Transform Your Movement Teaching With Somatic Exercises

The first ever Essential Somatic® Exercise Coach training took place November 9 - 11, 2012 at Wellspring Health Collective in Maplewood, NJ. We had an engaging group of movement professionals with backgrounds from Pilates to functional fitness to yoga. All of the participants were already incorporating a somatic perspective in their approach to movement and were familiar with the idea of movement exploration and moving "from the inside out." John Belkewich, a personal trainer from New Jersey, and one of the SEC students, has a tagline for his business that says it all:

Transform Your Movement, Transform Your Life.

The desire to move, explore, grow and learn is one of the most basic characteristics of human nature. It is this hard-wired desire to engage with our environment that spurs us on as babies to learn to walk, reach, crawl and eventually stand and move forward in the world. We perfected out movement through trial and error and adaptation. Specific brain reflexes - the Landau Response involving the extensor muscles of the body, and the Startle Reflex involving the flexor muscles, were invoked when the need to move forward or the need to protect oneself was demanded.

If all went well, we developed smooth and efficient movement habits. If something happened to restrict our movement, we adapted our movement in order to continue to move forward in life. It is the just the kind of movement exploration that is missing in today's world of fitness and workouts. Somatic movement and Somatic Exercises can teach us to become aware of our reflexive responses to stress, our excess muscle tension, how it causes pain in our bodies - and how to reverse it. And as Thomas Hanna once wrote,

Somatic Exercises can change how we live our lives, how we believe that our minds and bodies interrelate, how powerful we think we are in controlling our lives, and how responsible we should be in taking care of our total being.

This past weekend's Essential Somatics® Exercise Coach training gave students sensible, scientific principles and tools that can be incorporated into any training method to help people with postural imbalances, muscle pain and functional problems. They began to understand how many functional problems (sciatica, back pain, foot pain, knee pain) that are often considered medical problems are the result of Sensory Motor Amnesia and loss of somatic awareness.

A movement teacher or fitness trainer who can accurately recognize involuntary stress reflex patterns of muscle tightness that inhibit efficient movement is several steps ahead of the competition when it come to giving their clients useful information that can help them move better.

When a trainer understands that slumped shoulders, a painful back, or a pelvic imbalance while squatting is the result of Sensory Motor Amnesia and overly tight muscles outside the brain's control, s/he will have gained a different perspective - a somatic perspective. This opens up the possibility of helping clients improve movement through intelligent, sensory motor learning rather than by overtraining and force.

This past weekend students learned:

  • Trainer, heal thyself. They explored their own somatic movement process and slowed themselves down. If you don't do the practice for yourself, and understand your where your own Sensory Motor Amnesia lies, you can never begin to teach others or appreciate the problems others have.
  • How to recognize the three Somatic Stress Reflexes (Red Light, Green Light, Trauma Reflex) as described by Thomas Hanna in his book, Somatics.
  • The basics of pandiculation: how to use it "hands-on" to awaken sensory awareness in a client, and how to pandiculate their own movement in order to reset muscle length, restore muscle function, and relieve muscle pain.
  • How to teach the 10 basic Somatic Exercises, step-by-step, and why each exercise is important.
  • How Sensory Motor Amnesia presents itself in people as they attempt to move through the exercises and how this can contribute to certain muscle pain problems.

Hanna Somatics prepares you to move better so you can enjoy whatever movement discipline you're currently engaged in. Whether you are a kettle bell trainer, soccer coach, Zumba, or Yoga instructor, learning to incorporate the principles of Hanna Somatics and somatic exercises can help you help your students to get more out of your classes and sessions. For more information and dates about upcoming trainings visit our website.