Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Somatics Sampling for the Solstice...and anytime of year!

Image a la Magickal Graphics
Happy Solstice, everyone! 

In honor of the longest day of the year, I thought this would be a nice way to enjoy the season in a relaxing, grounding way vs the frenzy so many of us work ourselves up into. Plus it's a little gift for everyone in my classes who's been asking for notes so they can practice at home...please tell me you do! :-)

You may look at the notes below and think, holy gawd, that's a lot to do. Trust me, once you have read through them and practiced a bit, you'll move through this routine in a short, smooth 15 minutes.

Hanna Somatics is a method of gentle movements that help your brain "reboot" it's connection with your muscles. Thomas Hanna called this disconnect, Sensory Motor Amnesia. Your brain is no longer aware that you have chronic muscle tension, which can pull your bones out alignment, create poor posture, resulting in a host of ailments--arthritis, frozen shoulder, back pain, even endocrine imbalances, and more. So, see, you really should give this a shot.

Let's get started.

1. SOMA SCAN
start by lying on your back, with your legs lengthened out and your arms on the floor at about a 45* angle away from your body. Sense what your back, legs, feet, arms and head or doing. How do they contact the floor? Are things symmetrical and evenly weighted, or is maybe a hip hiked towards your waist, or a shoulder blade pressing int the floor more. Are your feet evenly flopped out to the sides or not so much. Just sense what your body has to tell you. As you move through the following exercises, you can come back to this scan and see if things change and how. Definitely do this at the end of the whole routine. 

2. ARCH AND FLATTEN 
PREP: lie your your back, knees bent with your feet on the floor, in line with your hips. 
DO: inhale and arch back, tipping the pelvis towards your feet, 
exhale and let your back and abdomen relax as your lower back returns to neutral. 
SENSE: Feel the shoulders and hips press into the floor as you arch, how the back relaxes as you come back to neutral. Can you sense you are lengthening the front of your body and simultaneously shortening the back, as you arch?
FINER POINTS: though this is called arch and flatten, avoid forcing your low back to the floor. You are aiming to arch the back with the inhale, but let the back and abdomen relax back to a neutral (natural curve) of the low back as you gently exhale.

3. BACK LIFT
PREP: Lying on your front, turn your head to the right and rest your left cheek on the back of your right hand. If this is uncortable, move your hand out from under your cheek and have your finger tips touch the side of your face instead. Rest your left arm on the floor, legs comfortably lengthened out, about hip width apart
DO: inhale into your belly, and keeping your right hand on the floor, lift your elbow so you feel the muscles around your shoulder blade engage. Avoid throwing the elbow up and forward so you feel your neck muscles do the lifting
exhale and slowly lower the elbow
next inhale into the belly and lift your head to look up and over your right shoulder
exhale to lower and relax
now try lifting your head, arm, elbow and hand off the floor looking over your right shoulder, inhaling into the belly
exhale to lower
try that again and sense if there’s other part of your body trying to help. Is it your opposite leg?
inhale and do the move again, simultaneously lift your left leg. Keep the leg straight so you feel your butt muscles contract. 
exhale and lower
repeat 2 more times then do the same on the other side
FINER POINTS: inhale and exhale to relax and melt completely between repetitions of this exercise
SENSE: sense the diagonal contraction between your right shoulder and left butt muscles

4. ARCH AND CURL
PREP: this exercise is similar to arch and flatten, but now you'll have your hands interlaced behind your head.
DO: inhale and tip your pelvis towards your feet so you gently arch the back
exhale and let the back melt towards the floor
continue to let the back come to the floor as you flex the upper body up into what looks like a "crunch", bringing your elbows towards your knees, feet gently pressing into the floor a bit, and the lower back pressing into the floor,
inhale as you unfurl your upper body back to the floor, exhale and melt, relax and let your elbows meet the floor out to the sides of your head.
SENSE: Feel the shoulders and hips press into the floor as you arch, how the back relaxes as you come back to neutral. Can you sense you are lengthening the front of your body and simultaneously shortening the back, as you arch?
FINER POINTS: this is not a crunch! Avoid making this an ab exercise. Avoid lifting your hips off the floor with the movement of the pelvis and back

5. SIDE BEND
PREP: position yourself on your LEFT side, making your body and lower arm into a “chair”. Head resting on your arm*, knees bent at a right angle to your hips, and shins a right angle to your knees. Make sure your head and arm are straight in line with your torso, not tilting forward. Take your right hand over your head and placing your finger tips on your left temple.
DO: inhale and lengthen the waist line between the hips and rib cage, breathing into your ribs and waist. 
Exhale and keeping your knees together, lift your left foot and shin up towards the ceiling.
Inhale and lower the foot and lengthen the waist on the right side of your body...
exhale to relax,

inhale to prepare, lengthening right side of body
Exhale and lift foot, head and elbow, shortening the right waist
inhale to lower down and lengthen right side of body, exhale to relax and melt
Repeat this 4-5 times each side
SENSE: explore what you feel on the right side of your body as you inhale and lengthen and exhale to shorten your waist muscles. 

FINER POINTS: you can modify this exercise with your head on a block or pillow instead of resting your head on your arm extended on the floor. 
Be sure to keep your face and eyes--they can be closed, but imagine-- them facing forward, especially when lifting the head and bending.

6. WASH RAG
PREP: lie in your back, knees bent and feet on the floor about hip width apart, arms almost to a T out to your sides. 
DO: Imagine your arms are rolling pins, and roll one arm up the mat other down the mat. Some students say they think this looks like a belly dancer rotating her arms...
Once you have the arms going, then try rolling your head towards the up turned head. Alternate the head rolling towards the up turned hand as you keep alternating the rolling pin arms.
Got that? Now add dropping both of your knees gently away from the up turned hand and head. slowly alternate.
SENSE: Feel the lengthening down the side of the torso as the knees gently drop towards the bottom corner of the mat.alternate slowly and breathe into the ribs as you turn you can do this one for about a minute or so Soma scan
FINER POINTS: this is all about length down the sides of the body, not forcing your knees to the floor.  Explore what it feels like to focus on moving your shoulder blades to move your arms. 

7. REACH THE TOP SHELF
PREP: stand with feet about hip width apart, lift your arms gently up towards the ceiling
DO: look up towards your left hand, and reach with your left arm as you shift your weight into your left foot, hips sway a bit to the left, like a crescent moon and you lift the right heel up, shortening the right waist.
Relax and try that again on the same side 2-3 x
Try it on the other side...
then alternate for 6-8 x
SENSE: feel the length on the reaching side and the shortening on side that you lift the heel
FINER POINTS: let the body be soft and gentle, like swaying seaweed in the ocean. 


OK! There you go. Your first of what I hope will be many DIY Hanna Somatics routines. I'd love some feedback. The more I hear from you all the more I know what you want and need. I plan to do recordings but didn't get this one done in time...stay tuned!

Comment below and you'll be entered into my January 2015 drawing for free prizes too. I have lots of things to give away... I'll start with Anita Boser's Undulation Exercise Book, another great somatic method of movement.


2 comments:

Sally Thomas said...

Hi Kristen, this seems really interesting and something I could benefit from. Need to jumpstart the New Year!

Trainer, Crafter, Kristin said...

Hi Sally! Thanks for taking a look. Let me know if you have any questions... and yes! come try a class or talk to me about a session or two to learn more. It's pretty awesome stuff.

You're in the running for my January give away for commenting too. :-)

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