Pandiculation is the technique we use to reverse the effects of SMA (Sensory Motor Amnesia — see previous post). Hanna says that SMA is a somatic pathology that requires not treatment but education. Pandiculation is our nervous system’s natural way of waking up our sensory-motor system and preparing us for movement.
All vertebrate animals automatically pandiculate when awakening or after being sedentary for a while. Picture a cat when it awakens from rest — cats pandiculate around 40 times a day! Unfortunately, as life goes on we develop habitual ways of standing and moving and our natural pandicular response isn’t enough to counteract all the unhelpful learning that occurs involuntarily in our nervous system. We tend to just pandiculate in the morning when we awaken and that’s it — modern life takes over.
Our ancestors lives were active in comparison with our modern sedentary lifestyles — we move way less and have less variety of movements. The pandicular response becomes inhibited and we lose awareness and control of our muscular system. So, in Somatics we perform a voluntary pandiculation, slowly and consciously, so the nervous system can sense and integrate the bio-feedback the movement provides. A general rule is that we always ‘do more of what the brain wants to do.’
Pandiculation has three stages:
- A contraction slightly stronger than what’s already there — this sends strong feedback to the brain and the cortex notices
- A slow, smooth and controlled release with full awareness — here the brain notices the details of the movement
- A complete release, softening and giving all weight up to gravity — in this final stage the brain integrates sensation and changes
We are born to move, and as we lose our ability to feel what’s going on in our central nervous system this influences how we move and even how we think and behave. To quote Hanna from the ‘Delicate Backs’ audio: “As you lose your function you lose your humanity.”
Pandiculation resets muscle length and function and allows for more freedom of movement. This change allows the soma to sense more, move more, and improves one’s sense of self and wellbeing. We are somatic beings that can change ourselves and this can be liberating, empowering, and freeing. Pandiculation allows us to feel free again both mentally and physically! AND it feels amazing…
Next post: What’s the difference between pandiculation and stretching? Which is most effective?