When bodies are showing up in pain, when there is a postural imbalance, a low back that grips and “goes out” on occasion, restricted breathing, low mood, a sore hip – we work with this simple strategy to help our clients move and feel better.
First we release tension.
Second, we stabilize.
And third we repeat.
Yes…release tension, stabilize, repeat.
As SomaYoga Therapists we work a lot with the somatic technique of Pandiculation, a powerful re-educating of the nervous system created by Thomas Hanna.
Dr. Hanna studied neurophysiology and movement and came to understand how stress, trauma and habitual muscular patterns lead to chronic muscle contraction, pain and degeneration. Hanna himself was a yogi, and after studying years with Moshe Feldenkrais, he explored and developed groundbreaking self and assisted pandiculation movements to reverse the damaging muscular reflex patterns that he saw in his clients. Left unchecked these habituated stress reflexes lead to many conditions so common in society today.
Now personally we would love it if “Pandiculation” became a household word…maybe in 10-20 years we will get there, we hope. That’s part of our mission at Resolve Pain Guru, to help individuals tap back into the innate healing potential of the body, changing the brain’s messaging governing movement and restoring good function.
The most powerful exercises to release tension in the body are Arch and Flatten and Arch and Curl. These two self-driven pandiculations restore the functional relationship of the flexor and extensor muscles of the trunk. From the outside the movements look benign and simple. The truth is, that it is how the movements are executed, the attention that is paid to “sensing and feeling” the contraction and slow release out of the muscles, that is the distinction between someone doing the movements and seeing no results and another person, seeing incredible change in their pain and function.
After using these powerful movements above, we must stabilize. To support the new learning in the brain and the releasing of muscles so that they are long at rest, requires functional integration in movements that we do in our daily lives.
Our bodies require good support from our pelvis and glutes to feel strong and stable. We require our pelvic and hip stabilizers to engage voluntarily and to “be online” to hug in and lift us up, acting like a little girdle around our hips. If our glute muscles are not working well, then we will feel heavy in our body, disconnected from our feet, slumpy or weak and standing naturally tall will feel like a lot of work.
To help our clients stabilize the body, we perform movements that get the glute muscles to fire and engage such as pressing the thighs into a theraband and then rising the pelvis up to bridge pose. Or, standing on one leg and externally rotating the other to get the glute muscles to fire. And then doing a wall sit, some wide legged squats or rocking horse.
We have a great standing stabilization video for you to practice at home, after you work to take tension out of your system.
So, why not give this a try at home.
Head to our YouTube Channel and explore the Arch and Flatten and then Arch and Curl movements for about 10 minutes while breathing easily. Pause to notice how this feels, then watch and follow along with our Method 101 Standing Stabilizing Sequence Video.
To change what is showing up for you practice this sequence: Release Tension, Stabilize and Repeat at least 3 times a week for a month and pay close attention to what changes for you.
Next week, we will break down Arch and Flatten to help you understand this pandiculation more fully and how you can get the most out of this transformative movement.