Karen Douglas de Fenzi is in the lineage of F. Matthias Alexander, founder of the Alexander Technique, Moshe′ Feldenkrais, who was a direct student of Alexander and Thomas Hanna, a direct student of Feldenkrais. She trained at the Novato Institute in California, founded by Thomas Hanna and Eleanor Criswell-Hanna and continues development of the conversation and collective ideas in movement education.
The origins of movement study in Hanna Somatic Education realises the significance of distinguishing active, voluntarily controlled movement and passive, involuntary movement. The significance, Hanna Somatically, is that the practicing individual realises this difference for themselves. The major theme of this somatic education is conscious co-operation of the person through movement awareness and active participation in the process of growth, development and change. It is a natural approach for actualisation of potential and peak or optimal performance, as well as addressing pain that arises from muscles that have automatically contracted under traumatic and stressful conditions, pain which may be mental, physical and emotional.
Key elements of Hanna Somatic Education include;
- an open environment and atmosphere freed from goal-directed effort,
- a novel learning context in which you are encouraged to be curious about yourself and to be fully receptive in the moment of movement,
- seven, slow and predictable movements that create sensory-motor feedback, or “biofeedback”, enabling you to interpret your internal sensations more accurately,
- freeing yourself from continually contracted muscles that can cause maladaptive muscular holding patterns and constraints that bind your thoughts, actions and feelings.
As a Hanna Somatic Educator, Karen guides you into voluntarily contracting your muscles, with a slow movement, inviting the motor cortex of your brain to light up and excite the motor neurons to shorten muscle fibres. Subsequently, you slowly release your contraction, decreasing the firing of the alpha motor neuron which tones down the output to your muscle fibres. In this technique, known as Pandiculation, Karen teaches you to teach yourself how to use gravity as a load on your muscles to sense proprioceptively into your current state of muscular contraction and reset their resting tonus. Effectively, you are laying a scent and creating new pathways for the motor neurons to follow, so, practically, you have motor ability greater than before.
Proprioception, your internal sense of yourself in relation to space in your external environment, lies at the centre of Hanna Somatic Education. It is an experiential learning, learning to be critically conscious of yourself and listen to your self-knowledge, giving you the personal resources to refine muscular effort and release neuromuscular tension. This release benefits all of your functional abilities, cognitively, psychologically and physiologically, as well as balancing your cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, excretory, immune and hormonal systems.
You can use Hanna Somatic Movements to…
~ release and relieve any neuromuscular pain, both acute and chronic
~ free yourself from muscular spasm, for example in the aftermath of experiencing a stroke
~ increase your sensory acuity and your ability to pay attention and focus
~ improve your mobility and posture
~ ease your breathing
~ increase your enjoyment and performance of physical activity
~ create a new freedom of thought, emotional tone and movement in your life
~ overcome dizziness
~ help manage the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinsons and Motor Neurone Disease and enhance the quality of life of those with these and other neurological conditions
~ manage the effects of Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and acute and sustained stress, whether actual or perceived