What is somatic exercise for anxiety and does it works ? (2024)

Posted byMartin Wood April 11, 2024 6 Min Read

What is somatic exercise for anxiety and does it works ? (2)


Somatic exercise explained

The foundations of somatic exercise

Mind-body connection

The role of somatic exercise in addressing anxiety

Developing sensory awareness

Breathing practices

Releasing stored tension

Benefits of somatic exercises for anxiety

Integrating somatic exercises into your daily routine

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues faced by individuals worldwide.

As an alternative to traditional therapies or in combination with them, somatic exercises have emerged as an effective way to address and manage anxiety symptoms.

Let’s explore what somatic exercise is, how it works, and its benefits for those dealing with anxiety.

Somatic exercise explained

Somatic exercise is a form of body-centered movement therapy that focuses on the connection between mind and body.

It derives from the term ‘somatic’, which refers to the experience of one’s body from within.

This therapeutic approach aims to help individuals reconnect with their bodies, improving overall physical and emotional health by fostering self-awareness.

The foundations of somatic exercise

There are several somatic movement methods, each with its unique principles and techniques.

Some of the more commonly practiced methods include:

  • Hanna Somatic Education: Developed by Thomas Hanna, this method involves slow, controlled movements designed to release muscle tension and improve sensory awareness.
  • Feldenkrais Method : Created by Moshe Feldenkrais, this system emphasizes the importance of functional movement patterns to promote increased flexibility, coordination, and overall well-being.
  • Alexander Technique : Founded by F.M. Alexander, this approach seeks to eliminate harmful postural habits and promote efficient body mechanics through movement exploration and mental discipline.

While the specific techniques may differ, all somatic exercises share a focus on cultivating a greater sense of self-awareness, emphasizing gentle movements, deep breathing, and mindful attention to bodily sensations.

Mind-body connection

Somatic exercises aim to strengthen the mind-body connection, a concept that recognizes that our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can significantly impact our physical health.

Similarly, our body’s state can influence our mental well-being. By engaging in somatic exercises, individuals learn to better understand how their emotions and thoughts manifest physically, which in turn allows them to address these concerns more effectively.

The role of somatic exercise in addressing anxiety

Anxiety often causes chronic tension throughout the body, leading to physical symptoms such as muscle stiffness, headaches, shallow breathing, and fatigue.

Somatic exercises offer a way to identify and release these patterns of tension, ultimately reducing anxiety levels.

By using mindful movement and building self-awareness, individuals learn to recognize their bodies’ responses to stress and develop healthier coping strategies.

Developing sensory awareness

One key component of somatic exercises is the focus on sensory awareness – becoming attuned to the body’s signals and sensations related to tension, emotions, or stress.

This heightened awareness can help individuals learn to respond more appropriately to stressors, reducing the intensity and frequency of anxious responses.

Breathing practices

Somatic exercises often include specific breathwork techniques, designed to promote relaxation and balance the nervous system.

Deep, slow breathing not only helps lower heart rate and blood pressure but can also interrupt the cycle of negative thoughts commonly associated with anxiety.

Releasing stored tension

Tension and stress are often held within the body’s muscles, contributing to ongoing anxiety.

Somatic exercises involve gentle movement sequences that encourage the release of deep-seated tension while simultaneously building strength and flexibility over time.

Benefits of somatic exercises for anxiety

Individuals dealing with anxiety can experience a range of immediate and long-term benefits from incorporating somatic exercises into their routine:

  • Reduced anxiety levels: Regular practice of somatic exercises can lead to decreased feelings of stress, worry, and fear.
  • Improved emotional regulation: Becoming more aware of the mind-body connection helps individuals recognize and address emotional triggers that contribute to anxiety.
  • Enhanced mindfulness and relaxation: Somatic exercises cultivate a sense of calm and focus, which in turn promotes mental clarity and resilience.
  • Better sleep quality: Through the release of tension and the adoption of healthier breathing patterns, individuals may find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • Increased physical well-being: The movement sequences involved in somatic exercises encourage improved posture, flexibility, coordination, and overall body awareness.

Integrating somatic exercises into your daily routine

There are many ways to incorporate somatic exercises into your day-to-day life as part of an anxiety management plan:

  1. Attend classes or workshops: Many yoga studios and community centers offer group sessions led by certified instructors trained in somatic methods.
  2. Online resources: There is a wealth of video tutorials, guided audio sessions, and articles available to help you practice somatic exercises at home.
  3. Mindful breaks: Set aside short periods each day (e.g., during lunch breaks) for focused breathing and gentle movement exercises.

Somatic exercise offers an accessible, holistic approach to managing anxiety.

By fostering self-awareness and cultivating the mind-body connection, individuals can potentially reduce anxiety symptoms and improve their overall mental and physical well-being.

Whether utilized as a complement to other therapies or on its own, somatic exercise is worth exploring for those looking to take control of their anxiety in a supportive, empowering manner.

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Martin Wood

What is somatic exercise for anxiety and does it works ? (2024)
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