Somatic Movement: A Gateway to Yoga’s Body-Mind Wisdom

Yoga Poses are a great springboard for Somatic Movement.

A somatic movement is made with a focus on the internal movement instead of on the external movement. Internal movement is very different from most physical or exercise training. Because his internal way of moving builds your interoception (self-sensing) it helps you feel good. And, as you master this skill, you will make better and more clear choices about your well-being.

Somatic Movement Therapy gives you the tools you need to access the wisdom stored in your body. It helps unwind tension habits that cause pain. Somatic Movement helps you transform unhealthy habits caused by physical injuries, trauma, personal habits, or even skipped developmental stages.

When we move gently, we change our bodies and minds. There is research on this. The Laban Institute has published work showing how sensing improves posture, lifts mood, and helps emotional expression. HM Alexander Center has worked on how and why internally based movement relieves Parkinson’s symptoms.

Although more research is needed, so far, we know that by using movement to deepen the brain-body connection, you feel better, have more resilience, and are better equipped to meet the challenges of life.

Somatic Movement Encourages Brain Plasticity

Neuroplasticity word cloud on a white background. Yoga and Somatic movement help rewire the brain in a positive way.

Brain plasticity is the ability of your nervous system to change patterns and habits by reorganizing how it does things. Having a brain that can change improves how you move your muscles, how you perceive balance, how you react to outer stress, or when you notice tiredness, hunger or emotion. A reorganized brain changes and can help how you respond to any threats you perceive. This is very important for anyone in chronic pain or who has high sensitivity (HSP), because you can change how you experience the world around you.

Deepening the Yogic Mind-Body Connection

If you feel that your mind is cut off from your body, you can feel ungrounded, anxious, out of control, or even depressed. In fact, when humans worry or are overactive mentally we often get digestive upsets, high blood pressure, tense muscles or headaches, or we just feel spacey.

When people have the tools to reconnect body and mind, life flows more easily. It becomes easier to accept difficulties and develop clear and effective strategies for working with them. Letting go of stress makes it easier to manage life. Because you are refining your movement as you change your brain, you find actually living in your body becomes easier even as your thoughts and emotions become more manageable.

Close up 0f a woman in the yoga pose Triangle. Concept of developing inner awareness and intuitive, somatic movement.

Benefits of Somatic Movement and Yoga

I have been teaching yoga since 1981 and Somatic Movement since 1992. I find it useful for many challenges. Here are a few:

  • Pain and stress management or alleviation
  • Sexual health and pelvic floor issues
  • Balance
  • Difficulties with smooth or fluid movement
  • Nervous system calming and meditation
  • Trauma and injury recovery
  • Fitness training
  • Anxiety, worry, despair, and mental health concerns
  • Alleviating Parkinson’s symptoms
  • Meeting loss and grief

The right approach can significantly improve your quality of life and maintain these gains over time. Try Somatic Movement to relieve your symptoms, reduce your pain, and feel confident to live life to the fullest. 

Reprinted with permission from Donna Brooks
donna brooks

After four decades of experience helping my clients unwind limiting movement patterns and heal body-mind disconnection, I have put together simple but profound embodiment exercises that help everything from pain to Parkinson’s Disease and pelvic floor issues to the trauma of grief and loss. I have a broad toolbox that relieves stress in the nervous system so you move with more ease and integration while also gaining perspective, insight, and courage.

I have also taught yoga, meditation, and relaxation for chronic pain through the Valley Medical Group and assisted Iyengar teacher Karin Stephen in her programs for people with HIV-AIDS.  I teach popular walking and pelvic floor clinics and create somatic yoga programs for YogaUOnline.

But my biggest lesson has been the death of my 36-year-old son. He died at a peak point of his career. This could have destroyed me. Certainly, it is devastating but instead of collapsing, I am understanding my own work more deeply. I have been so fortunate that I have tools that let me feel the goodness of being alive and in that goodness, my pain, horror, frustration, and panic can arise without overwhelming my system.

I am a certified Yoga Therapist and a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist and Educator. I hold a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY Stony Brook. I have been teaching yoga since 1981 and somatics since 1993. I am trained in Iyengar yoga, I have studied with somatic movement/ embodiment pioneers including Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen and Emilie Conrad.

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