Somatic Exercises

Somatic exercises are a type of movement practice that focuses on internal awareness and sensation, rather than external movement or physical appearance. The term “somatic” refers to the body as perceived from within, through first-person perception. Somatic exercises aim to increase body awareness, reduce muscle tension, and promote relaxation and well-being.


Key Characteristics of Somatic Exercises

Internal focus: Somatic exercises focus on the internal sensations and experiences of the body, rather than external movements or physical appearance.

Slow and gentle: Somatic exercises are typically performed slowly and gently, allowing for a deep exploration of internal sensations and awareness.

Exploratory: Somatic exercises are often exploratory, encouraging the practitioner to tune in to their internal sensations and experiences, rather than following a specific sequence or routine.

Awareness-based: Somatic exercises prioritize awareness of the body’s internal sensations, rather than external goals or outcomes.

Non-invasive: Somatic exercises do not involve force, pressure, or manipulation of the body, but rather encourage gentle, subtle movements and explorations.


  1. Pillow Over the Stomach
    Description: Grab a pillow and place it over your stomach.
    Purpose: This creates a felt sense of safety. The weight and pressure of the pillow can help your body feel more secure and supported.

    How to Do It: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Place the pillow over your stomach. Notice any changes in how you feel. If you don’t notice anything initially, slowly remove the pillow and see if you feel more exposed or vulnerable without it.


  1. Weighted Neck Scarf
    Description: Use a weighted neck scarf to provide pressure on the back of your neck.
    Purpose: The pressure from the scarf can create a sense of safety and support, particularly affecting the brainstem area.

    How to Do It: Drape a weighted scarf around your neck. Adjust it to ensure it is providing gentle, comfortable pressure. Pay attention to any shifts in how you feel, especially any increase in feelings of safety and support.


  1. Eye Support
    Description: Lightly press on your eyes.
    Purpose: Activates the vagus nerve, promoting relaxation and a sense of safety.

    How to Do It: Sit or lie down comfortably. Gently place your hands over your closed eyes and apply light pressure. Hold for a few moments, focusing on the relaxation it brings to your body.


  1. Microdosing Safety
    Description: Create small, frequent moments of safety throughout your day.
    Purpose: Helps reduce overall stress and promotes a sense of security.

    How to Do It: Identify actions or environments that make you feel safe (e.g., sitting in a favorite chair, listening to calming music, being in nature). Integrate these moments into your daily routine, even if just for a few minutes at a time.


  1. Connecting with the Body
    Description: Use your mind to focus on specific areas of your body and notice sensations.
    Purpose: Enhances the mind-body connection and helps you understand what your body needs to feel safe.

    How to Do It: Sit quietly and bring your attention to different parts of your body. For example, focus on your stomach. How does it feel? Is there tension or relaxation? Respond to your body’s needs by adjusting your posture, breathing, or applying light pressure with your hands.


  1. Physical Support
    Description: Use physical objects to provide support and comfort to your body.
    Purpose: Objects like a weighted blanket or a supportive chair can help your body feel more secure.

    How to Do It: Identify objects that bring you comfort and use them regularly. For example, wrap yourself in a weighted blanket while resting or reading. Notice the sense of calm and security these objects provide.

By incorporating these somatic exercises into your daily routine, you can help your body shift out of a trauma state and into a place of safety and support, promoting overall health and well-being. By focusing on internal awareness and sensation, somatic exercises offer a unique approach to movement and exercise that can promote relaxation, reduce stress, and increase overall well-being.

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