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What does Somatics Mean to You?

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The term somatics, coined by author Thomas Hanna, has been described as the body experienced from within.

What Somatics means to others?

When asked the question of what Somatics mean, I wanted to know what our class participants thoughts were. Below is a recording of one answer.

“It’s a fabulous method of healing and releasing muscles and tissues that are tight so they function more normally again. I had a lot of injuries that are resolving now. For me, it’s about releasing in a deep state body of relaxation that you get into when you do it.”

How Somatics Works, Against or With Our Mind

She then went onto to describe how she thinks somatics works at a physiological level.

“So every muscle has receptors that are constantly monitoring its length and its shortening. And very often when we get in tension patterns or have injuries, the muscles really shorten. Then this little feedback loop goes on and its shortened.

Somatics is a way of releasing that. So its really about working with the brain as much as it is working with the muscles. Then these stretch receptors in the muscles let go of that setting and begin to reset themselves to a more normal relaxed one. So… and it works!”

One of the guys in class had this to say: “For the first time in 5 years I had more spring in my step”.

Another woman chimed in: “It’s as if this is going against what our mind would think would work. We’re trained in yoga and every thing I’ve done before. Just gentle stretching is all we need to do. You know that’ll lengthen the muscle.

My experience is my body got tighter and tighter doing that. This morning I woke up and felt like I got run over by a truck because I had not been doing my somatics since I had been gone. It’s a way I manage discomfort in my body. Everything kind of crept back in again.

And I did it this morning. It’s like, it’s suddenly not everything is perfect but I feel perfectly fine. I can move again.”

Somatics, the Fountain of Youth

From one of our dolphin lovers in class…

“One of the things I say to people is… it’s the fountain of youth. It feels on every level to me.

One of the many things I love about it is I have memories what it feels like… and memory isn’t really the word… when I skied or swim with the dolphins… feeling that again, it’s so important and freeing to me.”

If you’ve experienced somatics, what does it mean to you? Please post your comments, let me know or heck even make a video and we’ll take a look at what you have to say!

If you haven’t experienced yourself somatically, you can join us for certain movement patterns we play with to free our hamstrings and back to discover deep relaxation. Find out more at our sister site how somatics can be the other side of exercise to set us free.

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Somatics can free up those muscles unlike other approaches out there

Somatics exericses are simple movement patterns where we use the brain’s cortex to reset our muscles back to comfort. Instead of hard work, we use our body with ease in a very intelligent manner. All you need is gravity and yourself.

Check out our 3 New Training Videos

We’re changing our former free mini-course and now have expanded it with 3 comprehensive somatics training videos where you’ll also get to download and keep several audio mp3 trainings so you can:

• Regain Mobility
• Restore Natural Flexibility
• and Recover Quickly From Injury

Simply by using 3 Steps.

What you’ll learn in our new training videos

How you can get out of back spasms by yourself…

The key somatics exercise which is a bridge to the entire system of somatics…

How to end stiffness.

How to conquer tension.

How to take on stress and beat it.

How to remain comfortable for life and more…

New free somatics video trainings available now.

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    The Cat Stretch is what Thomas Hanna called the daily maintenance somatics exercise program in his book, Somatics.

    The cat stretch is a misnomer even though we often see our furry felines appearing to stretch.

    Cat Stretch is not Stretching

    Cat Stretch - a part of the daily somatics exercisesThe result of a cat stretch could make one more restful.

    When a cat stretches, it is actually tightening or contracting a series of muscles. We’ve come to find out this is called a pandiculation. When we do this entire act, our muscles lengthen and become more relaxed.

    Our clever cat uses its brain’s motor cortex to initiate a movement, which at first glance looks like a stretch. You’ve seen a cat round its back. It’s not stretching the back, it’s pulling the belly in and using the abdominal muscles to pull back.

    Then… it’ll release itself. The abs are reset and ready to be used. Healthy vertebrate animals naturally reset their muscles and movement system periodically throughout the day. No wonder they rest so well. If only we could do the same.

    Cat Stretch – 7 Simple Movements

    Fortunately, some 300 years after we learned about pandiculations. This very act brings muscles to rest. The system of somatics exercises teaches us how to go cortical and re-establish length and comfort in our movement system. Watch the fast version of the cat stretch below.

    Here is what the 7 simple movements of the cat stretch address.

    1. The first movement wakes up the brain, spine and hips.

    2. The second movement helps to release tightness in our front side, such as the abdomen. This will allow the back to further lengthen.

    3. This movement relaxes the muscles of the back, from the neck all the way down to the foot.

    4. The fourth move releases held tension levels in the hips and chest. If we’re locked-in from too much sitting or hard work, this is a go to release.

    5. Most everyone’s favorite movement, this delicious move lengthens the spine, frees up the hips and shoulders… and is enough to purr along.

    6. A 3 part lower body sequence to free up the feet and ankles and connect up to the hips, back and head. This helps to straighten out the legs for better walking and balance in running.

    7. The final movement of the cat stretch addresses the neck, back rotation and hip mobility in a delightful seated manner. You may not need the car mirrors anymore after this.

    Cat Stretch Audio Recording

    Healthy animals do a number of morning resets. We can simply follow along with a morning routine of the cat stretch somatics exercises designed for the human animal. Once you learn the routine, it only takes minutes to remind the muscles of their natural length, while at the same improving the mobility we need for the day.

    Just like a good cat stretch at night, we can drift off and sleep more easily too.

    The Cat Stretch daily maintenance somatics exercises program is now available to download and enjoy in the comfort of your home – meow.

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      Learning to get out of physical pain is easy once you have the somatics know-how. Mastering the art of moving well takes time since we have to develop our ability to do so although our brain can quickly make changes in our movement system.  For instance, recovery can happen quite quickly when your nervous system can turn the switch “on” to relaxation.

      A difficult somatics move

      Somatics BookIn the book Somatics, by Thomas Hanna, there is a very interesting movement to release the hips, legs, knees, ankles, back and as far up as the neck.

      The pattern is one of inversion and eversion of the ankles and how that relates to the knees, hips and back.

      While this pattern may take some time to learn or readjust the movement system.  The practice and effort is worthwhile to improve walking and recover quickly from the mishaps in life.

      Like all things such as fine wine, time spent mastering movement is necessary.  However,you can simply imagine particular movement sequences and reap tremendous benefits.

      When I first learned this particular somatics exercise, I was in agonizing knee pain. This remarkable pattern caused great consternation on my part. It felt as if my leg or knee was going to break.

      Treating this movement as exercise was a sure fire way for me not to break through learning how to simply move instead of trying and pushing with all my efforts in vain and pain.

      Why did I make a somatics move so hard?

      Coming from the exercise world of pushing, straining, going to exhaustion and breaking myself down, built in a pattern of doing things from the types of physical activities I had been trained in.

      To change the habit of movement required I had to tone it down, way down. My muscles were locked-up although I could compensate around that. When the knee gave, this was the beginning of a new chapter and suprise, one where I had to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again by rewiring the nervous system since I had reached an end.

      When we brace, it doesn’t take much to fire off a painful signal. Learning how to de-tune an amplified pain response gets our attention.  You can begin to revitalize the movement system rather than push against the wall of pain you may face.

      In time as I explored this movement, I came to love it once my brain un-locked the pathways so the body could move easily and understand the many ways we can hurt or better our self.

      “An exercise in and of itself cannot hurt us.”

      It’s how we unconsciously or habitually move or try to accomplish things with our body which feeds back its signal of pleasure or pain.  The richness and variety for which we have many verbal descriptions for.

      Somatics Blow Off Class

      This week I am teaching an online class where you can get join me live or get the replay of the somatics movement many people blow off.

      Why do I know this? My very own clients tell me that they’ve shirked it or found it hard to do by looking in the book, so this is why I recorded a version of it and you can learn by listening and following along.

      When we apply the simple somatics system with a helpful guide and we’re interested in learning, success happens and the knees, hips, back and neck simply ache less.  Recovery is minutes away.  Feeling great is simply a matter of retuning your movement system.

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        Live Somatics Workshop

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        Join us on Saturday, October 15th for a live somatics workshop. Join us in person live or on the webcast.

        3 Hour Somatics Workshop

        Somatics is defined as the body experience from within. In this workshop, we’ll explore the mind, body and talk of the spirit.

        Somatics Presenters

        Pamela Ziemann,international book winner and author of “Giving Voice to Your Cause” will teach us how to use your voice passionately to draw people to your cause.

        Daniel Webster, “The Science of Yourself”, will teach us how you work, more specifically how you think, how you feel and where you put your focus and how these parts of you interact with the world around you.

        Ed Barrera, Hanna Somatic Educator, will teach us how to use the power of pandiculation so we can move like an animal again and restore our health and well-being naturally.

        Look here.

        Ready to register, look no further.

        When: Saturday October 15th
        Where: Bellevue, WA or live on the web.
        Why: Somatics is fun.

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        Somatics Shoes

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        Awhile back I had the pleasure of meeting Barefoot Ted and some of the tribe from the Exuberant Animals. A great group of physical educators who turned me onto a pair of great shoes that feel as if someone just put a warm glove on my feet.

        Somatics Shoes… The no shoe shoe if you will.

        It’s my understanding that the best shoe is one that has the flattest sole and gives us some protection from the elements. Shoes like the old PF flyers and Converse flat sole shoes are excellent examples.

        The moccasin has been a favorite of many people. Another group of people, runners, are going at it in their bare feet.

        Many people have told me that while at home, they enjoy the feelings they have being in their bare feet.

        Vibram Five Fingers are definitely somatics shoes

        Somatics which is defined as the body experience from within has met its match with the Vibram Five Finger Shoes that I call somatics shoes.

        Imagine if you will putting glove liners and mittens on your hands all day. What do you think will happen to the function of your hands and arms? Wonder what is happening to our feet?

        Somatics shoes fits like a glove, moves like an animal

        If you want to move like an animal…try a pair and let me know if you can ever stand to wear another shoe again. Vibram has hit a home run with these somatics shoes.

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        Somatics Exercise Video

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        Somatics exercises are different

        Watch Thomas Hanna who created Hanna Somatic Education® teach a couple of somatics exercises to provide back relief. He coined the term, Somatics, “as the body experienced from within”.

        Somatics Exercises are presently taught by Hanna Somatic Educators® to primarily relieve physical pain in our back, neck, head, shoulders, hip, legs, feet, arms and hands.

        Somatics exercises are the slow, cortical alternative to exercise

        Instead of just doing an exercise, somatics is carried out with our feelings and sense of movement. This is a far different approach than pushing or straining. And most anyone can do them since they are safe anatomically speaking.

        To defeat pain, is to learn how to use this signal and then master it so it no longer controls us. This is easily accomplished with somatics exercises where we regain cortical control as our muscles remember to let go of holding tension patterns which often cause us the pain and discomforts we live with.

        The soma in somatics

        Thomas called the soma, our experience where we are neither mind nor body. We’re aware of our body’s internal actions. These actions encompass our sense perceptions and feelings where we use our individual learning process of the brain’s motor cortex to restore our self back to comfort.

        Naturally, this is how we can easily live in our mind-body being.

        You can experience these two somatics exercise movements and more in our longer verbally guided free training series.

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        3 Simple Steps is all it takes so you can do what you want again.

        The New Gravity Werks Program is now available…

        Don’t Live 2011 in Physical Pain. You can live Pain Free – the way nature intended.

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        You’re so alive… look inside

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        How do you feel? I mean how do you really feel? Can you describe right now in this moment or at any moment what your experience is?

        Inside my head are terms and descriptions which I can’t always put a finger on. It’s as if I’m describing a rushing, splashing, sloshing, back-throwing, pushing up, getting sucked down, and at times still, peaceful, serene, translucent… river ride.

        With all the activity going on inside of us, can we accurately describe the vast internal world of our inner processes. Surely we can feel our blood rushing, heart thumping, breath leaving or re-entry… even our pains are indescribably unique.

        Is there more to life than pain? We all know there is… yet so many people continue to live with it. Understanding our true nature, may lead us out of it, as we come to more fully understand ourselves from the inside…

        As you may know, Thomas Hanna, coined the term Somatics. He described this as the body experienced from within.

        At Harvard, we’re getting to see what’s going on inside.

        To read more about cinema meeting biology, go to this New York Times article.

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