It's been a whirlwind of activity since I arrived in Europe at the beginning of May. On the professional side of things I have had the good fortune to meet a wide range of enthusiastic people whose search for improved movement, pain relief, and long-term good health has led them to Essential Somatics, Hanna Somatics and me. I began the month with workshops - one for a continuing education segment for British Wheel of Yoga teacher trainers, and another for enlisted servicemen in the UK. No matter who I speak with or where they come from, they all understand the basic message of Somatics: improved body awareness, muscle control, and pain relief can only come from within. Your responses to stress create your muscle pain and restricted movement, and you can learn to reverse that situation on your own through Hanna Somatic Education.
The Fundamentals of Hanna Somatic Education for Health Professionals in Frankfurt, Germany.
I just returned from Frankfurt, Germany where I taught a basic course called "The Fundamentals of Hanna Somatic Education." The enthusiastic group of health professionals included an osteopath/naturopath, a chiropractor, several Pilates teachers, physiotherapists, and fitness trainers. One participant flew in from Vienna, Austria, and another from Slovenia. The seminar was organized by osteopath Detlef Poehlmann and hosted in Uta Gotschlich's beautiful studio, Premium Pilates.
Participants left the seminar with substantive knowledge of how to apply basic concepts of Hanna Somatics to the way in which they interact with their clients, and how to assess their clients' posture and movement. They even learned a daily routine of Somatic Exercises to help them take care of their own bodies!
Many of these health professionals had either read my book, Move Without Pain, found Essential Somatic while searching for unanswered questions regarding their own muscle pain, or begun to incorporate Somatic Exercises into their fitness routines on the advice of respected strength coach, Dan John.
We addressed, in detail, the following concepts:
- Sensory Motor Amnesia and how it is at the root of most chronic muscular pain. If you understand how this condition occurs, many so-called "mysterious" conditions (back pain, sciatica, TMJ, piriformis syndrome, leg length discrepancy) seem a lot less complicated than medical profession may have us believe.
- The Three Somatic Stress Reflexes, which are common to all humans, no matter where they may live or what their circumstances. It was fun to watch the participants close their eyes and recreate these reflexes physically in response to imagined stress. They began to learn how to recognize and assess these reflexes in their fellow participants as well as experience them through the Somatic Movement explorations interspersed throughout the day. They were naturals and it was exciting to see them spot the patterns of muscle tightness in their colleagues.
- Pandiculation, a brain reflex action, is one of the important clinical techniques used by Hanna Somatic Educators to teach people to retrain their brain to release muscle tension and reset muscle tonus/length. The exploration of this technique was an eye-opener for many of the participants. They learned about the science behind it, and experienced it in an interactive partner exercise.
- They also experienced several hours of Hanna Somatic Exercises. The academics of Somatics are fascinating, but the gold is discovered through movement, and in the experience of how rapidly one can change one's own ability to sense and move muscles that were once painful and unable to move and coordinate well. These gentle, safe exercises are the key to maintaining mobility and overall health.
Hanna Somatics is "education with therapeutic outcomes."
One of the most critical distinctions I wanted participants to walk away with was the difference between how most medical professionals practice and how Hanna Somatic (Clinical Somatic) Educators practice. This difference can't be underestimated, and once one begins to interact with a client with this different perspective, amazing things can happen:
Most medical professionals interact with you as a body. They make charts, take blood, take measurements trying to solve you like math problem or a car that won't start. Somatic Educators are concerned with Somas. A Soma is a body as experienced from within: what it feels like to be YOU. Our job is to guide and educate you to awaken your own internal proprioception and awareness in order to affect change - from the inside out. This is the only way to reverse one's habitual muscular tightening, poor posture and response to stress.
I came away informed and educated by what the participants had to offer me through their participation. From a somatic perspective on Pilates, to functional outdoor movement training to neuromuscular chiropractic methods - we all brought something unique to offer each other.
As we said our goodbyes we were already discussing dates for a future Somatic Education professional training in Germany. Germany, get ready to feel a whole lot better - help is on the way!
To bring Martha to your area for a workshop, or full day seminar, contact her directly.