safe as Somatics has taught me to listen to the inner guidance from my own body’s intelligence. It has been a tremendous turning point for me in self-compassion. It can also book-end my own personal yoga practice beautifully.
Somatics requires an attitude of patience, trust, surrender and most definitely a “less is more” approach. It’s an “un-learning” of old patterns to bring a new way forward in how we approach movement. It teaches us self-awareness and most importantly independence that we are enabled to our own path of healing.
Yoga Essence regularly holds Somatic Movement classes as dedicated workshops. They have become very popular and this mode of holistic movement education is now beginning to pave its way out to the world of movement.
Somatic Movement Education is suitable for everyone and you do not need experience of any movement practices such as yoga. What is required is … an open mind and trust the amazing intelligence of our body and “all that is right” with it. That’s our healing.
Somatics: Re-awakening The Mind's Control Of Movement, Flexibility and Health.
By Thomas Hannah
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