Somatic Movement – The Basics and some Resources

In my last post I talked about the difference between stretching and Pandiculation. Based on the number of emails I received in relation to that article I want to clarify how Pandiculation relates to the other main elements of Somatic Education which are;

Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA)


The Three Reflexes (Green Light, Red Light and Trauma)

You can’t fix a problem that you are not aware of. In the context of Somatic Education, Sensory Motor Amnesia is the problem, the Three Reflexes are how the problem presents and pandiculation is (one of) the tools we use to address and resolve the problem.

Everyone has some degree of SMA, from a little to a lot. Read more about what SMA is and how it develops, here.

SMA shows itself in the body as habituated contraction of Three Reflexes. These are brain reflexes, if you are conscious and reading this, then you have a brain, and if you have a brain, you will be susceptible to habituation of these three reflexes. I encourage you to read the three blog entries on each of the reflexes.

Here they are;

Green Light Reflex

Red Light Reflex

Trauma Reflex

When we habituate any or all of the Three Reflexes we will inevitably have movement deficits and/or muscle pain. The extent of either will be dependant on the subtlety or severity of our Sensory Motor Amnesia. Regardless, the approach to resolving the SMA is the same. We must remind the brain how to use the affected musculature correctly. We do this by voluntarily recreating the Three Reflexes and then slowly decreating them.

In the case of Green Light Reflex, this involves  purposely contracting the muscles of the Green Light Reflex, which is all the muscles of the back of the body. This allows us to take voluntary/deliberate/conscious control of those muscles, and then voluntarily/deliberately/consciously relaxing them slowly and under control. This simple act of pandiculating reduces the resting level of tension in the muscles for better movement, reduced pain and improved comfort.

Below is my video demonstrating a simple Somatic Movement to address Green Light Reflex, pandiculating the muscles of the back of the Spine, with an emphasis on the lower back muscles. I would advice watching the video first and then doing the movement whilst listening again.

Here is another simple Somatic Movement that addresses Red Light Reflex. Again watch the video first and then do the movement whilst listening to the video.

As you can see from the videos, Somatic Movements are performed, slowly and gently with the intention of something like a yawn. Try these out and leave a comment on your experience.

You can find more of my free videos on the Learn Somatics YouTube Channel where I will be breaking down all of the most fundamental Somatic Movements.

If you are interested in books on Somatics, I’ve provided a short list below;

Books about Somatics

Somatics by Thomas Hanna

The Body of Life by Thomas Hanna

Move Without Pain by Martha Peterson

Move Like an Animal by Edward Barrera

The Sustainable You by John Loupos

If you think you’d like to Learn Somatics online with me, you can check out my online learning options here.

As always thanks for reading

4 thoughts on “Somatic Movement – The Basics and some Resources”

  1. Your articles are really good Colm and I have been sharing them alot recently. You reminded me that I still haven’t read Thomas Hannas Body of Life. I have read all the others you suggested so I will get that I think I will get that one. Thanks


  2. Hi Colm,
    I am looking again to some of your informative blogs.
    If you are writing a book, I just want to share some of my experience:
    To keep it short, it can be helpfull for people (as I have experienced during my long way to recovery) who like Somatics, to incorporate knowledge about essential ROM ( room of movement) for different parts of the body for better functioning for the body as a whole. For example how far the toes have to extent for proper walking, the ankle ROM, hip ROM, forward bend in the hips (see book Josephine Key, with a lot of usefull information) and so on. This also gives nice information about where more ROM is essential and then you can do general somatics explorations combined with pandiculation directly focused on the problem areas.


  3. This is great stuff! Doctors had me on some heavy pain killers for years and when they changed the drug laws a lot of the physicians freaked out and took people off their pain meds, me being one of them. This sent me in to some serious withdrawal (I was dependent, not addicted). The muscle pain and “weirdness” has been something else, but I’ve come to realize that my brain has lost the ability to communicate with certain muscles. Pandiculating has been very helpful in regaining my brain’s ability to communicate with these muscles. So thankful to you for giving me words to express what I have been experiencing!

    Liked by 1 person

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