ONLINE Somatic Movement classes on Tuesdays at 11am. Open to all. Each class is 1 hour. You need a mat or blanket to lie on. To join, email
Somatics is brain work, not exercise. It is about improving your control over your sensory-motor nervous system, which is a feedback loop. You sense as you move. Only you can experience what you are sensing as you make that movement or feel that sensation. The somatic experience is uniquely yours. The more awareness you bring to this internal experience of sensing, the more control you have over the movement. There is no limit to how much you can improve.
In Somatics you move slowly, which gives your brain time to absorb and integrate the sensory information. The movements are comfortable and easeful - it is a bit like yawning or sighing. All you do is concentrate on the movement. You do not stretch your muscles but instead, you lengthen them by releasing the tension held in them. How do you do this? By doing movements called "pandiculations" (see below). You only need to repeat the movement two or three times for the brain to integrate the new information. This is how you change long term habits. This is how you get relief from long term pain.
Pandiculation comes from a Latin word "pandiculare", meaning to yawn. Pandiculation is the main method we use in Somatics to release unconsciously held tension in muscles. This tension we call "sensory motor amnesia" or SMA (see below). A pandiculation has three parts: a contraction, a slow release and a pause to integrate. Once you learn how to pandiculate you can release muscular tension anywhere in your body.
Sensory-motor amnesia is unconsciously held muscular tension. The muscles have forgotten how to let go fully, so they can't find their full resting length. They are constantly under tension. This is why tension leads to pain - the muscles are tired from continual, low level contraction.
Thomas Hanna, the inventor of Somatics, identified three main stress reflexes. These are natural survival reflexes, common to all living things, or "somas" (see below). They are instinctive, governed by the brainstem, the unconscious part of the brain. They are there to protect you and are responses to environmental stress
Over time, if these reflexes are constantly triggered and never fully released (due to SMA), they become habitual and cause chronic muscular tension and pain. All three reflexes can happen suddenly or build up over time. Usually people have a mixture of all three but one will be more dominant than the others The reflexes are:
- the "red light" reflex, also known as the "startle reflex", is a contraction of the front of the body, a curling forward in order to protect the vital organs.
- the "green light" reflex, also known as the "landau reflex", is a contraction of the back of the body, in preparation for action or escape.
- the "trauma" reflex is a contraction of the body on one side, as a result of injury or long term, one-sided action.
In Somatics you explore the reflex patterns by pandiculating. By bringing these unconscious reflex patterns into your conscious awareness you become able to feel them more clearly. And when you can feel them you can change them.
A soma is a living being, an organism or a living system, dependent on and connected with all other living systems. Thomas Hanna identified four dimensions that apply to all somas. These are: all somas know which way is up (a response to gravity); somas all face forward so they can find what they need; all somas have two sides so they can move. The fourth dimension is time. Somas exist in time. Change takes place over time.
Private Clinical Somatic Education Sessions
These are one-to-one, hands on sessions that help you find and undo your own patterns of habituated movement. At least 4 sessions are recommended to give time to explore the three stress reflexes identified by Thomas Hanna - the red light, green light and trauma reflexes and to make sure you have all the information you need to practise independently and change your habits. Hands-on feedback or "assisted pandiculations" help you feel more clearly which muscles to contract and which to turn off, and how to improve your control over them as you gently release the contraction.
Due to the current lockdown I am not seeing people in-person, but private online sessions are available. Please email or phone - or 07729 907056
For more information please have a look at the following page (click here) and then phone or email for further information and booking
What is Somatics?
What is a Soma?
"All the movements are comfortable and easy"