Body Wisdom Blog

by Donna Brooks

Why I use Somatic Movement as a Yoga Therapist

I use somatic movement for yoga therapy.

I use somatic movement as a yoga therapist because it is so effective.Most Yoga therapists I know face all types of challenges from clients. Chronic pain, incomplete recovery from surgery, problems due to disease and high levels of stress keep rising. Many clients can’t even do the most basic yoga without exacerbating symptoms. As a yoga therapist and someone who has been helping with bodily structure and function since the 1980s, I am always looking for what brings more ease and recovery to the injuries and limitations clients come to me with. In my practice, the combination of somatic movement with therapeutic yoga yields the fastest and most lasting results.

Somatic Movement for Yoga Therapy

So what is Somatic Movement and how does it complement Yoga Therapy?

Somatic movement is about moving naturally by recovering innate inner movement intelligence that is intrinsic to human beings. The natural patterns of our movements are  often obscured by injuries, compensation, bad habits, trauma and even cultural ways of moving. Somatics allows for  liberation of painful or limiting patterns we may not even realize we have. It also has a mindful embodiment component – we feel our movements from an internal sense of ourselves rather than just impose “improvements” from the outside. We pay attention to what we are doing but not by just observing – we live into more ease and integration.

I use Somatic Movement as a Yoga therapist to help my clients get more out of Yoga

Somatic movement is about feeling your body internally to support external structure and movement.  Instead of conforming to outside demands as to what movement “should” look like, this inner somatic movement intelligence is directing the show. When we approach asana and pranayama with a blind eye to the many movement limitations we are expressing we may find chasing symptoms from one place in the body to another or creating new types of rigidity and strain in asana.

How do I apply Somatic Movement to Yoga Therapy?

When one student of mine reached her arms up, as in Warrior 1, she literally lost her balance. Sometimes this can happen if there is some distortion in the first few years of life that inhibits a natural and healthy reaching pattern. It can also happen later through accidents, ongoing tensions, injury or trauma.

I could have taught her to stabilize her legs and focus on core strength as she reached. Her asana would have “improved” but we would not have gotten at a very core issue that was affecting her life way beyond Warrior I. In her case, revisiting the ability to reach from a place of support went deeper.

Rather than adjusting her or using blocks and belts (something she did not want to do), I tickled her hands and pushed on them in a way that accessed her body’s innate desire to reach.  I made her want to grab toys from me!  We found her desire to reach. This was something she never had felt very comfortable doing. She found a new stability and balance in her Warrior I

Somatic Movement is Fun and Functional

Overcoming the deficit in reaching  that was undermining my client’s ability to do Warrior I changed her relationship to reaching out generally. When she found she could get feedback into her body from reaching it automatically connected to her ground and core. Her core strength increased. because she began to use her body in an integrated way.  Her legs and feet no longer faltered when reaching; they reacted instantly to her desire to reach; supporting her intention.

Get the Full Results Yoga has to Offer.

My client began to reach out with more confidence in social situations too. She found part of the language of being human in a body. Her deeper somatic movement is letting her natural body intelligence move her forward. She let go of compensations, overwork and a general feeling of body disconnection.

If you want to find out if this approach can benefit your life or practice contact me for a free 5 point 20 minute whole body assessment. Or learn more about how I work with healers and yogis.