by Deirdre Mullins
Bubbling 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
- herniated disks
- 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.