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

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!

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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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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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Somatic Movement Playlists For You

With Somatic movements it is really helpful to put them together in sequence to address a particular problem area, movement, or complaint. Doing 3, 4 or 5 movements one after the other can really create a profound change in how you feel.

So with that in mind I’ve created some playlists on my YouTube Channel to help you get more from your practice. So if you have been wondering what movements go well together, or how to combine different Somatic movements together, these playlists can give you some ideas. Following along to these playlists is a bit like taking a Somatic movement Class.

Give these a try and let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear your feedback. Enjoy!

This first playlist addresses the Green Light Reflex in 3 movements. It’s all about the back muscles. If you tend to have stiff sore back you’re in for a treat.

The next playlist addresses the Red Light Reflex in 4 movements. It’s all about the muscles on the front of the body.

Next up this playlist addresses the Trauma Reflex in 3 movements. It’s all about the sides of the body.

After a busy day working diligently at your laptop, the following Somatic movement playlist will help you quickly relax your neck and shoulders. Four movements in this one.

And finally here’s Somatic movement playlist you can do just before bed to set you up for a great night’s sleep. Four movements here too. If you find it hard to get to sleep defintely give this a try.

I hope you find these playlists useful and that they inspire you to start a regular Somatic movement practice. And if they help you to feel better why not share with frends and family so they can benefit too. There are also two more playlists you can explore over on my YouTube Channel (don’t forget to subscribe!) and I will be adding more Somatic movement playlists as I add more tutorial videos.

If you’d like some help learning Somatics, remember I offer Online 1-1 lessons so you can learn from anywhere in the world.

As always thanks for reading and watching.

Until next time!

learnsomatics.ie

The Fine Art of Relaxation

What does it mean to be relaxed? How can we define relaxation? It can be a somewhat elusive notion.

A quick google of the definition provides the following:

‘the state of being free from tension and anxiety.’

There’s that word again – tension. And anxiety too! So to be relaxed is to be in a state that is free from tension and anxiety.

So how could we practice relaxation?

What might this relaxation practice look like?

It seem we’d have to be practicing how to be free from tension or anxiety. That means we’d have to know how to reduce tension and calm anxiety.

Most advice around how to relax is quite vague. Many practices are suggested without any clear description of how EXACTLY these practices help you to achieve relaxation. That is not to say that they don’t, suggestions such as Tai Chi, Chi Gung, Yoga, Massage, Meditation, etc are all perfectly valid but the HOW is never really explained in any real way. The question remains as to what are the mechanisms that lead to the relaxation. These mechanisms seem to be poorly understood, or at least poorly explained.

From a Somatic perspective to ‘relax’ is to relax YOUR MUSCLES. If your muscles are relaxed you will feel relaxed. If your muscles are tense you will feel tense and perhaps anxious. This is the giant elephant in the room.

It is impossible to feel relaxed when your muscles are held tight and tense. Conversely it is impossible to feel stressed/anxious when your muscles are relaxed.

So, If we had a means of relaxing our muscles quickly and easily we could use that to ‘relax’.

This is where a Somatic Movement practice comes in. A clear, concise way to literally relax and lengthen our muscles swiftly, with the added bonus of improved sensory awareness and motor control.

Somatic Movements are full body pandiculations. First, you deliberately TENSE your muscles. They’re already tight anyway, we may aswell tighten them on purpose. This reestablishes the neural connection between your brain and your muscles. This action in and of itself puts the muscles back under your voluntary control. Then you SLOWLY AND DELIBERATELY RELEASE THAT TENSION until your muscles are back at rest, relaxed. You have just used your brain to very deliberately ‘relax’ your muscles. If the untightening phase of the movement is not smooth. You simply repeat it and focus on taking out the bumps. Usually 3-4 repeats will provide an immediately perceptible difference to your sense of relaxation, softness, comfort and control. And the more skilled you become at doing this, the easier it becomes. It is a learning process. You can learn how to relax.

Once you have actually relaxed your muscles by pandiculating, doing things like getting a massage or meditating or tai chi or taking a walk etc. will be even more enjoyable and effective.

You need to BE relaxed in the first place to get the most out of many of the practices touted as good for relaxation.

As Thomas Hanna once said, “It’s hard to meditate with a crick in your neck”.

So if you are looking for a way to “relax” after a hard day at work, a tough training session or a stressful life experience you could Learn Somatics. You’ve nothing to lose, except your tension!

You can try this right now using these short Somatic movement playlists I’ve created for you on YouTube.

This one is for all of the muscles of the back of the body.

And this one for the muscles of the front of the body.

See if you don’t feel more relaxed after practicing them.

Enjoy, and as always thanks for reading.

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

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Relax and Comfort Your Lower Back

What if there was a safe, quick and simple way to make you lower back feel less tight, less painful, and much more comfortable. Wouldn’t you want to hear about it?

Often times lower back pain is caused by the muscles of the low back simply being too tense. This muscular tension is an anutomatic and involuntary response to stress. Muscles that are too tense are being held tightly in contraction by your brain. If you suffer from low back pain, check the tension of your lower back for yourself by simply feeling the muscles with your fingers. Press the muscles on either side of the spine in the lower part of your back, from the base of the spine up to where the ribs begin in the back . If they feel hard to the touch and also tender when you press them you can be pretty sure your brain is holding them tighter than is necessary.

So what can you do about it? If you watch the video below you will see a demonstration of ‘Arch & Flatten’, a simple Somatic movement that when performed correctly will relax and lengthen those tight, sore low back muscles.

We do this by tensing and tightening the lower back muscles deliberately and then slowly, and again deliberately, relaxing them back to their proper resting length. This act is called ‘pandiculation’, animals do this reflexively throughout the day. Give it a try and afterwards see if your back doesn’t feel lighter, longer and much more comfortable. You can also feel the muscles again with your fingers and you will find they feel softer and more pliable. Soft muscles are relaxed muscles, and relaxed muscles are comfortable muscles. Win, win!

Arch & Flatten: the simplest way to relax your lower back muscles

Congratulations. You’ve just learned how to more fully control your lower back muscles. Practicing this simple movement every day for just a few minutes will help you to maintain a pain free and comfortable back. Try it for a few days and let me know how you get on.

If you found that video helpful and would like to learn more you can find more videos here.

Enjoy your more comfortable lower back! I’ll be posting new videos regularly so you can start to integrate a Somatic movement practice in to your daily routine.

As always thanks for visiting.

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How do YOU Sleep?

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

You often hear it said that you spend about a third of your life in bed. Note that’s in bed, not necessarily asleep. But judging by the data available about sleep or lack of it, people spend more like about a sixth, of their life asleep. That is definitely not enough sleep to function even normally, never mind optimally.

Sleep is a non-negotiable. If you go for long periods without getting enough sleep, your quality of life, and your health, is going to suffer significantly. Further, your performance in everything you attempt to do while you are awake is going to be severely compromised. Sleep is not a luxury, it is an absolute necessity. In fact… “a chronic lack of sleep puts people at risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.” (Source)

The diagram below highlights just how damaging insufficient sleep really is.

Image source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473877/

Well I’m going to say something really obvious about sleep now; You must be relaxed to get to sleep and stay asleep. Well, duh!

If you are not relaxed but are in fact in a state of arousal/excitement you will struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep. A state of arousal/excitement means you are in Sympathetic Nervous System state, also known as ‘fight, flight or freeze.’ The clue is in the name there, ‘fight, flight or freeze.’ These are not states that are conducive to deep restful sleep.

Unfortunately there are many, many stressors in our modern environment that can put us in Sympathetic Nervous System mode, particularly if we have to, or choose to, interact with these stressors in the hours before bedtime. We live in an ‘always on’ culture, and while this has some advantages it also has many disadvantages. Humans are not designed to be always on. You’re phone is. But you? Not so much. Work, screens, emails, phones, kids, partners, money, the news and so on, all of these are stimuli. You do not want to be highly stimulated when you are going to bed, if you want to experience high quality deep sleep.

If you can relax yourself before bed, your chances of getting to sleep and staying asleep will increase massively, as will the quality of your sleep. Getting into that Parasympathetic state is essential. The Parasympathetic Nervous System state is also known as ‘REST, digest and repair.’ Part of the ‘repair’ that goes on during deep sleep is the clearing of waste products from the brain. That sounds like something you’d want to keep on top of. It also offers an explanaion as to how lack of sleep can increase your risk of Alzheimers disease and other neurological disorders as noted previously. Check out this excellent TED Talk for more on that.

So how can we increase our chances of getting a good nights sleep? One of the most common comments I hear from clients after their first experience of Somatics goes something like this; “I had a great sleep after my appointment/class.” This is something I experienced myself when I first began practicing Somatics so I can relate, one moment I’m practicing my Back Lifts on the floor, next thing I’m fast asleep, drooling away. Good times…

But how could slow movements improve sleep? Well when you practice Somatic movements, you are very carefully and deliberately reducing muscle tension that has accumulated during the day. To reduce muscle tension is to relax your muscles. To relax is to shift into that Parasympathetic Nervous System mode, that ‘rest, digest and repair’ mode. An improvement in the duration and quality sleep is then much more likely.

If you’d like to improve the quality of your sleep consider learning Somatics and making it part of your bedtime routine. Deep, restful sleep can become a reality and not just a pipe.. eh.. dream?

Thanks for reading.

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