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Free Somatic Exercises at Home

author image Christine Binnendyk
Based in Portland, Ore., Christine Binnendyk has written about health topics since 2001. She is the author of the book "Ageless Pilates" and her work has appeared in "SELF" magazine and "Pilates Pro." Binnendyk holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Connecticut and certifications from YogaFit, ACE, IDEA, Oregon School of Massage and the Pilates Studio of New York.
Free Somatic Exercises at Home
Somatic exercises can be done anywhere you can lie down. Photo Credit: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Somatic exercises are gentle movement patterns that shift your central nervous system to create new muscular habits. These new habits can alleviate chronic muscle spasms and pain caused by overuse patterns. Try performing this somatic series at home while lying on a mat or a thick carpet. Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

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Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Extend your arms wide on your mat, turning your right palm down and your left palm up. Slowly roll your arms three times in opposite directions. Make this a full body movement by lowering your knees toward the palm-down side and turning your head toward the palm-up side. Move slowly, noticing how your coordination shifts after practicing the full movement five to 10 times. Perform this series with your eyes closed to enhance the shift in your body awareness, recommends Thomas Hanna, author of “Somatics: Reawakening The Mind's Control of Movement, Flexibility, and Health.”


Lie on your back with your legs extended. Close your eyes and twist your right leg outward, allowing your lower back to arch. Twist it inward, allowing your back to flatten. Repeat this pattern on both sides five times, noticing how the movement of your leg affects your lower back. Try rotating both legs inward and outward in a pigeon toe and duck foot pattern. Practice this five times, noticing when your back wants to arch and flatten and allowing it to move accordingly.


After performing the dancing exercise, bend your knees slightly and rotate your legs to the right at the same time, and then to the left at the same time. Allow your back to arch and flatten in a comfortable pattern. Repeat this pattern five to 10 times to each side. Notice how this feels on the right and left sides of your back. Extend your legs long and try the same movement pattern, rotating five to 10 times to each side. The sensations in your back should be similar, but more subtle.

Diagonal Arch and Curl

This movement pattern frees up your spine, according to Hanna. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Tuck your left knee toward your chest and hold it with your left hand. Place your right hand behind your head. Exhale and lengthen your spine as you lift your head to your left knee. Inhale and arch your back as you lower your torso down. Repeat this movement three times, and then switch to your other side.

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