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  • Writer's pictureErica Webb

What's Somatic Exercise?

5 things you need to know about somatics and somatic exercise

What is somatic exercise

Have you noticed the term "somatics" popping up everywhere lately?

I’ve been a Somatic Exercise Coach for years; but it’s only in recent months that I’ve seen the word popping up everywhere. So what actually is somatics and why is it having its moment in the spotlight? In this blog post I’m sharing 5 things you need to know about somatics and somatic exercise.

1: What is a SOMA?

At its core, somatics stems from the Greek word "soma," meaning body.

By this definition, somatic practices can be any activity, exercise or process that put focus on body awareness; encouraging individuals to connect with their physical sensations and internal experiences.

From this perspective, many (and arguably any) physical practice or therapeutic modality (like some forms of counselling and bodywork) can be considered Somatic in nature.

The overarching goal of somatic practices are to foster a deep connection between the mind and body, allowing individuals to tap into their innate bodily wisdom.

What all somatic practices should prioritise is putting your felt experience front and centre. They absolutely should position YOU as the expert because you’re the only one who has access to the first-person experience of being in your body.

This idea of the Soma is exactly that - what it’s like to sense and feel from the inside out. So, really, that’s more than ‘just’ your body; it’s your whole experience of being you - thoughts, feelings and all.

2: Somatics is non-specific

So here’s the second thing I want you to know: the word somatic or somatics is not very specific. That means that it’s being used by people in non-specific ways, to cover ideas that are very broad indeed.

Dare I say, some people will even be using the word Somatic to sell you more, simply because it’s in vogue. Icky, but true. So if Somatics is not one thing, what else do you need to know?

3: Somatics vs. Somatic Exercise

While the term Somatics can be used quite broadly to refer to any practice that is ‘of the body’, Somatic Exercise is a specific movement modality that is based on a form of movement called pandiculation.

Pandiculation is exactly what we and other living creatures do when we yawn. It’s a muscular contraction, followed by a slow and fluid release.

In Somatic Exercise, we do conscious pandiculation - intentionally and consciously taking muscles further into a state of contraction before releasing them slowly and with attention. This acts as a reset of sorts - giving these muscles a chance to relax beyond the habitual levels of tension they have built up over days, weeks, months or even years.

If you want to try a Somatic Exercise class for yourself, I have lots of those! Check out this free one over on YouTube as a start.

4: Somatic exercises are nervous system practices 

Another term that’s having it’s moment in the spotlight: nervous system regulation. This can be synonymous with somatics, but not exclusively so.

Somatic exercises are ultimately about increasing your body awareness and enhancing your capacity to notice the relationship between your body and mind. This increased awareness coupled with movements and other practices that have a direct impact on your nervous system makes for a super-effective nervous system regulation practice.

5. Somatic Exercise is not magic

Despite what you might have seen or read on an ad, Somatic exercises are not magic. They are not a quick fix, magic pill or short cut to healing.

If anyone tells you otherwise, I recommend healthy scepticism and a willingness to stay curious (and walk away!). The quest for a quick or magic fix is alluring, but ultimately futile. Like anything, Somatic exercises and practices take time, persistence and patience. 

So there you have it … 5 things I want you to know about Somatics and Somatic Exercise.

Because, let’s face it: when something like this has its moment in the spotlight, people will use and abuse that. I wish it weren’t so, but here we are.

I’m a Somatic Exercise Coach and registered Counsellor, working through a somatic lens. If you want to know more about how Somatic Exercise can support YOU, here are some ways we can connect:


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