American philosophy professor Thomas Hanna created this system of sensory awareness and muscle training during the mid-1900s after working with the Feldenkrais Method. Intended as a way to provide pain management and movement rehabilitation, this active approach encourages learning through doing rather than passively receiving. HSE is based on the idea that the body responds to stressful life trauma with specific muscle reflexes. Although these reflexes are often a natural survival response, they can become habitual as muscular contractions so deeply embedded at an unconscious level that the resulting tension comes to feel normal. When the mind and body don’t remember that a muscle’s normal state is relaxed, chronic conditions manifest as limited range of motion, soreness, stiffness, the inability to fully relax, and a variety of other debilitating problems. HSE was created as a way to restore healthy function by reprogramming the nervous system through hands-on table work and slow movement exercises. This active teaching approach focuses on developing a more vivid bodily awareness and better muscle control to end painful muscle spasms and restore freedom of movement without great effort or force.
Instead of the practitioner’s hands doing all the work, a typical maneuver asks the recipient to voluntarily contract a muscle and then slowly and completely relax it, all the while staying mindful of the sensations produced. By the end of the movement, the recipient’s muscle tone has recovered to a healthier level of relaxation than when the action began. Many of the exercises are done to activate and integrate the sensory and motor areas of the cerebral cortex involved with movement and sensation. The practitioner guides the client into different positions and gives appropriate instructions, always reminding that moving should be free of pain. If functional muscle disorders are present, the practitioner gently manipulates the muscles to unfreeze them. A continuous series of slow, controlled movements and constant sensing by the client in combination with the hands-on work by the practitioner can shift the resting set point of muscles from strongly contracted to relaxed. The goal is for the recipient to enjoy a significant and lasting improvement in muscle control, coordination, and range of motion. Results are often immediate and may be cumulative with continued rehearsal of the indicated movement patterns. This form of therapy also deals with an assortment of functional disorders such as those involving organic muscle lesions or sensory motor amnesia.
Candidates for Hanna Somatics Education can opt for clinical sessions with a practitioner or choose to experiment on their own with a number of predetermined movement-pattern series. Hanna Somatic Biokinetics also referred to as Somatic Exercises, is a program similar to HSE that uses a combination of exercise techniques for rehabilitation through neuromuscular retraining that are designed to release chronic muscular contractions and pain patterns resulting from injury, stress, or repetitive motion. This muscle-training method teaches how to relieve tension quickly, lengthen and relax muscles, regain comfort, and restore voluntary control of the muscles. The Hanna Somatic Cat Stretch series is one of a number of transformational somatic exercise programs that are available for a wide range of conditions
Contact: Association of Hanna Somatic Education – www.hannasomatics.com
This modality comes from “Our Inner Ocean”, a book by Captain LeCain W. Smith: The author, LeCain W. Smith, learned early in life that his personal path to awakening was through ocean sailing, bodywork, and transformational energetic experiences. When living on the sea, making friends with the elements and with nature, he uncovered his passion for adventure, exploration, fitness, and health. He spent many years studying and experiencing bodywork and practicing yoga, qigong, breath-work, and meditation. This passion, combined with seeing numerous friends struggle with health problems, eventually drove Smith to reach out and help others through the writing of this book. If this endeavor changes the life of only one person, he will consider it a success.
Good health is something we all aspire to, but it’s so much more than just being free of disease. A perfectly functioning body, tranquil mind, and vibrant spirit working together harmoniously create the joy and happiness that put the good in good health and the worth into a life worth living. Our Inner Ocean describes ancient and new holistic modalities of practitioner-applied bodywork and revitalizing self-care practices.