I have to tell you, when I was first introduced to Somatic Movements, I didn’t get it. I wasn’t ready or maybe I should say my ego wasn’t ready for exploring such slow, small, gentle movements. Surely I could do faster and more complex movements than this? Well, the answer is that yes, I could, however I didn’t realize how much I was compensating in order to do those movements. It was no wonder that I didn’t feel comfortable taking part in a traditional yoga class. I began to explore answering the questions:
- What’s moving that should be?
- What’s moving that shouldn’t be?
- What isn’t moving that should be?
I am so glad that I was given another opportunity to explore Somatic Movements becoming more deeply aware of sensing and feeling inside myself. I’m grateful to have my family, teachers, students and colleagues supporting me as I’ve learned more and more about these slow, gentle practices to support my own wellness and the wellness of others. I don’t know where I’d be physically or emotionally without them. One does not preclude the other. When my body is feeling great I feel better emotionally, however, when I’m experiencing pain then I don’t feel well emotionally either – sleep is harder due to discomfort, movement is harder, and it is also hard to accept when I have less freedom to choose what I’d like to do when I am limited by discomfort or pain.
I had a spinal fusion when I was 16. I found out I had a grade 4 spondilolisthesis after being in a car accident. What does this mean? Well, my lowest lumbar vertebra slipped forward greater than 75% on my sacrum. I had experienced sciatic pain and low back pain from about age 12. The car accident ended up being a blessing as it revealed this obstacle to health and wellbeing. Surgery was the only option to stabilize my spine. In 1982 that meant six weeks of bedrest after surgery. At age 16 I did not realize how much this affected me emotionally as well. I had been a very active teenager – softball, volleyball, basketball – they were my life and then I could no longer participate.
I wish I knew about Clinical Somatic Education and Somatic Movement then.
Why am I sharing this with you? Perhaps you’ve had an experience similar to mine. I explored many healing modalities to help me with discomfort over the years. They would work temporarily and then the persistent discomfort or pain would return. What I did not know was that I am a Soma!!! As a Soma, we all have our first person experience of what is like to be “me” and what we each are experiencing from the inside. A Soma has the ability to:
- self-correct based on what we self-sense, and
- self-transform – experience freedom from self-sensing, self-guiding and self-correcting
When practicing Somatic Movements there are 3 P’s – Patience, Positivity and Persistence. I was recently teaching a private session to a client who said they couldn’t do it. My Gosh! I’ve said that to myself with this practice sometimes too! It seems like such a slow practice should be easy but when we’ve adapted to compensatory movement patterns for so long we need to bring a beginner’s mind and cultivate curiosity within the practice and take into account how the Four Stages of Learning are involved:
Somatic Movement is a very unique practice in neuromuscular retraining. You may have maladaptive habituated movement patterns as a result of injury, surgery, emotional or physical trauma or repetitive activities that are causing you discomfort or pain. However, you are unaware of these movement patterns. In a private session or group class you will learn how to retrain your brain to consciously communicate with your tight and tired muscles to release tension and increase mobility, balance and strength. You are provided with movements to practice that will help you move through the 4 Stages of Learning.
This is a slow, gentle movement practice done while laying on your back, front or sides which allows for less compensation in your movements than would be in standing. Each class will progress from simpler movements isolating specific muscle groups through the spine, shoulders and hips to improve their function. As your conscious movement skill improves the newfound freedom is coordinated into more complex movement patterns. It’s like listening to the string, wind and percussion instruments in an orchestra separately and then bringing them together in beautiful harmony!
This gentle and enjoyable practice:
- Provides strategies and tools to manage, reduce and/or completely resolve pain
- Prevents recurring injuries by changing how your brain communicates information to your muscles
- Increases mobility, energy, strength, coordination and balance
- Improves posture
- Settles your nervous system establishing a sense of relaxation and ease in your body and mind
- Improves quality of life as you gain more freedom and choice through your movements