Thomas Hanna defined somatics as "...the field of study dealing with somatic phenomena, i.e., the human being as experienced by himself (or herself) from the inside." He defined soma as the body experienced from within.

A Brief History of Somatics & Guidelines for Doing Somatic ExercisesTM:

Thomas Hanna, Ph.D. (1928-1990), was a philosopher who became a Functional Integration practitioner, and later developed Hanna Somatic Educationn® or Hanna Somatics. Thomas Hanna created the word "somatics" in 1976 to name the approaches to mind/body integration and his new magazine, SOMATICS MAGAZINE-JOURNAL OF THE MIND/BODY ARTS AND SCIENCES. "Soma" is a Greek word for the living body, which Hanna re-defined as the body experienced from within, where we experience mind/body integration. The SOMATICS SOCIETY was founded in 1981 to provide a meeting ground for somatics practitioners and others interested in the mind/body field. SOMATICS EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES was created not long after to distribute and promote somatics books, CDs, DVDs, teaching materials and other resources.

Hanna Somatics is an approach to renewed control of the muscles through use of the voluntary motor system. There is a hands-on version and there are the Somatic ExercisesTM. During Thomas Hanna's life he worked with thousands of people in individual somatics lessons and Somatic ExerciseTM workshops. You can experience the same benefits through using his book Somatics, the Cat Stretch DVD and Somatic ExercisesTM CDs. You can gradually work your way through a CD series, 5-15 minutes a day, or set aside 3-4 hours to experience a special Somatic ExerciseTM series. If you do a brief session, always end with the elbow-to-knee exercise (Somatics, p.99, #4). The effects of the exercises are cumulative: the effects increase and you develop greater flexibility and ease of movement as you repeat them over time.

All you need to do to maintain optimum flexibility is the daily Hanna Cat Stretch series, which takes only 5-10 minutes to do once you learn them. You may want to add specific Somatic ExercisesTM to your daily routine from time to time to address special stress areas, trouble spots, or particular areas you wish to work with in-depth. The goal is for you to become your own somatic educator and able to share what you've learned with others.

We are committed to making somatics resources available to you so that you can increasingly become your own somatic educator, share this approach with others, and continue your own somatic development throughout life.

Best wishes for your continued somatic development.

Yours in somatics,

Eleanor Criswell Hanna, Ed.D.


Novato Institute