From the greek word “soma” – your own direct experience of your living body from within
Clinical Somatics is a gentle movement practice designed to release and resolve chronic muscle tension which plays a big role in the chronic pain process. It operates at the interface between the brain, nervous and myofascial systems via neuro-muscular re-education. The movements, called pandiculations, train the brain to let go of sensory motor amnesia – habitual contraction patterns – and to restore voluntary control.
Pandiculations come naturally to us, they are that yawn and stretch impulse we have we wake up or get up from sitting too long. However, we get stuck in habitual tensions and pain patterns and we find we can’t let go. Learning voluntary self-pandiculation is the magic of Clinical Somatic Movement.
Moving slowly and gently with awareness, supports the body to find rest and ease. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated to elicit deep relaxation. Sessions involve guiding and teaching these practices to equip and empower you to navigate and overcome the experience of persistent pain.
It is effective for chronic pain due to tight tense muscles and to address specific issues such as:
lower back pain
recovery post surgeries
Clinical somatics also supplements all movement practices (e.g. yoga, running, dance) – bringing freedom of movement, fluidity and undoing damaging habitual postural patterns.
My current offerings.
I offer somatic one-on-one and small group sessions (online and in-person).
About clinical somatics
Clinical Somatics or Hanna Somatics (after Thomas Hanna who developed the work) finds its place among Western embodied movement practices such as the Alexander technique and the Feldenkrais Method .
Thomas Hanna trained with Moshe Feldenkrais. From this foundation he moved in his own direction of explicitly exploring the 3 primary stress reflexes of the body and how to work with releasing them when they become chronic and lead to contraction and pain.
His term Sensory Motor Amnesia describes a “forgetting” that happens, an habituation of muscle contraction and a loss of the capacity to voluntarily release tension. Somatic movements, done with awareness, and slowly and gently, help the brain re-establish healthy movement patterns, reminding muscles and fascia to return to their natural tone.
As a long time mindfulness practitioner and trained to facilitate the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme (MBSR) developed by Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, it quickly became apparent to me that there is a deep and natural resonance between somatics and mindfulness. Mindfulness is a key practice that supports and enhances the clinical somatic movements. It is a body-based awareness practice rooted in self-compassion, which supports healthier responses to stress and pain.
People who are drawn to somatics are often in distress and pain, so learning the basic tenets of mindfulness can support and enrich the development of a somatics practice. Indeed the first foundation of the Buddha’s teaching is mindfulness of the body. Slowing down, paying careful attention, being with what arises in the moment without judgement, and gently meeting pain and discomfort with spaciousness – these are qualities we develop when we begin a mindfulness practice.
My own journey into clinical somatics began in 2018 when I could not find resolution for chronic pain and muscle tension that had developed over time. Bodywork was helpful for a little while but did not sustain. My online research for solutions kept bringing me to the modality of Clinical Somatics. I began doing some online classes with Kristin Jackson of ThinkSomatics and developed my own daily practice. Within 8 months all of my symptoms cleared. I feel wonderful, expansive and free in my body and relish in my daily somatic practice.
I’m trained through the Somatic Movement Centre to become a certified level 3 somatic movement exercise instructor. I’ve developed an incredible passion for sharing this simple yet powerful modality with others and integrating it with my other skills and passions, mindfulness and dance.