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"If you move with pain, you essentially teach your brain that it is not safe to move!"

Hanna Somatic Education (HSE), sometimes also referred to as Hanna somatics, neuromuscular education, or clinical Somatics, is a discipline concerned with integrating mind and body. Although the body and mind may be thought of as different experiences, deconstructing them diminishes what it means to be human. Each person, rather than being regarded as having a body, is understood to be a soma. The soma is essentially the individual body as experienced from the inside. It represents a person's unique experience. The soma endows each particular body with its unique individuality. From the somatic framework, all life's meaning comes from this unique perspective. In language, the words- I, me, and mine indicate the first-person perspective. They are the natural expressions of the soma acting in the world. While we all have bodies, an individual soma is a living process in motion, and no two are ever the same. Even an individual soma exists as an energetic field constantly in flux from moment to moment.

HSE practice revolves around the neurological aspects of movement to provide practical (and often rapid) changes in people's physical conditions and functional problems.

HSE engages the nervous system of the soma in a way that helps relieve common physical-emotional stressors dealt with in everyday life. These stressors, known in the health and wellness fields as lifestyle diseases, are the initial signs of what may later present as serious health issues. HSE can also assist in processing the physically stored patterns held after a psychologically traumatic event has passed.

HSE sessions are structured to help somas develop voluntary control of muscles and release movement patterns that have become fixed and often painfully stuck. Constantly contracted muscles become habituated to stay that way because the nervous system turns down the sensory signal as noise, placing it in the background out of perceptual range. The result of this process over time is motor-sensory amnesia (MSA). Where MSA exists in the soma, HSE practices highlight it and use the motor system to target it, making the necessary changes in muscle tone. These changes eventually offer more freedom from pain, greater efficiency in movement, allowing a keener awareness of all aspects of the individual's somatic experience.

HSE engages the soma with gentle movements to integrate constantly in-flux information among conscious decision-making parts of the brain, the motor-sensory cortical areas, and the autonomic spinal cord reflexes. These gentle movements (like a reflexive morning yawn), are the natural response of all healthy mammals. Re-purposed in HSE, we refer to them as either self pandiculations or assisted pandiculations. One result of this integration through the pandicular response is that joints become more stable, balanced, and fluid. HSE protocols and practices intentionally regulate and tone the nervous system and provide self-soothing, calm, and mental resiliency.

Other common results:

  • Improved walking mobility, and gait pattern

  • Ease in respiration and heightened awareness of breath

  • Better postural muscle tone, balance, and coordination

Session formats:

A typical session lasts one hour and fifteen minutes and can be done in a chair, on the floor with a mat, or a bodywork table. Sessions can be structured privately as a client, with a practitioner, or in a small group experience, as a student. HSE sessions may include motor-sensory self-assessment and specific continuing bodily movements for practice (for both clients and students) between sessions or at the end of a session.

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