Defining Hanna Somatic Education

Ask a Therapist

By Charlie Murdach

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn/Winter 2004.

Q. I saw a reference to a type of bodywork called Hanna Somatic Education (HSE). Can you tell me more about it?

A. Charlie Murdach, a San Francisco HSE practitioner, explains: “Hanna Somatic Education is a learning process in which you discover how to move more efficiently, comfortably, and with greater ease. Gentle, natural, safe, and pain-free movements are used to help you feel and understand how your body is balanced and interconnected.

“HSE also works with identifying habitual patterns in your body that you have held for years due to overuse, injury, or stress. While observing your body standing and during movement, you are able to see and feel muscular holding patterns that do not allow the fullest potential function. Using verbal guidance and feedback through touch, you are moved passively as well as asked to be an active contributor in the process by engaging certain muscles and muscle groups. Being part of the process, and not just a passive observer, will allow your brain to reorganize the neuromuscular system more effectively.

“After learning how to move more effectively, you can then apply your new understanding of your body to everyday activities, whether it is sitting at your desk, working on your feet, doing household tasks, or even while doing athletic activities.

“If you can’t feel it, you can’t move it. If you can’t move it, you may be compensating for some type of immobility. If compensations are part of your neuromuscular pattern, then you may not be accessing your fullest potential in movement. Hanna Somatic Education is not a quick fix form of therapy, or a medical solution, it is a total body learning experience.”