A Foundational Practice
A practice of Somatic Movements is a foundational practice that complements all other movement practices. Somatic Movements prepare you to move better and be more present to yourself and your life. They with offer some very simple, yet profound benefits:
They guide you to sense yourself fully and deeply as the human being that you are.
They help you reconnect to a safer, more intelligent sense of self agency and personal understanding.
You learn to restore your ability to voluntarily move all parts of your body in coordination with each other.
They prepare you to move skillfully in whatever activity you enjoy.
The process of slow pandiculation and movement calms your central nervous system and thereby reduces tension in your muscles as it brings your body back into homeostasis.
A practice of Somatic Movements can enhance your entire life when it is embraced with curiosity and newness every time you lie down on your mat. Your practice is yours to do with and play with as you like. You are the expert. No one is watching or judging you.
Be willing to explore within your practice.
While somatic movements are universal, developmental movement patterns that you already know how to do, Sensory Motor Amnesia can rob you of the ability to both sense and control, with ease, these simple patterns of flexion, extension, side bending, and rotating. You might get stuck along the way and wonder why. Somatic Movements may often need to be explored more deeply depending on what you’re feeling in the moment. As babies, we discovered the easiest possible way to create movement and we repeated that until it became smooth and coordinated. Take that same childlike approach to your personal practice: make it pleasant, make it easy. Stop trying so hard! Striving to “get it right” or “make it work” only creates more tension and gets in the way of noticing where you could let go, sense more, try less, move more.
Be open to feeling pleasure.
Sensory motor amnesia can disconnect you from that effortless and coordinated movement and sense of wholeness you had when you were younger. Some people never experienced a sense of freedom and safety in their bodies, even in their childhood. Retrieving that sense of wholeness and physical pleasure – or creating it for the very first time – is a process – a somatic process. Being patient with the process is paramount and worth every minute.
While there’s an optimum framework for doing the Somatic Movements in order to gradually melt away your sensory motor amnesia and turn it into awareness and skillful movement, the “how to’s” of the movements are merely guidelines – guidelines that for some need to be moved, explored, or added to. More breath, a smaller range of movement, a longer pause, a resting breath in between to let your brain soak up the new sensations you’re creating. Consistency and the application of what you learn each day in your personal practice (or a group class) is what will create the self-awareness, improved movement, and self-mastery you’re looking for.
Understand pandiculation and the changes it creates in your level of sensory motor awareness, muscle control, and mental and emotional awareness. Pandiculation, as explained in this video, mobilizes your entire nervous system and “wakes up” the brain to muscle connection and restores optimum muscle length and function. It brings you into the present moment and reconnects you to yourself on all levels – mental, emotional, and physical. The brain does not distinguish between mental, emotional, and physical sensation. Mental or emotional can present as a physical pain just as physical discomfort affects our emotional and mental state. Pandiculation not only reduces muscle tension, it reduces mental and emotional stress as well.
Your Somatic Movement practice is a gesture of kindness you make towards yourself. It’s a time to slow down, be mindful, explore, play and, in a sense, return to yourself. Engage with your Somatics practice – whether you do Somatics on the floor or explore fun movements while seated or standing – with an eye towards making it as pleasant as possible.
You just might find yourself doing more of what you want to do in your life instead of only doing what you think you “should” be doing. Ultimately, the choice, as well as the process is yours.