Embody awareness and break boundaries, this is the result of somatic movement therapy, and it is all the coming rage with the structural integration trend we have been embarking on over the past decade.

In Life and movement; boundaries define our personal space.  This space is called the intersubjective field. Spatial, behavioral, verbal and energetic boundaries are the most commonly considered characteristics of boundary formation. Energetic boundaries are more somatically based and less commonly described.

In yoga the experience of realizing your awareness is called “witnessing,” which is the beginning of creating a great space from which you can grow. Clarity of awareness can bring emotional autonomy, stability, balance, power and the feeling of being more grounded.

Moreover, the somatic function of movement connects the mind with the body to produce a positive understanding of our defenses through the use of linguistic language (by the teacher) and movement (by the student). Another interesting topic of conversation with regards to the “somatic anthropology” of this connection is the “Somatic Ego;” which, viscerally the tissue starts to function like. A reaction or a state-specific emotional trauma that gets housed in the tissue and thus begins to establish boundaries, protective boundaries, and most often these boundaries start to no longer serve us as we grow and develop; but continue to surface when we feel that same visceral response, even to different stimuli. We will touch more on this in just a moment, but doesn’t this sound familiar? Therefore, it makes sense to see the linkage bewteen our emotions, our tissue and the conenction between body and mind. If we can work on establishing new patterns of grounding, and centering are all fundamental to boundary formation; which bridges the gaps between somatic psychology and personality development and we can then start to detatch from old patterns.

The key to unlocking those repressed emotions is to get the individual “into their body” and the energy in their body moving. Activating the flow of physical energy activates the flow of emotional energy. It may also release “body memories,” which bring to consciousness any repressed memories of experience contained in them.

The body, not only the brain, contains the unconscious mind. The body physically encodes its learned symptoms, neurotic coping mechanisms, and decisions in the limbic-hypothalamic systems. Healing occurs by accessing the encoded learned responses, following the affect or somatic bridge back to the state in which they were learned, and healing them through activating psychophysiological (physical and emotional) resources in the body that had been previously repressed or immobilized.

This can help support development of self-worth, self-formation, and transformation. Corrective movement and the art of body work creates an environment that changes the physical alignment (physical well-being).

Gentle yoga involving slow moving meditations, pranayama and meditation. Reawaken inherent agility and strength that allows you to expand the possibilities for moving and thus living in general. Chronic tension patterns change and can inhibit growth and development, both physically and emotionally/mentally. The nervous system slows down and  as the body releases and re gains it’s innate ability to self-correct, re balance and re gain efficiency in movement (which we call neuro-muscular re-patterning). The sensory-motor learning process encourages the muscles and fascia to release from involuntary, habitual contraction, as well as limiting movement patterns that inhibit progress, both athletically and in daily life. Somatic movement is a process of re-educating the body systems for improved well being.

Somatic yoga can be experienced in the form of Hatha, Yin and Restorative styles that allow the body to passively express and release with ease. The somatic exploration process introduces the student to be able to evoke core awareness and core movement, dynamic balance, integrity of movement, and harmony with gravity. Most postures include breath work, mat work in the supine or seated positions and many with the use of props. Slow progressive yoga movements, can allow you to focus on somatic awareness, full body breathing, and grounding and when combined with specific sequencing for your specific mechanics the witnessing of your own potential is so great. How amazing is that!

The best way to start this transition is to either seek out a yoga teacher or class that is gentle (as in slow movement), but still challenging enough to engage you in thought and movement. A warm Yin class or Hatha class are always me favorite. If you are coming off of an injury or have corrective concerns then perhaps a warm Yin or a Restorative class would be best to start with.

Next week we will take a look at building on this topic of somatic movement and introduce movement therapy with neuromuscular re patterning (RNT), both reactive and dynamic; which will include all styles of yoga and the benefits that can come from a sound practice.


About the Author: Sarah Jamieson

Sarah Jamieson has written 155 posts on this site.

Sarah is the owner and head movement coach at Moveolution; a Vancouver based consulting company focused on the integration of movement and recovery science. Bridging the gaps between the clinical and performance fields Sarah’s passion stems from lifelong passion of Yoga, Jujitsu, and Qi Gong; which she integrates into her coaching practice. She is a full time social change maker, a ‘run-a-muker’ of everything outdoors and repeatedly engages in random acts of compassion.

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