Somatics and Somatic Yoga Explained
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
Somatics comes from the Greek word soma, meaning the living body. Somatics is the word Thomas Hanna first used to describe the body as experienced from within in 1976.
The core principle of a somatic experience is about developing your ability to pay attention to and develop a connection to internal signals of pleasure, pain, discomfort, or an imbalance. This means a person must integrate a mind/body connection and use self-awareness as a basis for gauging their personal experience and growth.
Somatic yoga relies heavily on the neurophysiology or brain/body connection. Practice is led by precise cues to allow the client to use the motor cortex area of the brain to conceptualize and perform movements instead of using mirror neurons that are used when mimicking a demonstration of a posture. This allows for the capacity to form new neural networks and pathways, keeping the mind fully engaged.
Somatic Yoga helps a person enhance awareness of their body through a combination of mindful movement (eccentric contraction) and relaxation. A Somatic Yoga practitioner also includes mindfulness techniques and breathing practices.
Studies have shown that people who are experiencing periods of anxiety and depression can lose their ability to connect with their own body. They sometimes view it in a third person view instead of a first-person experience. Somatic movement can be a gentle, self-guided yet supported way to reconnect to the body.
Somatic movement can be helpful for:
Increased emotional awareness
Increased body awareness
Increased balance and coordination
Increased range of motion
How does it differ from Somatic Therapy? Both Somatic Yoga and Somatic Therapy work on the idea that the mind and body are interconnected.
Somatic Therapy is a mental health approach by a trained therapist that addresses the physical effects of trauma, anxiety, and other mental health topics. Somatic Therapy includes traditional talk therapy techniques to support treatment.
~Tonia Mayerle, Ayurveda Health Counselor, Certified Yoga Instructor