Frequently Asked Questions

If you are interested in learning how to teach Clinical Somatics self-care exercises, you can enroll in the online certification course offered by Somatic Movement Center:

SMC® CEI Level 1, 2 & 3

A similar version of this course is offered in person through Essential Somatics and Somatic Systems Institute.

There are three training schools in the U.S. that offer the 2-3 year professional training program which focuses on the hands-on Clinical Somatics techniques:

Somatic Systems Institute in Northampton, MA
Essential Somatics (trainings held in the US and internationally)
Novato Institute in Novato, CA (training in Hanna Somatic Education)

Full Body Pain Relief & Relaxation is a series of seven audio classes (with no video demonstrations) that address the entire body. The exercises are described in detail, so beginners can learn from these classes if they wish. You’ll download the classes once and then own them forever. The Full Body audio series includes all of the exercises that are in the Level One Course, and some of the exercises that are in the Level Two Course.

The Level One Course is a two-month online course that teaches the exercises one by one through video demonstrations, audio classes, and written explanations. I believe that this course is the ideal way for a beginner to learn Clinical Somatics exercises from home without the guidance of a practitioner. You’ll focus on each exercise individually and have the time to understand how it affects you before moving on to the next one. You’ll receive a daily email letting you know that there is a new exercise to learn, a new class to use, or suggesting what to practice that day. The course does require you to log into the website on a very regular basis in order to learn each new exercise, periodically download audio classes, and keep up with the course. The course is structured to help you to incorporate a short Somatics practice into your daily routine, which is a critical part of preventing and relieving functional pain and injuries.

For the same reason that Somatics practitioners do not demonstrate the exercises, audio classes have been the traditional tool used to learn and practice the exercises at home. Visually copying someone else’s movement versus doing the movement completely on your own entail different neurological processes. You are more effectively able to retrain your nervous system by doing the movement on your own, with all of your focus on your own sensory-motor experience of the movement. However, many people requested video classes, so I incorporated video demonstrations into the Level One & Level Two Courses. The videos are used as a tool to help you initially learn the movement, after which you are encouraged to use just the audio to guide you.

The Level One Course and Level Two Course together contain all of the Clinical Somatics exercises that are included in all of the audio class downloads that I offer. If you are unsure of whether to start with the Level One Course or an audio class tailored specifically to your condition, please email me at [email protected].

There are endless benefits to physical exercise, and you should keep up with regular physical activity—unless it is making your pain worse.

If you find that exercise makes your pain worse, take a break from that particular workout. If you can’t exercise at all because everything seems to make your pain worse, then take a break from working out until your pain is reduced or eliminated. You won’t make progress with Clinical Somatics exercises if your regular workouts are keeping you in pain.

If you feel that your regular workout is keeping you stuck in habitual posture and movement patterns, try something new! It can be difficult to make progress with Clinical Somatics exercises if you keep reinforcing old muscular patterns with your regular workout routine. So, mix up your workouts and try new activities that make you move your body in new ways.

If you practice yoga, you should read: Combining your Clinical Somatics and Yoga Practices.

The best way to keep up with regular exercise while reducing your risk of pain and overuse is by cross training—practicing different types of exercise on a regular basis. You should incorporate both aerobic exercise and strength or resistance training into your weekly workout schedule. I also recommend practicing forms of exercise that use your muscles in different ways. For example, if you love weight-lifting, do a short yoga routine a few times a week to elongate your muscles and improve your balance. If you’re a long distance runner, try swimming so that you can keep up your cardio fitness while taking strain off your legs and giving all the muscles in your body a gentle resistance workout. My personal recommendation is to incorporate at least three different types of exercise into your weekly routine.

Many people ask what time of day is best to practice Clinical Somatics, and whether to practice the exercises before or after their workout. I find it most beneficial:

  • To do my full Clinical Somatics practice (20-30 minutes) in the evening when I’m done moving for the day.

  • To also do a few exercises before my workout if I’m feeling particularly tight in a certain area of my body.

The most important thing is to stay aware of how you’re using your body during your workout. As you continue to practice Clinical Somatics exercises and improve your sensory-motor awareness, you’ll become increasingly aware of how you’re using your body when exercising. Ideally, you’ll be able to incorporate the things you’ve learned from practicing Clinical Somatics exercises into your workouts by using your body in more natural, efficient ways. Slower, less intense workouts can give you the opportunity to integrate what you’ve learned from your Clinical Somatics exercises because you have the time to focus on how you’re moving. If you are able to to this, then working out can enhance the progress you’re making in your somatics practice.

Sarah Warren is an NCBTMB Approved CE Provider. You can earn 4 NCBTMB CE credits in the Self-Care category by completing the Level One Course. Click here to learn more!