We’re often asked by those new to Somatics and Gentle Somatic Yoga what the difference is between GSY and “regular” yoga.
At its essence, Gentle Somatic Yoga is “exercise” for the brain. The Somatic Movement Flows® that comprise Gentle Somatic Yoga are designed to provide sensorimotor feedback to the brain. They help the brain to notice where muscles are chronically contracted, and assist it in regaining control of those muscles, allowing them to release. The result is more freedom of movement with a vast reduction or complete elimination of pain and stiffness.
Utilizing slow, mindful movements, we apply a technique known as pandiculation to consciously contract and then release the target muscles. Pandiculation is very different from simply “stretching”. When stretching muscles, the sensorimotor feedback stops short of the brain at the spinal column. Not only can this elicit a Stretch Reflex, it prevents conscious engagement of the muscles. This is also why we never engage a muscle for more than three seconds, so as to avoid the Stretch Reflex. In this way, we’re able to gain awareness of our habitual movement patterns that have resulted in chronically contracted muscles manifesting the pain and stiffness we’ve endured.
The practice of Gentle Somatic Yoga is very relaxing for both the body and the mind. Practitioners routinely report leaving class with an enhanced sense of peace and well-being, and a greater awareness of their Whole Self (Soma). They often find that practicing Gentle Somatic Yoga improves their other practices as well as their everyday movements, allowing them to move with more pleasure and with greater ease.