When we’re in pain, life sucks. In fact, it can make us feel like we’ve had the life sucked out of us. It takes our energy, motivation and sense of well-being. It affects how we move and function, and probably our sleep, our relationships, and our work too.
There are so many things we try to get rid of pain. Some help, some don’t, but we never actually resolve the problem.
I’ve had chronic hip pain for 15 years, and tried everything. In fact, I reckon I’ve spent literally thousands of pounds on different therapies and treatments. This pain is what brought me to yoga all those years ago and I’m so grateful it did. But the yoga postures – my practice – did not get rid of my hip pain.
Fast forward to November 2014 and I come across Clinical Somatics (also known as Hanna Somatics). Like anything claiming to help, I went for it. This time I had a feeling I was on to something, and I was right.
Somatic movement, specifically Hanna Somatics, makes complete sense. The reason we’re in pain is due to tight muscles that we can’t release. The muscles have become tight due to injury, an accident or habitual patterns (such as from stress). The part of the brain responsible for involuntary movement has recognised this as our new pattern and keeps those muscles tight. Somatic movements unfreeze this part of the brain to allow the muscles to release. When our tightly held muscles release, so does the pain, and we can go back to moving freely and easily once again.
Within five sessions of being taught a series of specific, focussed moves, my hip pain had all but gone. I attempted a cliff walk with lots of up and down steep paths and steps, and managed without a twinge (this would have normally left me hobbling in pain). I am now aware of my compensatory patterns which caused the pain, and have to be careful not to go back into them. My daily somatic moves help with this. I spend 10-20 minutes a day reinforcing my new movement patterns, which keep me moving freely and feeling great.
As a yoga teacher, I have seen restricted movement in classes a lot. People have difficulty coming into beginning postures easily and correctly. Not because the yoga moves are difficult or they aren’t flexible enough, but because they are involuntarily holding these muscles in their compensatory movement patterns. The result is that they simply reinforce their dysfunctional movement patterns.
As a somatic educator and coach, I can do more to help people. I help them get out of pain, and back into moving freely and easily. I help them improve their yoga postures. I help them feel more comfortable in their bodies, and completely relax – a happy side effect of somatic movement. Who doesn’t want that?