Somatic Movement Education

What is Somatics?

Somatic Movement Education is a subtle, deep and very integrated body movement technique that is gentle, slow and safe. A highly effective way to end chronic pain, improve balance, flexibility and posture. It helps release tension and stress by teaching the muscles how to relax and to stay that way so that you can develop a more conscious conversation with your nervous system and learn to release body patterns and body habits, so helping yourself.

In Somatic Movement you use your brain to change your body which makes the effects faster and longer lasting because you are physically re-wiring your neural pathways and re-shaping your brain’s pathways. All this happens at the same time as rebalancing your muscular and skeletal anatomy.

The goal of Somatic Movement education is not to ‘fix’ but to teach you to ‘fix’ yourself, which promotes self-awareness and independence.

Who developed Somatic Movement Education?

The word Somatics comes from the Greek word ‘Soma’ and was coined by Dr Thomas Hanna in the 1970s to define the work as “the living body in all its wholeness”. He was initially a Feldenkrais practitioner and went on to study Neurology at Medical School in Miami, and went on over 20 years to develop his own technique called Hanna Somatic Education, also called Somatic Movement Education or Clinical Somatics.

To experience something somatically is to experience it in your body so any practice where we improve internal awareness or track, map and register our feeling sense through movement is a somatic practice, for example, Tai Chi or Yoga.

What can Somatic Movement Education help?

There are many applications for Somatic Movement Education because it addresses the root cause of most muscular pain conditions in the body by awakening the cells and layers within the body. It hydrates tissues and muscles that other exercises do not reach because the movements are slow, gentle and explorative in their approach. Because of this, they do not disturb the nervous system: you are sensing and feeling the quality of the movement, the ease of moving (or not), which brings your attention into focus. It is this focus that gradually improves your awareness so that you re-learn and transform old holding patterns and habits at their source.

Somatics can help relieve:

  • neck, back and shoulder pain, hip, knee and foot pain
  • frozen shoulder, poor posture, leg length discrepancy
  • hyper-kyphosis, hyper-lordosis, scoliosis
  • slipped disc, sciatica, repetitive strain
  • tension headaches, respiratory problems
  • accident trauma

Most of the work is done in small guided classes or 1-2-1 sessions, and most students experience physical relief from aches and pains. They also notice changes occurring in the shape of their spine, shoulders and hips which improves their posture, balance and everyday movements.

The deeper or more embedded the body pattern problem has become a 1-2-1 session or many sessions may be required depending on the student’s awareness and their relationship with their body. This is why it is called Somatic Movement education rather than Somatic Therapy. The focus is on education which is the key to long term change, but the work goes much further than relief from pain and structural changes – it improves posture, balance, every day movements and a sense of well-being. As the body re-aligns itself from the inside through the gentle slow somatic movements you let go of tension and body habits that may be causing pain, so the body begins to re-learn how to release and relax more fully and it is this that helps to change the body patterns and habits that are of no further use.