Somatics for You

 Newsletter March 2014

Come to Class
Feel So Much Better!

Saturday Class Schedule:
10 - 11:30 am
March 1, 22, 29
April 5
May 3, 31

National Holistic Institute
5900 Doyle Street, Emeryville, CA 94608

Saturday Somatic Classes

Our Winter Theme is
"Creating a Meaningful Daily Somatic Routine for Yourself"
Every class teaches and reviews some of the basic 7 movements created by Thomas Hanna in his "Daily Cat Routine"  (Somatics, p. 99).  Additionally you'll want to add some of the other movements that especially speak to your specific pain and stiffness.

This winter, January, February, and March, we'll be focusing on trunk and spinal movements in relationship to the upper extremity (shoulders to hands) and lower extremity (hips to feet).  

Explore movements done on the floor, in sitting, standing, and walking to expand your ability to move with ease and confidence.  Learn some specific movements for recovering your sense of safety, balance, and alignment under stress. 

Come to My Classes Any Time
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).

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, in the last section of the book).   Class fee: $20 per class, or 4 classes for $60.

Private Sessions with Susan Koenig available

Call 510-848-4129

Interspecies buddies - baby kangaroo and baby wombat.  Awwwwwww!
Picture Gallery
Myself, Keith Thompson, and Hsiu-Lien Huang.  Keith and Hsiu-Lien are teacher's assistants in the Hanna Somatic Professional Training Program.
Hsiu-Lien, one of the Hanna Somatic teaching assistants, is from Taiwan.  She is working with a client to help her release her hip flexors.
Hsiu-Lien is helping this client learn to feel and move her shoulder and shoulder blade.
Improving Movement Function with Hanna Somatic Education

Hanna Somatic Education is the use of a sensory motor learning process to retrain the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves) so one’s musculature and physiology become more efficient.

What is a sensory motor learning process?  We sense environmental factors outside our body and internal processes inside our body.  Our brain processes all this sensory information and feeds it to all the different parts of our nervous system that then create motor or movement function. 

Almost everything we do in life is a movement from getting out of bed, to feeding our self, to talking with others, even thinking requires neuronal movement.  Life is movement.  Most of the functioning of our brain is organized to produce movement. 

Ultimately, movement involves our musculo-skeletal system.  Negative, habitual movement patterns impair our life.  Chronically contracted muscles negatively effect our body organization, posture, coordination, and ease of movement.

In Hanna Somatic Education the person learns somatic floor and chair movements (exercises) designed to recognize and release tight, chronically contracted muscles to move freely again.

Somatic exercises reset (lower) the resting tonus of residual tension (contraction) in the the voluntary, skeletal muscles.

Our goal is to improve movement function. The result is easy upright posture, flexible joints, comfortable movement, improved posture, balance, and coordination, and a positive change in one’s physiology.

I invite you to practice and add to your daily exercise routine the following movements in these two videos which explore rotation or tuning, something we do all the time.  Why not be more comfortable and adept?  Enjoy.

Cat #5 with Arch and Flatten Variation.

Cat #5 with Pelvic Hike Variation.
Anatomy Corner
The Three Postural Patterns
This image captures the "somatic postures."  Fig. 10, 12, and 13 represent the Trauma Reflex; Fig. 11 represents the Green Light Reflex; and Fig. 14 represents the Red Light Reflex.
Thomas Hanna, the creator of Hanna Somatic Education, observed three main postural patterns in the thousands of clients with which he worked. He named them the Red Light, Green Light, and Trauma Reflex.

The Red Light Reflex (Red Light Postural Pattern) - manifests with the contraction of the flexors of the spine and trunk.  The reference muscle, meaning the muscle that crosses our center of mass, is the rectus abdominis.  All flexors, adductors, and medial (internal) rotators of the body may contribute to a Red Light Reflex postural pattern.

The Green Light Reflex (Green Light Postural Pattern) - manifests with the contraction of the extensors of spine and trunk.  The reference muscle group is the paravertebrals (also called the paraspinals; the erector spinae are the most well known of the spinal muscles).  All extensors, abductors, and lateral (external) rotators of the body may contribute to a Green Light Reflex postural pattern.

The Trauma Reflex (Trauma Reflex Postural Pattern) - manifests with the contraction of the lateral flexors and rotators of the spine and trunk.  The reference muscles are the internal and external obliques (one could include the very deep quadratus lumborum muscles too).  All lateral flexors, abductors / adductors, and medial (internal) / lateral (external) rotators of the body may contribute to a Trauma Reflex postural pattern depending upon how the spine (and therefore the trunk) are shaped.  A "C" or "S" spinal curvature may be represented by the spine/trunk.  All spinal lateral flexion movements are accompanied by some degree of rotation.  This is build into our structure (A. I. Kapandji, The Physiology of the Joints).

Remember:  these postural reflexes are a natural and necessary underpinning of all our movements.  When these patterns are triggered frequently and habitually they seem to be expressed “like a reflex,” thus Thomas Hanna called them “postural reflexes.”  The problem emerges when we habituate them into a pattern of chronic contraction that we hold unconsciously and can’t release.  Hanna Somatic  exercises release these patterns and movement function is restored.

Read Somatics by Thomas Hanna for a thorough description of these postural patterns and their implications for health.

Copyright © 2014 Susan Koenig, All rights reserved.

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