Somatic exercises are based on body awareness:( proprioception-we bring the perception to the interior) Using an attitude of exploration rather than “performance”, we investigate what the movement feels like rather than the position of the body. Looking at “how do I coordinate movements?” and “how do I incorporate the breath?” we concentrate on the sensations of the movements.
While much of traditional yoga asana (postures) involves stretching the muscles, somatic yoga centers on feeling them! Somatic Movement also provides a sensory feedback loop from the brain: you’ll teach your brain to notice when muscles are contracted, and then educate the muscles to fully release and work in a more energy-efficient and pain-free manner.
It is not just about stretching and strengthening : the problem isn’t that the muscles are short or weak, it’s that they’re exhausted from being constantly over-contracted. Once your muscles have been released and retrained in how to move correctly, they will then become naturally strong again.
Somatic yoga can address many back issues, it is easy on the knees, an ongoing practice can help alleviate chronic pain and it can calm and center the mind and body.
Somatic Movement involves a series of specific exercises that reconnect the brain with the muscles so you can let go of tightness in the body. The movements are slow and mindful. Many are performed on the floor, so your body is more comfortable and isn’t fighting against gravity. No pain = more gain!
Somatic Movement also provides a sensory feedback loop from the brain: you’ll teach your brain to notice when muscles are contracted, and then educate the muscles to fully release and work in a more energy-efficient and pain-free manner.
Somatic inspired Yoga is not about stretching!
Contrary to popular belief, STRETCHING WILL NOT LENGTHEN your muscles and WILL NOT make you “flexible”.
When we statically stretch a muscle, a message is sent to the spinal cord, indicating that there is a change is it’s length. The spinal cord responds by sending the stretched muscle a message to contract. This is known as the Stretch Reflex and it is there to protect the muscle from overstretching, as each muscle has a pre-determined set length. When a muscle becomes contracted, it shortens. (So, basically, when you stretch a muscle you are actually doing the opposite of your intended goal!) With a somatic approach, you will consciously contract and release your muscles. In this way, a message is sent to the BRAIN where it can be sensed and felt. New learning takes place and you begin to have conscious control of your muscles. You can then retrain your brain how to move your body correctly and efficiently.
Can Somatic inspired Yoga help with pain?
Somatic Movement addresses the root cause of WHY you are in pain and teaches you HOW to reverse it.
When a muscle has been contracted over a long period of time, the brain accepts this as “normal” and doesn’t know it’s contracted – this is known as muscle motor amnesia. You are in pain because the muscles are constantly over-contracted, causing them to be weak and tired. These contracted muscles can then compress the joints and trap nerves, causing further pain. Your body tries to compensate, changing the way you move and using other muscles instead, which sets up a further pattern of pain.
The specific somatic movements “wake up” the brain to the reality of the contracted muscles, and retrain them to release and move in a more efficient way. The result is a pain-free body that moves well and ages gracefully!