Finally, after almost a lifetime of yoga practice and study, I came to Somatics. I had struggled with a broad variety of different ideas about how yoga should be practised. A lot of the instruction seemed contradictory and hard to clearly embody. I kept forgetting what to focus on, I got lost in the detail, lost in the effort, lost in the sensations of stretch, the delicious feelings, the flexibility, the power.
I did notice that the problem areas of my body didn’t significantly change. There was a lot I didn’t understand about my body even after a lifetime of yoga practice. Them, almost by accident, I was introduced to Somatics. I had toyed with Feldenkrais for many years but found it somewhat confusing.
The principle behind Somatics seemed very straightforward, the application very clear and simple, and the results stunning. In a matter of weeks I was moving quite differently. I felt different. I understood clearly what was happening in my body, and I began to feel a sense of moving in an integrated way. The exercises are done without stretching, no attention to alignment, no attention to containment, nothing in particular at all except close attention to the sensory detail of the movement, to what is happening in the pelvis, the back, the ribs, the shoulders. Close attention to what is actually going on, what is wanting to emerge, staying interested in the process.
I discovered the natural movement trains of my body through these very simple exercises, very lazily, no effort, just attention. I realised that the brain knows how to organise efficient, integrated movement, it has the wisdom of millions of years of patterned movement behind it. It knows what to do.
My job was to wake it up so it could do its job properly, by keeping my habitual effort and dullness out of the way. This is the principle behind Somatics, neuromuscular reprogramming. We change the way the body moves by feeding the brain new information. We wake the brain up to what is going on, and then observe and support the movement that is emerging.
Movement is regulated by sensation. If we want to change the way we move we must learn to sense change, to discriminate, to feel what is actually going on. We learn to ride a bike through replicating the sensations of riding a bike. No sensation, no motor skill. The brain organises the muscles to replicate the sensations. It creates sensory engrams. This may sound back-to-front but it isn’t. Sensation is primary, the key to living well and moving well. This is the key to Somatics.