If you track fitness trends, you may have heard the term ‘somatic workouts’ cropping up a few times now. The idea behind this technique is to sync your mind and body, so you’re not pushing through the pain or forcing yourself to run that extra mile – you’re moving intentionally and considerately, tuning into your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. There is some evidence to suggest that including some of these types of workouts into your week can held ease aches and pains, heal you faster and make you more aware of your body’s strengths and limits. If you’re interested in giving it a go, here are three ways to dip a toe into this fitness trend.
The Alexander Technique
The Alexander technique was developed to help people move with less pain, by improving their posture and movement. There are plenty of simple workouts and introductions to this approach on Youtube, but some key tenets are: the head, neck and spine are key to your whole body posture. Imagine there is a string attaching your head to the ceiling – this should help you to sit up straight and straighten your neck whilst relaxing your shoulders. Practice some gentle neck and shoulder stretching each day, to keep these parts supple.
This form of somatic exercize is perhaps the best known, but when you think about it, most good yoga teachers will consistently encourage you to ‘check in’ with your thoughts, feelings, breaths and bodily sensations, so when it’s done right yoga is definitely encouraging you to think about your whole body. Find a form of yoga that suits your abilities and you enjoy, and make an effort to notice your thoughts and feelings as you move.
Similar to yoga, although with more of a focus on body strength activities, pilates can also offer opportunities to check in with your whole being, and therefore falls under the category of somatic exercize. Try a Youtube workout online, or check out your local group – one element of somatic exercize is working out in a community in which you feel safe and supported, so you can focus on doing what’s right for your body.