The word somatic means “of or relating to the living body,”
A somatic movement is performed consciously and with the intention of focusing on the internal experience of the movement rather than the external appearance or result of the movement.
Somatic education uses somatic movement to improve motor control and sensation. Somatic movement education can be very effective when working to alter movement patterns and improve both posture and function.
To be most effective a somatic movement should be performed as slowly as possible. The nervous system, which controls posture and movement, learns new things slowly. With practice, we are able to gradually speed up and perform the movement more quickly while still maintaining form and control.
In a general sense, any movement can be a somatic movement if it’s performed slowly, consciously, and with the intention of focusing on the internal experience of the movement.
Below are some examples of somatic exercise routines for horses. Bodyworkers, riders and trainers will benefit from exploring a human version of each routine themselves – think about how does each movement feel, how symmetric are my left and right movements, how is it affecting my core and my ability to access my center;
Bonus Rider Exercise – slow and steady arm circles while riding free walk. Ready for a challenge? Try developing arm circles in trot, canter, over poles or through simple grids.