A comment I often get when someone comes along to one of my Essential Somatic Movement classes is how much more gently and slowly they explored the movements in class than when they tried them on their own. As a result they noticed their muscles felt softer, they felt more relaxed and moved with greater ease at the end of class.
When you get home and are on your mat however, it can be a real challenge to make this shift into moving with the “least possible effort” . Take for instance one of my students Brian, he absolutely loves his Somatic practice but says he still catches himself just wanting to give it that extra push or “lift that leg just a bit higher” even when he knows “doing less” is way more effective at releasing his muscle tension and stiffness. Can you relate?
Here’s what I suggested to Brian when he asked me how he can move as slowly and gently at home as he does in the class:
3 Top Tips to help you get the most from your Somatic practice at home
- Firstly, it requires a mindset shift away from “exercises you do” to movements explored where the focus is on noticing the internal sensations within. This shift isn’t easy when for years we’ve been told to stretch our muscles, “go for the burn” or work harder. These messages can run surprisingly deep, so be compassionate with yourself and take your time. Set the intention at the start of your practice that you’ll focus on what you can (and can’t) sense as you move mindfully, this will help to stop you falling into the habit of doing the movements in a mechanical way.
- Ask yourself “am I moving in a yawny way”? Think of how your cat or dog moves when it gets up from a sleep or when a baby does a full body yawn. Notice how delicious it looks (there’s no sense of working too hard or over efforting) and bring this same quality into your own practice and you’ll be on the right track.
- Less is more – it never needs to be a big movement (repeat this often). In fact, the slower you go (always staying within your comfort range) the more your brain can sense and feel and therefore release your tight muscles. So repeat often “less is more” when it comes to Somatics.
And if you feel you could really benefit from learning Essential Somatic Movements to fully release your muscle tension and stiffness then please join me in one of my somatic movement classes or workshops. It would be lovely to connect with you in person.
What Do You Think?
The next time you find yourself working too hard in your Somatic practice, what would it be like if you took a moment to pause, breathe, move in a yawny way (try channeling your inner cat) with the least possible effort? Why not give it a go and let me know how you get on in the comments below, I’d love to hear about your experience.