What is “somatic exercise”, this practice which offers a gentle approach to relieving muscular tension ?

What is “somatic exercise”, this practice which offers a gentle approach to relieving muscular tension ?

Somatic exercise is said to relieve muscle pain and anxiety. ImYanis/Shutterstock

Lately, somatic exercise seems to be on the rise on TikTok. This practice offers a gentle approach to relieving muscular tension accumulated on a daily basis. Based on slow, deliberate movements, somatic exercise would also calm the mind by reducing stress and anxiety.

With the daily grind, our body is more prone to injuries and muscle pain. Between the office and the home, our body has become accustomed in spite of itself to a sedentary lifestyle, causing poor posture. What if you learned to release the muscular tensions accumulated by your body on a daily basis ? This is what somatic exercise offers.

Derived from the Greek "soma" meaning "body", somatic exercise allows us to connect to the body through exercise and become fully aware of our physical capabilities. In practice, it is characterized by thoughtful, slow movements and breathing work. The particularity of this discipline is that it combines different movements inspired by yoga, pilates, and dance.

"Somatic exercises are used to increase awareness from the inside out and can help someone develop awareness. one to process and release blocked tensions, memories and emotions", Dr. Scott Lyons, psychologist and body trauma expert, tells TODAY. "In addition, somatic practices can help a person become more efficient in their movements, making them stronger, and relieve pain."

The release of muscular tension

This type of exercise focuses on releasing muscle tension located in different areas of the body such as the back, abdomen, shoulders, hips, etc. "Somatic movements should be performed as slowly as possible, preferably with eyes closed, in order to get in touch with the body and understand what it needs&quot ;, specifies Gabriella Espinosa, professor of somatic movement and founder of Women's Body Wisdom in the columns of Glamor UK.

How to practice it ? Concretely, there are different somatic movements. Among them, diaphragmatic breathing, which can be practiced alone or during other movements such as walking or yoga. We will consciously engage the diaphragm and fill the lungs with air, being aware of each breath. Otherwise, there is the “Body Scan". We lie on our back, extend our arms and legs and release the tension in each part of the body. If you want to try other somatic movements, just type "somatic exercises" on the TikTok search bar.

Reeducation caused by somatic movements will thus improve our usual muscular patterns, leading to relaxation of tense muscles. According to Francesca Melluzzi, somatic movement therapist, also interviewed by Glamor UK, somatic exercise would relieve "muscle pain, fibromyalgia, ;arthritis, as well as issues such as digestion, hormones, and sleep". Although to date there are no studies on somatic exercise, it has been shown that tai chi, a somatic practice, helps maintain balance and prevent falls in older adults and can reduce depression and anxiety. Concerning mental health, somatic movement would also be effective in fighting depression, stress and anxiety, according to the expert.

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