The Power of Yoga Somatics
The Faster Way to Realign the Body
This article previously appeared on lookthebusiness.ie
Although you may be aware of the undeniable power of yoga, you may be missing out on Somatics, a type of yoga that one instructor insists is FIVE TIMES FASTER than other yoga practices to release chronic tension from the body.
Even those who don’t practice yoga’s downward dogs will know just how powerful the practice is both physically and emotionally. Yoga has survived the past 5,000 years and will undoubtedly survive the next.
Devotees know that its real genius lies in the fact that it is not just a series of physical movements but a sure way of nourishing the mind and emotions, as well as the body.
Lisa Peterson, yoga & SME expert
This said, many yoga followers may not be familiar with Somatic Movement Education (SME) or Somatics, a type of movement therapy very closely intertwined with yoga that, according to Lisa Peterson, was what the early yogis strived towards.
Peterson is a trained yoga teacher and therapist who came across somatics while seeking relief from a chronic back issue that was ironically caused by incorrect manipulation by some aggressive guru-led yoga teaching some years previously.
Somatic Movement Education
SME is a science dedicated to relieving pain and tension through neuromuscular reprogramming. The practice was developed by Thomas Hanna in California and offers a safe, fast and efficient way to realign the body and release unconscious muscular contraction, thereby relieving pain.
Somatics harks back to the early yogis who looked inside the body to fashion the maps that are now widely used throughout the yoga fraternity. ‘Somatics is really a way of honouring the original creators of yoga in a modern way,” adds Peterson.
The technique combines hands-on guided movements with simple exercises – all with far reaching benefits. Those who practice can experience greater ease of movement, increased flexibility, balance, co-ordination and significant pain relief throughout the body. So much so that Peterson is adamant that SME works up to fives times faster than other yoga practices to release chronic tension and other deficiencies from the body.
Although Peterson is slow to brand her unique style of yoga therapy, she loosely describes it as a blend of hatha/vinyasa yoga with her own slant of experiential anatomy. In other words, it’s about finding support and stability within the body systems – through the bones, the organs or the nervous system for instance. “You need to learn how to control your muscles in order to relax them,” she explains, “and somatics teaches clients how to undo stressors thereby relieving tightness and tension. There are very few techniques that delve deeply enough to relieve tension and the beauty of this mix of yoga and somatics is that it has helped me find balance between life’s polarities: between strength and fluidity; discipline and freedom; stability and mobility and between being and doing. In essence, it’s my coming home to myself.”
The typical body is not symmetrical. Our body structure is moulded by how we use it. So much so that in her 20 years or so of teaching over 10,000 clients, only two were completely aligned. The vast majority of us have quite a lot of work to do it seems.
Peterson cautions that finding a teacher who resonates with you is key. What makes a really good teacher or guide is the ability to be mindful [or bodyful as she calls it] about inner feelings and sensations. “The knitting of interweaving frequencies within the body is part of yoga (e.g. choosing to focus on the breath or the feeling of feet on the floor while other sensations remain active). A great teacher will contain these experiences within the student and within themselves and bring this to the practice.”
Easier said than done, but there are some very experienced SME teachers in Ireland. For further information check out: www.somatics.ie