what is somatics?
Somatics is a field within movement studies and bodywork which emphasizes internal physical perception and experience. The term is used to signify approaches based on the soma, or "the body as perceived from within".
The field of somatics has developed in the West over the last century through a process of inquiry into how consciousness inhabits the living body. The term is derived from the word “somatic” (Greek “somatikos”, soma: “living, aware, bodily person”) which means pertaining to the body, experienced and regulated from within. According to Thomas Hanna, who first coined the phrase, “somatics” is the study of self from the perspective of one’s lived experience, encompassing the dimensions of body, psyche, and spirit.
Though only recently recognized in the West, somatic practices been alive in the East for thousands of years. The internal cultivation practices of East Asia form the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The field of Somatic Movement Education and Therapy represents a variety of approaches to the process of awakening awareness of the human body, or soma, in movement. Registered practitioners guide individuals and groups into inner experiences of their bodies, deepening clients’ understanding of themselves in motion, as motion. This transformational learning process can include sound, breath, touch and imagery in addition to movement.
Benefits of somatic movement education and therapy include:
- Increased health and wellness
- Improved performance
- Expanded creative expression
- Integrated learning and transformation
- Reduced pain
- Increased ease of movement
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- Emilie Conrad
Continuum Movement founder Emilie Conrad. Photo by Lauren Devon
Soma is a gentle, restorative, somatic movement practice that explores the fluid systems of the body, and focuses on developing internal sensation and awareness. We use breath, sounding and subtle movement to soften our restrictive movement patterns and cultural conditioning so that we can regain access to and revel in our bodies' innate wisdom, responsiveness, and healing potential. Rather than viewing the body as an object, we explore the body as a living process.
These classes also incorporate the wisdom and philosophy of East Asian Medicine and of Taoist somatic practices.
It has been shown to be beneficial for pain, chronic injury and other physical limitations, including groundbreaking work with paralysis, and promotes deep relaxation, wellbeing and a sense of connectedness.
This work is also employed by artists to dissolve creative blocks and support creativity and improvisation. It has influenced the fields of dance, bodywork, movement therapy, performance, psychotherapy and more.
Soma is heavily based in the movement practice Continuum, founded by somatic visionary Emilie Conrad, whom Emma apprenticed with from her late teens until Emilie's passing in 2014.