“The most important thing for you to remember is that Somatic Exercises change your muscular system by changing your central nervous system. If you do not remember this important fact, their effectiveness will be diminished for you."
- Thomas Hanna
Somatic movements are performed slowly, consciously and with ease.
Students learn how to turn down chronic tension and re-pattern dysfunctional habits freeing the students' movement potential and relieving the pain typical of stress and chronic tension.
HSE is an educational process. HSE does not require endless sessions with a practitioner. The student learns to maintain their own wellbeing often in just a few sessions. The student is empowered with the capability of self care free from dependence on a practitioner for their comfort and wellbeing. Entirely based in neurophysiology results are consistent and explainable. Different than modalities where the client is passively being worked on and their tissues manipulated by a practitioner, HSE students are actively creating their own changes. Gaining not just a momentary release of muscle tissue but establishing new healthy neuromuscular patterns and the tools necessary to turn down chronically held tensions.
Being stuck in the sympathetic system (flight/fight) has detrimental effects on the mind and body including the immune system. Slowing down and feeling good in the parasympathetic system (rest, digest and heal) can have far reaching positive benefits on all of our systems
Somatic Motor Amnesia is a descriptive term referring to a habitual adapted response of the nervous system to stress or trauma. The state of SMA is characterized by misinformation about one's state of being traveling through the sensory motor loop. This can show itself as too much or too little sensation and a loss of control of particular muscles or in a more full pattern involving many muscles. If you imagine being injured and the corresponding retraction of the surrounding muscularity that pulls you into a crooked stance. Over time this pattern then can become a habit. Soon crooked feels straight, the pattern is unconscious and difficult to get out of. Our sensors become accustomed to a particular ROM and may need reminding that there is more length available. Essentially our soma has “forgotten” what it feels like to hold ourselves and move as we did before the injury. Constant contraction brings fatigue and an inability to flush out the resulting lactic acid. Misalignment often causes compression of various joints, discs, or nerves, often lead to pain or numbness. The habituated pattern is not a conscious action. Some muscles in this pattern are constantly being contracted, even during sleep, creating fatigue and functional weakness as they are not able to utilize their full potential. The opposing muscles are often difficult to activate or even sense, again resulting in a decrease of function.
If the pain is treated with drugs or the form of the patient is treated with surgery nothing has been done to change the root cause of the problem, the neuromuscular habit. Through the voluntary actions of HSE we re-pattern these habits returning the muscle/s to a more relaxed state. Effectively helping our Somas to “remember” how to move and rest more efficiently. Through body image retraining the student regains an accurate sense of alignment and access to full functionality. Strength, a full Range of Motion, dynamic timing, and balance all depend on having access to the full capabilities of the musculature to shorten, lengthen and rest at varying rates of speed.
Over the course of a lifetime we are exposed to many stresses and traumas. These stresses have both an emotional and inseparably a physical component. Often this leads us into habitual postural misalignments. A lifetime of repeating these patterns ingrains them into our unconscious movement habits eventually re-shaping our somas. Being stuck in these patterns a variety of issues usually start showing up in our mid 30’s or 40’s. Since it is muscular tension reshaping our positioning we can learn new habits and change our posture back into our optimal alignment through the reeducation of our sensory motor system. Instead of adding tension to the opposing/antagonist musculature like a tensegrity system, HSE releases the chronic tension that is pulling the soma into a distortion in the first place.
As we age we are commonly told that it is a natural part of aging to become distorted and restricted. This is due to tension not aging. We can relearn how to relax this hypertonicity and regain the comfort and freedom of movement we once enjoyed.
Many ailments commonly thought to be a result of aging can be attributed to these learned/ reactionary movement and postural tension habits. Utilizing the techniques of HSE we can learn new healthy patterns, recognize and unravel unhealthy contraction patterns and feel the discomfort of a lifetime of tension and distortions melting away.