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What is Somatic Dance?

In January I ran a Somatic Movement, Dance & Journaling workshop online and in just a few days time (9th March) i'll be running my first in-person Somatic Movement, Dance and Art workshop.

I wanted to share a bit more about what Somatic Dance actually is, because it might not be something you've seen or heard of before!

The term Somatics has become a bit of a buzzword in the Wellbeing industry lately, but only because it's becoming increasingly clear (and backed by science) that Somatic Practices can play a very important role in actually helping us to feel more connected within ourselves, to heal and change our physical, mental and emotional reactions to past (traumatic) experiences, to understand how stress shows up for you, to be able to move forward with compassion, understanding and better knowledge of your body, mind and soul, alongside other effective tools and practices.

So first of all. what is Somatics?

The term 'Somatic' means 'of or relating to the living body', and Soma is a greek word meaning 'the body as perceived from within'.

When we do a 'Somatic movement', the aim is to put all of your focus and awareness into the movement that you are doing, so that you can feel the sensations within your body, alongside the response of your nervous system. Somatic Movement can be and often is, used to help retrain habitual patterns of holding and muscle tension (reference Thomas Hanna Somatics).

Somatic Movement is practiced very slowly; the slower we move, the more we can FEEL what is happening. Our nervous system which controls our muscle tension, movement and posture, also processes and learns things very slowly, so moving slowly allows new neural pathways and feedback loops to be created. It isn't about the quantity of movements or what it looks like, and if it feels safe to do so, practicing with your eyes closed is great way of enhancing that internal focus.

Somatic Movement can also be practiced in a more 'intuitive' way (which is where Somatic Dance comes in!). If you've ever been to my (Somatic) Yoga classes, you might have been invited to move in any way you would like, usually from a table top position, following on from some cat and cow movements.

This is a great time to explore moving in a Somatic way, because there are so many different ways to move from table top and explore different areas of your body, allowing yourself to fully witness how your body is moving in this moment, and giving you the opportunity to respond as needed. A basic reflection could be, what feels nice and what doesn't.

Some other reflections could be...

What is that niggle or pain in my body that needs support?

How are my energy levels today?

Is this feeling unsafe, how can I reposition my (hands and feet) to find more stability or is my nervous system telling me it's unsafe and making me feel nervous?

Do I need to come out of it?

These are just a few suggestions, but I hope this is making sense!

Once you get used to it, and you've learnt to sense within, you can move a little faster or with more energy, for example, shaking, bouncing and swinging your arms can be a great way to release anxious energy and stay present within your body. It's always important to remember that if you lose track of the sensations, if you're flying through the motions, if you're focusing more on what it looks like, or if your mind just wanders off completely, then it is no longer Somatic. And if you are trying to reduce muscle tension or pain, the aim is to be slow, controlled and gentle!

Any movement can be Somatic, as long as it has that conscious, internal focus.

What is Somatic Dance then?!

Somatic Dance is essentially dancing, but with that somatic element of sensing your internal experience and responding as needed to the cues and signals from your body.

It isn't choreographed, so is more focused on your own intuitive and freestyle movement.

During my sessions we start with inner resourcing practices (to ensure you have a sense of safety and support to return to) along with Somatic Movement; moving through familiar shapes, exploring through repetition and starting to build on that. You will then be invited to move intuitively, seeing how the music feels within and where it takes you, as I continue to provide suggestions and support, without getting into your space.

Throughout this process, you are learning to create a deeper connection to your inner experience and to the wisdom of your body, through freestyle movement! It can lead us to feeling whole, to developing more trust in ourselves and to feeling free and expansive, rather than tight, tense and restricted. Consider how a creative and playful child would move and dance, without feeling self-conscious, without self-doubt or worry.

As adults, we might have a lot of layers, self-limiting beliefs and self-doubt to wade through, but we can take it very slowly and we can find joy and self-expression in movement.

Somatic Dance can also be described as conscious dance or embodied dance, as the focus is the same; staying present and conscious to your sensations.

During a somatic dance session, there might be a specific focus; like exploring sensations of resistance, or inviting in a feeling of joy and sensing how that might that show up for you.

There are different ways it can be explored, and for me personally, it comes down to creative self-expression and moving your body to connect with and process emotions, to expend nervous or anxious energy, to encourage more energy and soul back into your body, to acknowledge the resistance, to acknowledge the joy and to be playful.

It always comes back to your own SAFETY; to how much you would like to do!

Dip your toe in a little, fully immerse yourself or somewhere in between.

Wherever you are at, you are welcome.

You can find out more information about Saturdays Workshop, which is taking place in Bournville, via my website linked below and do sign up to my newsletter to hear about future events, Somatic Coaching and useful info!

Thank you so much for reading and if you have any questions or thoughts, please get in touch!

With Gratitude,

Sophie xx

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