Essential Somatics Goes International

Those searching for muscle pain relief all speak a common language.

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 had 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. I’ve conducted private clinical sessions as well. No matter whom 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 you. Your responses to stress create your muscle pain and restricted movement, and you can learn to reverse that situation if you’re willing to put some time into it.

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 came 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 that condition 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 the medical profession may have us believe.

~ The Three Somatic Stress Reflexes (full body patterns of adaption to stress) 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 re-create 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” at it and it was exciting to see them spot the patterns of muscle tightness in their colleagues.

Pandiculation - The exploration of this technique was an eye-opener for many of the participants. 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 re-set muscle tonus/length. They learned about the science behind it, and experienced it in an interactive partner exercise.

They also experienced several hours of 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 them 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 (let me deal with him this way or that). They make charts, take blood, take measurements. You may as well be a car or a bicycle. Somatic Educators are not concerned with bodies. We are educators 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.

3 thoughts on “Essential Somatics Goes International

  1. I was there ,and what a remarkable experience that was . Martha you are a great preson and techer . Thank you for a change you made to my thinking and my movement .

    • Ales, you’re very welcome! Thank you for keeping an open mind and being so participatory.You were a terrific addition to the group.
      You recommended that I start lifting kettle bells for strength, and in the last week I have learned to swing a kettle bell properly! My London Somatics workshop host, Warren Djemal, teaches HKC. The first day I was here he put me through the basics of learning to swing a kettle bell properly. I can now see why you said that Somatics is a method that RKC needs to learn more about. My Somatics knowledge helped me to learn quickly.
      What I learned is that you can discover where your sensory motor amnesia is by doing functional movement and having a trainer/teacher who understands Somatics and body patterns! I wasn’t aware that I wasn’t straightening my arm the same way on the left as I was on the right. He taught me several proprioceptive exercises that helped me sense and feel the difference, and voila! I was able to lift the kettle bell above my head the same way on both sides.
      I will continue to learn kettle bells. RKC could REALLY stand to learn about Hanna Somatics. It would help a lot of athletes.
      Keep applying what you learned in the seminar. I’ll be back to teach more soon!

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