Somatics for You

Reissued: Fall - Winter  2017

Link to my Website.

Link to some audio recordings of my Saturday
Somatics Classes via SoundCloud.

Link to my YouTube Channel (Somatics For You, Susan Koenig). 
     You can see over 30 short somatic movement videos.


Below are links to two longer interviews of myself and Janet Hoagland, by Dana Wilberg, of the cable TV program out of Sacramento, CA, called the "Paranormal Connection."  In spite of the TV title, the interviews are about Hanna Somatic Education.

Each interview has 2 parts; each part is a little less than 1/2 hour.
Interview One: February, 2011
          Part 1
          Part 2
Interview Two:
May, 2015
          Part 1
          Part 2
In the TV studio with Danna Wilberg for our interview (see above): Janet Hoagland, left; Susan Koenig, middle; Danna Wilberg, right.

Come to Class
Feel So Much Better!

Saturday Class Schedule, 10-11:30 am:
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By emailing me at <>  You will receive a short email with my class dates.

National Holistic Institute
5900 Doyle Street, Emeryville, CA 94608

Private Sessions with Susan Koenig available

Call 510-848-4129

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Making art has always been a path to improving health and well-being for many people.  I love this book, Bringing Poems to Life, by Armand Brint.  I'm not a huge reader of poetry, but I love Armand's poems.  Armand's poems are accessible, emotional, about people, about nature, about life in a way that speaks to me.  This is a book about writing poetry, something I don't do. But this book has inspired me.  Maybe it will surprise and inspire you!
To order contact Armand Brint <>

This was my favorite poem growing up.  Thank you, Armand Brint, for reminding me of it.

My Shadow

Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me, 

And what can be the use of him is more than I can see. 

He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head; 

And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed. 

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow— 

Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow; 

For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball, 

And he sometimes gets so little that there's none of him at all. 

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play, 

And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way. 

He stays so close beside me, he's a coward you can see; 

I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me! 

One morning, very early, before the sun was up, 

I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup; 

But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head, 

Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

Song, by Armand Brint

Male mice sing
when they detect the scent
of a female mouse--
not just sounds
but song patterns,
like tiny whales serenading
their paramours
through the mysterious
ocean of high frequency.
It appears mice
belong to that small band of creatures
that sing in the presence
of the opposite sex.
They join songbirds, porpoises,
humpback whales, insects
and possibly bats
floating on a little ark of song
through the silent deprivations
of the natural world.
Scientists want to dissect
the brain behind those songs.
They're searching for clues to autism
and other human ailments.
If mice could talk,
I think they'd say the cure is easy:
more song.
But we'd rather court
our women with lattes and muscle cars.
We'd rather spend our days
wooing them from behind computer screens
than crooning the ballad of love.
I salute the little lab mouse
whose nose begins to twitch
when his "Minnie" saunters into a maze:
I applaud the one whose heart
suddenly bursts open in song.


               Releasing Anxiety and Stress
                     with  Hanna Somatics 

So many of us live with low, medium, or high levels of anxiety and stress all day and night, every day and night.   

Some of the things my clients, family, friends, and myself have experienced, sometimes with great frequency, include chest pressure, jumpiness, a racing heartbeat, shallow breathing, insomnia, constant negative self talk, headaches, nervous stomach, distractedness, and irritability.

How does Hanna Somatic Education help us cope with this.  My own answer is to have a daily movement practice that always makes me feel calmer, less distracted, and more present.

Do I want to do it everyday?  No.  But I do it, and it helps.  Some days it helps a lot!  

You can learn the Daily Cat Routine as created by Thomas Hanna from his book, Somatics, p. 99 and from many of my YouTubes.

For me, the key is to start.  

That is, I lie down on the floor on a mat.  If I’m in a negative mood, I just lie there and let the negative chatter talk through me.  My internal dialogue might go something like this, “I just don’t feel like doing this; so what if I miss a day; I’ve got to much to do today; I’m hungry; I’ll do it later; it’s too cold on the floor; I should walk the dog; I need to get in the shower and wash my hair; I need to get to the grocery store before it gets too crowded; …”  And then at some point I find myself doing some Arch and Flattens.  It  feels pretty good.  I can do this.  I put my attention on my low back and notice how that feels.  I might notice I’m holding my breath, or veering off to one side of my body, or moving too quickly.  I slow down, I focus on breathing more comfortably and moving with more ease.  I realize I’ve started and I’m now into my daily movement practice. 

Focusing on the arch-release-flatten-release-repeat, has brought me into myself, and I continue.  The chatter quiets.  I pay attention to how it feels to do each movement in comfort, slowly, for myself and no one else.  This is my time.

Some movements feel restricted.  Sometimes I’m achy, sometimes a limb feels so heavy I can hardly move it at all, sometimes I feel pain.  I let the discomfort direct my attention toward doing the movement differently: smaller, slower, even in my imagination.  I hunt for what feels good or at least better.  I do some exploration.  Maybe doing the movement on the other side will feel better?  Maybe doing the opposite movement is the only way I can feel comfortable that day.  Maybe I experiment with doing another movement first, and see if that helps the previous movement feel more comfortable.  Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t.

The process continues.  I move on to another movement.  

Some days my focus is present and clear.  I’m really in the flow.  I’m absorbed in experiencing the sensations from the movements I’m doing.  Some days I never completely get rid of the negative chatter, anxiety, or stress in the background, but I keep going. Invariably I have break-through moments of pleasure, or learning, or something positive.  I feel the internal “smile” journey through my body.  I feel a “shift.”  Those are wonderful moments.

I move on to another movement, another focus, another experience.

Whether that day’s movement time was an unimpeded glide or a slog or something in between, I always feel better.  What I've noticed over time is that the issue of background anxiety and stress has faded.  Overall I feel more alive.

The key for me is to lie down on the floor and start.

                      Introduction to Video 

     Releasing Anxiety and Stress with a Short,
         Simple Somatic Movement Relaxation

Eleanor Criswell Hanna, Thomas Hanna’s widow, has a wonderful progressive relaxation exercise on p. 74-75 of her book, How Yoga Works. In this process you place your attention on the target muscles or part of the body, suggest that it relaxes, and then feel the effects of your suggestion.  I have adapted this to include somatic movement which I prefer.

Here’s how I’ve adapted it using both suggestion and the pandicular process.  In the pandicular process created by Thomas Hanna, you first contract the target muscles or part of the body by making a movement.  Next, you slowly and with internal focus, release out of the contraction to complete rest.  This is the best way I’ve found to truly release contracted muscles.  What most people don't realize is that contracted muscles that play a huge role in feeling anxious, tense, and stressed, both physically and emotionally.

I find this process particularly powerful when I feel anxious and stressed.  Sometimes I start my day with it; sometimes I do it before going to sleep or when I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and want to get back to sleep.  You can do this process anytime, anywhere.  You can do it lying on the floor or in bed.  It is even easily adapted to a chair during a stressful work day.

3 Step Format:

1.  Internally target a group of muscles or part of your body.

2.  Comfortably contract the targeted muscles or part of your body, as you make a movement.  

3.  Slowly and with internal focus come out of the movement to rest and relaxation.  As you feel the sensations of release, suggest to yourself those muscles or part of your body are relaxing.

I usually start at my neck and shoulders and work down to my feet.

Use it anytime day or night.  This relaxation can help you face a stressful day or help you go to sleep at night.

Lie on your back, legs comfortable - bent or straight.

Remember to move slowly and comfortably.  Allow your whole body to follow each movement.

Come along with me and learn this simple, short somatic movement relaxation for releasing anxiety and stress.

Let me be your voice for a few minutes as you follow along.

For ease of learning see script for Somatic Movement Relaxation below.
Script for Video 
    Somatic Movement Relaxation
Releasing Anxiety and Stress

     Let me be your voice for the next 6 minutes as you follow along.

1.  I am comfortably contracting my neck and shoulders.  
     I am slowly releasing and relaxing my neck and shoulders.
     My neck and shoulders are relaxing.

2.   I am comfortably contracting my spine and back. 
      I am slowly releasing and relaxing my spine and back.
      My spine and back are relaxing.

3.  I am comfortably contracting my chest and abdomen.
     I am slowly releasing and relaxing my chest and abdomen.
     My chest and abdomen are relaxing.

4.  I am comfortably hiking my right hip and curving my body to the right.
     I am slowly releasing and relaxing my right hip and right side of my body.
      My right hip and right side of my body are relaxing.

5.  I am comfortably hiking my left hip and curving my body to the left.
     I am slowly releasing and relaxing my left hip and left side of my body.
     My left hip and left side of my body are relaxing.

6.  I am comfortably rolling my arms and shoulders inward.
     I am slowly releasing and relaxing my arms and shoulders.
     My arms and shoulders are relaxing.

7.  I am comfortably rolling my arms and shoulders backward.
     I am slowly releasing and relaxing my arms and shoulders.
     My arms and shoulders are relaxing.

8.  I am comfortably rolling my legs inward.
     I am slowly releasing and relaxing my legs.
     My legs are relaxing.

9.  I am comfortably rolling my legs outward and gently squeezing my buttocks.
     I am slowly releasing and relaxing my legs and buttocks.
     My legs and buttocks are relaxing.

10. I am comfortably pointing my feet and toes.
      I am slowly releasing and relaxing my feet and toes.
      My feet and toes are relaxing.

11. I am comfortably bringing my feet and toes toward my kneecaps.
      I am slowly releasing and relaxing my feet and toes.
      My feet and toes are relaxing.

12. I am comfortably breathing in and out.  I can feel my belly swell and sink as I breathe.  My breathing is relaxed and comfortable.

13. I am relaxing my entire body.  My entire body is relaxing.  I am relaxing my entire body and I am comfortable and calm.

Copyright © 2017 Susan Koenig, All rights reserved.

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