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What is Hanna Somatic Education?

The way we unconsciously react to the daily, unavoidable, stresses of our busy modern lives cause habituated movement and therefore muscle contraction patterns. These patterns result in chronicle muscle tension that can cause chronic pain. Hanna Somatic Education is based on a series of safe and gentle movements that, when done regularly, can bring about more efficient, coordinated, and pain-free physical functioning. It is scientifically-based sensory motor training that teaches you how most chronic muscle pain develops, and what to do to restore full nervous system control of both muscles and movement. The result is more awareness, control and freedom of movement. The exercises are for everyBODY, helping to free yourself of muscle tension and pain and also to prevent future limitations to movement.

What can I expect of a Somatics class?

You will be led through a series of slow and mindful movements that are preferably performed on the floor. Although the exercises can just as well be performed sitting and standing, we want to start lying on the floor for more proprioceptive feedback and as little gravitational resistance as possible. I will verbally teach you the exercises rather than demonstrate. By not demonstrating we encourage an internal learning process. You can make changes in your nervous system more effectively and efficiently when you focus completely on your internal sensations and process rather than on copying someone else’s movements. You can expect to do movements lying on your back, front and sides.

When we want to release muscular tension we always start from the centre to periphery. There is no use, for example, to try to release a tight shoulder if the root cause is the bad posture of sitting and standing, meaning the way we hold our trunk and spine upright. As a Somatics Educator I often ask my clients to leave their arms and legs at the door since all they need is their trunk and head.

How can Somatics Education help me?

What Thomas Hanna observed over the course of twenty years of clinical practice and research was that when muscles become habitually and involuntarily contracted due to real-life stresses such as accidents, injuries, surgeries, major illnesses, repetitive movements, and even emotional situations, not only do those muscles lose their ability to relax, but the brain actually loses sensation and voluntary control of the muscles. The result is tight, sore muscles, joint stiffness, a loss of smooth, controlled movement, and chronic pain. We call this loss of sensation and voluntary control: Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA).

The brain is the “hard drive” of your body that controls your entire muscular system. When it gets stuck in a feedback loop, then it forgets how to consciously control your muscles and coordinate movement. This is how SMA occurs. In this class, you will learn how to release these muscles and regain conscious voluntary control. You will reconnect your brain to your muscles.

If life means movement and death means non-movement, then it may be permissible to think that more movement means more life and that less movement means less life.
— Thomas Hanna