Frequently Asked Questions

People having fun in garden. Woman and man, water hose.

Never heard of Somatics before?!

No worries, I hear this a lot! I only first heard about Somatics (Hanna Somatics) in 2013 and wondered why I had never heard of it before?!

I now feel I have found the missing link I had been searching for to rid myself of my back pain and help me move better.

I am always so excited about sharing Somatics; I genuinely believe it is for everyone! I hope the information below is helpful to you. 

You must experience a session to truly feel its unique effect on your mind and body.

It is possible to start feeling the effects of this beautiful work in your first session. Come and experience Somatics for yourself!

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"The most important thing for you to remember is that Somatic Exercises change your muscular system by changing your central nervous system. If you do not remember this important fact, their effectiveness will be diminished for you."

- Thomas Hanna

Thomas Hanna coined the term Somatics in the mid-'70s. His work referred to the discipline of movement education. Somatics is neuro-muscular learning that improves our ability to move, we can regain greater voluntary control of our muscles by retraining the brain to let go of unnecessary tension (Sensory Motor Amnesia).

When exploring these simple, gentle movements, we focus on our internal sensations to feel the changes taking place. You are the expert; no one knows better than you what it feels like to live in your body, so rather than having someone move your body parts for you - In Somatics, we guide you to move in a way to get the best results.

When you go to the root cause of chronically contracted muscles (the brain), you can get relief and freedom of movement for the long term. Learning Somatics also gives you the 'tools' to take care of any aches and pains should they arise in the future. After all, we create tension patterns in our bodies every day. Wouldn't it be nice to know what to do - so it does not accumulate and become a problem?

When you learn Somatics, you invest in your health and can save a small fortune! 

Along with our daily habits, how we sit, stand, and move around contributes to muscular body tension. Every accident, injury, or surgery we've ever experienced can take its toll over time - if we do not fully address them. Even our thoughts can affect the way we move.

Our muscles can become so tight over time that no matter what we seem to do - they won't relax. The tension starts to become our 'normal' way of being, and we tend to blame the aging process for a reason. However, what has happened is we have developed something called Sensory-Motor Amnesia.

We learn how to stay tight and forget how to let muscles go! It becomes hard to sense ourselves anymore; muscles are 'on' all the time, even when asleep!  It can become exhausting and painful at times.

We are the final product of all our movement habits, all the sports and activities we have played, and all the accidents, injuries, and surgeries we have been through.

When we learn a new movement pattern it happens in a part of the brain called the motor cortex and once we habituate that pattern it gets stored in another area called the sub cortex. That's great news; we don't have to learn to walk again or how to put the fork to our mouth whenever we need to! But this also goes for all our poor movement patterns; the brain doesn't know the difference between a 'good' or 'bad' movement pattern, it just knows if you've done something often enough it's 'got that' for you.

The brain wants to be efficient for us. Over time, tension will layer up in the body, and when we finally notice we tend to blame our age for the cause. However, this can happen at ANY AGE!

To undo these chronically held muscles and regain control, we need to engage the motor cortex again - our 'learning zone' to wake up those muscles stuck on 'cruise control'.  By moving in specific ways, you can regain control of the muscles and reset their length and function, enabling freedom of movement again.

Pandiculation is the primary technique we use in Somatics. Pandiculation is what you see cats and dogs do after periods of rest. They are NOT stretching! They are contracting, lengthening, and fully relaxing the muscles on the front and back of their bodies. They are 'waking up their nervous systems ready for 'action'.

Muscles only contract and relax. They do not stretch; we can pull them into an extended position. However, the brain controls them, and once you have tried to pull your target muscles to the desired length the brain will return them to the contracted pattern they are used to.  No one muscle works on its own; there is always a full-body pattern to consider. When we stretch, we are trying to 'spot fix' an area and missing the bigger picture. 

Our human version of pandiculation is the full-body yawn we do in the morning. You may think you are stretching your muscles as you move your arms and legs when you yawn. Still, next time you do it, notice you are fully contracting your muscles and then slowly lengthening and completely relaxing them - feels great, right?!

In Somatics, we use this pandiculation technique to move through 3 main reflex patterns in various ways to retrain the brain to relax and lengthen our muscles again fully.

When you focus entirely on what you are doing you can free the mind of daily stresses, giving you a great 'time out' and a sense of relaxation. Somatics is often described as 'movement meditation' because it can be so relaxing! 

There are three central reflexes our bodies take on in response to stressors...

In Somatics, we call them the Red Light Reflex, better known as tension in the front of the body; the Green Light Reflex - tension in the back of the body; and The Trauma Reflex - tension in the sides. 

Red Light Reflex - The tightening of the muscles on the front of the body is not only the startle response to fear, anxiety, and emotional upset. It is becoming increasingly known today as a muscular adaptation to excessive computer and mobile phone use; this slumped forward posture can lead to chronic neck, shoulder and back pain due to the rounding forward of the shoulders, the head jutting forward and compression in the chest area.

This tension pattern pulls down the ribs in the front and tightens the belly, hindering our ability to breathe freely. Shallow breathing can deprive the body of the essential oxygen to function correctly.

Green Light Reflex - The muscles on the back of the body contract to move us forward. When walking, running for something,  standing up straight (think military posture), or sitting up 'straight', we can overly contract our back muscles. If these stresses become habituated, they can help cause back, neck, and shoulder pain, disc issues, and sciatica pain. 

When suffering from these pains, we can easily suffer from depression, anxiety and sleep problems. A cycle of pain can develop.

The Trauma Reflex is the reflex of pain avoidance; the sides of the body contract in response to accidents or injuries to avoid further trauma or create protection.

Also, daily stresses like sinking into one hip or holding a child on one side can create an imbalance from right to left. Many one-sided activities, like tennis and golf, can also contribute to this tension pattern.  

Nothing is wrong with these reflex patterns; however, we can experience reduced mobility and pain when habituating them.

Thankfully, we can release these chronically contracted muscles with a gentle Somatics practice and regain our freedom of movement.

I would love to benefit as many people as possible from this work. 

If you want to ask any questions about how Somatics may help you, please call 

07907 22 60 60.

I offer everyone a free 30-minute telephone consultation.

All the best for now, 

Sarah 

I hope you can join us!

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