Cat cow yoga pose illustration - Marjariasana

The soothing effect of Somatic Yoga

by Katie Brown, 25-Apr-2018

Katrina Hinton discovered Somatic Yoga when she was doing an Advanced Teacher Training with Donna Farhi. At the time Katrina was recovering from a knee injury and feeling: "a bit broken."

She says: "The somatics gave me hope I could do something about it for myself."

So six years ago Katrina Hinton embarked on a quest to find out everything she could about Somatics - reading the seminal work; Somatics: Reawakening the Mind's Control of Movement, Flexibility and Health by Thomas Hanna – who founded the practice. And she did courses with both Martha Peterson and Lisa Petersen. Today Katrina works full-time as a business analyst and teaches two classes a week which are a fusion of Somatic Yoga and Hatha yoga. She also performs private somatic assessments out of her Kambah, ACT, home studio.

In her IYTA Canberra workshop Katrina will be inviting participants to slow down, turn inwards and be curious about their responses and senses. It will be a day of gentle but profound movement helping students let go of tension, feel more open and at ease in their own skin.

For Katrina, 59, the practice has been life changing and it's become her primary personal practice. She says: "It's my anchor" and it has helped address imbalances and compensations in other parts of her body resulting from her knee injury.

The workshop will also be a chance to discover other Somatic-style exercises and a philosophy of movement which yoga teachers can weave into their general yoga classes. Katrina would ultimately like to run the workshop in other areas, so watch this space!

Somatic Cat Pose

Try this simple addition to Marjariasana and notice a big change

The feel-good cat-cow is a staple move for most yoga teachers and students but there's a simple Somatic addition that can radically alter your experience!

Step-by-step:

  1. Perform a few 'normal' cat/cow arch and rounding moves and sense into how your spine and whole back feels throughout the movement.
  2. Now next time you arch your back (ie extension) lift one shoulder and arm straight up a few centimetres so that your palm lifts off the floor. Hold a moment then release it slowly back to the floor as you round up your back into flexion. Repeat the arm lift a few more times on each side. Resist any inclination to rush through this. Take your time and sense into what is engaging to lift your arm.
  3. Move to your hips; on extension, lift one hip straight up so the knee lifts slightly off the floor without overly distorting your hips. Repeat several times on each side in sync with your extension. Notice what engages now to perform this subtle movement? Is it more difficult than the arm lift?
  4. Now slowly alternate through all four limbs, lifting on your arch and releasing on your rounding up. Rest in child a few moments. Wriggle your wrists to release if needed.
  5. Slowly re-test your cat/cow. Notice how your back feels all the way through extension and into flexion; note the quality of the movement. Any differences?

You have just released the deep layer of multifidus muscles which attach to your spine. Enjoy!

Related events - if you're interested in learning more about Somatic Yoga:
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