The Somatics classes and sessions that I offer are derived from the work of founder, philosopher and movement educator, Thomas Hanna. Simply put, Somatics is a safe, gentle system of neuromuscular exercises that works to relieve pain and free up movement by
re-educating the nervous system to release muscle tension.
It does this by addressing the root cause of muscular pain – the brain. Using this method, I teach people how to regain control of their muscles which, in turn, corrects misalignment and ultimately eliminates pain and other symptoms.
How Somatics Works
Since so much of the nervous system is unconscious, our bodies can get “stuck” in habits that create poor posture leading to misalignment and muscular pain.
When the brain signal is stuck, muscles cannot release. A new signal from the brain needs to be sent. This is much like rebooting a computer hard drive to “reset” the system.
The goal of Somatics is to regain conscious control of our bodies for ourselves and to break the dependancy on other practitioners to "fix" us. It is a practical approach to self-care that can help prevent a need for medication or surgery.
Somatics improves function in order to improve posture.
Hierarchy of Function
- Bones go to where muscles tell them to go.
- Muscles are controlled through the nervous system.
- The brain controls the nervous system.
The “active” process of Somatics exercises combined with conscious deliberate movement is key to the powerful results. Somatics is unique in the way it recruits the brain to retrain the body. We need to move to keep our bodies healthy. Somatics is a powerful way to awaken the sensory motor system so that you can continue to move well and remain vital and pain-free.
Benefits of Somatics
Somatics combines movement exercises with education to improve neuromuscular functioning.
Some of the benefits include:
helps manage and resolve pain
reduces muscle tension
helps with joint pain and degeneration
corrects postural misalignment
improves mobility and range of motion
increases strength and coordination
Some of the conditions that Somatics has proven effective in treating include:
accident trauma (physical)
repetitive stress injuries
Three ways for you to be able to experience the benefits of Somatics.
Group Classes - I offer regular group classes that incorporate Somatics & gentle yoga. In each class, participants are guided through various Somatic movements designed to relax and release muscle tension throughout the entire body.
Learn more about my Group Classes HERE.
Private Sessions - also know as "Clinical Somatics", in these sessions I assist you with specific movements and exercises on a massage table (fully clothed). We work together to create a personalized program for you to take home and practice on your own.
Learn more about my Private Sessions HERE.
Workshops - I lead workshops in communities around BC and beyond on various Somatics themes. Participants learn Somatics theory and practices to do at home.
Learn more about my Workshops HERE.
working with client in Private Session
Whichever way you choose to engage in Somatics, it is a great compliment to most other forms of fitness, exercise, yoga and bodywork.
"I'm still diligently and gratefully doing the routine you taught me every day or two. As soon as my back starts feeling tired I do the exercises and feel instantly refreshed, the routine is truly the gift that keeps on giving!"
The Myth of Aging
There is a misperception that, as we age, we naturally develop a posture that is distorted, more rigid, hunched and frail.
“You’re not as young as you used to be.”
“You need to slow down.”
“Your joints are degenerating and getting arthritic.”
These are the type of comments and diagnoses that convince many people to stop moving and accept the aches, pains and discomfort of a maturing body. Many turn to painkillers and anti-inflammatories to manage their symptoms.
Sensory Motor Amnesia
Thomas Hanna recognized that tight sore muscles, joint stiffness, loss of smooth controlled movement and chronic pain are symptoms that can be reduced and reversed. He found that, over time, muscles become switched “on” and can remain engaged because they have forgotten how to switch “off” and release. Hanna called this Sensory Motor Amnesia. This creates physical symptoms that show up as pain, inflammation, etc.
Since it is the brain that sends the signal to release muscles via the nervous system, we must re-educate the body with gentle movements that re-pattern the neural pathways and “teach” the forgotten muscles how to relax. This awakens the sensory motor areas of the brain.
Once we re-learn how to release those muscles, the body will re-align and pains disappear. Posture improves and there is more freedom and control of movement. This is how Somatics helps to debunk the myth of aging.
Somatics Is Not Stretching
As a longtime yoga teacher, my practice has always included a good amount of stretching. I had a tight sore hamstring for a few years that I stretched everyday to get some relief. It wasn’t until I stopped stretching, that the pain finally stopped!
Yes, we all love that delicious sensation that accompanies stretching. By stretching, we are taking the two ends of a muscle further apart in the hope that this will train the muscle to stop contracting and go back to it’s natural length.
The reason my hamstring pain stopped is because instead of trying to force those tight muscles to lengthen, I re-educated them with Somatic exercise to stop firing “on” all of the time.
The stretching certainly feels good temporarily only because it stimulates the nerves in the area. Just as massage or rolling on a tennis ball offer the same temporary relief. Although these all can help to re-organize and hydrate the fascia, it does not provide lasting relief because it does not include the brain and nervous system to resolve the underlying cause.
Instead of simply stretching, Somatics applies a technique known as Pandiculation. Pandiculation uses deliberate conscious action on the part of the brain. It looks and feels like a morning stretch or full-body yawn. You will notice that this is how cats, dogs and other animals move when they get up after resting. It looks like a stretch, but is actually a pandiculation.
Pandiculation is a conscious contraction of a muscle, taking it even tighter than it already is. Then a slow, deliberate and active lengthening of that muscle followed by a complete relaxation.
This, as opposed to stretching, is re-education that involves the brain. This is how to undo the sensory motor amnesia that keeps muscles contracted and
the body out of alignment and in chronic pain.
This is the magic and power of Somatics!
For more information or to book a session, contact Rob.
"Pandiculation" is not stretching
Soulworks Body Wisdom