Somatics and Somatic Movement Education
‘Somatic movement enhances human function and body-mind integration through mindful movement...which affects the dimensions of psyche and spirit as well.’
International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA)
Using knowledge of anatomy with movement, sound, breath, touch and imagery we can tap into our body’s innate creative and healing intelligence. As a result somatics can facilitate improved vitality and performance, expanded creative expression and integrated personal transformation in our daily lives.
In the midst of our busy world we have a resting place deep within the core of our physical bodies, where lies our inner wisdom.
In somatics we drop out of our thinking minds into open inquiry, feeling and knowing what is embedded in our bodies, and unlike standard medical practice that assesses from the outside, we observe from a changing, living and breathing process. Apart from a small section of our brain cells, every cell in our body renews over the course of nine months, which means our bodies and cells are in a constant state of flux. Nothing is fixed, everything is open to change and possibility.
That is the beauty of somatics, in knowing ourselves better we can envision and direct our minds and bodies to better health. Thomas Hanna coined the word ‘Somatics’ in 1969, to bring together a body of practitioners that were emerging from Germany and East/West Coast of United States in particular, who had discovered the power of breathwork and embodiment practices, to help heal themselves.
Many of them had some physical dysfunction or illness that threatened their work and life; eg FM Alexander had chronic laryngitis, and Moshe Feldenkrais had a debilitating knee injury. They and others (eg, Marion Rosen, Ida Rolf, Gerda Alexander) shunned medical intervention to independently study and devise their own practial strategies to effect the bodies natural healing ability. What also emerged from these new discoveries was that there is a clear correlation between the dialogue of the body with workings of the mind.
"Helene’s clear and focused guidance showed me new different ways on how to think about my body and express myself while dancing, helping me to release from rigid movement patterns and tension."
LUIS, SOMATIC DANCE WORKSHOP
Whereas “somatic” in “psychosomatic” generally refers to the physical body rather than the mind or soul of a person, Hanna recovered an older Christian mystical use of the term, where Paul in the New Testament uses soma to describe a luminous body transformed by faith. The word is derived from the Greek “somatikos”, where soma means “living, aware, bodily person.”Hanna believed that these new embodiment teachers were revealing a body that also holds creativity, wisdom and imagination, creating this new emerging field of “Somatics."
Somatic movement describes movement that is sensed and shaped from within, rather than from an external source. It begins with the body; from the solidity of our skeletal structure, through the fluids that transport our emotions, to our breath that moves our soul. It taps into our bodies' intuitive wisdom and its own healing intelligence. It can bring us back to the present, which does not have space for past or future; to be grounded, alive, in tune and in our flow.
‘"Your workshop gave me a safe environment to experiment outside of my usual dance training and gave me an opportunity to express myself in ways which are not usually possible in common dance styles which are restricted to set 'moves'. Everyone felt welcome and engaged (even my brother who rarely dances) - your positive attitude meant that I felt that I was learning something new despite my experience in dance."