Somatics for You

 Newsletter November 2013

Come to Class
Feel So Much Better!

Class Schedule:
November 2, 9, 23
December 7,14

National Holistic Institute
5900 Doyle Street, Emeryville, CA 94608

"My day job is physically very demanding in an industrial pottery factory. Casting fluid clay and manipulating heavy plaster molds for production creates  an elevated risk for injury, especially to wrists and backs and knees. Susan's Hanna Somatic Education classes have kept me relatively injury free for the eight plus years I have worked there. I am appreciative of the lowered muscle tension and relaxation which comes with the work. Hanna Somatic movements also balances and integrates movement patterns which become distorted during my day job."
Pat Howe

Private Sessions with Susan Koenig available

Call 510-848-4129

"The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind."  Maya Angelou

Susan's Hanna Somatic Class, Dec. 8, 2012

Our on-going theme is “experiencing greater comfort and efficiency through connecting anatomy, brain, and movement patterns.”
In this class we’re looking at the way gravity effects our movements and how we can use this to remove tension and correct tightness and pain with our slow, conscious movement. The lecture also contains a fascinating exploration of perception in human beings.
Picture Gallery
Masako Hirasawa and Hsiu-Lien Huang, two of our wonderful Teaching Assistants in the Hanna Somatic Professional Training.
Keith Thompson, me (Susan Koenig), and Danny Burke at the Louisiana AMTA Conference, April 2013.  Keith (also a Teaching Assistant in the Hanna Somatic Professional Training) and Danny (the editor of the SomaTimes, the Hanna Somatic's Association newsletter) were my teaching assistants.  Over 100 massage students attended this conference.
Phil Shenk is a primary teacher  and Lyman Spencer is a junior teacher in the Hanna Somatic Professional Training.
Kathy Kerber, me (Susan Koenig), and Kelli Peacock are all Certified Hanna Somatic Educators.  Kathy lives and practices in San Jose.  Kelli lives and practices in Boulder Creek and Santa Cruz, CA.

Community Announcements

Abby Rose - Specializes in Hanna Somatics for Trauma.  Abby works in Oakland and is taking private clients.  She has trained in both Hanna Somatic Education and Somatic Experiencing.

Karin Scholz Grace - Offers a Hanna Somatics class weekly, on Thursdays from 10:45am to 12:05pm, at Yoga of Sausalito,, 415-331-9950.

Voice Dialogue with Martha-Lou Wolff offers dream exploration in the form of on-going, once a month, two-hour calls. These calls are invaluable for your personal process exploration.

Tap and Talk with Celenia Delsol - based on the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which taps on acupuncture points as you talk about personal issues and problems.  Experience wonderful and surprising results. 925-408-3310;

Janet Hoagland, 916-788-1388, practices Hanna Somatics in the Sacramento area.  Also, call her to learn about "Earthing" products to reduce inflammation, pain, and much more.
Hi everyone, 
Welcome to my second monthly newsletter.  I'm just back from my vacation and visited two Hanna Somatic Educators, Natalie Pace (L photo) on Whidbey Island, WA and Phyllis Victory (R photo) on Hornby Island, B.C.  I had so many stimulating somatic conversations with both. 

Natalie's been studying the fascial system and adding that to her work.  Phyllis continues to use focus, challenging situations, and variation as a theme in her life, garden on wheels, and teaching her improvisational class.  All of these topics and themes play important roles in somatic work. 

When we touch any part of the body, we touch the whole body, even though that touch directs the intensity and relationship to functionality in different ways .  Movement can be focused on fascia, muscles, organs, brain function etc... and combined with focus, variation, and challenge within comfort and ease, our movement and therefore life repetoire increases its creativity and potential.
The Beauty of Somatic Exercises
Somatic exercises are done slowly, gently, always within your comfort zone, and with internal focus on the sensations of the movements.

Doing somatic exercises this way engages the voluntary motor cortex of the brain, the only part of brain's motor system that can reduce muscular tension (contraction).

Come to My Classes Any Time
You are welcome to come to any class; each class is complete in itself.  Even though the theme of each class varies, all classes help you continue to understanding the connection between your pain, stiffness, posture, and movement.  Almost everyone can do these movements.  You do need to be able to get on the floor and back up in my classes.

Recommended reading is the book, Somatics, by Thomas Hanna (my teacher, now deceased).  Over time you will learn all the basic exercises called the "Daily Cat Routine" (p. 99, Somatics, and last section of the book).   Class fee: $20 per class, or 4 classes for $60.
Somatic Movement
Three Somatic Movements for Undoing Stiffness from Hours of Sitting at the Computer

1.  Do the tops of your shoulders burn after spending time at your computer?   Most people think the answer to shoulder tightness is to stretch.  Don't stretch.  Learn to release the tight muscles by contracting them first and then slowly releasing out of the contraction.  Pay attention to the sensations of the movement.  This technique, called pandiculation, uses your brain to release your muscles.  Follow along with me and try this easy somatic movement, Releasing Shoulder Tension.

2.  Many people are especially stiff when going from sitting for a long time to standing.  Did you know that when you sit a lot,  your hip flexors get used to being in a shortened position (flexed).  When you go to stand up your tight hip flexors don't completely allow you to stand up fully - this is that "stiff" feeling.    Do this simple somatic movement before you get up and feel the difference.  Releasing Hip Stiffness from Sitting to Standing.

3.  Another area that gets stiff and painful after sitting in front of a computer for hours is the low back.  To create comfort in your low back, try this amazing exercise for the "psoas muscles" (pronounced so-as).  This one is done lying on the floor.  Just follow along  with the video and feel your body lengthen from deep inside.  When you stand up, notice your upright alignment.  Take a walk and notice greater ease.  How to Release the Psoas Muscles.

Book Recomendation

by Antonio Damasio
This fascinating read, is Antonio Damasio's hypothesis of how consciousness developed evolutionarily.  Damasio postulates a progressive development starting with the "protoself" at the brainstem level with its homeostatic regulation. 

Next the "core self" evolves with the development of rewards and punishments, drives and motivations, leading to complex emotions where social intelligence becomes more flexible. This represents further brain development of the limbic system interacting with other subcortical structures.

Finally the "autobiographical self" emerges with the expansion of mental processing, memory, recall, and reasoning.  This represents the development of the cortex (or neocortex) with all levels of brain interacting in complex feedback and feedforward communication pathways.  Cortical development changes forever the symphony of life regulation with an expanded mind.  Available through Amazon.
Anatomy Corner
The Psoas Muscles
The psoas muscles (pronounced so-as) are deep, centrally located muscles that attach to each side of the lumbar spine and the lessor trochanter of the femur (protrusion on upper, inner thigh bone). 

The psoas muscles connect your spine, therefore your trunk, to your lower extremities (basically your legs).  In walking the psoas brings the leg forward, while the majority of the lifting of the leg is done by the rectus femoris (one of the quadriceps).  In upright posture, the psoas helps to keep the natural lumbar curve. 

Prolonged periods of sitting tighten (contract) the psoas muscle such that the lower back becomes over arched while the hip flexors are maintained in a shortened position.  When you go to stand up, the hip flexors often do not completely release and contribute to over-arching (hyperextending) the back.  See my video. 

Standing with a shortened psoas is associated with excessive lumbar curve (anterior pelvic tilt).  Learn to release your psoas into its natural resting length and feel your low back pain dissappear.

Copyright © 2013 Susan Koenig, All rights reserved.

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