Blog Mental Health Therapy Somatic Exercises 10 Somatic Exercises To Release Pent-Up Emotions

10 Somatic Exercises To Release Pent-Up Emotions

Somatic Therapy refers to a body-centered/body-oriented therapeutic approach that harnesses the body’s inherent ability to self-regulate, aimed at relieving and healing stress disorders and improving the overall mind-body connection. It is anchored in the understanding that distress isn’t solely a product of our minds, but deeply intertwined with our biology. 


Stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures, but can become unhealthy when it upsets your day-to-day functioning. Critical/chronic stress occurs in situations where individuals are unable to meet the demands upon them and suffer a physical or psychological breakdown. 

Our frantic, modern lives causes most people to not pay attention to our internal senses (interoception and proprioception) and, as a result, overlook the interconnectedness of body and mind. However, it’s within this very synergy that we can discover pathways to release pent-up emotions and foster well-being. 

This blog post will introduce 10 somatic exercises designed to tap into this profound mind-body connection. These simple yet powerful techniques can help you navigate emotional blockages, restore balance, and cultivate a more harmonious relationship with your own body. 

Whether you’re dealing with chronic stress, or simply seeking new ways to boost your overall mental well-being, these exercises offer a transformative journey into self-awareness and healing.

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Are Somatic Exercises Good?

Absolutely, Somatic Exercises are indeed beneficial. They aid in fostering a deeper understanding and connection with one’s body, leading to overall wellness. Here’s how:

Improved Mind-Body Connection

Somatic Exercises are specifically designed to enhance the internal awareness of your body and its functions. Their-body oriented nature encourages you to shift your attention from your cognition and thoughts and connect to the sensations experienced in your body (8). By focusing on slow, mindful movements, you begin to understand how different parts of your body interact and function together, and how your emotions and thought impact your physical body — or certain parts of it. This heightened awareness improves your mental and emotional health by making you address those emotions and sensations stored in certain body parts (4).

Relaxation and Stress Relief

Our noisy minds and constant overthinking are some main contributors to stress. To press pause on our chaotic thought patterns, we sometimes need to move from our minds into our bodies – and this is where somatic exercises make a tremendous difference. They have a calming effect on the body and involve slow, deliberate movements which can help relax tense muscles and improve sleep. Moreover, the focus required in performing these exercises provides a break from stressors, allowing your mind to unwind and refocus (6).

Enhanced Physical Well-being

Regular practice of Somatic Exercises can lead to improved flexibility, balance, and strength. The movements involved help to lengthen tight muscles and strengthen weak ones, leading to better posture and ease of movement. Over time, this could reduce the risk of injuries and enhance your physical capabilities (2).

Emotional Release

Recent trauma research shows that we don’t just experience emotions and distressing experiences in our heads – we also store them in certain body parts (9). This is what makes Somatic Exercises somehow therapeutic (6). They allow you to tap into areas of emotional tension within your body and release pent-up emotions. When emotions are experienced on a bodily level, they can be regulated through movement, shaking, or by paying attention to a particular body area. This can be particularly helpful in increasing one’s ability to regulate emotions, leading to improved emotional health and resilience.

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Exploring the Transformative Power of Somatic Sexual Therapy

Mindful Living

Lastly, the practice of Somatic Exercises encourages a more mindful approach to living. When you tap into your body, you realise that you’re no longer just the thoughts you have about yourself. The focus on internal awareness promotes a deeper understanding of one’s self, encouraging a more mindful and intentional approach to daily activities. This can enhance your quality of life and promote overall well-being.

Somatic Exercises

What Are The Types of Somatic Exercises?

There are various types of Somatic Exercises, ranging from slow, mindful movements to more advanced and challenging poses. It is difficult to break down somatic exercises to specific problems, as their purposes often overlaps. For example, a breathing exercise can work for releasing anxiety, as well as processing trauma. That said, below are some common types of somatic exercises and their uses: 

Somatic Exercises for Anxiety

Somatic Exercises for anxiety are designed to help manage and reduce feelings of anxiety by promoting relaxation and fostering a deeper connection with one’s body. These exercises often involve deep breathing, grounding techniques, and mindfulness practices. Examples include: Diaphragmatic Breathing, Grounding, and Body Scanning (3).

Somatic Exercises for Trauma

These exercises aim to help individuals process unresolved emotional issues stored in the body as a result of experiencing a traumatic event (6). Techniques such as Pendulation, which involves oscillating between tension and relaxation, can be particularly effective. Other exercises include Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Somatic Yoga.

Somatic Exercises for Weight Loss

While Somatic Exercises alone may not lead to weight loss, rather they support weight loss efforts by improving body awareness, enhancing movement efficiency, and reducing stress (7). Examples include Walking Meditation, Gentle Movement Patterns, and Somatic Yoga.

Somatic Exercises for Hips

Somatic Exercises for hips focus on improving hip mobility and reducing tension or discomfort in the hip area. These might include specific Somatic Yoga poses targeting the hips, Snail’s Pace Stretching, and Comfortable Movements such as gentle hip circles.

Somatic Exercises for Anger

Anger – like any other emotion – does not just happen in the brain. It also takes place in the body. Somatic Exercises for anger aim to help individuals manage and express anger in a healthy way, as well as better connect with those body parts that might store experiences associated with anger (10). These exercises often involve releasing physical tension and practicing mindful awareness of bodily sensations. Examples include: The Voo Breath, Shaking Out Tension, and Progressive Muscle Relaxation.

Somatic Exercises for Stress

Somatic Exercises for stress focus on activating the body’s relaxation response and reducing physical signs of stress (3). Techniques like Diaphragmatic Breathing, Grounding, and Body Scanning can be particularly helpful.

Somatic Yoga Exercises

Somatic Yoga combines traditional yoga poses with a heightened focus on internal bodily sensations. It promotes increased body awareness, flexibility, and relaxation (2). Examples include mindful variations of common yoga poses, such as the Warrior Pose, Tree Pose, and Child’s Pose.

See also
Somatic Dance: Liberation Through Expression and Movement

Read more: Somatic Stretching – Build Your Body Awareness Through a Soothing Motion.

What Are 11 Somatic Exercises? 

Below are 12 unique Somatic Exercises that you can incorporate into your wellness routine:

1. Diaphragmatic Breathing

This exercise helps to activate your body’s relaxation response. It involves deep breathing into the diaphragm rather than shallow breathing from your chest.


  1. Lie down or sit comfortably.
  2. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
  3. Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose, allowing your belly to rise as you fill your lungs with air. The hand on your chest must remain as still as possible. 
  4. Exhale slowly out of your mouth or nose, allowing your belly to fall.
  5. Repeat for several minutes.

2. Grounding

Grounding techniques can help you feel more connected to your physical presence in the world.


  1. Stand up straight and feel your feet firmly grounded on the floor. Taking your shoes off for this exercise may make you feel more comfortable. 
  2. Take a few deep breaths, focusing on the sensation of your feet connecting with the earth.
  3. Imagine roots growing from your feet, anchoring you to the ground as you feel connected to the earth
  4. Start shifting your weight from left to right, swaying as a tree. 
  5. Shift your weight from front to the back. 
  6. As you shift your weight, bring awareness to your center of gravity, located in the upper pelvic area and below the navel. 
  7. Bring your hands on top of your lower belly and feel your center. 
  8. Continue to sway from side to side and front and back while keeping the hands on top of your lower belly.

3. Body Scanning:

This technique promotes increased bodily awareness and can help identify areas of tension or discomfort.


  1. Lie down or sit comfortably.
  2. Mentally scan your body from your toes to the head, noting any areas of tension or discomfort.
  3. Spend a few moments focusing on each area and when you feel any tension, breathe deeply and exhale allowing the area to relax.
  4. When you feel the body part relax, you can move to the next one.
  5. Continue this process, until you reach your head. 

somatic exercises for trauma

4. Somatic Yoga

Somatic Yoga involves performing traditional yoga poses with a heightened focus on internal bodily sensations.It should be practiced with a certified somatic yoga instructor.

In somatic yoga, practitioners are encouraged to explore movements slowly and with intention, paying close attention to how each movement feels rather than striving for a specific end posture. This approach allows individuals to release tension, improve flexibility, and enhance body awareness, which can develop a greater understanding of their physical and emotional experiences.


  1. Choose a yoga pose that you are comfortable with.
  2. As you move into the pose, pay close attention to how each part of your body feels.
  3. Hold the pose for a few breaths, continuing to maintain awareness of your bodily sensations.

5. Walking Meditation

This form of meditation combines physical movement with mindfulness practice.

See also
11 Somatic Grounding Exercises For When You Need To Manage Your Triggers


  1. Begin walking at a slow, comfortable pace.
  2. Pay attention to the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the movement of your legs and arms, and your breathing.
  3. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the physical sensation of walking and bring your mind to the present moment.

6. Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR):

This technique involves consciously tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in the body to promote relaxation.


  1. Start at one end of your body (like your toes).
  2. Tense the muscles as tightly as you can for about 5 seconds.
  3. Relax the muscles and notice the sensation of release.
  4. Continue to the next muscle group (like your legs), repeating the process.

7. Sensory Awareness

This exercise encourages a heightened awareness of your sensory experiences.


  1. Choose a quiet place to sit or lie down.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
  3. Tune into your senses one by one, spending a few moments focusing on what you can hear, smell, feel, taste, and see (with your eyes closed).

8. The Voo Breath

This vocal exercise can help to stimulate your vagus nerve, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.


  1. Find a space where you feel comfortable and find yourself in a comfortable position, either sitting on a chair or on the floor.
  2. Bring your attention to your bodily sensations and to the present moment. Notice your breath in and out. 
  3. Take a deep breath in.
  4. As you exhale, make a “voo” sound, drawing out the vowel for as long as possible. You will feel this sound resonate through your abdomen and chest. 
  5. Repeat several times.

9. Self-Hug

This comforting exercise can help to soothe feelings of distress.


  1. Cross your right arm over your chest to feel your heartbeat, place your left  hand on your right shoulder.
  2. Apply gentle pressure and rock side to side.
  3. Take deep, calming breaths as you hold this self-hug.

10. Shaking Out Tension

This exercise can help to release physical tension and release excess energy that may have been produced due to stress.


  1. Find a space where you feel comfortable.
  2. Stand up and start shaking your body, starting with your hands and gradually incorporating your arms, torso, and legs. Imagine you are shaking off dust or sand on your body.
  3. Shake for a few minutes, then slowly wind down. Bringing your body back to balance.
  4. Notice how your body feels once you’ve stopped shaking.

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How Do You Practice Somatic Release? 

Practicing somatic release involves a series of exercises and techniques that help you reconnect with your body and release stored tension. Here’s a general guide to practicing somatic release:

Find a Calm Environment

Choose a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed. This could be a calm room in your home, a peaceful outdoor location, or any space where you feel safe and relaxed.


Incorporate gentle, mindful movement into your practice. This could include stretching, yoga postures, or any other movement that feels good to your body. Pay attention to how each movement feels and allow any emotions or sensations to arise without judgment.

See also
Somatic Therapy Exercises: Your 2024 Guide To Overcoming Traumatic Memories

Somatic Exercises To Release Emotions

Rest and Reflect

After your practice, take a few moments to rest and reflect on the experience. You might notice a sense of relaxation, relief, or emotional release.

Regular Practice

Somatic release is most effective when practiced regularly. Try to set aside some time each day for this practice, whether it’s a few minutes in the morning, a break during your workday, or a relaxation practice before bed.

Remember, somatic release is a personal practice and everyone’s experience will be different. It’s important to move at your own pace and listen to your body’s signals. If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsure during the practice, pause the exercise and return to it once you are comfortable. 

Also, if these feelings or emotions are significantly impacting your well-being, it may be helpful to seek guidance from a qualified somatic therapist or mental health professional for personalized guidance and interventions.

Read more: How To Use Somatic Breathing Exercises To Manage Stress.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Are The Examples of Somatic Therapy?

Somatic therapy is a type of body-centered therapy that aims to treat the whole person, including their mind, body, spirit, and emotions. It incorporates various techniques like massage, breathing exercises, and physical movements to help release pent-up tension stored in the body, ultimately promoting healing and recovery.

Somatic Experiencing (SE) Therapy

According to SE, every human experience gtes stored in the body. We do not just live trauma and stressful experiences through emotions and thoughts, but also through sensations that happen in our bodies (11). This form of therapy uses techniques such as breath work, meditation, visualization, grounding, dance, and sensation awareness work. It has to be guided by a trained therapist, and is designed to help individuals tap into their body’s natural ability to heal.

Unlike other forms of therapy, SE does not focus on thoughts or feelings (emotions) related to the traumatic experience and therefore does not directly evoke traumatic memories. Instead, it supports the person to track the sensations occurring in their bodies to find their way to a sense of balance and relaxation. 

Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)

AEDP is not a solely somatic therapy but incorporates somatic elements as part of the therapeutic approach to help individuals process emotional experiences on a deeper level.

Dance/Movement Therapy (DMT)

As the name suggests, this form of somatic therapy uses body movements and expressions as a therapeutic tool. It allows individuals to express themselves physically, explore emotions, release tension, and process experiences which can be particularly beneficial for those who find it difficult to put their feelings into words.

Massage and Bodywork

Some forms of somatic therapy involve physical touch or manipulation of the body, such as massage. This can help release physical tension and promote relaxation.

It’s important to note that while massage and bodywork can be considered as form of somatic interventions, they are not a replacement for psychological therapy. 

While they address physical sensations and relaxation, they may not delve deeply into psychological processing or addressing trauma in the same way that other somatic therapies like Somatic Experiencing or Dance Movement Therapy might. Always consult with a qualified practitioner to determine which approach aligns with your specific needs and goals.

See also
Somatic Stretching - Build Your Body Awareness Through a Soothing Motion

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Although not a somatic therapy in the traditional sense, EMDR is often mentioned in the same context because it also recognizes the connection between the body and mind. This therapeutic intervention helps reprocess distressing memories by stimulating the right and left brain through bilateral eye movements or touch (12).

Is Yoga a form of Somatic Exercise?

Yoga can indeed be considered a Somatic Exercise because it emphasizes internal physical perception and experience. Somatics Yoga is not a different style of yoga but rather a movement therapy, a way of re-educating the way our brain senses and moves the muscles (1).

Unlike some yoga styles where the aim is to achieve a pose, in somatics, the focus is the experience, skill, and ease of the movement and transitions. This makes Somatic Yoga a gentle form of exercise designed to assist us in releasing patterns of pain in the body.

While somatic yoga is aligned with somatic principles, it is not a dedicated therapeutic modality like some other forms of somatic therapy.

Is Walking Somatic Therapy?

Yes, walking can be a part of somatic therapy when it’s done mindfully. This is often termed as “Walking Meditation,” where the focus is on the sensation of movement and the contact of feet with the ground. It helps to connect the body and mind, promoting awareness and relaxation, key aspects of somatic therapy.

Is Meditation a Somatic Exercise?

Yes, meditation can be considered a Somatic Exercise when it involves a mindful awareness of bodily sensations, movements, or breath (4). Some forms of meditation, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based therapy (MBT) integrate somatic principles to create a more holistic approach to improve overall mental-wellbeing. 

Is Mindfulness a Somatic Therapy?

Mindfulness can indeed be considered a form of somatic therapy (5). This is because mindfulness, especially when practiced with a focus on bodily sensations or movements, can help create mind-body integration. It allows us to use our somatic responses as a source of information and healing.

Do Somatic Exercises Release Trauma?

Yes, somatic exercises may help in releasing trauma (6). However, this is an oversimplification of the process. In reality, somatic interventions help the body process stress and tension stored in certain bodily parts, which creates more physiological safety. In turn, this helps with trauma processing and healing. Somatic therapy, which includes a variety of techniques like breathing exercises, mindfulness, and body movement, can provide opportunities for the body to find its sense of safety and return to a state of homeostasis.  

This form of therapy focuses on the mind-body connection and can be particularly effective for individuals dealing with trauma-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other psychological issues such as anxiety, stress, complicated grief etc.

The Bottom Line

Incorporating Somatic Exercises into your daily routine can be a transformative way to release pent-up emotions, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. These 12 exercises offer a holistic approach to healing that addresses both mind and body, helping you to reconnect with yourself on a deeper level.



This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Effectiveness of Somatic Yoga and Meditation (2020,
  2. Impact of Somatic Yoga and Meditation on Fall Risk, Function, and Quality of Life for Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy Syndrome in Cancer Survivors (2019,
  3. How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing (2018,
  4. Mindfulness-Based Therapies in the Treatment of Somatization Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (2013,
  5. Pilates, Mindfulness and Somatic Education (2014,
  6. Somatic Experiencing for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Outcome Study (2017,
  7. Slow Burn: A Somatic Approach to Exercise (2021,
  8. The Relation between Anger Management Style and Organ System-Related Somatic Symptoms in Patients with Depressive Disorders and Somatoform Disorders
  9. Polyvagal Theory: A science of safety (Frontiers, 2022)
  10. The Relation between Anger Management Style and Organ System-Related Somatic Symptoms in Patients with Depressive Disorders and Somatoform Disorders (Journal of Medicine, 2008)
  11. Somatic experiencing – effectiveness and key factors of a body-oriented trauma therapy: a scoping literature review (European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 2021)


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