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What does a Somatic Teacher and Coach do?

Hello, and welcome!

If you are new to me and to this space, let me introduce myself.

My name is Sophie Rey and I've been an artist for many moons and a Yoga Teacher for around 5 years! I've also just completed my 160hr training to be a Trauma-Informed Somatic Teacher and Coach for women.

I became interested in Somatic Practices in around 2020, although I can't put my finger on exactly when it was, but I was looking for ways to support my older clients and those with injuries and health conditions, such as Fibromyalgia. I realised how beneficial Thomas Hanna's Somatic Movement practices were for this client group, but as I started practicing it myself, I realised how beneficial it can be for anyone!

Since then my eyes have been opened to how it can support us not only on a physical level, but mental, emotional and spiritual too.

So, firstly, What is 'Somatics'?

Soma means 'Body' and Somatic relates to body-focused practices and the understanding that our life experiences are deeply Somatic; ingrained within our body and our nervous system. Our Autonomic Nervous System is constantly on the go, scanning for cues of safety and danger within our environment and how we have responded in the past to situations, creates a deeply ingrained Somatic 'habit'. As we know habits can be tricky to change, and when we learn certain ways of coping or dealing with difficult experiences, like stress for example, our body remembers and will go back to that 'habit' to protect us, even if it's not useful for us!

It can also be helpful to understand that our physiological state creates the story in our minds. The feelings in our body happen first, often on the most subtle of levels and below our conscious awareness, but based on our past experiences, which are stored in our autonomic nervous system, our mind then creates a story in response and these stories tend to be habitual. Our mind is essentially following the somatic response, but it can feel like the thoughts have come first, which can feel like the most challenging thing of all.

Any type movement can be Somatic...

So, Yoga Asana, dance, swimming (and pretty much all other movement) is technically Somatic, but not all movement is practiced or taught in a Somatic way. A Somatic approach encourages you to slow down to be able to sense deeply and connect with the wisdom of your body; including your fascia or connective tissue,  your muscles and cells, your nervous system and how it's responding in situations, and everything else that makes up your body!

Moving very slowly allows our brain to reconnect to parts of our body that we've forgotten about or disconnected from (motor sensory amnesia - Thomas Hanna) and in turn the slow, controlled movements can help relink neural pathways that may help to reduce held tension, change habitual movement patterns and keep us feeling more mobile and aligned, as we age.

We don't just think our experiences, we FEEL them. What makes movement NOT Somatic, is when someone is telling us what to do and we are simply going through the motions, doing what they ask and not thinking or feeling it within ourselves. When we really listen and move in response to our sensations and feedback from our body, it becomes a very intuitive way of moving and understanding that we are all different.

Due to a variety of reasons, we can become very disconnected from our bodies, our internal experiences and the wisdom within, often ignoring physical or emotional cues and just pushing through. A lot of us are disconnected from our natural sleep cycles due to screens and artificial light, and in day to day life we also ignore significant cues and feedback from our body, for example when we're hungry or tired. We might skips meals because we are so busy and on the go that we don't 'have time' to stop and meet those hunger needs, or our body is stressed or in fight / flight mode, making us feel less hungry as a result. We also tend to do this with sleep, avoiding going to bed early or resting when we need to and keeping ourselves busy through work, family and other commitments or in some cases to avoid acknowledging difficult emotions. This can lead to burn out and we start to feel like we're shutting down, freeze mode!

There are different ways of exploring and explaining Somatics but essentially we are reconnecting body and mind; focusing on the wisdom of our own body and inner experiences, deepening our self-awareness and not ignoring our emotions!

We can use Somatic tools to regain trust and safety in our body, to relearn how it feels to experience joy and playfulness and unlearn ways we disconnect from our emotions and needs. We can enhance our proprioception; awareness of our body in space, Interoception; awareness of our internal sensory system and Neuroception; our autonomic nervous systems ability to detect safety or threat.

What does a Somatic Teacher and Coach do?

Each Teacher or Coach will have their own focus or intention for working with clients which might come from personal preference or their own personal experiences, but essentially a Somatic Teacher can help you learn body-focused practices and tools to feel more connected and at ease within your body and experience, and aim to empower you to take care of yourself. A Somatic Teacher could help you learn more about your nervous system states, teach you tools for self-regulation and practices to help reduce chronic tension or pain. (These are just a few examples!)

A Somatic Coach can do the same as a Somatic Teacher, however the coaching aspect is really about helping to facilitate personal growth, self-awareness and behavioural change for the client. For example a Somatic Coach might help someone learn how to rest more if they've been suffering from burn out, but it isn't just about getting more sleep, but looking at your life as a whole to see what is holding you back, what needs to change, why this burn out is happening and then look at how to proceed and move forward. Along the way this can also include working with your inner parts, like inner child or inner critic and perfectionist parts or other protector parts that are trying to keep you safe but stop you from making changes.

This can be a slow process, but it is all about collaboration and empowering the client to take care of themselves and orient towards more sustainable, embodied and long term decisions and wellbeing practices.

My aim with Somatic Coaching is help you regain trust and love in your body, find ways to heal from dissociation and release body shame, learn to find joy and creativity by exploring and connecting with your inner child / artist and befriend your inner critic, whilst exploring living in alignment with your inner seasons and cycles.

I just want to add here, that a Somatic Coach is different to a Somatic Therapist, although there is some crossover, but a Somatic Therapist is trained to go into the history, diagnosis and past of a client, for example if they have trauma and are looking for ways to process that verbally, like you would with a therapist or counsellor, but a Somatic Therapist works with the body too.

Essentially it comes down to where you are and what you need to help you move forward, so this is a conversation we would need to have, to see what support you would most likely benefit from.

If you are curious and would like to know more, please reach out and we can organise a Zoom call. Please note that I am still working towards my qualification with coursework, final assignments and case studies being completed, but I am starting to offer some Somatic workshops, I include Somatic practices in all of my events, workshops and classes and I'm excited to share more through my online presence.

Please do sign up to my newsletter to receive a free recording of my most recent online workshop, CREATIVE RESET, which includes Somatic Movement, Dance, Meditation and Creative Flow Journaling, all to help inspire you to have a more joyful and creative 2024.

Or sign up to my newsletter to stay in the loop....

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I look forward to sharing and connecting with you more.

With Gratitude,

Sophie xxx

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