The human body is not an instrument to be used, but a realm of one’s being to be experienced, explored, enriched, and thereby, educated.Thomas Hanna, Founder of Clinical Somatic Education

Clinical Somatic Education

In 1976, Thomas Hanna coined the term “somatics” to refer to the discipline of movement reeducation (somatic education) which seeks to foster internal awareness of one’s body. To experience something somatically is to experience it in your body: i.e to be aware of your own bodily sensations and movement from within. Somatic perception is quite literally, your first-person experience of what it’s like to be in your body. By this definition, other modalities such as Qi Gong, Yoga, Dance etc are considered forms of somatic education, however, it is Thomas Hanna’s discovery of Sensory Motor Amnesia, and his understanding of the reflex patterns our bodies create in response to stress, that distinguish Hanna Somatic Education from other modalities. It stands alone in its rapid and long-term effectiveness in teaching people to reserve some of the most mysterious (and supposedly structural) conditions responsible for chronic and often debilitating pain: sciatica, scoliosis, chronic back pain, herniated discs, and poor posture, to name a few.

Sensory Motor Amnesia (SMA) occurs when your muscles are so tight that they simply won’t relax, even when you’re doing nothing. When massage, chiropractic, heat, cold, stretching, physiotherapy, or anything else won’t relax muscles long term, you probably have SMA. Over 20 years of clinical practice revealed to Hanna that when muscles become habitually and involuntarily contracted due to real-life stresses such as accidents, injuries, surgeries, illnesses, repetitive movements, and even emotional situations, not only do those muscles lose their ability to relax, but the brain actually loses sensation of the muscles and forgets how to release them. The result is tight, sore muscles, joint stiffness, a loss of smooth controlled movement and chronic pain. Since the brain and nervous system control the muscles, the only way to permanently change a muscle’s tone is to engage one’s brain through movement.
Text from “Move Without Pain”, Martha Peterson

How is it different than other methods of pain relief?

  • • Somatics is EDUCATION: chronically tight muscles have learned to stay tight due to reflexive responses to stress sent from the brain. Teaching muscles to relax requires education to improve brain control of both sensation and movement. It offers LIFE LONG SKILLS to use for the rest of your life so that you can reverse muscle pain should it come back due to stress or injury.
  • • Somatics teaches you to eliminate SENSORY MOTOR AMNESIA (SMA), the condition of tight, “frozen” muscles that develops in response to stress: accidents, injuries, surgery and emotional and psychological stress. SMA also results in shallow breathing, anxiety, low energy, and lack of mental focus as we lose our ability to voluntarily sense ourselves internally and thus control our muscles and movement.
  • • Somatics teaches STRESS RESILIENCE. The more aware you are of how you respond to daily stresses the better able you are to self-correct and improve. More self-awareness means more ability to adapt and improve.
  • • Somatics is ACTIVE: because your brain controls your muscles, and muscles only learn through movement, you are the only one who can change how you feel and what your muscles are doing. Passive methods only confer short term benefits.
  • • It GETS TO THE ROOT of your muscle pain: your brain and the way in which it senses and controls muscles. You learn to re-train your brain – the command center of your muscles in order to release and relax them for improved muscle function, control and long term pain relief.
  • • Somatics teaches you to RELEASE FULL BODY PATTERNS of muscular tightness that compromises your ability to move efficiently and easily. The problem is never just one muscle! These patterns present themselves as back pain, neck/shoulder pain, TMJ, sciatica, scoliosis, leg length discrepancy and other common muscle pain conditions.

Private Sessions

on a wide, low table
  • customized personal attention + detailed intake
  • Before and After Assessments (posture, walking + pulsing)
  • step by step protocols and lessons are based on your presenting reflex patterns and symptoms (stress reflex patterns are released and addressed 1 at a time)
  • Your educator provides hands on feedback with verbal coaching
  • use clinical techniques built upon movements: Palpation, Meanswhereby, Kinetic Mirroring, Assisted pandiculation, quick release, lock in, integration
  • most effective and rapid method to begin restoring muscle function, improve mobility + freedom of movement, and release your pattern of habituated muscle contraction
  • learn movements for home practice
  • Initial session is 90 min- 105 min. Follow up sessions range between 75 min – 90 min depending on protocol
  • ideal to have at least 4-6 sessions to address all full body patterns but more severe conditions may require additional sessions
  • goal is to teach you how to restore freedom of movement and teach you tools to take care of yourself

Group Classes

Floor practice on your yoga mat or blanket
  • 2 or more people, 1 teacher
  • self-sensing assessments and soma scans
  • instruction of a variety of somatic movements. explore different sequences based on theme of class.
  • more self exploratory, playing with different variations
  • Mostly use your own hands for brain feedback: self pandiculation
  • deepens learning and helps you maintain changes and improvements from private sessions
  • Goal is to reinforce self-care movements, which are the linchpin to long-term pain relief and efficient movement; a daily practice gives you the ability to manage chronic stress, relieve aches and pains, improve balance, and monitor and improve your movement and posture

Gentle Somatic Yoga (GSY)

James Knight created GSY; a style of gentle & mindful corrective movement blending together
Hanna Somatic Education, Therapeutic Yoga & Meditation

Raise your self awareness to heal the root cause of muscular pain by re-programming your brain-to-muscle connection. Diminish, correct and/or ease chronic pain conditions such as lower back, poor posture, sciatica, stiff neck & shoulders, muscle spasms, arthritis, headaches & migraines, knee Injuries, TMJ, MS, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, joint pain, PTSD, and much more…

  • * unlock your body’s programmed response to stress
    * increase flexibility & range of motion
    * improve joint mobility
    * strengthen muscles
  • * enhance balance & co-ordination
    * affect overall physiological efficiency
    * promote relaxation & peace of mind
    * improve functional movement into old age


Be guided through gentle and subtle movements specific to your body’s needs & learn how to practice at home. Available for hire for your events.