Friday, November 20, 2015

Have you taken your Daily Somatic Supple-ment?

Thomas Hanna developed a series of somatic exercises he considered a perfect all-around routine for those who want to keep their body supple, functional and young at heart. He called it the Cat Stretch, but I've added one more move and call I call it the Daily Somatic Supple-ment. 


Do this routine every day for 3 weeks 

and see how your body and life change!


This series of movements will help you take back control of your muscles, so you can sense them contract and relax to their natural resting length. This is called pandiculations. We were born to do this! It's as natural as breathing in air, eating, and sleeping. Kind of funny if you think about it. As adults we can get so wrapped up in the external world that we literally forget how to breathe, eat and sleep naturally, so of course taking time to relax our muscles and nervous system can fall way down on the list to do list. If you are tired, want mental clarity and to move well so you can live well, do this routine every day for 3 weeks, with attention to your sensations within your body, and notice how your body and life changes.

UPDATE 4/24/2016 : I've created a YouTube Channel, and have a playlist that covers these exercises. So now you have two ways to learn; in the written form below and visual/audio in videos. I have additional ways to learn about Somatics too: we can work together in my studio in Southeast Portland, or we can meet online via Skype. Contact me to learn more!

Take Your Daily Somatic Supple-ment

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. 

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. 

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.

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 uncomfortable, 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
DO: inhale into your belly as you slowly lift your head, arm, elbow and hand off the floor looking over your right shoulder...simultaneously lifting your straight left leg
exhale to lower back to the floor
inhale and exhale to relax at the bottom and sense the length and relaxing of your back muscles
repeat 2 more times then do the same on the other side

DIAGONAL ARCH AND CURL
PREPlie on your your back, knees bent with right knee in the air with right hand on knee, left hand behind head
DO: inhale and arch the back letting the right knee drift forward a bit, you may lose touch with your finger tips as the thigh bone tilts away from the torso, then exhale as you draw the elbow and knee closer together and curl up on a diagonal as you draw your right knee inward.


SIDE BEND
PREP: position yourself on your LEFT side, making your body and lower arm into a “chair”. Head resting on your left arm, knees bent at a right angle to your hips, and shins a right angle to your knees. Place your right hand over your head and placing your finger tips on your left temple.
DO: inhale and lengthen the waist line between the right hips and rib cage, breathing into your ribs and waist.
Exhale and keeping your knees together, lift your right foot/shin up towards the ceiling.
Inhale and lower the foot, and relax your body.
Exhale to relax 
Add moving of the arm and head,.
Inhale to prepare, lengthening right side of body
Exhale and lift foot, head and elbow, shortening the right waist
inhale to lower down and relax and lengthen right side of body
Repeat this 4-5 times each side

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... roll your head towards the up turned hand...and let both of your knees gently rotate away from the up turned hand and head. Slowly alternate.


INVERT AND EVERT THE FEET
PREP: Lying on your back, knees straight, legs on floor 
DO
a) draw the right foot up towards your groin, turning your right knee out to the side, letting the outside edge of the right foot slide on the floor. Relax then slowly slide the foot back to the starting position straightening the leg. Let your head tilt on the floor to the left as if you wanted to see the sole of your right foot (This is inverting the foot) Repeat 3-5 times
b) next, sliding the inside edge of the right foot up and turning your knee inward. Your right hip will want to come up off the floor for this and that's ok. Let your head tilt on the floor to the right as if you wanted to see the sole of your right foot Return leg to the floor. (This is everting the foot) Repeat 3-5 times. 
c) do the above with the other foot and leg
d) let both feet slide up on the outside edges so both feet invert, then return legs to straightened. Repeat 3-5 times.
e) now try everting both feet so the knees are "knocked", repeat 3-5 times
f) lastly, keeping feet and knees together slide both feet up to the right, then extend to straightened, then to the left, alternate sides, like you were "skiing" letting the hips roll side to side with the slides

SEATED TWIST
PREP: sit up and try the skiing motion while seated, then drop the knees to the right, place your right hand on the floor at your side/hip, and let the left leg shift so you bring your left knee to the sole of your right foot. Your legs are now in a zig-zag. Place your left hand on your right shoulder.
DOthere are many variations to this exercise that I share in class, but here a few standards
a) Slowly rotate your torso to the right 3 times.
b) hold the torso rotation to the right, rotate your head back to the left, then right 3 times, then relax back to the front
c) rotate the torso to the right as you turn the head to the left 3 times, then relax.
d) rotate back again to the right, hold the rotation, lift your face to the ceiling as your eyes scan the view as you drop them downward, then vice versa 3 times, then rest.
e) repeat to the other side

Clinical Somatics (also called 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! :-)



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