Somatic Exercises Might Be Your Next Fave Stress Relievers

Let your mind and body unwind

We all know the feeling — after a long day, we just mindlessly scroll through social media to try to escape from all the stress. But if you’re looking for a way to truly de-stress and recharge, you might want to try somatic exercises. We’ll explore how these can not only help you relieve stress but improve your overall well-being too. We’ve also rounded up simple movements you can try at home, especially if you’re a beginner.

Somatic exercises tips

Just keep breathin’.

Somatic exercises: what it is and benefits

Certified Clinical Somatic Educator Sarah Warren shares that somatic movements involve moving consciously with the intention of focusing on the internal experience rather than its external appearance or result. You don’t focus on what you look like, but you place your attention on what you’re feeling and experiencing as you’re moving. 

There are a variety of physical benefits for somatic movements such as improving your posture and alleviating and preventing muscle and joint pain. Inwardly, these can also aim to reduce stress, process and release pent-up emotions, and relieve other mental health-related concerns. 

Somatic exercises for beginners

Stretch and release that tension.

These are all wonderful results, but when engaging in a somatic exercise, you still need to tune into and explore what your body is feeling at that moment. Dance, yoga, and pilates can be considered somatic exercises when you apply what we’ve shared above. 

3 tips for doing somatic exercises

1. Close your eyes 

somatic exercises movements

Close your eyes and feel the moment.

Close your eyes when you’re doing somatic exercises that can be done in place. This will help you block off distractions and take away all the visual information that your brain will process when your eyes are open. It also helps to look for a comfy, quiet spot in your home.

2. Go slow

Think of doing somatic exercises as learning a new language. You start learning one word at a time. Trying out these movements should be relaxing and rewarding over time. You can try to block off, for example, five to 10 minutes each day, and be consistent with it until you’re ready to commit to more. If you have other conditions, it’s also best to consult with a health practitioner to be sure if these exercises are suitable for you.

3. Explore various movements

Experiment and explore these movements and find out which one suits you best.

Do conscious breathing. This can be done by standing, sitting down, or on your back on a yoga mat to release tension and surface-level stress. You can try to do a short inhale and then a long, deep exhale. You can also check out other recommended patterns from Jen Graham of Johns Hopkins Medicine in the video below.

Legs up the wall. This is a restorative yoga pose that’s accessible to many people who want to relax. You may use a cushion for your hips and a pillow for your head or whatever’s comfortable for you. First, sit sidewards against the wall with your knees bent. Then swing your legs up and flatten your back. You can move your legs while you’re in this pose as you’ll see in the video below. To release yourself from the pose, gently push yourself from the wall and relax for a few moments before standing up.

Gentle neck and shoulder stretches. You can do this at any time of the day. Pick a side where you feel the most tension then put your hand up your head. Bring your shoulder up and repeat. Afterwards, with your hand still on your head, bring your face down to your shoulder and repeat. Then, turn your head to the opposite side. You can follow this routine in the video below.

We’ve just scratched the surface when it comes to somatic exercises. Feel free to explore, relax, and enjoy the process!

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Comments, questions or feedback? Email us at [email protected].

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