I was introduced to Hanna Somatic Movement though Irish Yoga and Hanna Somatic teacher; Lisa Petersen from Living Yoga and I knew that this was the start of new learning’s for me! Lisa describes Somatic Movement Education- ‘as offering a safe, fast and profound way to release and recalibrate tight muscles by retraining the nervous system and re-patterning the soma (body-mind).
This training unites modern neuroscience and ancient yogic wisdom within the practice of somatics. I have studied Hanna Somatic Movement with Lisa Petersen and Martha Peterson from Essential Somatics and commenced three years of Clinical Somatics in 2016.
‘Learn how to make the unconscious conscious and
feel how everything becomes easier and pain free from your head to your toes’ Thomas Hanna
Somatics as described by Thomas Hanna is the field that studies the ‘Soma’- the being as perceived from within by the first person, i.e. you experience your being from the inside out.
Hanna Somatic movement education according to Thomas Hanna – ‘is the use of sensory – motor learning to gain greater voluntary control of ones physiological process’ It is ‘ somatic’ in the sense that the learning occurs within the individual as an internal process.
In the past I have reflected on why I was unable to balance my hip tightness? Even when using my Physio techniques, practicing yoga for 20 years and holding poses for longer on the tighter side and endless hip openers, Clinical Pilates to strengthen my core- I was unable to find balance.
Hanna Somatics would suggest that this ongoing tightness was due to ‘ Sensory – Motor Amnesia’ (SMA)- This is a condition in which the sensory- motor neurons of the voluntary cortex have lost some portion of their ability to control all or some of the muscles of the body. This is not due to lesion in brain or the muscular system rather a functional deficit whereby the ability to contract a muscle group has been surrendered to subcortical reflexes. These reflexes will chronically contract muscles at a programmed rate- e.g. 10%, 30%, 60%- and the voluntary cortex is powerless to relax he muscles below the programmed rate-it has lost or forgotten the ability to do so. In other words, the brain has forgotten how to relax the muscles and they stay switched on to some degree.
Hanna suggested that SMA could only be overcome by education, not by treatment. ‘An internal process must occur whereby new sensory information is introduced into the sensory- motor feedback loop’ I like to describe it as ‘ finding a new neutral, a different way of moving, improving the neural communication between the sensory- motor cortex and the muscle/ muscles’
Hanna suggested that SMA occurs by three pathological processes;
- The Trauma Reflex- occurs as a protective muscular response to injury. This is the reflex of pain avoidance.
- The startle reflex – a fear based reflex that contracts the front body (Red light Reflex)
- Green light reflex- a fear based reflex that contracts the back of the body If these reflexes become habitual the muscles may forget how to relax that become chronically tight, they can be painful and sore and lead to postural changes and the brain feels that they are relaxed.
Hanna Somatic exercises use neuromuscular programming to find a new way to move: a new neutral, a new relaxed state It is mindfulness movement that firstly brings our awareness to these unconscious tensions and then trains the sensory motor cortex to move the body in a new way, or a forgotten way. Somatic exercises are preformed slowly and with awareness to bring long lasting changes to our ‘Soma’
Shelly Fruend combines Hanna Somatic Movements into clients management strategies & group classes & workshops. See Timetable or you can book individual appointments through the link on home page