Let’s go back to some Somatics basics: Pandiculation! The simplest explanation of pandiculation is a “yawn-like stretch”. It’s that luscious reach & yawn you see cats & dogs do when they get up from a nap (like my kitty Chloe is doing in that pic). Human babies do it a lot. My eight year-old daughter still does it a lot, but not as much as when she was a baby. And adult humans tend not to do it much at all. It’s a basic animal reflex – anything with a nervous system pandiculates.
What purpose does this reflex serve?
Pandiculation helps to reset the central nervous system’s control over our voluntary muscle system. We develop muscle patterns by just living life, and sometimes those patterns can become painful or constrictive. This reflex helps to interrupt automatic patterns, offering more length & fuller awareness to otherwise “stuck” patterns. Try it now – yawn, reach your arms up over head in that “yawn-like, cat waking up from a nap” sort of way. What happens? You probably tightened in your arms, pulling them into your body, and then slowly lengthened them out – it’s like a contraction that you slowly lengthen out fully. That process goes through a full contraction to a full release of the muscles, which helps the brain to sense the full range of that muscle pattern. Doesn’t it feel good?! (It also may feel weird if you don’t tend to do it that often, and that’s okay too. Just be careful if you think you’re going to get a Charlie Horse & back off from any intense contraction)
Babies and animals tend to explore their bodies & worlds a little more than grown-up humans. As we grow up, we tend to sit more, we become distracted and prioritize other things, not taking time for self-care of our bodies, which as we all know, can lead to all sorts of trouble down the line. Pandiculation is one self-care tool we have reflexively. If we remember to access it, pandiculation can prevent a lot of habitual muscle pain as we gain more experience in the world (aka “age”). Somatics utilizes this reflex a lot in practice – practitioners use “assisted pandiculations” in in-person private sessions, and we also encourage clients & students to learn to utilize it themselves in an at-home practice. I always tell people, “If you do nothing else, remember to pandiculate first thing every morning, and throughout your day. It makes all the difference”. Making time in your day for a Somatics movement practice is great, but if nothing else – pandiculate often!
Downloadable Audio Classes
There is a FREE soma scan, along with other downloadable audio classes available here. I will be updating this site with new downloads all the time. Let me know if you have a request, I may have it in the library already.