The clinical applications of Hanna Somatics (HS) and Equine Hanna Somatics (EHS) are in rehabilitation and athletic performance enhancement, to address current pain, restricted movement and mobility, correct poor posture and acquired asymmetries, and to prevent future injuries, giving athletes access to their performance potential. This method of movement-based education can be applied to all vertebrates.
BENEFITS for the HUMAN
BENEFITS for the HORSE
"This feedback loop of moving sensing and feeling creates an awareness of space, of the body in space and relative to other bodies, and also shapes the internal body-image." - Alissa Mayer
The other applications that make Hanna Somatic Education (HSE) so revolutionary and useful in my horsemanship, training and teaching work are in the practical “mindfulness” and “awareness” training that occurs when we do Hanna Somatics or Equine Hanna Somatics.
HSE actually gives us real tools, based in proven science, to access the part of the brain that contains most of what we commonly refer to as the mind-body-connection – the sensory-motor cortex.
The Sensory Motor Cortex is the part of the brain that receives sensory feedback information from the whole body (ie. sensing and feeling) AND sends out the impulses that create movement via skeletal muscle contractions (ie. creating all voluntary movement of the body, and the associated sensory feedback being created by that movement).
This feedback loop of moving sensing and feeling creates an awareness of space, of the body in space and relative to other bodies, and also shapes the internal body-image.
The practice of Hanna Somatics, while giving us all of the clinical benefits by default, also teaches the individual to sense and feel the Soma (described by Thomas Hanna in Somatics as “the body as experienced from within”).
The practice of HS creates individuals who are not only more balanced in body, who are more graceful and efficient movers – but also creates people and horses who are more present, more aware, more receptive, more connected, and more relaxed. This is what we refer to as Somatically Integrated.
When a horse and human team are both somatically integrated, both parties also exhibit enhanced Feel and the ability to communicate, connect and move with one another – all cornerstones of successful human-horse interactions across all disciplines.
The role of EHS is to help a horse recognize inefficient and unconscious muscle contractions so he can regain conscious control over his own muscles and, therefore, also regain access to his full range of motion, strength and endurance...
EHS is an adaptation of Hanna Somatics®, the proven, natural and safe method of pain relief and sensory-motor training described above. Like humans, horses experience stress and develop chronically contracted muscles that restrict movement and cause discomfort.
Over time, these chronic, low-level muscle contractions, which can also be described as “tension” or “tight muscles,” become incorporated into the horse’s habitual posture. This is known as Sensory Motor Amnesia (or SMA—more on this later).
Once this happens, performance and comfort are reduced, and the new postural patterns are difficult to change with physical training or manipulation.
Both the body and the brain adapt to stress as a survival mechanism and these adaptations can become integrated into the brain’s autopilot system. A horse may show adaptations like chronic stiffness, crookedness, weakness or fatigue, a short or uneven stride, a poor attitude, negative behaviors or loss of peak performance. Although SMA cannot be cured by drugs, treatment or surgery, it can be controlled consciously after the relearning process facilitated during an EHS session.
Equine Hanna Somatics
Somatics for the Rider
Somatic Riding, Groundwork, Liberty
PRE Saddle-Fit Posture Re-Boot
Group Mat Classes
Virtual Classroom Membership
EHS Instructional Video
Somatics for the Rider EBook
SR7 Rider "Brain Hacks" Video Series
ASATH Book Series (coming soon!)