Life’s stressors can manifest physically and mentally. As a holistic wellness coach, I know that gently addressing this mind-body connection is key to healing.
Somatic Therapy Exercises are effective tools, releasing stored tensions through your body.
In this article, we’ll explore 12 simple yet powerful somatic exercises to help you tune into your body’s innate wisdom.
You can start to unravel the past’s grip and renew yourself to embark on your healing journey.
What is Somatic Therapy?
Somatic therapy recognizes that trauma can manifest physically as bodily sensations like muscle tension or dissociation. Its techniques use those sensations to process stuck traumatic energy and restore connection within the body and mind.
The goal is to gently release these trapped burdens or blocks. Grounding, visualization, and body scans are examples of techniques that calm the nervous system and bring back a sense of connection.
With regular practice, somatic therapy techniques can relieve lingering anxiety, dissociation, and other trauma symptoms. They facilitate deep healing by helping you reconnect and retune into both your physical and mental selves.
12 Effective Somatic Healing Exercises
The exercises covered in this article are part of a therapeutic approach called somatic experiencing, which focuses on releasing stuck traumatic energy through purposeful movements and increased body awareness.
Somatic exercises leverage the deep connection between body and mind to promote trauma recovery. Through purposeful movements and mindfulness, these exercises calm the nervous system and integrate the mental, physical, and emotional self.
1. Grounding Exercises
Grounding techniques are a powerful somatic healing exercise. They anchor you to the present moment when painful memories or anxiety arise by activating the senses to connect your mind back to your body.
Some examples include:
Visualization is a proactive practice where you engage with positive mental images, initiating healing and tranquility for your body and mind.
Why Visualization is Powerful
Visualization transforms your mind into a powerful healing tool. Through constructive imagery, you create a dialogue between your thoughts and physical responses.
This process allows you to renegotiate experiences at a physiological level, providing relief from distressing images and creating an internal environment conducive to healing and balance
3. Body Scanning
Body scans are an awesome somatic healing exercise to boost self-awareness and relaxation. Slowly moving your attention through different areas of your body helps you notice and let go of tension or discomfort.
Here are some body scan tips I like to share with my clients:
The key is being patient and non-judgmental with yourself. Even 5 minutes of daily body scans work wonders, but it takes consistency. Over time, you’ll get better at releasing physical and mental tightness through this soothing practice. Give it a try!
4. Breathing exercises
Conscious breathing is super powerful for calming the nervous system and feeling centered. Mindfulness breathing helps you stay present instead of getting carried away in anxiety or emotion.
Here are some ideas:
Deep breathing works wonders. Start with 5-10 minutes daily and build up from there. Be patient with yourself as you learn.
5. Body Movement Techniques
Gentle movement is amazing for harmonizing your body and mind. It releases stored tension so you feel more at home in your skin.
Make sure to start slow and focus on how movements feel, not perfect form. Over time you’ll feel more balanced and integrated.
6. Containment with Safe Touch
Containment with Safe Touch is a nurturing technique that uses compassionate physical contact to create a sense of safety and stability. It helps to contain overwhelming emotions and brings about a feeling of internal support and self-compassion.
Containment with Safe Touch Examples
Resourcing involves tapping into your personal sources of joy, peace, and strength. During turbulent times, visualize, remember, or engage with resources that nourish you:
Pendulation is the practice of oscillating between states of tension and relaxation. It teaches the body to recognize and appreciate the contrast between different physical and emotional states, facilitating a deeper understanding and acceptance of one’s feelings and reactions.
Ways to practice emotional Pendulation
9. Rhythmic Movement
Engaging in rhythmic motions can have a profoundly centering effect on the body and mind. Unlike pendulation, which oscillates between tension and relaxation, rhythmic movement encourages falling into your body’s innate rhythms in a free-flowing way.
These instinctive motions align us with the natural rhythms we all carry within.
Ways to engage in rhythmic movement
The key is not to force any motions but to tune into rhythms that feel good in your body. Move in ways that are intuitive, easy, and calming.
Bioenergetics teaches you to work with your body’s energy flow to enhance overall well-being. Our emotional states affect this flow, causing energetic blockages.
What is Bioenergy?
Bioenergy refers to the vibration, warmth, and current animating your body’s systems. Your bioenergy can become constrained by chronic stress, poor posture, and repressed emotions.
Ideas for Bioenergetics Exercises
11. Self-Regulation Techniques
While all somatic exercises cultivate self-awareness and regulation skills, some practices specifically target building emotional control and resilience.
Self-regulation techniques that complement the holistic toolkit
The key is learning to remain flexible yet grounded when faced with life’s ups and downs. Self-regulation skills help you roll with the punches.
12. Using The Voo Sound
Making a long “voo” sound engages the vagus nerve, signaling your body to relax. It’s a simple but powerful tool.
Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. As you slowly exhale, vocalize a smooth, extended “vooooooo” sound. Let the vibrations resonate through your body. Repeat several times, focusing on the calming sensations.
Use the “voo” technique to:
Experiment with volume, duration, and vibration until you find what works best. This straightforward somatic exercise can induce tranquility quickly.
7-Step Somatic Exercise to Process Triggers
As part of my Wholehearted Path method, I developed this 7-step somatic exercise to help individuals actively process triggers and traumatic memories when they arise.
- Notice where you feel distress in your body. Stomach tightness? Clenched fists?
- Take 10 deep breaths, exaggerating the exhale to elicit relaxation.
- Recall a safe space. Picture it vividly using all your senses.
- Allow primal, instinctive movement that feels good in your body. Shake, sway, stomp.
- Return focus to your anchor – Safe space visualization.
- Make the “voo” sound on long exhales to engage your vagus nerve.
- Offer yourself loving words of comfort. What do you need to hear?
Repeat anytime difficult emotions or memories are triggered. With practice, you’ll retrain your nervous system responses.
Somatic Therapy Exercises For Trauma
Now that we’ve explored core somatic exercises let’s look at how to apply them to alleviate trauma and PTSD. A traumatic event or experience can create lasting changes in the nervous system, potentially leading to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD symptoms include hypervigilance, flashbacks, anxiety, emotional numbing, and panic attacks.
By getting stuck in “fight or flight” mode, the body and brain have trouble returning to homeostasis. Somatic exercises can help counteract these physiological effects of trauma.
While trauma recovery is challenging, reconnecting to your body’s inner wisdom through mindful movements provides hope. Somatic practices help regain power over lingering trauma and reclaim your right to heal.
The Role of a Qualified Somatic Therapist
While somatic exercises offer holistic tools for trauma recovery, working with a skilled therapist provides extra guidance and support. When trauma manifests physically and emotionally, a multifaceted approach can help. Somatic therapy complements talk therapy and medication when needed.
A qualified somatic therapist offers trauma-informed techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, guided visualization, and breathwork. These help address symptoms like muscle tension, panic attacks, and traumatic memories.
Finding a trained therapist knowledgeable in somatic approaches takes dedication. Organizations like Somatic Experiencing International provide directories to aid the search. Schedule consultations and make sure the therapist or mental health professional feels like a good fit.
With support, you can process trauma and reconnect with your body’s innate wisdom and capacity for healing.
Other Somatic Therapy Approaches
In addition to the core somatic exercises covered, there are other somatic therapy modalities to explore:
Restoring Mind-Body Connection Through Somatic Therapy Exercises
In this article, we explored how somatic therapies use body sensations, movements, and mindfulness to help heal trauma. These modalities integrate the connection between mind and body.
Somatic exercises like grounding, visualization, and rhythmic movement can actively release stuck energies and traumatic imprints in your tissues. By tuning into your body’s innate wisdom, you gain tools to process grief, anxiety, and pain holistically.
While the journey demands courage, somatic practices provide a map to hope, empathy, and wholeness. Through purposeful movements and tuned-in presence, you can reclaim your right to heal. With each breath and gentle stretch, you move closer to inner peace.
1. What is somatic therapy, and who practices it?
Somatic therapy is a form of mental health specialization where a certified somatic therapist helps individuals use the body process to heal from trauma and stress disorders.
2. How does somatic therapy differ from other types of therapies?
Unlike Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Somatic Therapy focuses on interoceptive, proprioceptive, and kinesthetic sensations in the body to encourage healing.
3. Can children and teens benefit from somatic exercises in their recovery journey?
Absolutely! A trained psychotherapist can guide children and teenagers through age-appropriate somatic exercises as part of teen or youth therapy sessions.
4. Is couple’s therapy possible with the inclusion of somatic exercises?
Yes, couples’ therapists may incorporate safe place-in-your-mind exercises into your marriage counseling sessions to improve interpersonal relationships by reducing stress levels.
5. Is online or group therapy suitable for practicing somatic exercises?
Both are viable options; whether you choose online training or prefer joining a group session, under proper guidance, these therapies can effectively introduce you to Body Boundaries awareness routines during treatment.
6. Will my health insurance cover costs related to Somatic Therapy methods?
It depends on your plan; however, many workplace insurance benefits for therapies also cover treatments like trauma-informed therapy, including Somatic Exercises methodology.