What Are You Really Feeling When You’re Stressed?

April is Stress Awareness Month 2021 so let’s take this opportunity to talk a little bit about stress. Perhaps you’re feeling stressed right now. If you are, consider this question, ask yourself what does it ‘feel’ like to be stressed? What are you really feeling when you are stressed? What happens in your mind when you are stressed? And what happens in your body when you are stressed? What emotions do you associate with feeling stressed?

Continue reading…

Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

Is Your Back Pain Getting You Down?

Does your back pain make you feel miserable? Are you frustrated by the endless pain and discomfort? Does it make you feel hopeless? Are you petrified by the thought that your back pain might never end?

I’m not surprised, I felt the same way. Back pain sucks big time! And it can really take over your whole life!

You wake up in the morning already exhausted, why? Because your back pain was so bad you couldn’t get comfortable, so you lay there, sore, aching and exhausted. You pray for the sweet embrace of sleep. But it never really comes, you may doze for a while, but deep sleep evades you. You just can’t get comfortable enough to sleep well. So morning rolls around and you start another day tired, frustrated and in pain.

When the alarm goes off you are faced with your first challenge of the day; How am I going to get out of bed? Which will be swiftly followed by challenge #2, how am I going to get my socks on?

Sound familiar?

So you somehow manage to get out of bed and get dressed, grimacing in pain throughout the whole ordeal. But now it’s time for challenge #3, walking downstairs. Will I go down sideways? Or one step at a time? Or maybe backwards? But they all hurt! You struggle down the stairs holding on to the banister for dear life.

Sound like your experience?

Finally downstairs, you shuffle to the kitchen and prepare and eat your breakfast standing, of course. Not that you really enjoy it or have much appetite, because all your attention is consumed by your constant back pain.

Does this ring any bells?

Now its time for back pain challenge #4, sitting at your desk trying to get comfortable for your days work. (Pre pandemic this might have been a slightly different challenge, getting into your car, or on to public transport, or maybe mounting your bike) But now you’re working from home. So you head to your “office” and desperately try to find a sitting position in your chair that allows you to pay attention to your work, and not the constant aching pain in your back. You tried standing at the desk, but that just made your back hurt even more. Eventually you get into a position that is somewhat tolerable and start working. But its hard to concentrate when you have back pain.

You do your best tho, because you have to keep going right?

When lunchtime rolls around you consider taking some painkillers AGAIN but deep down you know they are not the answer, and you worry about taking them long term. Your mind briefly asks, surely theres’ got to be a solution. But there’s no time to think about that right now. You need to get some lunch. But that means now
you have to stand up, Challenge #5; “Hmmm… how am I going to get out of this chair?”

Sound like you?

During your lunch you wonder how long you can carry on like this.

In the afternoon, work gets busy, the pressure mounts a little. And you notice that the busier you are, the more intense you back pain becomes.

What’s that about?

But you grit your teeth and finally make it through to the end of your work day. You used to enjoy going for a run a few evenings per week after work to blow of the cobwebs. But since you developed this back pain you haven’t been able to run at all. In fact even walking for any distance is a challenge now, and afterwards your back pain seems to increase.

You really miss going for that run…

During dinner you snap at your partner, they were just asking you a question, but you feel so exhausted from the constant pain that it’s really beginning to affect your mood. You think back to your work day and realise you were quite abrupt in conversation with a colleague earlier too. You feel bad about being irritable, it’s just because your back pain is really getting to you now. But you don’t want to complain, and they wouldn’t understand anyway.

So you sit in front of the TV and try to distract yourself from the pain, binging on the latest series. And it kinda works, but eventually you have to go to bed. Which means you have to navigate the stairs again, undress, wash, and get into bed. Repeating all the challenges you started your day with in reverse order.

Sound familiar?

And to finish your day you are left with the prospect of another restless, painful and sleepless night, before you have to repeat it all tomorrow. With back pain. Again.

No wonder your back pain is getting you down.

If any of this sounds familiar to you, if you are currently living this reality, I’d like you to consider a possibility:

Imagine your life without chronic back pain.
What would it be like?
What would you do?
How would you feel?
Who would you be?

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of a comfortable pain free back, click the link below and sign up for my free Back Pain Relief Video Tutorial. I want to help you because I had chronic back pain too. But it doesn’t have to be permanent. I want to share with you a simple Somatic Movement sequence I use to keep my back feeling comfortable and pain free. Watch it, follow along and experience what happens. Change is possible. Let me know how you get on. I want to help YOU.

Click here to access the free Back Pain Relief Tutorial Video

If you know someone who is struggling with back pain, perhaps you could share this blog post with them.

P.S. You can also find this blog post at learnsomatics.ie/blog

If you are a regular reader you might want to head over there and sign up for the Learn Somatics email newsletter. Somatics news, tips, videos, events and blog posts to your inbox.

As always thanks for reading!

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3 Simple Reasons Why You Have Back Pain

Today I want to share with you, 3 simple reasons why you have back pain. So without further ado…

No. 1. Your Back Muscles Are Too Tense

Yep, it’s that simple. Your back muscles are achey, sore and painful because they are way more tense and contracted than they need to be. Don’t believe me? Press on them, Are they rock hard and tender to touch? If they are, then they are too tense.

Tense muscles are muscles that are constantly working. Muscles that are constantly working, are constantly tight. And muscles that are constantly tight eventually start to feel painful. Well of course they do, they never get a chance to rest. The result: Back pain!

You can learn how to release this muscle tension during my upcoming Back Pain Relief Workshop on April 3rd.

Now onto reason no. 2…

No. 2. You Cannot Move Your Back Freely

Another simple reason your back hurts is because you are not able to move it freely. Can you bend forward comfortably at all times? Say to pick up something from the floor? Or put on your socks and tie your shoes.

Can you twist easily? Can you trot upstairs freely? Can you get out of a chair easily? Or does you tight back make these kinds of activities feel like a struggle?

If you are unable to perform simple movements with your back, you are eventually going to end up with a sore back or you already have one.

I’ll also be teaching how to move your back with freedom and ease during the Back Pain Relief Workshop.

And finally…

No. 3: You Are Stressed

Muscles get tense in response to stress, whether thats work stress, family difficulties, relationships etc.

When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress*

https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body

It’s that simple. If you are under constant stress, you will end up constantly tense, tight, achey and sore.

And now you’re saying, “Well that’s great, but what can I do about it?”

Here’s what you can do about it

You can learn how to relax your muscles. And the good news is, it’s really easy to do. And the even better news is that when you learn how to relax your muscles, you will also be learning how to move your back freely AND relieving the tension you accumulate in response to stress. Because of course we can’t avoid stress entirely. But we can learn how to manage our responses to it!

So even though we’ve looked at 3 simple reasons you have back pain, you only need 1 solution; Somatic Movements!

If you’d like to learn everything you need to know to make your back pain a thing of the past, sign up for my Back Pain Relief Online Workshop. During this workshop you will learn how to actually regain control of your back muscles, release all that muscular tension, move freely and easily and feel less stressed. Who wouldnt want that?

Increased comfort and relaxation are guaranteed when you Learn Somatics.

If you know someone who is struggling with back pain, maybe you could share this post with them.

As always thanks for reading.

P.S. Don’t forget the blog is moving to it’s new home at learnsomatics.ie. So if you want to keep up to date, visit me there and sign up for my newsletter!

Until next time!

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We’re Moving!

The Somatic Movement Blog is moving to a new home over at;

learnsomatics.ie/blog

If you have enjoyed my posts here and have found them useful, I really hope you will click the link above and join me over at my new home! If you do be sure to sign up for my free Back Pain Relief Video in the side bar or, if on mobile, at the bottom of the post. This will also subscribe you for all my future blog posts at learnsomatics.ie/blog

I look forward to seeing you there, and as always thanks for reading!

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

Making Somatics Part of Your Routine – Part 5

Trouble shoot your Somatic movement practice…

In the final part of this series, I’d like to share with you what is maybe the most important point to consider when learning Somatics. And that is; attending a regular Somatic Movement class!

Just before I get into that though, here are the previous posts in this series, in case you missed them; Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4.

The most effective way to learn any new activity or skill is to attend a regular class. Somatic movement is no different in this regard. Whilst it is certainly possible to learn Somatics by yourself from all the many online resources now freely available, attending a weekly class will accelerate your progress tremendously.

So, what are the advantages of attending a regular online Somatic movement class?

  1. A regular class will hold you accountable. You won’t want to miss a class you have commited to and paid for.
  2. By attending classes you will ensure that you are getting at least an hour of high quality Somatic Movement practice regularly.
  3. It allows you to be observed by a teacher who can then help you modify, or correct your movements as necessary, thus accelerating your understanding progress and learning.
  4. You get to experience different movements or variations of movements, and different sequencing of movements.
  5. Real time feedback on what you are doing.
  6. More learning about anatomy, pandiculation, somatic theory, the three reflexes, and the nuances of all the movements woven into your classes.
  7. The opportunity to ask questions, share your experiences, and give feedback
  8. Access to Somatic Movement education from anywhere in the world.

If you like the sound of attending a regular online Somatic Movement group class, why not sign up for my Learn Somatics Beginners classes. I have three time options available, all beginning this coming January 2021. These are 6 week courses of weekly classes that will cover all the fundamental Somatic movements and everything else you will need to develop an effective and rewarding Somatic movement practice.

One more thing, if you find the thoughts of another Zoom meeting/class off putting, consider that during an online Somatic Movement class, you do not need to look at the screen. For the online class you can simply relax on the floor, close your eyes, and enjoy the class. You can forget there is a screen there at all! So with all that in mind why not make 2021 the year you Learn Somatics!

Book your place in class here: Learn Somatics Beginners Classes

Now onto the final Somatic movement in this series; the Washrag. This gentle twisting movement is a great way to close out your practice. Rotation of the trunk, spine, hips, shoulders and neck like this allows you to release tension and improve sensory motor control throughout the entire body. The ability to twist and rotate freely and comfortably is essential for pain free walking and running. It also helps to integrate all the movement patterns addressed by the previous movements in this series, namely; extension and flexion, of the trunk/spine and hips.

So that concludes this 5 part series, I hope you have found it helpful and have begun to practice some of the Somatic movements I have shared with you here. If a group class is not for you but you’d still like some more help getting to grips with your Somatic movement practice, or you have a particular movement issue, or muscular pain you’re struggling to resolve, you can book a 1-1 online session with me and get an individualised lessons tailored specifically for you.

Or if you are enjoying learning by yourself, don’t forget to subscribe to the Learn Somatics YouTube Channel for a regular helping of Somatic Movement tutorial videos.

As always thanks for reading. Until next time!

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Making Somatics Part of Your Routine – Part 4

Trouble shoot your Somatic movement practice…

In Part 4 of this series I want to talk about course corrections or making adjustments so you can continue making progress with your Somatic movement practice. If you want to recap on the previous entries here they are, Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3 .

When it comes to course corrections and making adjustments. This is where your note taking becomes invaluable. Hopefully you have been keeping some brief notes about your practice. If you have, you now have a record that you can look back on to help you make sense of what is working for you, and perhaps what isn’t working for you.

So before we get into that we need to clarify something. When it comes to a Somatic movement practice, what IS progress?

Somatics is all about improving our sensory awareness (our ability to feel our muscles) and our motor control (our ability to contract and relax our muscles voluntarily). So how do we measure that? Well, when we can sense ourselves better and control our muscles better we should begin to experience at least some of the following improvements;

  1. Less muscle pain
  2. Deeper and more restful sleep
  3. Freer Breathing
  4. Improved mobility (walking, sitting, standing should all be feeling more comfortable)
  5. Reduced feelings of anxiety and/or stress

If you are not experiencing some or all of the benefits liste above, try the following adjustments;

  1. Make sure you are doing the movements correctly, sometimes what we think are doing and what we are actually doing are quite different. Watch the videos again, listen to the instructions and cues very carefully, and pay close attention to which muscles you can feel as you do the movements, particularly in your trunk. If you cannot feel the correct muscles contracting when you do a movement, you will not be able to get the intended muscular release.
  2. Perform the movements slower, it’s really important to go slow, particularly on the relaxation phase of each movement as that is when you are literally releasing the tension and lengthening the muscles back to their proper resting length. When we move slowly we engage the part of the brain that is responsible for voluntary movement, the sensory motor cortex. Going slowly allows time for the sensory motor cortex to sense what is happening during the movement. When we don’t have good control of a particuclar group of muscles we will experience jumps, jerks, or shakes in the movement as we relax back to rest. If this happens, simply repeat the movement, but go more slowly through the jerky portion of the relaxation phase. In doing so, you allow your sensory motor cortex the time to smooth out the movement. When the movement is smooth you know voluntary control has been re-established.
  3. Do less. This may sound somewhat counter intuitive but favour quality over quantity. Do just 3 or 4 repetitions of each movement you practice, but slow it right down and put all your focus on what you can sense and feel before, during and after each movement, applying what you learned from point 2 above.
  4. Make sure you are not holding your breath during the movements. This is a common one and something that we can do without realising. If we are holding anything, then we are using more tension than is necessary. Generally with Somatic movements, we inhale on the effort and exhale on the release. But if you find that challenging just breathe however feels most comfortable. But ensure you are breathing in and out and not holding your breath.
  5. Pause at rest. Be sure to pause at complete rest for a full in and out breath between each repetition. You need to allow you sensory motor cortex time to sense what ‘at rest’ feels like. Don’t be in a hurry to rush through your practice.
  6. Use you own hands. Use your own hands to help you sense more clearly what you are doing during the movement. For example; In Arch & Curl put one hand on your belly so you can clearly feel your belly muscles contracting and relaxing. In Arch & Flatten, feel your lower back muscles with your fingers as you do the movement, feel the lower back muscles contract and stiffen as you arch and soften and lengthen as you flatten.
  7. Change the order you do the movements. This is a simple strategy that often really helps. I have presented the movements in the standardised order but you are free to modify that order. Experiment to find what order of movements works best for you.
  8. Remove a movement. Look back at your notes and see what happened after adding each new movement. It may be that just one movement is problematic for you, if you know which one it is you can either remove it for a while, or give it more focused attention, see point 1.
  9. Allow more time for sensing changes. After each movement, lay out flat and really focus intently on any changes you can sense in your body, where is tense, where is less tense, has you comfort changed, has the resting position of your legs or arms changed, has you comfort increased. Sensing like this is a skill, and the more your practice it the better you will get at it and the more you will begin to notice. This sensing is just as important as the doing of the movements. Sensing and moving are two sides of the same coin.

Implement a couple of these tips next time, and see if it doesn’t improve the quality of your practice and facilitate greater or more noticable changes for you.

Below is the video with the next two movements to add to your burgeoning Somatic movement practice. Lateral and Diagonal Arch & Curls. These movements build on the previous movements in this series.

We’ll conclude this series with Part 5 next week. In the meantime keep up your practice! If you’d like some more help getting to grips with your Somatic movement practice, or you have a particular movement issue you’re struggling to resolve, you can book a 1-1 online session with me and Learn Somatics from the comfort of your own home.

Until next time!

learnsomatics.ie

Making Somatics Part of Your Routine – Part 3

In Part 1 of this series I gave you some quick tips on how to start building a Somatics practice into your routine, and then in Part 2 I offered some tips on how to track the progress of your Somatic Movement practice. Today I want to talk about keeping up your routine.

When people start a new routine, diet, or exercise program in the beginning they are highly motivated and enthusiastic about it. But inevitably, life gets in the way, and they eat that cake, can’t make that gym session, or just feel demotivated to stick to their new routine.

Well guess what? That’s totally normal! The problem is when you allow one bad day to derail all your progress.

If you miss a day of your Somatic movement practice (or your diet, exercise routine) for whatever reason. Firstly, don’t worry about it, and certainly don’t give yourself a hard time about it. One single missed day isn’t going to adversely affect your long term goals or progress. But letting one day turn into two days or four days or a week? That will derail your progress, break your habit and put you back where you started.

So the trick is to get back on the proverbial horse the very next day. But don’t try and make up for the day you missed by doing more than normal, just get back into the habit. Do a short movement practice, remind yourself why you wanted to implement this new Somatic movement routine (or whatever your new activity might be) and jot down again in your notebook/journal how you feel after your practice. As you string together days of practice and start to experience improvements in how you move and feel, you will be far less inclined to skip or miss days.

Hopefully you can reach a point where the new routine/activity, whatever it is, is not a chore, but something you look forward to. Any routine that feels tiresome or a burden, you will not stick to. This is also why it’s important to keep some notes. You can look back at these notes and begin to see a clear reocrd of your progress, or perhaps even more importantly, your lack of progress. If there is a lack of progress or positive change, you know that it is time to make a change of some kind to begin progressing again. A course correction if you will. We will talk about how to do just that in Part 4.

For now though let’s get into today’s Somatic movement. Hopefully you are able to do Arch & Flatten and Arch & Curl effectively without following the videos. But if not please keep using the videos as long as you need to.

Lets explore the third movement in your new Somatic movement routine. The next movement your going to add to your practice is called the Backlift. The Backlift is one of the most important Somatic movements for a couple of reasons;

  1. It relieves the insidious effects of the Green Light Reflex.
  2. It allows you to pandiculate a lot of muscles all at once.
  3. It relieves tight, stiff and sore back muscles quickly and easily.
  4. It improves contralateral coordination.

Practice the Backlift after you have done a few easy repetitions of both the Arch & Flatten and the Arch & Curl. Then when you are done with the Backlift, close your practice with a few final repetitions of either Arch & Flatten or Arch & Curl.

I hope you enjoy practicing the Backlift and find it as useful as I do. If you have any questions about the movements, you can leave a comment below. Have fun with your new Somatic movment practice and I’ll be back with part 4 of this series real soon.

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Making Somatics Part of Your Routine – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series I gave you some quick tips on how to start building a Somatics practice into your routine. Hopefully you have decided on a time of day that works for you and are now practicing Arch & Flatten regularly. If you have, you will hopefully have noticed that your lower back now feels a lot more relaxed and comfortable than it used to.

So now that your Somatic habit has been somewhat established and you’re familiar with Arch & Flatten, it’s a good idea to start keeping some brief notes, (or journaling if you want) about your practice.

This doesn’t have to be terribly detailed, just some quick notes about your stress level, any pain you may have, your breathing, your sleep, your digestion, your motivation, your sports/exercise performance (if you are an active person) and also your mood.

Take any of the metrics above (or choose your own), and start keeping track of them, give them scores, or grades. Some simple way of measuring them. It could be a score out of 10, or a grade like, A,B,C etc. Score them twice a day, once maybe before or after work, or when you wake up. And also, very importantly, score them after your Somatics practice. Also score the practice itself. DIdi yo enjoy it? Were you distracted or fidgety? Did you rush it? Were you able to pay attention to it? etc.

And whilst I’m sure you will notice changes in how you feel quite immediately after your practice, its still a good idea to take these notes so you can have written evidence of your progress. This will motivate you on days when you lack motivation. It will also show you what happens on days you don’t practice, which of course will happen now and again and is totally fine.

By keeping track in this manner you will begin to see very clearly the effects a simple Somatic movement routine can have.

Now. It’s time to add another movement to your Somatics routine. The more Somatics movements we learn, the more tools we have at our disposal, the more benefits we can experience, the more we can learn about ourselves, and the more comfortable we will feel in our bodies.

So without further ado, the second movement your going to add to your practice is called Arch & Curl. It’s a simple movement that builds on what you’ve already learned through practicing Arch & Flatten. It will help you to regain control of your belly and chest muscles and will address both Green Light Reflex and Red Light Reflex.

Hopefully you are now able to do Arch & Flatten effectively without following my video. But if not please keep using the video as long as you need to. You will still only need about 10 or 15 minutes to do your practice when we add this second movement. Below is the tutorial video for Arch & Curl. Practice this movement after you have spent a few minutes doing Arch & Flatten as normal. Then make some notes on your experience, breathing, comfort and relaxation.

I’ll be back with part 3 of this series soon. Until then try to keep practicing daily, taking notes, and enjoying the benefits of Learn Somatics.

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If It’s Not Easy You Haven’t Learned It!

More words of wisdom from Thomas Hanna, the smartest guy you never heard of. It’s such an obvious statement though right?

If you find something difficult you have not learned it yet. If you find something easy, you have clearly learned it well. Remember learning to drive? Difficult at first, but once learned, very easy. Now you can listen to music, chat with a passenger and navigate traffic as well as operate the vehicle. In fact the operating of the vehicle seems to happen automatically. It’s something that goes on in the background, you’re barely consciousness of it at all. If you started to think about it too much, you might even drive worse.

And so it is with everything we learn. What we intentionally learn transitions from perhaps seeming impossible, to difficult, to manageable, to easy, to automatic. For some reason though we tend not to apply this thinking to our movement. Even though you learned to walk! Without any help at all. Before you could even think!

We may look at a movement or activity and say, “I can’t do that”, or even worse “I’m too old to do that,” but what if we were to reframe it as, “I haven’t learned how to do that yet” or “I have forgotten how to do that”. That reframing changes everything. When you think about a particular movement as being either not yet learned or somehow forgotten, suddenly you have the possibility of learning or relearning.

Unfortunately we do tend to move less well as we age. But! This has very little to do with ageing and a lot to do with the fact that most of us do not intentionally practice or maintain our movement. So we forget, right? In Somatics we call this phenomenon Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA). We have forgotten (there’s that word again) how to sense and move our muscles, and therefore our ‘selves’.

Anything that we learn has to be practiced in order to maintain that ability, whether that’s a language, playing a musical instrument, a skill like drawing, or even something more on the intellectual side of things, like doing algebra. If you don’t practice these things you will forget or lose the ability to do them, or at least do them well.

This is because those neural pathways that are not used regularly will atrophy and die away. Conversely, the brain will strengthen and consolidate pathways that are used regularly. In other words ‘Use it, or lose it’.

It’s unfortunate that a lot of the basic movement patterns we tend to lose, (either through lack of use or via stress, accidents and injuries) are the ones we need the most! The gross movements of the trunk and spine that are essential in order to walk freely and move well generally. Extension, flexion, side bending and rotation. These are the most fundamental movement patterns to do any activity or sport skilfully. If you have good Sensory awareness and Motor control of the muscles of your trunk and spine your general movement will likely be good and problems in the limbs much less likely .

Somatic Movements can help you learn or relearn how to move freely and comfortably, particularly as regards your trunk and spine. A Somatic Movement practice allows you to ‘Use it’ so you don’t ‘lose it’. Strengthening and consolidating those neural pathways associated with free and easy movement. When your Somatic Movement practice becomes easy and pleasurable your movement in general becomes easy and pleasurable. Then you inevitably want to move more. You might even feel inspired to take up an activity that you had abandoned, or learn a new sport or activity.

So when learning something new, think about in those terms, how can I make this seem easy? When it is easy it will become more enjoyable, when enjoyable you will want to do it more, and when you do it more you will strengthen those neural pathways even further, making it even easier!

You can start learning Somatic Movements right now over on the Learn Somatics YouTube Channel. Give it a try and see if you can learn your way from difficult to easy!

Featured photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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Making Somatics Part of Your Routine – Part 1

Maybe you’ve been reading these blog posts for a while (thanks by the way!) but haven’t actually explored any Somatic Movements yet. I’d like to help you change that. In this series of blog posts I’m going to give you some pointers on how to build a daily Somatic Movement practice into your routine.

A daily Somatic Movement Practice does not have to be an hour, or even a half an hour, in the beginning 10-15 minutes can be very beneficial and help you to get started. You can begin by introducing just one Somatic Movement into your daily routine. Arch & Flatten is the movement we generally teach first, we’ll get to that in a moment but first let’s consider…

When is the best time to do your practice?

Well, anytime is good, but when we are trying to build a new habit, it helps to have some consistency. So pick a time of the day that fits in with your timetable and try to stick to it. I like to practice at night before bed, others prefer first thing in the morning, this is also a good choice. If you’re working from home right now, you might decide to practice on your lunch break, just before you eat. But any time is good as long as you can be consistent and stick with it.

Some things to consider when selecting a time to practice.

Bedtime Practice: A pre-bed Somatic Movement practice will allow you to release any stress/tension you may have accumulated during the day, and calm your nervous system, leading to deeper, more restful sleep. If you struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep, I would strongly recommend practicing just before you go to bed. After all high quality sleep is essential for health, and a good nights sleep makes everything better.

Morning Practice: A morning practice will help to prepare you for the day ahead by allowing you to restablish control over your muscles after a period of inactivity, ie after being asleep. If you find you tend to feel stiff and sore in the morning, placing your practice just after waking is a great idea. Also, upon waking allow yourself to yawn! A yawn is after all just a reflexive pandiculation, don’t stifle it, let it happen and enjoy it. Pay attention to how it feels. That’s the kind of feeling you will be looking to recreate with your Somatic Movements. Then when your finished yawning, take to the floor and begin your Somatic movement practice.

Lunchtime/Middle of day Practice: Practicing in the middle of the day is also totally fine if this is the time that works for you. It will give you an opportunity to reset your nervous system so you can go back to your afternoon’s work calm and refreshed. It’s probably best however to practice before you eat a large meal. Furthermore your Somatic Movement practice will help shift you back into Parasympathetic Nervous System state, associated with ‘rest, digest’ and repair’. So you may find that you enjoy your food more, and your digestion improves when you are relaxed from your Somatic Movement practice.

So now that you’ve decided when you are going to practice, all we have to do is start.

Let’s Learn Somatics!

This is how our practice begins, if it uncomfortable to lay with legs out flat you can bend your knees and put feet flat on the floor

To begin lay out flat on the floor on a comfortable rug or yoga mat. Just make sure you are warm enough. If you need a pillow for your head or a bolster for your knees, please use them. As you practice more Somatics you should find your need for pillows and bolsters diminishes.

Close your eyes and spend a minute or two just noticing what it feels like to lay flat on the ground, notice where you are tense, where you are comfortable, where you are uncomfortable, scan your whole body. Then, rate your comfort level out of 10. Make a mental note of it, or jot it down in a note book. This is and important baseline reading. Got it? Great!

Now go ahead and follow along to the Arch & Flatten video below.

Now that you’re done with Arch & Flatten, spend another minute or two, repeating the scan you did at the beginning. Noticing what it feels like to lay flat on the ground after practicing Arch & Flatten as compared to before, noticing where you are tense now, where you are comfortable now, scanning your whole body, rating your comfort out of 10 again, and seeing if your comfort has increased.

Congratulations! You’ve just completed your first Somatic Movement practice. Pretty easy right?

If you have followed the instructions attentively you should sense a noticable increase in the comfort of your lower back. You may even feel more comfortable in your hips and legs, and neck and shoulders, as these all attach to your spine. You will also have experienced how easy it actually is to regulate, modulate, and manipulate how you feel. This type of self-regulation is a powerful skill to have in your back pocket.

Repeat this practice at the same time each day for the next week. Use my video for as long as you need to, but strive to be able to practice Arch & Flatten effectively by yourself without any guidance. When you can do it without guidance you OWN IT! That’s when it becomes truly helpful, educational and useful to you.

After a few days of doing Arch & Flatten once or twice a day, you will be more than ready to add another movement to your practice to continue your learning. We’ll do just that in the next instalment.

If you have tried using videos to learn Somatic movements but haven’t quite got the results you were hoping for, or need some extra help, remember you can Learn Somatics online with me from anywhere in the world. Getting some 1-1 guidance will rapidly accelerate your learning, progress and results.

And if you found this blog post useful, maybe you could share it with someone who you think might also find it useful. After all, Somatics is for everybody!

Until next time.

Read Part 2 now…

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