06 Dec What is Somatics?
“The Somatic Exercises…enable us to remember what it feels like not to be anxious, and to breathe once again like healthy human beings are meant to breathe.”
What is Somatics?
How do you know when you’re cold, hungry, nervous, calm, aroused, or satisfied? Your body tells your brain. Your nervous system picks up sensations throughout your head and body and sends them upstairs for your brain to process, understand, and address.
Connecting with your body
Even when we’ve long forgotten or seemingly never got to know parts of our bodies, our brains are capable of reconnecting, integrating, and forming relationships with our whole selves.
Somatics is about your internal, felt-sense of self. Somatics practice is about tuning into your felt-sense of self. Dropping down away from your rational and analytical mind into your body to sense the nuance of what it feels like inside.
A nervous system practice
Somatics is about connecting your mind to your body to more completely sense the signals your body sends your brain. Bringing your inner feelings (muscles, organs, emotions, the whole lot) into consciousness and facilitating the integration of your sensory (feeling) self with your motor (movement) self, a process that happens through your nervous system.
Body to brain, brain to body
Somatics practice is something you do. It’s embodied learning that asks you to feel into sensations while you make small, repetitive, intentional movements. It doesn’t have to require a lot of time, but it does require concentration and focus.
The benefits are cumulative, and learning somatics probably feels different from learning something intellectually. It’s bottoms-up—the body “teaching” the brain. Or rather, the brain coming to listen more deeply to the body, so that it’s better at controlling your actions in response to what it hears.
Somatics and Yoga
In my own practice, somatics helps me transition my attention from the outside world to my inside world. Moving though a few different somatic exercises tends to calm me down, settle my nerves, and get me in the mode of yogic concentration.
What I’ve learned through my somatics practice has also influenced how I do the yoga poses, making them more comfortable and practical. Somatics has taught me how to “use” the yoga poses to get into the areas of my body that need help.
Stretching, strengthening…with somatic techniques I’ve learned the areas that aren’t functioning optimally and am able to experiment and explore other ways of moving, standing, sitting, and lying down that work better for me. Somatics is an indispensable part of my practice.
Want to try?
If you’re curious about what I’m talking about when I say somatics exercises, here’s a playlist of recorded Somatics and Yoga classes on my YouTube channel that will guide you through them.
And here's a 30-minute bite-sized class with Somatics and Yoga for Shoulders & Upper Back
Art photo above by Paul Blenkhorn @SensoryArtHouse from Pexels