Maybe you’ve been reading these blog posts for a while (thanks by the way!) but haven’t actually explored any Somatic Movements yet. I’d like to help you change that. In this series of blog posts I’m going to give you some pointers on how to build a daily Somatic Movement practice into your routine.
A daily Somatic Movement Practice does not have to be an hour, or even a half an hour, in the beginning 10-15 minutes can be very beneficial and help you to get started. You can begin by introducing just one Somatic Movement into your daily routine. Arch & Flatten is the movement we generally teach first, we’ll get to that in a moment but first let’s consider…
When is the best time to do your practice?
Well, anytime is good, but when we are trying to build a new habit, it helps to have some consistency. So pick a time of the day that fits in with your timetable and try to stick to it. I like to practice at night before bed, others prefer first thing in the morning, this is also a good choice. If you’re working from home right now, you might decide to practice on your lunch break, just before you eat. But any time is good as long as you can be consistent and stick with it.
Some things to consider when selecting a time to practice.
Bedtime Practice: A pre-bed Somatic Movement practice will allow you to release any stress/tension you may have accumulated during the day, and calm your nervous system, leading to deeper, more restful sleep. If you struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep, I would strongly recommend practicing just before you go to bed. After all high quality sleep is essential for health, and a good nights sleep makes everything better.
Morning Practice: A morning practice will help to prepare you for the day ahead by allowing you to restablish control over your muscles after a period of inactivity, ie after being asleep. If you find you tend to feel stiff and sore in the morning, placing your practice just after waking is a great idea. Also, upon waking allow yourself to yawn! A yawn is after all just a reflexive pandiculation, don’t stifle it, let it happen and enjoy it. Pay attention to how it feels. That’s the kind of feeling you will be looking to recreate with your Somatic Movements. Then when your finished yawning, take to the floor and begin your Somatic movement practice.
Lunchtime/Middle of day Practice: Practicing in the middle of the day is also totally fine if this is the time that works for you. It will give you an opportunity to reset your nervous system so you can go back to your afternoon’s work calm and refreshed. It’s probably best however to practice before you eat a large meal. Furthermore your Somatic Movement practice will help shift you back into Parasympathetic Nervous System state, associated with ‘rest, digest’ and repair’. So you may find that you enjoy your food more, and your digestion improves when you are relaxed from your Somatic Movement practice.
So now that you’ve decided when you are going to practice, all we have to do is start.
Let’s Learn Somatics!
To begin lay out flat on the floor on a comfortable rug or yoga mat. Just make sure you are warm enough. If you need a pillow for your head or a bolster for your knees, please use them. As you practice more Somatics you should find your need for pillows and bolsters diminishes.
Close your eyes and spend a minute or two just noticing what it feels like to lay flat on the ground, notice where you are tense, where you are comfortable, where you are uncomfortable, scan your whole body. Then, rate your comfort level out of 10. Make a mental note of it, or jot it down in a note book. This is and important baseline reading. Got it? Great!
Now go ahead and follow along to the Arch & Flatten video below.
Now that you’re done with Arch & Flatten, spend another minute or two, repeating the scan you did at the beginning. Noticing what it feels like to lay flat on the ground after practicing Arch & Flatten as compared to before, noticing where you are tense now, where you are comfortable now, scanning your whole body, rating your comfort out of 10 again, and seeing if your comfort has increased.
Congratulations! You’ve just completed your first Somatic Movement practice. Pretty easy right?
If you have followed the instructions attentively you should sense a noticable increase in the comfort of your lower back. You may even feel more comfortable in your hips and legs, and neck and shoulders, as these all attach to your spine. You will also have experienced how easy it actually is to regulate, modulate, and manipulate how you feel. This type of self-regulation is a powerful skill to have in your back pocket.
Repeat this practice at the same time each day for the next week. Use my video for as long as you need to, but strive to be able to practice Arch & Flatten effectively by yourself without any guidance. When you can do it without guidance you OWN IT! That’s when it becomes truly helpful, educational and useful to you.
After a few days of doing Arch & Flatten once or twice a day, you will be more than ready to add another movement to your practice to continue your learning. We’ll do just that in the next instalment.
If you have tried using videos to learn Somatic movements but haven’t quite got the results you were hoping for, or need some extra help, remember you can Learn Somatics online with me from anywhere in the world. Getting some 1-1 guidance will rapidly accelerate your learning, progress and results.
And if you found this blog post useful, maybe you could share it with someone who you think might also find it useful. After all, Somatics is for everybody!
Until next time.