Somatic Yoga vs ‘Regular’ Yoga?

What are the main differences between traditional yoga and Gentle Somatic Yoga? 


1.      Pandiculation Not Stretching… 


The first and most obvious difference is that there’s no emphasis on stretching, which can seem strange at first! Instead, in Gentle Somatic Yoga, we pandiculate – which is a simple 3-step sequence: firstly engage the muscle or muscle group, slowly moving through your natural range of motion, then slowly disengage that muscle / muscle group, again to its natural range, and then pause, while completely releasing all muscular effort.  We repeat this 3-step process around 3-5 times and in this short time we can experience profound changes to muscle tension and flexibility.  


The reason for this immediate effect is because it’s our brain that controls our muscles, instructing them how to function. The pandiculation engages the nervous system to re-educate the brain, helping it to regain control of the muscle(s), also communicating that it’s safe to do so. 


2.      Sensory Motor Amnesia 


Sensory Motor Amnesia is the root cause of most chronic muscular pain. The brain has lost the ability to relax certain muscles, resulting in tight, chronically-contracted, and often  

weakened muscles. The brain has essentially forgotten how to coordinate a certain area, perhaps due to stress, injury, or habitual postural habits leading to overactive primitive  

motor patterns (protective reflexes).  We can’t fully relax or contract so we experience tension. Strength and performance are compromised & our wellbeing is also affected.  


When we practice GSY we are actively seeking out these areas that we can’t sense or control fully – you may notice skipping, jerking or jumping or be unable to sense the area. By slowing down and performing small, subtle movements mindfully, giving full awareness and attention to the movement and the sensations you’re experiencing, you’re re-setting the brain-to-muscle connection – resulting in Sensory Motor Awakening. 


This process is effectively re-writing brain ‘maps’ & improving movement patterns,   

regaining control over muscles and movements.  Brain maps are responsible for how we do everything – breathe, walk, drive, cycle, play an instrument, cook dinner, play sports etc.   

We have a lot to map so if we aren’t using or sensing a part of our body then the brain map shrinks – this is a use it or lose it situation, but it is reversible!    


The brain also loves to learn something new! As well as pandiculation, GSY involves fluid integration flows and includes complex movements and combinations that challenge the brain to develop new pathways. GSY not only helps regain what we have lost, but also enables us to improve, challenging the myth of aging.  We are re-training the brain with incredible results in both the short and long term. 


3.      Interoception 


In Gentle Somatic Yoga we are wholly focussed on the inner experience – the definition of Somatics is experiencing your body from the first person perspectiveas only you can!   

There is no end-result from the outside, no pose to achieve, and in fact, you can even practice & get results when you cannot even move a certain area using pure visualisation!  


This practice of deep self-awareness leads to self-correction & results in freedom on a physical level, but also on profound spiritual and emotional levels too.  We erase pain and stiffness, regaining conscious control over movements and muscles with the restorative sequences, but in the process of slowing down and bringing our attention inwards we reconnect to enhanced levels of peace and wellbeing: nourishing, liberating and enhancing the vitality of the Soma (whole self).  

Somatic Yoga – Awaken The Possible

‘What if your seeming limitations are actually stepping stones to enable you to experience something greater?’ 

Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, a sedentary desk-bound worker or have a physically active job, a frazzled parent or grandparent wanting to keep up with (& recover from) the kids, or a teacher or carer who helps others but can’t always prioritise yourself, you may be someone who has ongoing physical niggles or stress in your life that prevents you from feeling or performing your best. Gentle Somatic Yoga (GSY) has the power to rapidly enhance your vitality, wellbeing, performance and quality of life. 


Somatic Movement Flows® (SMFs) are therapeutic corrective movement sequences that unwind the stiffness, tension, pain & postural imbalances that affect us all at some point. SMFs dramatically increase flexibility & reduce chronic tension through brain-to-muscle re-education. The effects are cumulative, often with an immediately noticeable effect that will progress with regular practice. 

Gentle Somatic Yoga was created by James Knight and inspired by the work of movement education visionaries including Eleanor Criswell Hanna, Thomas Hanna, Moshe Feldenkrais & Tom Myers. GSY is a synthesis of Hanna Somatic Education, hatha yoga, meditation, and Core Energetics. 


GSY has helped diminish, correct, and/or eliminate symptoms from conditions including: 


Chronic lower back pain, poor posture, sciatica, stiff neck and shoulders, muscle spasms, arthritis, headaches, migraines, knee injuries, TMJ, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, scoliosis, joint pain, hip pain, chronic pain, PTSD, hamstring injuries, anxiety, stress related issues and more.