Somatic Movement

I am a Certified Clinical Somatic Educator (Essential Somatics) and Hanna Somatic Movement teacher. Although I tried numerous modalities to address decades of chronic back pain (and eventually sciatica and a bulging L5/S1), Hanna/Clinical Somatics was the only one that addressed the root of the problem – within a few months of daily practice I was pain free, and a half inch taller due to releasing tight muscles in my lower back and hips.

What Is Somatic Movement?

“Somatic” means to experience sensations and movement from a first-person perspective, or from within. Broadly, somatics includes Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, yoga, tai chi and related systems. The term was coined by Thomas Hanna (1928-1990), a philosophy professor who built on the work of F. Matthias Alexander, Moshe Feldenkrais and others.

Hanna, however, placed more emphasis on “pandiculation,” which is what the dog above is doing. It is not stretching statically like we are often taught, but is slowly contracting tight muscles within a comfortable range of movement, and then releasing them – we do this when we yawn, and dogs and cats do this approximately 40 times per day!

Somatic Education in the tradition of Thomas Hanna is a system that addresses the tendency in most of us to hold unnecessary muscle tension. We may lose the ability to consciously let go of involuntary reflexes when they are no longer needed, such as back muscles that contract when getting ready to move quickly, but don’t fully release when we are done moving. By deliberately contracting and noticing the increased tension, then slowly letting it go, we can retrain our brain and nervous system to have more awareness and more voluntary control of these movement patterns.

I highly recommend Martha Peterson’s introductory dvd (Pain Relief Through Movement) or her book (Move Without Pain) to learn more.

There are also a number of free videos online to teach you fundamentals. Here are a few:

John Loupos

Esther Ekhart​

Kristin Jackson

These movements may not look like much, but try them and notice the changes that result!

Although you can definitely learn with the above resources (that’s what I did for several years), group classes or one-on-one sessions will give you the opportunity to receive feedback, so that you are more aware of muscles that you don’t consciously realize you are tensing. This will result in faster progress, and less frustration.

What people are saying about somatic education

“I often struggle with tension in my back muscles that leads to back pain, and this helped to relieve it.”

“I felt amazing after the session.”

“…my headache went away.”

“I felt less stress in my shoulders and in my body than I ever felt before…”

“I found it very helpful, and it relieved a lot of tension in my back that I did not know that I had. I found it extremely interesting how such tiny movements for such a small period of time could effect such huge changes.”

Clinical Sessions

Contact me to schedule (one-on-one, hands-on) clinical sessions; $80 for one hour (most Tuesdays or Friday afternoons)., or 517-275-2388

Location: Williamston Wellness, 1235 E. Grand River, Williamston, MI 48895 (phone 517-655-4234)

group classes and workshops also available, check back for upcoming events