What is Hanna Somatic Education?
Hanna Somatic Education is a system of gentle movements that teaches you to lengthen and relax tight muscles using the motor cortex of your brain. It's efficacy can be explained through neurophysiology. It is a practical and innovative way of releasing chronic tension and pain. When practiced daily HSE is highly effective at releasing accumulated patterns of muscular tension that result from trauma, repetitive activities like playing sports or desk work, daily stress and injury.
Additionally, HSE helps remind your brain of functional movement patterns to replace dysfunctional ones. This results in better coordination, effortless "good" posture and ease of movement. It works to integrate the right and left hemispheres of the brain through contralateral movement patterns, resulting in a more efficient brain.
How did I become an Hanna Somatic Educator?
I was introduced to Hanna Somatic Education by my father in 2008, when he began attending the HSE training at the Novato Institute in California. He had been practicing the movements daily and having great success with his lower back pain. I did not have any pain in my body at this point and was more interested in yoga, which I had recently begun to practice. I went on to become a Bikram Yoga Teacher in 2011 and travel globally teaching yoga.
During these years as a traveling yoga teacher, I would frequently push my body too far (whether in yoga or carrying a huge 50 lb backpack) and end up with tension or pain in my body as a result. Eventually there was point in my yoga practice where I was in pain during, before or after class even if I was being very careful and gentle in the postures. The pain would come and go, but eventually it became chronic.
My father kept reminding me that Hanna Somatic Education could help, but I needed to do the movements regularly, ideally, daily to make the changes in my nervous system. I would get some benefit immediately while doing the movements.
There was a period of a few weeks where I did a sequence called "The Cat Stretch Series" twice a day to reduce my pain enough that I was able to walk without wincing. However, my lifestyle was still centered heavily around yoga and travel and I was not yet willing to commit to a daily practice of HSE.
I was, in many ways addicted to vigorous movement and staying active. I realize now it was hard to be still because it meant paying attention to the pain in my body.
When I returned home to the United States to live a more quiet life, my father offered to pay for my training at the Novato Institute. I began attending in August of 2017. I grew to love the practice and the benefits from it I could feel in my body. My chronic pain was gradually fading.
I became pregnant in November 2017, which was a big shift in my body. After pregnancy and postpartum I found myself in chronic pain again, so I dedicated myself to a consistent daily practice for several months.
With this renewed commitment and a deeper understanding of technique through my studies at The Novato Institute, my pain not only resolved, but my body felt more graceful and aligned than ever before.
What to expect when working with me
This method is very reliable. I will assess your posture through questions about your positioning and what you sense in your body. During my training, I was taught to look for postural stress patterns and learned protocols to guide you in releasing them. I also learned how to gather information about where you are holding tension or pain and create a moment to moment plan that can enable you to release it.
This work is gentle and subtle, yet effective and powerful.
The movements are best done in a casual, gentle way. Using minimal effort can produce big results in HSE. I will do my best to help you avoid pain by giving you instruction for smaller more gentle versions of the movement pattern. Pain creates tension your body and our goal is to release tension. Therefore, if possible I help you practice without pain.
I will be teaching you a system that works best when practiced daily. Once you understand the principles and learn the movement patterns, you can maintain the changes we have made together in a 15 mins a day.
Who is this for?
Almost anyone can benefit in some way from HSE. It is a wonderful way to relax your nervous system and move your body into a state of recovery from life's stresses.
This practice is particularly life-changing for those suffering with chronic tension and pain. It can also prevent chronic pain and tension from developing and can slow down/reverse postural signs of aging. This leads to a more graceful, easy way of moving in your body as you get older.
For those who have experienced some kind of trauma, this practice can help with learning to trust and inhabit their bodies again. In HSE, there is the potential to build sensory awareness and create an internal map of your body and be able to sense what you need from moment to moment.
Yoga Teachers, Therapists and Counsellors, Medical Professionals, Energyworkers, Athletes, Performers and those from other Somatic fields will find HSE can be the invaluable missing link in their personal and transpersonal experiences.
Those with high stress jobs can especially benefit from HSE as it allows them to let go of the physical pattern of stress. HSE down-regulates the nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the state in which we sleep, digest and heal.