Effective Somatic Therapy Exercises Featured

12 Effective Somatic Therapy Exercises for Holistic Healing

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.

Effective Somatic Healing Exercises

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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:

  • Walking slowly, feeling your feet connect with the ground, and noticing each step’s sensation.
  • Running cool or warm water over your hands and focusing on the temperature and how it soothes you.
  • Hugging yourself gently or wrapping in a soft blanket or grounding sheet. These provide physical comfort and connect you to the Earth’s energy.
  • Use grounding sheets or mats that connect to the electrical outlet in your home to absorb the Earth’s energy.
  • Stroking a pet’s fur and tuning into the warmth and texture.
  • Squeezing a stress ball and concentrating on just the pressure.
  • Listening to calming music and letting the melody soothe you. Research shows that music has the power to lower heart rate and cortisol levels, release endorphins, distract from stress, and improve overall well-being.

Grounding MAT

Earthing Grounding Mat

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For those times when you can’t walk outside, a grounding mat can be a convenient alternative or addition to your wellness routine, offering similar grounding benefits right from the comfort of your home.

As a holistic wellness coach, I’ve seen firsthand how powerful somatic therapy and grounding can be – for both my own life and my clients’ well-being.

I’ll never forget one stressful time when my thoughts were racing out of control. Remembering the tools I teach, I decided to walk my talk and ground myself. Stepping outside barefoot, focusing on the feel of the cool grass and earth energy flowing into me, I could feel my anxiety settle. Deep breaths with each step washed that stress away and anchored me back into the moment. Repeating this daily not only helped me stay grounded through challenges but deepened my connection with nature and my body too.

Now when clients feel overwhelmed, I share this practice, guiding them to find their own calm in simple things like grass under their feet. The feedback confirms what I’ve experienced – that easy, daily grounding rituals have simplicity and efficacy for fostering balance from the inside out. Moments like these speak volumes about somatic therapy’s power to heal.

2. Visualization

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. For example, research shows that simply visualizing an action activates similar neural processes as physically performing that action, showcasing the influence of mental imagery on cognitive processes.

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. For instance, studies demonstrate that visualization and guided imagery techniques effectively reduce stress and anxiety by triggering the relaxation response.

Visualization Examples

  • Visualize morning sunlight, energizing every cell in your body and preparing you for the day.
  • During stressful moments, picture a serene and safe space where all tension melts away.
  • At bedtime, create a mental scene of ultimate comfort and relaxation to guide you into deep, rejuvenating sleep.

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.

Body Scanning Golden Light Visualization

Here are some body scan tips I like to share with my clients:

  • Start by wiggling your toes a bit before you begin. This brings awareness to your feet first. Then, gradually move focus upwards, spending time noticing how each body part feels. Don’t rush.
  • Pay extra attention to any tight or strained areas. Imagine tension melting away with each long, deep breath out.
  • Visualize warmth or golden light moving through your whole body, helping you feel at ease. What does that look like in your mind?

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:

  • Envision stress leaving with each long exhale. Inhales bring in relaxation and peace.
  • Try box breathing – inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4, exhale for 4. The equal intervals are so centering!
  • Practice belly breathing to engage the diaphragm. Place hands there to feel it expand with inhales.
  • Check out my article about somatic breathwork with seven different exercises!

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.

Body Movement Techniques
  • Therapeutic yoga postures tune into the body. Move thoughtfully, not forcefully.
  • Free dance to express emotions in a judgment-free way. Let your body be your guide.
  • Targeted stretches for tight areas. Tension melts away with breath and gentle movement.
  • Shoulder and neck rolls to relieve tension from hunching over screens and desks.
  • Shaking out the body for 30 seconds to a minute to clear stuck tension. (Yes, it sounds weird, but it really helps!)
  • Jumping jacks or jogging on the spot to get energy moving again.
  • Walking meditations are where you consciously notice each step and sensation. Being in nature adds peace.

Make sure to start slow and focus on how movements feel, not perfect form. Over time you’ll feel more balanced and integrated.

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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

  • Cup your hands gently, cradling them together. Bring them up to your heart center, feeling their soothing warmth as you breathe deeply.
  • Wrap your arms around yourself in a tender hug, applying gentle pressure. Feel your breath rise and fall against the embrace.
  • Lay a soft, weighted blanket over your lap or torso. Let its calming pressure work its magic, containing difficult emotions.
  • Rest on a pillow or stuffed animal where you are holding tension in your body. Its softness can bring relief.

7. Resourcing

Resourcing involves tapping into your personal sources of joy, peace, and strength. During turbulent times, visualize, remember, or engage with resources that nourish you:

  • Picture a loved one giving you a hug or words of encouragement. What do they say? Hear their voice.
  • Imagine your favorite nature spot vividly. Take in the sights, sounds, and smells that bring you calm.
  • Listen to a nostalgic song evoking joyful memories. Let the music transport you to a happy place.
  • Carry an inspirational photo or object to remind you of what matters. Let its meaning anchor you.

8. Pendulation

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

  • Consciously tighten and relax each muscle group while noticing the shifting sensations.
  • Track your mood on a scale of 1-10 throughout the day. Watch it flux and flow.
  • Take 5 deep belly breaths when you catch yourself ruminating. Find your center again.
  • Go on a walk outside and pay attention to changing thoughts and feelings.

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

  • Let your body sway gently side to side or front and back, falling into an instinctive, flowing dance.
  • Rock your torso, head nodding forward and back, releasing tension in the spine.
  • Walk at an easy pace, coordinating arm swings with each step to find your natural rhythm.

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

  • Do full-body shakes to break up stagnant energy and dissipate chronic tension.
  • Try expansive stretches to remove congestion from the torso and improve energy flow.
  • Learn qigong or tai chi to cultivate optimal bioenergy circulation.

11. Self-Regulation Techniques

While all somatic exercises cultivate self-awareness and regulation skills, some practices specifically target building emotional control and resilience.

Mindfulness practices in somatic therapy

Self-regulation techniques that complement the holistic toolkit

  • Mindfulness meditation to strengthen present moment focus and awareness.
  • Breathwork exercises to modulate the state of mind and manage stress.
  • Guided visualizations to consciously calm the nervous system.
  • Soft belly breathing to “rest and digest” versus “fight or flight.”
  • Tracking triggers and responses to understand reaction patterns.

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.

Grounding techniques to stay present

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:

  • Ground yourself when feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
  • Lessen stimulation when overstimulated.
  • Soothe yourself to sleep.
  • Shift out of fight-or-flight mode.

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.

  1. Notice where you feel distress in your body. Stomach tightness? Clenched fists?
  2. Take 10 deep breaths, exaggerating the exhale to elicit relaxation.
  3. Recall a safe space. Picture it vividly using all your senses.
  4. Allow primal, instinctive movement that feels good in your body. Shake, sway, stomp.
  5. Return focus to your anchor – Safe space visualization.
  6. Make the “voo” sound on long exhales to engage your vagus nerve.
  7. 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.

Impact of Trauma on the Body

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:

  • The Hakomi Method combines mindfulness and body awareness to gently unearth unconscious beliefs.
  • Sensorimotor Psychotherapy utilizes physical sensations as gateways to examine trauma.
  • Neurosomatic Therapy integrates physical therapy and psychological insights to address pain and distress.
Connection between mind and body

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.

FAQs

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

what is a somatic healer?

A somatic healer helps heal the body and mind through physical techniques. They use movement, breathing exercises, and body awareness to release tension and improve wellbeing. This approach addresses physical symptoms of emotional distress, promoting holistic healing.