Somatic Movement

find easeful being

What is Somatic Movement?

It is a form of mindful movement that helps address postural imbalances in our body’s bringing ease to our Soma, (body-mind). Somatic movement helps to address chronically tight muscles that have learned to stay contracted in response to stress. (Perhaps visualise a teenager with rounded shoulders, forward head, and collapsed chest.) These holding patterns are unconscious in that we are not aware of them. They have become an unconscious habit in our body’s. Hanna coined this phenomenon Sensory Motor Amnesia.   In this practice we pandiculate specific muscle groups to help release them.   By bringing our attention into these movements, we help to retrain our nervous system that it is safe to release this unconscious holding, and we help to create new healthier and more balanced  patterns in our body and mind.

Thomas Hanna devised Somatic Movement. He coined the word ‘soma’ to unify the experience of body and mind. He understood that our mind is our body, and our body is our mind.   To separate body and mind is a deep misunderstanding that often continues to limit our approach to health and well being.

Animals pandiculate around 40 times every day. If you have a cat or a dog, notice every time the pop up from a nap, they will stretch and contract, resetting their muscles, ready for easeful action.

What is involved in a Somatic Movement practice?

The first part of any somatic practice will involve a soma scan. We simply lie on our backs, using the ground as a reference, we sense and feel the contact our body is making with the ground, noticing the spaces, sensing differences in both sides and sensing the quality and freedom of our breath. This scan serves to give us a baseline of information about our body and our breath.

In Somatic Movement we pandiculate to help release chronically tight muscles. We bring our awareness into a muscle, we contract that muscle beyond its habitual tone, and then we slowly release, sensing and feeling that same muscle lengthening, followed by a moment of melt where we completely relax.  By bringing our brain into the process we retrain our nervous system, creating new pathways between our brain and our muscles, re-patterning our soma.

Taking five minutes to stretch and yawn, to feel into and contract and squeeze the clunkiness of your morning body, and slowly release, luxurious and easy,  is a fantastic habit to get into.  It is the natural instinct of our animal body. Returning to our own nature brings ease and well being.

cat easeful being

“You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”

Mary Oliver

Common Conditions that can be helped with a somatic practice

Low Back Pain

Shoulder and Neck Pain

Frozen Shoulder


Sacroiliac Joint Disfunction


Restricted functional movement

Breathing Difficulties



Dysfunctional Walking Patterns

Chronic Stress 

One to One Sessions in Somatic Movement


A Somatic Movement Practice can empower you to move towards a pain free easeful living in your own soma, (body-mind).

 You will learn to understand and recognize your common holding patterns. You will learn movements that will help to bring balance, freedom and ease to your posture and movement. You will be able to clearly identify what works in your own body, using soma scans at regular intervals to check, sense and feel, to register the changes brought about by the movements.  In doing this you will have genuine feedback from your own body-mind, giving yourself substantial evidence of it’s benefits. (This is encouraging when trying to build a home practice. This inner experience and knowing will bring you to your practice with a sense of trust and over time you will find you can rely on the practice to ease pain if you find old symptoms returning.)

I will hold the space for you to safely explore your movement patterns and the relationship between your body and mind.  I will help you to re-find trust in your body.  Sometimes our relationship with our body can be a negative one. Our body’s have become the source of our pain, and so we dissociate from our body, it becomes our enemy and often we fear moving it in case we cause more pain. Through gentle enquiry we navigate our way safely into relationship again. Like any relationship, in the beginning it can be fraught with fear and doubt, but over time when we find trust and ease in each others company we can find real support and resource in the wisdom of our own body. We begin to trust the messages our body is sending and respond to them with kind attention and care. This sets a new path towards healing and wholeness. 

You will be able to sense and feel the changes in the very first session.  However the pathways created and settled into your soma have most likely been there for a very long time.  Old habits die hard and we often revert easily into our old patterns.  A regular practice will empower you to create new pathways that will bring you into balance in your own body mind.  Even fifteen minutes every day or every second day can help to profoundly change your dysfunctional patterns and create new healthier more balanced ways of being.  

When practiced with kind attention and a relaxed attitude, the practice brings a sense of balance and peace to our psychological state. There is a common saying in the Yoga Community, “Our issues are in our tissues”. In somatic movement we move in through the physical state, releasing tension, stress and trauma in our body’s, this has a direct and profound effect on our mental and emotional state. You will be able to feel these profound changes from the very first session.  If desired a somatic movement practice can be used to decrease anxiety and chronic stress, to increase mindfulness and a more embodied way of living.

I offer Gentle Somatic Yoga Classes which incorporate many somatic practices and principles, however a more personalised approach will be more beneficial to start with if you have a particular issue that you would like to address.

If you would like to explore the benefits of one to one Somatic Movement Coaching, if would would like to have a chat to understand more about how it works,  please don’t hesitate to call me at 085-7617258.  It is preferable to take at least up to four sessions to really begin to understand and integrate the profound benefits of this gentle practice.  Of course you may decide it is not for you after the first session and that is completely fine too.

Red Light, Green Light, & Trauma Reflexes

Three Dysfunctional Postural Habits

Three main dysfunctional patterns in the body, or posture. (These have been exaggerated in the above pictures for the sake of illustration.)

The first is Red Light reflex, head forward, shoulders hunched and rounded, chest collapsed and tail tucked under. This reflex is associated with protection and withdrawal. It is common in teenagers and was certainly my pattern in my school going years.

The second is Green Light reflex, shoulders back, chest lifted, lower back overly arched and tail bone lifted. This green light reflex is associated with always being on alert, ready for action. This is common in soldiers, military types who are trained to be on alert and look large in the face of adversity.

The last one is Trauma reflex. This usually involves one hip hiked up higher than the other, one shoulder hiked, and a slight rotation in the body. This is usually associated with trauma to the body through an accident or an operation, or simply a habit of moving developed from one-sided sport, or one-sided baby carrying etc.

We all have tenets of these dysfunctional holding patterns in our bodies. (In my experience I have all three to some degree.) Eventually the imbalance in our bodies can lead to pain, (eg chronic low back pain, sciatica, hip pain, knee pain etc), an inability to function or to move freely in an integrated and easeful way, breathing issues, digestive problems and a host of other conditions. Somatic Movement directly addresses these postural imbalances, it awakens and activates muscles that have been chronically tight, releasing them, allowing the body to regain balance and ease. As Hanna understood, this unconscious tension and holding in our muscles is directly related to our mind.  

When we find ease in the body, integration in how we move, easeful breathing, we access easeful being in our minds, we are freed from unconscious fears and traumas that have been held in our tissues, we find a new way of being, in the present, somatically aware, at ease.