What is Somatics?
The simple somatics definition: “the body experienced from within”.
It’s about how you feel and process your sensory information and your feelings and sense perceptions.
It’s not just about pain and discomfort. It’s also about the feelings of comfort, relaxation, and balance where you can confidently be in control.
Somatics is a mind body approach to improving and maintaining health and well-being in a natural, easy manner.
What Somatics Can Do For You
(and how you can help yourself get there too)
• Decreases muscle stiffness instantly
• Reduces short term and chronic pain
• Lessen stress and tension
• Maintain natural flexibility
There are many therapies which fall under the umbrella of Somatics.
Practices such as massage, acupuncture, chirporactic, soma therapy, and the many forms of bodywork like rolfing, myofascial release, etc. are practices which help us process our feelings and sense perceptions.
Thomas Hanna, author of Somatics: coined the term Somatics. He defined it “as the body experienced from within”.
He created a professional practice and system known as Hanna Somatic Education which is part bodywork and movement education.
He realized that we may need a jump start with bodywork along with learning how to wield the brain’s ability to change the body back to comfort with easy, conscious, gentle movement patterns.
This system was established as a means to understand how we can change ourself through simple, natural movement patterns rather than hard exercise.
Essentially, this gives us a foundation we can maintain for successful comfortable movement as we age.
Through the use of unusually, easy, gentle, somatics exercises (movements) that stimulate the brain to change the output to the muscles and movement system.
Tight, restrictive muscles simply let go. Tension and stress change.
Rather than hard exercise, this approach is like a brain exercise where the muscles and movement system get updated and improve along certain neurophysiological feedback loops where we feel our way back to comfort.
Somatics allows us to easily have
• More natural mobility so flexibility returns
• Natural balance free of effort
• Pain free use of the muscles and movement system
So you can do confidently and freely do what you want once again in your body.
Rather than the traditional approaches of exercise and stretching, Hanna Somatic Education (somatics for short) reveals an entirely new approach which most physical educators and doctors aren’t aware of just yet.
See, looking at the body to treat it with medication or surgery for pain is one viewpoint.
The way your body is looked at is based on what area you complain about or what area of your body is hurting.
Your physician, strength trainer or physical therapist looks at it from a variety of viewpoints.
The Somatics Difference
The missing element in all the above viewpoints is simply how fundamental brain based or cortical movement isn’t brought into the dialogue. This is where we come in with a neurophysiological approach.
Our viewpoint is quite different since we take into account how the nervous system processes the information and how the brain can change that.
Natural movement patterns exist and it’s possible to separate a movement dysfunction from say our exercise, fitness and physical performance.
If you have a shaky foundation built upon compensations, a brain gone haywire in terms of processing pain or both.
Being aggressive with our physical training can’t change the information being processed by the one big muscle, the brain.
For instance, traditional muscle stretching is outdated. Many people aren’t aware that it can cause muscles to re-tighten and hold tension levels since it has to do with how the brain has been programmed.
Instead of isolated body segments and range of motion, whole natural movement patterns are the key with somatics.
When you move, you move with your whole self, not in parts or segments and in particular ranges or degrees of motion as it is traditionally measured.
You are a living “being” processing or feeling your levels of comfort and discomfort among the many layers of muscles and fascia – which have some 17 layers in and of themselves.
When you take into account the skin, joints and bones. There is a lot information to pick up on.
Your entire movement system is what is at stake so there can be any number of issues in the tissues.
Exercise and Movement
Exercise is important though it is far easier if your movement system is well coordinated, has sufficient function and you can move with a confident natural agility.
Somatic movements address how well you can move so the rest of life feels easier and in your control.
Once we move well, then we can move efficiently to support our unique structure since no one is standard issue.
Beyond Exercise and Movement
As you keenly feel how your muscles and fascia coordinate, you change your awareness throughout your entire body not just a part of it.
The quality of feelings and sense perceptions can be heightened to nip issues in the bud and to further your ability to age well by moving with a comfortable ease and confidence of knowing what to do when life goes bump.
So our somatics approach is similar to brain exercise since that is really the one big muscle which is the seat of learning and evolving our understanding of our self.
Rather than exercise and movements as we know it, somatics is a way to change our movement system of muscles-fascia-tendons-ligaments-and bones which connect via the nervous system to that one big muscle, the brain.
Exercising our brain allows us to further connections between our mind and body.
How you move as a whole integrated living being and reestablishing the internal felt sense of connections through your sense perceptions and feelings provides the vibrancy and effortless ease in using your self to accomplish whatever you want with your body.
For the deeper look into the clinical approach to somatics.
Ed Barrera is a Hanna Somatic Educator®, Holistic Health Advisor and author of Amazon Bestseller Move Like an Animal with over 15 years of experience, helping people find natural pain relief through somatics exercises and gentle movement patterns which are the reverse to most approaches since it is a brain and body un-exercise system to gaining muscle length, relaxation and control. The brain’s motor cortex is a pathway to a healthy, fully-functional body. It’s not just “alternative medicine” or “an alternative to exercise”; it’s natural pain relief that actually works!