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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Somatics?
What is the Feldenkrais Method®?
What is the Alexander Technique?
What is Somatic Experiencing?

What is Somatics?

The word somatics was created by the philosopher Thomas Hanna in 1976 to identify disciplines of mind/body integration. He defined the new word as "...the field of study dealing with somatic phenomena, i.e.,the human being as experienced by himself (or herself) from the inside." He redefined soma (an ancient Greek word which meant "the living body") to mean "the body experienced from within".

The Feldenkrais Method and The Alexander Technique are modern methods of somatic education.
Qigong is an ancient method.

What is the Feldenkrais Method®?

"The Feldenkrais Method is named after its originator, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc. (1904-1984), a Russian born physicist, judo expert, mechanical engineer and educator.

The Feldenkrais Method is a form of somatic education that uses gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and enhance human functioning. Through this Method, you can increase your ease and range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. These improvements will often generalize to enhance functioning in other aspects of your life.

The Feldenkrais Method is based on principles of physics, biomechanics and an empirical understanding of learning and human development. By expanding the self-image through movement sequences that bring attention to the parts of the self that are out of awareness, the Method enables you to include more of yourself in your functioning movements. Students become more aware of their habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities and expand options for new ways of moving. By increasing sensitivity the Feldenkrais Method assists you to live your life more fully, efficiently and comfortably.

Anyone--young or old, physically challenged or physically fit--can benefit from the Method. Through lessons in this method you can enjoy greater ease of movement, an increased sense of vitality, and feelings of peaceful relaxation. After a session you often feel taller and lighter, breathe more freely and find that your discomforts have eased. You experience relaxation, and feel more centered and balanced."from, the website of the Feldenkrais® Educational Foundation of North America

"..make the impossible possible, the possible easy, and the easy elegant."
-Moshe Feldenkrais

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What is the Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Technique was developed by M. Matthias Alexander (1869-1955), an Australian actor who had lost his voice. When no one else could help him, he set out to help himself. He discovered that every time he began to speak, he overefforted, thereby creating strain, restricting his breathing, and compressing his vocal chords. He realized that he could release the excess tension and free not only his voice, but his whole body. He moved to London and trained a handful of teachers who have passed on his work. My primary teacher, Marjorie Barstow of Lincoln Nebraska (1899-1995) was one of his students. Marj, as she was fondly known, was noted for her clarity and the delicacy of her touch.

In an Alexander lesson, awareness of what we are doing is communicated by the gentle hands of the teacher. The student learns to release unnecessary habitual tension and to move with greater ease and freedom. Lessons can be applied to the normal activities of daily life like standing, walking and sitting and also to work, play and creative activities.

Many renowned actors, singers, and musicians have improved both their comfort and their performance with the Alexander Technique.

"The Alexander Technique is a method that works to change (movement) habits in our everyday activities. It is a simple and practical method for improving ease and freedom of movement, balance, support and coordination. The technique teaches the use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity, giving you more energy for all your activities. It is not a series of treatments or exercises, but rather a reeducation of the mind and body. The Alexander Technique is a method which helps a person discover a new balance in the body by releasing unnecessary tension. It can be applied to sitting, lying down, standing, walking, lifting, and other daily activities..."

from "Changing The Way You Work: The Alexander Technique" by Carol Prentice

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What is Somatic Experiencing?

''Somatic Experiencing®'' (SE) is a short-term naturalistic approach to the resolution and healing of trauma developed by Dr. Peter Levine. It is based upon the observation that wild prey animals, though threatened routinely, are rarely traumatized. Animals in the wild utilize innate mechanisms to regulate and discharge the high levels of energy arousal associated with defensive survival behaviors. These mechanisms provide animals with a built-in ''immunity'' to trauma that enables them to return to normal in the aftermath of highly ''charged'' life-threatening experiences.

Although humans are born with virtually the same regulatory mechanisms as animals, the function of these instinctive systems is often overridden or inhibited by, among other things, the ''rational'' portion of our brains. This restraint prevents the complete discharge of survival energies, and does not allow the nervous system to regain its equilibrium. The un-discharged “survival energy” remains “stuck” in the body and the nervous system. The various symptoms of trauma result from the body's attempt to ''manage'' and contain this unused energy.

SE employs the awareness of body sensation to help people ''renegotiate'' and heal their traumas rather than relive them. With appropriate guidance with the body's instinctive ''felt sense,'' individuals are able to access their own built-in immunity to trauma, allowing the highly aroused survival energies to be safely and gradually discharged. When these energies are discharged, people frequently experience a dramatic reduction in or disappearance of their traumatic symptoms.

Because traumatic events often involve encounters with death, they evoke extraordinary responses. The transformation process can allow people to deepen their sense of self and others. The healing journey can be an ''awakening'' to untapped resources and feelings of empowerment. With the help of these new allies, people can open portals to rebirth and achieve an increased sense of aliveness and flow. The experience can be a genuine spiritual awakening, one that allows people to re-connect with the world.

The very structure of trauma, including hyper-arousal, dissociation. and freezing, is based on the evolution of the predator/prey survival behaviors. The symptoms of trauma are the result of a highly activated incomplete biological response to threat, frozen in time. By enabling this frozen response to thaw, then complete, trauma can be healed.

Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the dangerous event itself. They arise when residual energy from the event is not discharged from the body. This energy remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds. Wild animals have the ability to “shake off” this excess energy. The key for humans in dispelling traumatic symptoms lies in our being able to mirror wild animals in this way. Dr. Levine has developed a safe, gradual way to help trauma survivors develop their own natural ability to resolve the excess energy caused by overwhelming events."

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