All yoga can be viewed as somatic yoga as long as you are connecting with sensation inside of your body.
More specifically, somatic yoga is a feminine form of yoga, meaning that it’s oriented more towards feeling and allowing your body to intuitively move. On a neurological level you are rewiring holding patterns and movement patterns from inside your musculoskeletal and nervous system tissue as opposed to doing more externalized postures.
Don’t get me wrong the asana, the postures of yoga, are powerful – they’re deep and they are somatic. Our modern yoga postures are very different from the yoga that was traditionally taught as a process of meditation and breathing, yet they have numerous benefits – somatically, psychologically, and for the overall health of the body.
All yoga can be somatic as long as you have learned how to connect in with your inner body. Somatic yoga in particular is befriending the inner body so much that the yoga starts to come from the inside and then move out.
Through this practice we are partnering with what’s called your sensory motor nervous system to increase your body awareness, your ability to sense where your body is in time and space. Thus bringing awareness to sensations and feelings inside of the body, and also sensing where you are in terms of the present moment through your five senses – sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch.
Somatic yoga can be quite a sensual practice of reconnecting with not just the sensations inside of the body, but also the outside environment. Oftentimes the nervous system really needs to turn towards what is happening outside in your environment before it feels safe enough to go deeply internal and inward.
In somatic yoga, we are also working with the motor functions of the sensory motor nervous system, rewiring the ways that the body moves and holds itself through time and space.
This could be as simple as noticing how your shoulders are holding themselves right now. Usually there is some degree of sensory motor amnesia that many of us carry in our shoulders where there’s a little level of tightness and holding in the shoulders, even when we don’t really notice it. We walk around during the day holding our muscles. Usually, your muscles are firing 10 to 40 percent without you even really noticing or realizing it.
The practices in somatic yoga encourage awareness of the contraction that are already present in the muscles of the body. From this awareness we can slowly release out of that contraction so that the muscles have more capacity and control to be relaxed rather than to be stuck in a stressed out holding pattern. In turn, this can create more access to a layer of deeper emotional release, as well as deeper nervous system regulation that happens from within rather than from without.
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