Tuesday, September 16, 2014

a quick wrap up from my Somatics Exercise Coach course

Phew! I'm back from Maplewood NJ where I attended my Somatics Exercise Coach course with Martha Peterson of Essential Somatics. It was an amazing experience. The students as well as the instructors-- Martha, Laura Gates, and Carrie Day--were inspiring and fun, and I'm so excited to share this knowledge with anyone who's looking to feel better in their body, make that their soma, and rid themselves of chronic pain.

Here are some key points I took away from the course.

We are not bodies, we are somas. "Body" is the third person perspective of a person. You got to the doctor, a massage therapist, even look in the mirror and what one sees is the body from the outside perspective. Yes we all have bodies, but what we feel, our neurological programming, how we move, function, live, from our internal perspective, that is what is called the soma.

"Slow is the fast way to retrain the brain." The somatic exercises are designed to reprogram the connection between the brain and the muscles. The slower you do them the more quickly your brain can reprogram your movement patterns and move more efficiently.

"the brain cannot change what it cannot feel" Some people pretty much go through life thinking the body is just something to carry around their head, without making any connection between the brain and their muscles. The majority of muscle pain is due to habitual patterns that we take on due to stress and/or trauma. But because the patterns are habits, the sub cortex of our brain just naturally defaults to the faulty pattern. Let's say you have a habit of tilting your body to the right, because you sprained your left ankle 12 years ago. Now your left hip aches all the time. By assessing your current alignment you can practice particular somatic exercises that address the imbalances. With somatic exercises one slowly contracts, lengthens and releases the muscles that are causing tightness.  By doing so you unlearn that patterns, develop correct movement patterns so you no longer tilt, and there for no longer have pain.

I think I really love somatics because it's based on science. I'm not dissing chakras, auras and other things that some people might call woo-woo. But somatic exercises work because you consciously make a connection between the muscles and brain on a neurological level. There's science to back up how the brain develops new patterns.

The course I took trained me to teach somatic exercises that a client could do between hands-on treatments. The hands-on treatments are part of the Clinical Somatics Educator protocol. Since I started practicing somatics I've released my chronically contracted left psoas and increased the range of motion in my neck, but I knew there was something else that was still hindering my posture and gait. So I scheduled a hands-on session with Martha after the course.

The best way I can describe what I felt afterwards was this: after a massage, acupuncture, etc I may feel good, but after the clinical somatic session I felt changed. My chronically tight left hip released so my hips could swing the way nature intended. My left foot and ankle rolled through the natural pattern of walking that I hadn't been doing for a very long time. My waist muscles released so that my low back was bettered aligned. When my husband picked me up at the airport he said I was taller. My clients said my back and butt were different. My belly shrank a bit too.

So I've been practicing particular exercises to maintain what I achieved in that session. Thomas Hanna said that a client should be done and out the door after 3 sessions max. Martha says a few clients may need up to 6 or 8. But that's what I love about this method of pain relief. It's not months and months or years and years of expensive adjustments and treatments or worse, drugs. You reprogram your muscles neurologically; from your brain. You practice your homework. You are ultimately in control. You are your own teacher.

It's amazing stuff! It's so simple yet so profound.

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