Somatics for You

 Newsletter January 2014

Come to Class
Feel So Much Better!

Saturday Class Schedule:
January 4, 25
February  22
March 1, 22, 29

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.
"I believe, as do so many of my fellow Americans, that the wild horse is an irreplaceable national treasure.  It would be a tragic mistake to allow this noble creature to disappear from our western landscape."

        Robert Redford

Private Sessions with Susan Koenig available

Call 510-848-4129

Susan's Hanna Somatic Class, November 10, 2012

Our on-going theme is “experiencing greater comfort and efficiency through connecting anatomy, brain, and movement patterns.”

This week we continue to explore ease of movement in the walking process by understanding how the hip and shoulder circles relate across the body and on the same side.

Picture Gallery
Thank you Makala Keehn, Certified Hanna Somatic Educator living in Smithers, Brittish Columbia, Canada, for the beautiful winter photo of your residence. 
This is a picture of Thomas Hanna  as it appeared on the memorial issue of the "Somatics Journal," 1990.
Carol Kerner (left) and Wendell Hanna (Right), Thomas Hanna's daughter, playing "tone bells" - and they are beautiful.   Wendell presented on "Music and Somatics" at the 2013  yearly Convention sponsored by the Association for Hanna Somatic Education.
Inspirational Talk
Dying To Be Me: an inspirational Youtube by Anita Moorjani
    This 18 min. inspirational talk by Anita Moorjani, who healed from cancer, is well worth watching.  She uses a wonderful metaphor about how life is like being in a giant warehouse where our little flashlight of "awareness" only shines on very small portions of what it means to be alive at any given time.  We can get "very minuscule" in our outlook, thinking, and beliefs, and forget the magnificence, magic, mystery, and potential fullness of life.
    She leaves us with five guidelines from her journey: (1) Love is the most important thing, and love of self will keep you much safer than fear; (2) Live fearlessly; (3) Bring to your life humor, laughter, and joy; (4) Life is a gift (not a chore); (5) Always be yourself - which, of course, is a life long learning process.
Janet Jacobson doing side lying Lateral Flexion (top) and the Twist (Cat Movement #5, bottom) in one of my Saturday Somatics Classes.
Pat Howe and Ken Bridgeman doing "Chair Somatics" in one of my Saturday Somatics Classes.
Marilyn Warnock doing Hanna Somatics with me.  What a treat!  Marilyn's hands on me!  Ken Bridgeman, Kathy Kerber, Abby Rose, and myself had a wonderful visit with Marilyn last month.  She's still got the TOUCH.
Welcome to the New Year, 2014

New Movements for the New Year!

I'm featuring two standing and one sitting movement video this month.  Have you noticed how much we are hearing in health articles (even the SF Chronicle) how important it is to get up from sitting quite frequently and move around.  Long hours of sitting depress many physiological functions, including heart health.  So get up and move, even for short breaks.

  Standing Side to Side Movement
This first video, "Standing Side to Side Movement," will help you balance your weight more equally between the two sides of your body.  We don't realize how much additional wear and tear happens in the joints, especially the weight bearing joints, when we carry ourselves disproportionally more through one side.  Many people, especially as they age, comment about their lack of coordination and balance.  In response, we hold ourself more rigidly (contract more muscles than needed to do an activity), and perpetuate this imbalance.  For example, many people constantly look downward and lean toward their biased (more contracted) side when they walk.  This makes us less safe, not more.  Learn this simple movement in standing to be able to center your weight between both legs/feet and to be able to move comfortably from side to side.

Trunk-Shoulder Differentiation
This standing movement greatly increases trunk and shoulder mobility.  Learn to differentiate trunk movement from shoulder girdle movement.  The shoulder girdle includes the collar bone (clavicle), shoulder joint, shoulder blade (scapula), and upper arm bone (humerus).  Many of us glue the trunk and shoulder girdle together due to contracted, tense muscles.  This impedes movement of both the trunk/spine and the shoulder girdle.  Enjoy greater ease and freedom.

 Releasing Knee Tension and Pain

Learn the power of slow, gentle movement exercises to release knee pain and stiffness.  This movement activates specific knee, foreleg, and foot muscles, preparing you for comfortable standing and walking.  Do this movement exercise before standing up from sitting and teach your brain how to prepare your muscles for knee movement comfort.

"Somatics for You" helps you learn how to get rid of muscle aches and pains by using the motor cortex of your brain to train your muscles to lengthen (no stretching!) after they have been tight, tense, and painful.  The key is moving safely, with slow, gentle movement.
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Book Recommendation

Body of Life by Thomas Hanna

I love this book.  Thomas Hanna wrote it after he had trained with Moshe Feldenkrais and before he had fully developed the clinical work that is known as "Hanna Somatic Education."  Even though this book was written prior to 1990, when Thomas Hanna taught those of us who by luck and fortune (like me) were his student in 1990, it contains valuable perspectives.

He clearly explains the somatic point of view.  That is, how to step through the "looking glass," and view yourself as a "soma," as a living body experienced from within.  Each of us comes from our own first person, privileged perception, that enables us to become aware of feelings, movements, and intentions, in the here and now.  The somatic point of view understands that everything we experience in our lives is a bodily experience.  

All human beings are self-aware, self-sensing, self-moving, and self-regulating.  Somas can change and learn how to improve their internal control of physiological functions.  Human consciousness is an integral part of the human body's self regulation and can be focused as a causative force in its own growth and development.  "It is fundamental to somatics that the soma is seen as a synergized process which is exactly as active in all its behavior as it is sensorily receptive."

The soma is a living, dynamic process that goes on all the time and that can be changed at any time.  We do not need to be stuck in painful, inefficient habituated postures and movements.  Intrigued?  Enjoy!
Anatomy Corner
The Obliques

This beautifully drawn image from Grey's Anatomy shows a number of muscle groups.  To the left is the left half the rectus abdominis in grey.  Moving toward the right, the large red muscle next to rectus abdomins is the external oblique.  This picture also shows the pectoralis major, serratis anterior, and the latissimis dorsi.
The oblique muscle group is more important and necessary than most realize.  Look at the pictures.  There are two layers, an outer or external oblique, and an inner, deeper or internal oblique.  

The obliques cross the somatic center at our sides.  This is the center of the body as if you continued the lumbar area all the way around the through the body like a very wide belt.  Thomas Hanna realized this area was crucial to transitioning and negotiating trunk and spinal movement, and designated it "the somatic center."

Both obliques working together assist the spine to flex, to round forward.  The right and left sided obliques work to side bend us to the right and left sides respectively.  (The quadratus lumborum also creates side bending and that is for another article.)  The external oblique rotates the trunk to the opposite side, the internal oblique rotates the trunk to the same side.  The obliques participate pervasively in most of our movements.

Every Daily Cat Routine Exercise as described in Somatics (p. 99) relates to one or more of the movement functions of the obliques.  Learn somatic exercises from a class, audio or video resources, or the Somatics book for the basic movements, and other books and resources for continued leaning.

The arrows are following the direction of the fibers of the external oblique.

A - (to the left) is the external oblique.
A - (center) is the internal oblique.
B - shows two trigger points (the white and black X); and the red  indicates areas of oblique sensitivity due to muscular tension.

Copyright © 2013 Susan Koenig, All rights reserved.

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