Updated: Apr 6
The history of somatics
Humans have always embraced the body as a site for wellbeing, spirituality, and interconnectedness. Dance, Yoga, and Tai Chi are just a few examples of body-based practices that can be traced back to ancient indigenous peoples. These practices were birthed within our ancestral cultures, offered respite during hard times, and continue to help us feel connected to our bodies and to each other.
The actual word Somatics is derived from the Greek word ‘soma’ which means the living body. It is an umbrella term coined by educator Thomas Hanna in 1970 to unify a range of practices and methodologies that include working with the body. This includes the ancient lineage examples mentioned above, as well as contemporary methodologies such as Pilates, Centering, Focusing, Feldenkrais Method, Trauma Release Exercises, and more.
In today’s world
Most of us are less connected (to our bodies, cultures, communities) than our ancestors were. We live more isolated and intellectual lives. We have daily stress and personal traumas.
We are also - whether direct or vicarious - burdened by the impact of colonization, white supremacy, and capitalism. Being in our bodies has been and continues to be a complex, even unsettling, experience for many of us.
It is not a personal failure to experience disembodiment. It is not a moral imperative to be embodied. But we do each deserve to feel safe, healthy, joyful, and connected. Somatics is a doorway back into the body.
Somatic therapy takes clients deeper than the cognitive consciousness we walk around with in everyday life and into mindful awareness. It’s kind of like developing a relationship with your body and listening to learn it’s language.
In sessions, we explore somatics and embodiment through breath, posture, movement, body sensation, nervous system education, creative expression, ancestor inquiry, community building and more.
We might "sit with" what you're feeling, see how we can soothe your distress, or experiment to see what strategies will help you feel more of what you want.
With the support of somatic therapy you can:
Learn how to notice, rather than feel like you're drowning in, your emotions.
Identify strategies for feeling good in your body.
Process trauma that is stuck in your body.
Feel more clear in challenging moments.
Feel more confident in who you are.
Make decisions from a centered place.
Somatic lineages that influence my work
First and foremost, lived experience and practice-based evidence.
Yoga, in particular the influence of Shiva Rae, developer of Prana Vinyasa, through the teachings of my teacher, Ana Hough. Additional self-study in Iyengar and Mysore method Ashtanga.
Black Liberation Theologies, Black Queer Feminisms, and scholars/writers including bell hooks, Paolo Freire, Audre Lorde, adrienne maree brown, Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry and more.
Indigenous wisdom about the bodymind, colonization, and more from Native American teachings via scholars including Renee Linklater, Joseph Gone, Eduardo Duran and Cheryl Metoyer-Duran, and Maria Yellow Horse Braveheart.
Buddhism & Mindfulness Meditation, the former of which I still have so much to learn about.
Dance in the styles of Cecchetti Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical/Contemporary, and West and Southern African.
Contemporary somatics practitioners, such as Jane Clapp, Amber McZeal, Resmaa Menekam, Beck Beverage of the Trans Embodiment Project, Marika Heinrichs of Wild Body Somatics (who encouraged me to write a lineage statement in the first place), Prentis Hemphill, and more.
Try somatics for yourself
If you're interested in a somatic approach to healing - or even just living - reach out. While my therapy services are intended exclusively for mixed race adults and interracial couples, I also offer somatic support for people of all identities.
Photo by Mike van Schoonderwalt: https://www.pexels.com/photo/barefoot-legs-of-african-women-dancing-ceremonial-dance-5504225/
Photo by Alex Green: https://www.pexels.com/photo/crop-ethnic-client-discussing-problems-with-anonymous-psychologist-5699431/