What is Somatic Movement Education?

87Bubbling in the Irish Yoga and Pilates circles is a new buzz word, Somatics. Over the last few years it’s popularity has grown as people discover the transformational benefits of this practice.

I guess many of you may have never heard of it before so I plan to give you some background to the practice, my own personal journey and some information about how it can benefit you. Somatic Movement Education comes from Dr. Thomas Hanna, a philosopher and movement educator who further developed the work of Moshe Feldenkrais. He designing his own system of body awareness based movements which are highly effective in relieving chronic pain & stress, improving bodily function and recovery from musculoskeletal conditions.

How I became interested?

Many people in our modern society experience some discomfort in their body which can linger unresolved for years. If you are like me you’ve “tried everything” to relieve your own pain. For me it was my shoulder, after flying head over heels off a bicycle in Australia I had pain in my right shoulder for 8 years! It would come and go, things like Yoga, massage and physio helped but the pain always came back and I could never really get to the bottom of what was causing the problem. That was until I discovered Somatics. After one workshop my shoulders felt light, spacious and pain free, like they were floating. I was a little confused, Somatics is such a gentle, effortless practice, I couldn’t understand how it had such a profound impact. My shoulders felt like new and I was hooked, I wanted more of that Somatics stuff. Several years later still fascinated by the practice, I now find myself teaching Somatics classes and workshops as a qualified Somatic Exercise Coach and continue my training to allow me to help more people individually on a one to one basis as a Clinical Somatic Educator.

How does it work?

A somatic movement, generally speaking, is one which is performed consciously with the intention of focusing on the internal experience of the movement rather than the external appearance or result of the movement. This holds the key to it’s success. Movements are performed slowly, focusing on quality rather than quantity. Working in this way allows the body and more importantly the human nervous system which controls our posture and movement, to learn new ways of moving. Thomas Hanna says “If you can sense it and feel it, you can change it.”. In order to regain stability and mobility, you must be able to sense, feel, and control yourself fully from within.The brain-to-muscle connection acts like a simple feedback loop: sensory (feeling) information goes into the brain and motor (movement) messages go out to the muscles. By sensing and moving we can reconnect the brain to the muscles, resetting muscle length, function and control. In Somatics Movement Education we call this technique pandiculation. Rather than using passive techniques for short term relief, Somatics changes the messages from your brain to allow your muscles to relax while also giving them the ability to engage and be strong when needed. The long term changes can greatly enhance your daily movements. The balance, coordination and proprioception skills learnt can improve other activities in your life such as walking, running, yoga, sports, the list goes on. Somatics may be just what you need to help you get back to your favorite activity or exercise regime this New Year.

How can it help?

Somatics is an educational process where you can learn the skills to self-heal your own body. The movements are gentle, therapeutic, and suitable for all ages and physical abilities.

Somatic Movement Education can help with a variety of issues including:

  • chronic back pain
  • neck and shoulder pain
  • sports related injuries
  • sciatica
  • herniated disks
  • whiplash
  • scoliosis
  • knee and foot pain
  • plantar fasciitis
  • tension headaches
  • tension caused by stress
  • disrupted sleep patterns
  • postural habits from long hours sitting at a desk or driving

Where you can learn more?

Following the success and positive feedback of our recent De-stress Somatics Workshop we plan to introduce a weekly Somatics class to our timetable at Pure Health this Spring. Keep an eye on our newsletter and timetable for more details on how you can book your place.

Deirdre Mullins

8 Reasons To Practice Yin Yoga

245 hp 082Yin yoga is a beautifully delicious practice that helps us heal both our heart and our mind. It allows us time to sit within ourselves, to just be still, and to notice what the body and mind are telling us.It differs enormously from Vinyasa yet is the perfect complement! By having a Yin and a Yang yoga practice, you are creating a beautiful balance within your energy systems and a unique sense of calmness you will feel both physically and mentally.

5 Tips to Help You Relax Fully in Savasana

Corpse-Pose 2
Savasana, the blissfully perfect yoga pose! After yoga practice you get treated with this relaxing and soothing pose. Sometimes it’s easy to find that space of nothingness during Savasana, but other 
times the mind may still be too busy.
What to do in order to fully enjoy the glory that is Savasana? Here are some helpful tips on how to better relax your mind and body.

7 more important facts about YOGA

Depositphotos 26789341 m-1500x112515. Helps you focus
An important component of yoga is focusing on the present. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, memory, and even IQ scores. People who practice Transcendental Meditation demonstrate the ability to solve problems and acquire and recall information better—probably because they’re less distracted by their thoughts, which can play over and over like an endless tape loop.

16. Relaxes your system
Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs—comprising what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response.

17. Improves your balance
Regularly practicing yoga increases proprioception (the ability to feel what your body is doing and where it is in space) and improves balance. People with bad posture or dysfunctional movement patterns usually have poor proprioception, which has been linked to knee problems and back pain. Better balance could mean fewer falls. For the elderly, this translates into more independence and delayed admission to a nursing home or never entering one at all. For the rest of us, postures like Tree Pose can make us feel less wobbly on and off the mat.

18. Maintains your nervous system
Some advanced yogis can control their bodies in extraordinary ways, many of which are mediated by the nervous system. Scientists have monitored yogis who could induce unusual heart rhythms, generate specific brain-wave patterns, and, using a meditation technique, raise the temperature of their hands by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. If they can use yoga to do thPS-Semperviva-Smile-500x333at, perhaps you could learn to improve blood flow to your pelvis if you’re trying to get pregnant or induce relaxation when you’re having trouble falling asleep.

19. Releases tension in your limbs
Do you ever notice yourself holding the telephone or a steering wheel with a death grip or scrunching your face when staring at a computer screen? These unconscious habits can lead to chronic tension, muscle fatigue, and soreness in the wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and face, which can increase stress and worsen your mood. As you practice yoga, you begin to notice where you hold tension: It might be in your tongue, your eyes, or the muscles of your face and neck. If you simply tune in, you may be able to release some tension in the tongue and eyes. With bigger muscles like the quadriceps, trapezius, and buttocks, it may take years of practice to learn how to relax them.

20. Helps you sleep deeper
Stimulation is good, but too much of it taxes the nervous system. Yoga can provide relief from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Restorative asana, yoga nidra (a form of guided relaxation), Savasana, pranayama, and meditation encourage pratyahara, a turning inward of the senses, which provides downtime for the nervous system. Another by-product of a regular yoga practice, studies suggest, is better sleep—which means you’ll be less tired and stressed and less likely to have accidents.

21. Boosts your immune system functionality
Asana and pranayama probably improve immune function, but, so far, meditation has the strongest scientific support in this area. It appears to have a beneficial effect on the functioning of the immune system, boosting it when needed (for example, raising antibody levels in response to a vaccine) and lowering it when needed (for instance, mitigating an inappropriately aggressive immune function in an autoimmune disease like psoriasis).

10 Benefits of drinking Lemon Water

Why lemons?

Lemons are packed with nutrients, including vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. 
egBDZzE3a7ZAVYy4FJZJqAwoBecause of how hard lemon juice can be on the enamel of your teeth, it’s important to dilute it with water of any temperature (though lukewarm is recommended). Drink it first thing in the morning, and wait 15 to 30 minutes to have breakfast. This will help you fully receive the benefits of lemon water, which are listed below.

1. Reduces inflammation

If you drink lemon water on a regular basis, it will decrease the acidity in your body, which is where disease states occur. It removes uric acid in your joints, which is one of the main causes of inflammation.

2. Aids digestion

Lemon juice not only encourages healthy digestion by loosening toxins in your digestive tract, it helps to relieve symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, burping, and bloating.

3. Helps you lose weight

Lemons contain pectin fiber, which assists in fighting hunger cravings.

4. Cleanses your system

It helps flush out the toxins in your body by enhancing enzyme function, stimulating your liver.

5. Keeps your skin blemish-free

The antioxidants in lemon juice help to not only decrease blemishes, but wrinkles too! It can also be applied to scars and age spots to reduce their appearance, and because it’s detoxifying your blood, it will maintain your skin’s radiance.

6. Gives your immune system a boost

Vitamin C is like our immune system’s jumper cables, and lemon juice is full of it. The level of vitamin C in your system is one of the first things to plummet when you’re stressed, which is why experts recommended popping extra vitamin C during especially stressful days.

7. Excellent source of potassium

As already mentioned, lemons are high in potassium, which is good for heart health, as well as brain and nerve function.



8. Freshens your breath

It also helps relieve toothaches and gingivitis (say wha?). Because the citric acid can erode tooth enamel, either hold off on brushing your teeth after drinking lemon water or brush your teeth before drinking it.

9. Gives you an energy boost

Lemon juice provides your body with energy when it enters your digestive tract, and it also helps reduce anxiety and depression. (Even the scent of lemons has a calming effect on your nervous system!)

10. Helps fight viral infections

Warm lemon water is the most effective way to diminish viral infections and their subsequent sore throats. Plus, with the lemon juice also boosting your immune system, you’ll simultaneously fight off the infection completely.

How much?

For those who weigh less than 150 pounds, squeeze half a lemon’s worth of juice into a glass of water. If over 150 pounds, use an entire lemon’s juice. You can of course dilute the lemon juice more, depending on your personal taste.

Not only are the benefits of lemon water endless, it’s one of the most substantial yet simple changes you can make for your health.

If you want to learn more: 

emer mcglade (pilates)

emer mcglade - yoga and pilate teacher

Emer has a background in dance, having formally trained in Ballet, Contemporary and Modern dance in the mid 90’s. Following several recurring injuries to both knees and ankles she made a decision to quit the dance world and found herself in her first Yoga class. The experience of a strong Iyengar based class emphasizing alignment […]