Somatics

“The most important thing for you to remember is that Somatic Exercises change your muscular system by changing your central nervous system.”

Thomas Hanna PhD

Clinical Somatics

Clinical Somatics is a mindfully gentle yet powerful practice. Using simple self-care techniques, learn how to release and relax tight muscles, reduce muscular tension and restore muscles to their optimal resting length without stretching. The classes are designed to be educational and enjoyable. Class participants are encouraged to relax, take time breathing and to move slowly.

What is the Clinical Somatic Movement Method?

‘Somatics’ is derived from the Greek word ‘Soma’ meaning the body, and is a movement method, developed by the late neuromuscular pioneer Thomas Hanna (PhD). Hanna defines soma as our ‘internal perception of physical movement’ or simply how we experience ourselves from within. The practice focuses on our individual potential to improve our self-awareness and physical control regardless of age, ability or fitness level.

Neuromuscular pain is often caused by the way we habitually sit, stand or move. These habituated states of consistent muscular contraction lead to what Hanna defined as Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) and occurs as our brain loses the ability to control and relax tight muscles. Through gentle Clinical Somatic movements we are able to regain voluntary control of these muscles by retraining our brain and address the Sensory Motor Amnesia that everyone will experience sometime during their life.

Group classes and workshops are currently offered online via Zoom.

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Somatics is Beneficial in Addressing:

  • Chronic and acute back, neck, and shoulder pain.
  • Tension headaches and whiplash.
  • Sciatica and piriformis syndrome.
  • Hip, knee and foot pain.
  • Plantar fasciitis.
  • Herniated or bulging disks.
  • Postural misalignments including leg length discrepancy, scoliosis and kyphotic curvatures caused by muscular tightness.

Clinical Lessons can be taken online in the comfort of your home via Zoom or for a more effective technical lesson Hands on Clinical lessons are currently offered in the Fort Worth area. Please email info@mistudioyork.com for information on COVID SAFE hands on Clinical Lessons.

 

 

Clinical Somatic Movement is for everyone who wants to learn how to live pain free.

The root of all pain lies within the brain. Just as the brain learns to play music, drive a car, or ride a bike, it can learn negative things like unconsciously holding muscles in contraction around weak and injured areas, or bad posture.

Somatic Movement re-educates your body, taking a safe, gentle approach. Using simple self-care techniques, learn how to release and relax tight muscles, reduce muscular tension and restore muscles to their optimal resting for long-term relief for chronic muscular pain.

MI Studio offers Clinical Somatic sessions as well as group Somatic Movement classes.

Clinical Somatic sessions are a from of sensory motor re-education. A way for your brain and body to relearn movement patterns that are specific to your needs and offers the quickest and most effective was to reverse habitual movement patterns and stop muscular pain.

Each session starts with a  postural and joint assessment to help us determine what is moving well and where there is restriction. During the session you will be guided thought a series of hands on gentle, easy and supportive movements that offer your brain and body feedback to help you regain awareness of your muscles and your movements.  These movements are what are described as a pandiculation.

At the end of the session you will learn a 10 minute routine that consists of one or two specific somatic movements to practice each day. The importance of a daily commitment reinforces the work done in the session and provides long-term tools for you to take care of yourself, manage pain from accidents, injuries or the stresses of daily life.

Benefits of Practising Somatics Regularly Include:

  • Improved mobility, strength and co-ordination.
  • Eliminate unhelpful or faulty movement patterns.
  • Improved breathing and posture.
  • Increase flexibility, co-ordination and balance.
  • Reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Pain relief without medication.

 

Pain free movement in the style of Thomas Hanna

“Somatics” refers to movement re-education that seeks to build internal awareness within the body. Your own awareness provides a very different perception from your doctor, chiropractor or massage therapist’s point of view.

Developed by Thomas Hanna in the 1970s, the Somatic experience creates a new self-awareness, viewing our movement from within to open our eyes to our own bodily sensations. Through simple, guided and controlled movements, Somatic Education teaches you how chronic muscular pain develops and what you can do to restore your nervous system’s muscular control. This can reverse chronic pain at its source and improve an overall freedom in movement.

Scientifically this is known as Neuromuscular Reprogramming. Early pioneers in the field of Somatics education created methodologies that foster a deep sense of internal awareness and an ability to control our body in space. Such early explorers include F M Alexander (Alexander Technique), Gerda Alexander, Elsa Gindler and Moshe Feldenkrais.  Yoga and Tai Chi can also be considered as a form of Somatic Education.

It was Thomas Hanna’s discovery of Sensory Motor Amnesia, and his understanding of the reflex patterns that our bodies create in response to stress that distinguishes Hanna Somatic Education from all other modalities past and present.

A source of chronic pain

Our brain controls our bodies. When our bodies live long enough in one pattern of movement or posture, our brain can forget other possibilities. When we “forget” healthier movement patterns, that is Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA).

So, our bodies are unconsciously responding to our environment, our activities and the daily stresses of life. Working long hours, sitting in cars, playing sports, accidents, injuries or just an “on the go” lifestyle…these activities create stress, or muscular tension, which accumulate over time. The long-term chronic muscular tension results in stiffness, mobility and postural problems, back and neck pain, a state of chronic fatigue.

When the muscles are held in tension long enough, our brain forgets how to release and relax them. Our body “thinks” the contracted state is its natural state, continues to contract and becomes painful.

Just as the brain can habitually hold muscles tight it can also release them and through somatic education. With simple movements, you can retrain your brain’s connection to the body and regain control and move towards living pain free.

This is the purpose of Clinical Somatic Movement – regaining control.

The core of Somatic re-education is Pandiculation.

Pandiculation  increases our ability to re-engage our brain with muscles to restore muscle length. It’s like at yawn.

The Pandiculation technique teaches our body to reset muscle length at the brain level and regain control of habitually contracted muscles. You’ll learn to voluntarily contract your muscles beyond their current state, so that you can slowly, deliberately release them until complete relaxation is achieved.

In our world of “more is better,” the challenge is to lengthen the muscle to a comfortable length and not beyond it. With this approach you’ll gain awareness of your own internal sensations and regain control of your muscles by giving your brain more feedback and stimulation.  The movements need to be done slowly and deliberately, and you’ll need to focus on what you’re doing so the brain is a participant in releasing the stuck muscles.

You are re-training brain and body so you can relax your muscles on demand. Somatic Movement teaches you specific skills and movements that improve self-awareness and self-monitoring to help you achieve long term pain-free, increased mobility, balance and coordination.

Reflex Descriptions

As SMA may be a result of physical or emotional stress, trauma or injury, Clinical Somatic movements address the body’s 3 natural stress reflexes. Hanna has best described these as: the Red Light, Green Light and Trauma Reflex

Red light reflex

  • A shortening through the front of the body, rounded or hunched shoulders.
  • Known as the ‘distress’ or ‘startle’ reflex
  • .Classified as the withdrawal response.

Green light reflex

  • A shortening of the back of the body.
  • Known as the ‘eustress’ and ‘landaue reflex’, this is our action reflex.
  • The get up and go response to the everyday world.

Trauma reflex

  • Seen by a shortening through one side of the waist.
  • Described as the ‘protective reflex’ – a cringing or flinching response to, or reaction
  • to trauma, compensatory or injury.
  • It’s how we retract and react to danger.
“...it is also possible to have a body and a life that are lasting sources of productivity and satisfaction and pride.”

Thomas Hanna PhD

"We know not through out intellect, but though out experience."

Maurice Merleu Ponty

Classes 60 minutes. Class size maximum 10 people, so that each student receives personal care and attention.

Please be aware that there is a 24-hour cancellation policy on Somatics classes. If you cancel within 24-hours then you will still be charged the full class.

Recommended Readings

  •  ‘Somatics, Reawakening the Mind’s Control of Movement, Flexibility and Health’ by Thomas Hanna PhD.
  •  ‘The Body of Life’ by Thomas Hanna PhD.
  •  ‘Move Without Pain’ by Martha Peterson.
  • Visit www.essentialsomatics.com for more detail, videos and links to further education, training and
  • www.mistudioyork.com for local and online workshops.