Somatic yoga is taught in individual and group classes. Much of the instruction is verbal, so classes work well online and in person. You practise on a yoga mat and don’t need any other special equipment. Although there may be yoga poses you recognise in a somatic yoga class, there is less of a focus on making them look a particular way and instead a chance to go within and explore your body in a different way.
Movements are often small, generally slower and frequently done with the eyes closed. A somatic yoga sequence might include guided breathwork, meditation, body scans, periods of relaxation, a focus on releasing tension and guided movement.
Many people are so used to action that it can be challenging to accept smaller, slower movements and allow your body, mind and nervous system to truly rest. But this is exactly what makes somatic yoga so healing and therapeutic.
Because it focuses on how you feel and cultivating self-awareness, it allows you to get more in tune with your own body and can help you manage pain. It is also a very mindful practice and can be a bit like moving meditation, so is really useful for people that struggle with seated meditation.
The majority of somatic movements are done on the floor, seated or lying down. Fully supporting the body on the floor produces steadiness of body and mind.
A grounded body allows the energy of the mind to safely explore movement potential with less exertion. The student is more likely to remain in a state of relaxation and can explore with lighthearted curiosity!
When we engage with our practice somatically we stay with the questions, what am I feeling? Is this nourishing? Does this work for me? How could I be more comfortable here? Can the learning come from my body? We listen to our unique way of being here in an inclusive way. We practice personal agency, we become empowered to know that we have choice and that we each know our experience and our body better then anyone else. This is also one of the foundations for trauma-sensitive yoga classes. Somatic practices are about getting to know ourselves more intimately; entering a safe and informed practice that responds to our ever-changing needs as dynamic organisms; reclaiming the ability to make our own choices about our bodies. In order to create any change we first have to know what we are doing, we have to notice our habits.