Pandiculation not Stretching
Somatics teaches us Pandiculation not stretching.
Stretching is passive, you are not actively using the muscle, you are merely pulling on it, there is no brain involvement. Pandiculation is active, during a Pandiculation you are actively using the muscle, your brain is involved in the process.
What is Pandiculation?
Pandiculation is what you see animals do after resting – think of cats and dogs. They are pandiculating NOT stretching.They contract and lengthen their muscles on the front and backs of their bodies, waking up their nervous systems. In the mornings we do a full body yawn, you first contract your muscles, then lengthen them, then completely relax.
In Somatics we use this pandiculation technique to move through 3 main reflex patterns retraining the brain to retrain our muscles to fully relax and lengthen again. When you focus completely on what you are doing you are able to free the mind of daily stresses giving you a great time out and sense of relaxation.
What are the 3 main reflexes?
Red Light Reflex
The tightening of the muscles on the front of the body is not only the startle response to fear, anxiety and emotional upset it is today becoming more and more known as a muscluar adaptation to excessive computer and mobile phone use, this slumped forward posture can lead to chronic neck, shoulder and back pain due to the rounding forward of the shoulders, the head jutting forward and compression in the chest area. It can also hinder a full breath. Shallow breathing can deprive the body of the essential oxygen it needs to function properly.
Green Light Reflex
The muscles on the back of the body contract to move us forward. When walking, running for something, standing up straight (think military posture) or sitting up ‘straight’ we can overly contract our back muscles and if these stresses become habituated they can help cause back, neck and shoulder pain, disc issues and sciatica pain. When suffering with these pains we can find ourselves easily suffering from depression, anxiety and sleep problems. A cycle of pain can develop.
Is the reflex of pain avoidance, muscles on the sides of the body contract in response to accidents or injuries to further avoid pain. Also, daily stresses like holding a child on one hip or jobs where you use one side of the body more than the other can hike up and tighten muscles more on that side of the body. Sports like tennis, golf or rowing, playing an instrument like a guitar, anything where you may be rotated to one side more than the other. All of these habituated movements and postures can go on to contribute to pain and lack of movement through the body.