Somatics is a field within bodywork and movement studies which emphasizes internal physical perception and experience (Wikipedia)
The word originates from Greek word „soma“ the living body in its entirety: „thought, spirit and body as one“. Somatics approaches people as a holistic living organism, working with all these aspects of who we are: thinking beings, and conceptual, but also emotional and spiritual.
The oldest somatic practices originate from Asian world. Yoga can be probably named as the oldest and the most practiced somatic discipline. Traditional Chinese movement practices qigong and tai chi are considered ancient somatic practices and deal with our inner perception influenced by the body position of the movement, finding an inner balance and life energy flow. Aikido is a Japanese martial art that includes practicing internal awareness and an emotional state of non-agression.
The first somatic pioneers on the West were dancers… who under the influence of ideas of existentialism and experiential learning started to focus on the dancers internal perception and experience, in contract with traditional „performative techniques“, which emphasize the external observation by an audience.
Together, these movements set the stage for the first generation of „somatic pioneers“. Early somatic techniques were developed in Germany in the late nineteenth century by Elsa Gindlerand Heinrich Jacoby Gimmler. Building on their work, the somatic practitioners Frederick Matthias Alexander, Moshe Feldenkrais, Mabel Elsworth Todd,Gerda Alexander, Ida Rolf,Milton Trager,Irmgard Bartenieff, and Charlotte Selver were active, primarily in Europe, throughout the early twentieth century.
In the 1970s, American philosopher and movement therapist Thomas Hanna introduced the term „somatics“ to describe these related practices collectively.
In recent decades, the field of somatics has grown to include dance forms like contact improvisation and has been widely used in clinical psychology, and general education. Some approaches in alternative medicine and some spiritual practices are strongly associated with Somatics.
Whatever we do as human beings, we do through our bodies. The sum total of our history – experiences, reactions, survival strategies, relationships, successes, failures and more – lives in our bodies. Our experiences shape our habits, beliefs, reactions under pressure, strengths, resilience, actions and non-actions. And as a result, how we choose to act today is largely a response and adaptation to conditioning from our history. There is nothing wrong with this – it is just how we work. Knowing this, we can go about learning, changing and growing in a different way.Strozzi Institute https://strozziinstitute.com/