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Archive for Somatics

Jul
14

Sensory Motor Amnesia

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Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) is a term used to describe a loss of control, feelings or sensations around certain muscles.

It’s as if we no longer remember how a certain area feels or we’ve lost touch with the feel for the length of a muscle since we can get used to the body we are in (for better or worse).

Some muscular connections can seem fuzzy or murky as if it is lost or forgotten when we check-in with the control center in the brain.

You’ll get a chance to find out if this is so for you in the SMA test.

SMA – Stiffness, Pain, Tension

While SMA will not kill you, it is often evident when there is stiffness or pain.

Higher than normal tension or stress in the muscles generally goes along with SMA.

Oddly enough, we can get so used to it, we don’t know the SMA exists since this may lie underneath a certain consciousness that we might not have tapped into for some time.

When SMA happens

Sensory motor amnesia happens when our muscles are activating without conscious control or there is no activation so we’re not clear as to the feel of it anymore.

For instance, our spines can compensate.

Spines Rounding and Compensating

We can get so used to it – or if pain or stiffness interferes – where we’ve forgotten what an upright normal comfortable spine feels like.

What that means is that there can be a certain level of tension being held as a program in the lower parts of the brain (sometimes referred to as the brainstem).

Lower Brain in Control of Program

Like a car which can idle in neutral, in this case, the car is idling in 1st, 2nd, 3rd or higher gears on account of the program or compensation.

Our muscles can stay stuck and our spine may not get back to neutral as if we’ve forgotten how.

As you can imagine, this can wear out an engine and is not ideal for our spine and muscles since that can impede our ability to move easily.

Plus, the energy drain of continual tension or stress – when it stays on just beneath our level of every day awareness – remains to keep us at bay.

SMA – the Disconnect

SMA is also a reduction of neuro-muscular control and function at the same time.

Our quality of movement and the feeling of freedom in movement is generally hampered.

Neurologically speaking, the flow of information continues without an awareness of what is going on underneath the surface.

Information about the position in space (proprioception) of your muscles, the length of the muscle, and the feelings of resistance or tension are also housed in the lower parts of the brain.

Regain Control of SMA

Re-connect Here

You don’t have to  think about it since certain sensors feedback this information.

Your body is going to adjust for whatever position you move yourself into.  Most of this is on autopilot as the subconscious parts of the brain respond accordingly to the known program.

The upper part of the brain is where we learn and create new programs (for better or worse) where it eventually gets moved down to the lower brain as learned (been there, done that).

Motor Cortex

Interestingly, these lower brain programs are powerful enough to assume control where we can lose our connection to the control center in the brain’s motor cortex, if we don’t check in.

Sensory-amnesia can happen as we lose control or forget about the control center over time

In a sense, there is a disconnect between the higher part of the brain which can affect the muscles and movement system.

The 1 Thing

See, muscles do one thing.

The One Big Muscle, The Brain Sends a Message so the Muscles can Contract

They receive a command from the brain to contract.

This way you can bend your arm at the elbow and move your wrist towards your shoulder.

The other side of the equation is that in this case of bending the arm, the back side of the upper arm can relax enough to move the wrist closer to the shoulder.

Some people will say that muscle is stretching, when in fact it is simply allowing for its length to the degree it can lengthen under whatever tension levels have been programmed or adapted.

Out of Balance

However, tension levels can be held or fight the other side so — another form of SMA due to an imbalance in tension.

This is a neurological event.

Our feel of balance or its loss along with the ability to know (or feel) which muscles are held in states of tension or are chronically tight can be useful information.

The ability to relax muscles, however, can be lost or temporarily out of control.

The feelings of tension can be hazy when we can’t pinpoint it – even though we know or feel some parts of our self are held stiff.

If this continues long enough, then certain discomforts or pain can become noticeable when the brain has gone haywire with its programs.

Guarding SMA

When we are injured or have some type of bodily trauma, the muscles and movement system tend to recoil away from the area in order to protect us from further injury.

Hamstring Injury

This can then be set as an on going lower brain program since other muscles can take over such when we compensate (for an injury) and then rely on other muscles to do the work.

We can get really good at guarding an area so certain muscles can tend to forgot what their role or job since the recoiling reflex & former guarding mechanism may still be held on at subtle levels.

This is where then the cascade of muscular imbalance can occur and we might increase our risk of injury or seem to have the same types of injury happening all over again.

Muscle Out of Control

Down the road, this can lead to muscles either:

• being or feeling weak,

• having poor coordination,

• or they no longer remember to relax.

The muscles remain stiff or at levels where tension is higher than normal (though we can get used to it and “learn to live with it”).

Pain or discomfort can ensue at some point as the brain is sorting it out or going haywire since the area or areas are now in states of  tension held at higher than normal with ongoing muscular contractions preventing a full relaxation.

Crossed up signals

These crossed up signals keep things held in check without any relief of the holding tension.

So normally we ought to be able to let go and relax.

When the connection to the brain’s control center – through the communication of signals – aren’t being processed or meeting their destination.

Then things like a limited range of motion of happens or begins to set in.  Slowly over time this becomes the program of what we might call aging.

Getting to Know SMA

SMA isn’t something we feel when we are simply sitting there.

The sensory-motor system of feeling and moving is what is at stake so…

We can’t feel SMA, unless we begin to tune into our movement at a cortical level – and you’ll get your chance soon to find out.

What SMA Looks Like

Generally there is a noticeable or subtle feeling of your body:

  • hesitating
  • misfiring,
  • jerking,
  • glitching,
  • stuttering,
  • or shuddering as you release tension.

SMA Test

You can try this simple movement – but first – let me warn you that if you bump into pain or have a restricted range of motion – move well within your comfort zone.

Plus, you need to move slowly to stay in the control center of the brain.

If you go too fast, then things shift to the lower part of the brain.  So go s-l-o-w to play along.

First, read this first before you try.

Sit with your arms resting comfortably along your sides.

Turn your head/face to the left.  You will keep looking to the left throughout the entire movement.  Make sure you are in an easy comfortable range.  The point is not to strain at all.

At the same time, you are going to look up towards the ceiling while you bring the right shoulder up towards the back of your head.

Then at the same time, you slowly release back to where you started.

Got it – now go ahead and do the movement slowly and feel as much as you can.  This is more about feeling what is happening rather than going for the range of motion.

OK.  Were you able to release slowly and smoothly?

Try it on the other side and feel if there is any difference.

Did either side feel – a little jerky, glitchy or stuttering?  If so, you’ve been SMA’d.

Welcome to SMA

When this type of loss of motor control happens, this points the way to regain lost control since you are now more clued into where possible areas need a tune up.

It’s also possible that you may not feel certain movement actions taking place or you don’t feel a connection or an area as well as you could.

This is ok and normal with SMA.

Normally when we move, we are moving with our learned programs stored in the lower brain.   It’s when we go back to the control center of the motor cortex to check-in that we can begin discover how much or little SMA we have.

SMA – altering it unconsciously

SMA can happen when we alter things unconsciously, say when we sit slumped over time.

Sitting slumped

Our muscles will respond to the demand or lack thereof on them.

Our particular position or repetitive motion grooves in as a program so it becomes less conscious.

Which can be good since we don’t always have to think about how to use the remote once we’ve figured it out.

Good Sensory Motor Amnesia

Good news is SMA can be adjusted since the brain can change and the body will follow the commands of the cortex as you use your awareness to what is taking place.

This wake up to the brain’s command center of the (forgotten or amnesiac) link helps to undo compensations and imbalances so certain positive feelings, sensations and control can be restored.

So sensory-motor amnesia is a both a useful tool and marker to discover if muscular control is off a little

With this knowledge, you can feel how to self-adjust and self-correct to improve the vital and necessary function of the muscles for lifelong control and comfort.

Regain Control of SMA

Find out what to do to help injuries, pain, and stiffness leave.

Click here to get un-SMA’d

Clear up the SMA and Feel Free All Over Again

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Aug
12

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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Mar
26

Free Somatics Report

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Somatics can free up those muscles unlike other approaches out there

Somatics is the short name version for somatics exercises.

Somatics exercises are simple, conscious movement patterns where you use the brain’s cortex to reset muscles back to comfort.

Instead of hard work, you can use your body with ease, albeit in a very intelligent manner where the brain makes the necessary changes.

What’s Required

All you need is gravity and yourself.

Check out our Free Report on the 3 Simple Steps it Takes

This report will give you the 3 Steps to:

• Regain Mobility
• Restore Natural Flexibility
• and Recover Quickly

Simply by using 3 Steps.

What you’ll learn in our free report

Why pain happens.

What role does the brain play.

What else gets changed on account of pain.

What healthy animals do to remain pain free.

How to take on stress and beat it.

How to remain comfortable for life and more…

New free report report 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.

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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    Oct
    08

    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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    Sep
    17

    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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    Feb
    04

    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.

    Find out what the three simple steps of somatics exercises are to experience “the body from within”.

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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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    Nov
    17

    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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    Categories : Somatics
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