Blog Mental Health Therapy Somatic Exercises Somatic Healing Techniques: A Holistic Approach to Physical and Emotional Recovery

Somatic Healing Techniques: A Holistic Approach to Physical and Emotional Recovery

Traumas live in your mind and can also take a toll on your body. This can lead to negative emotions and impact your daily life. Healing them is important for living a happy and healthy life. To do so, you can opt for somatic healing techniques, which are regarded as being quite effective.

Before we explain how to practice these techniques, you need to know what they are. If you’re looking for ways to enhance your mental and physical prowess, this article may help you pick the right direction.

What Is Somatic Experiencing (SE) Technique?

This is a method of healing symptoms of trauma through therapy that was created by Dr. Peter Levine (14). This therapy works by incorporating body movements and sensations into the treatment, resulting in the strengthening of the body-mind connection and helping the patient feel their inner sensations.

Somatic therapy involves a patient revisiting their traumatic memory, which may cause emotional outbursts. However, before this stage, the therapist will teach you about ‘resourcing,’ a technique that can help you identify tools for navigating these complex emotions. Rather than focusing on the mind, it uses a framework that is known as SIBAM (Sensation, Imagery, Behavior, Affect, and Meaning) that helps you focus on physical sensations, improve body awareness, and identify the ‘tension spots in the body’ to process traumatic memories.

The main principle of this therapy is the somatic release of unresolved emotions, as it is claimed that such energies are primarily trapped in the body (11). Research in 2017 also backs up this claim, as it proved that somatic healing techniques can help alleviate the s PTSD and depression symptoms (8).

Running a never-ending rat race, shoving trauma further and further away, falling into self-harming thought patterns, living life that’s eclipsed by constant anxiety and fear – this is what an average person goes through every day. Not addressing it will only pull you deeper into a downward spiral. BetterMe: Meditation & Sleep app will help you gain a new perspective on life and help you regain that long-lost internal balance!

Where Is Trauma Stored in the Body?

Trauma is generally stored in the hippocampus and amygdala in the brain’s memory and emotional centers. Interestingly, these memories are linked to the five senses: sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. Your brain remembers what these senses feel to produce a visual image of the trauma (4).

Traumatic memories, which are stored mainly in your brain, interfere greatly with how this works. This can lead to negative effects on your health. It means that all these memories can show up in our bodies as muscle tension, headaches, stomach aches, etc.  (2).

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Somatic Breathwork: A Holistic Approach to Well-Being

Therefore, we can say that when trauma is not fully processed, even in a normal environment, some senses may remind us of the traumatic experience, consequently eliciting a fight-or-flight response.

How Do You Release Deep Emotional Pain?

It is common to have various negative experiences related to life, career, or relationships. Such experiences can ultimately create difficult emotions that are painful to handle. Therefore, many people suppress their sentiments so as not to be overwhelmed. Doing this will not help them overcome or move on from the painful experiences. Instead, it causes these emotions to grow in their body through time. Gradually, these past ordeals start to physically and mentally influence the person.

A painful emotion that is suppressed for too long may appear as fatigue, anger, baseless resentment, or a lack of motivation. Emotions that are not dealt with in a timely manner may affect your relationships with others, physical health, posture, and even introspection (6).

You must reverse this so you can move on and let go of past hurtful emotions. All this emotional pain is caused by suppressing these feelings of the past. So, it would be best if you learn to manage these emotions. This can be done in three basic steps.

You can start by first recognizing and acknowledging that emotion of yours. If it has been suppressed for too long, you may have difficulty identifying it. However, this is a crucial step, so you must understand and connect with the lingering emotion. You can seek the help of a professional if you need to. According to a study, the severity of a feeling can be lessened if you recognize and label it (8).

somatic healing techniques  

The second step is to respond to the emotion. The feeling remained in your body due to inadequate response. You need to work through the experience and spend the energy of the emotion. This can be done in many ways, depending on the intensity and nature of the emotional pain. For example, you can practice journaling or talk it out. If the feeling is overwhelming, it’s best to conduct this exercise under the guidance of a trained professional. At the same time, you can address it through somatic healing therapy. Intentional movements such as yoga, dance, swimming, or martial arts can be done to free your body from the trapped emotion (6).

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Somatic Stretching - Build Your Body Awareness Through a Soothing Motion

The third step is maintaining the result of the efforts you have made in the first two steps. It would be best to take control of your body and practice self-care. Having suppressed emotions means you have neglected your body when it called for attention. 

Self-care can be easily achieved through relaxation, meditation, and stress management. You can also explore nature and practice calming exercises or somatic therapy exercises. In addition, you should make sure that you don’t suppress any emotions in the future.

Read more: Somatic Dance: Liberation through Expression and Movement

What Are Some Somatic Healing Techniques?

As previously mentioned, somatic therapy follows the principle of strengthening the relationship between the mind and body. It works through a ‘body first’ approach, which helps the brain feel and acknowledge every sensation and movement in the body. This is done through exercises and various types of therapy.

However, all somatic therapy exercises are based on core somatic healing techniques. These techniques must be incorporated into the somatic experience regardless of the method or approach that is used. Techniques that are used in a particular therapy may vary depending on the needs of the client.

The techniques that are involved in somatic therapy include body awareness, grounding, and sequencing. Some of the somatic techniques are explained below (11):

Body Awareness

This is a fundamental technique that forms the basis of any somatic healing technique where tension in the body is addressed to promote the body-mind connection. This technique helps to identify the tension spots in the body where the unresolved emotions that are linked to experiencing a traumatic event may be trapped. This is done together with some calming thoughts to promote safety.

Titration and Pendulation

These two techniques, which are often used together, are among the best somatic healing techniques for the management of anxiety or PTSD symptoms. Titration is when the therapist guides you to move through a traumatic memory one step at a time to avoid becoming engulfed by the trauma. Any physical change in sensation or movement is immediately noticed, and the therapist will address them as they occur.

This method is connected with pendulation so the patient will not feel uncomfortable. Pendulation is where the therapist helps you switch between the stressful memory and a calming state when the traumatic memory becomes too much to deal with. This helps develop a rhythm and gradually releases pent-up emotions or feelings that are linked to the memory.

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8 Somatic Exercises for Distress, with Step-by-Step Instructions


This technique is used to calm the client. The therapist will ask you to recall occasions, people, relationships, and places where you felt strong and happy. This allows you to recount the resources that provide you with safety. During the session, the therapist will ask you to remember this emotional anchor if or when it becomes overwhelming as a means of promoting calmness and safety.

Read more: Somatic Techniques for a Health Body and a Happy Mind

What Does Releasing Trauma Feel Like?

Are you going through the hassle of somatic techniques but don’t know if it’s fruitful? You can check by noticing the changes in your mind or bodily sensations. These will tell you whether you can release and resolve unprocessed emotions.

Signs that you are releasing unprocessed emotions include occasionally crying. This shows that you can remove the suppressed emotion and its excessive energy. Following a short episode of crying, you may feel much lighter, which signifies the release of stifled emotions and trauma (12).

Trauma or suppressed emotions may cause fatigue and tiredness and when they have been released, you may feel more active than before. You should also find it easier to breathe, and each inhalation and exhalation will satisfy you. Also, you should feel energized when you exercise. Movements such as exercise, yoga, martial arts, and boxing will help you spend the pent-up energy positively and make you feel great.

In addition, releasing the suppressed emotions and trauma will help your physical health. Trauma and stress can negatively impact the immune system (3), so you may get sick less often after healing the trauma as your immune system recovers.

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What Are Some Somatic Exercises for Beginners?

Somatic exercises normally include mindful exercises that also help strengthen your mind-body connection. In this way, you become more aware of your bodily sensations and movements. Therefore, it is helpful to perform these somatic exercises for anxiety, depression, stress, or the releasing of pent-up emotions.

These exercises alone cannot make up for the entire somatic treatment. They must be combined with the complete therapy session that includes counseling and other somatic healing techniques. These exercises can improve the efficiency of the therapy by calming the client and soothing and regulating their nervous system. 

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

From the many examples of somatic exercises that are available, here are 12 that may prove to be worthwhile in your bodily undergoing therapy (13) (1):

Healing Hands

Start by identifying the tension spot in your body. Place your hand over that area and take deep breaths. Your breaths should be slow and focused so you can feel the movement of your muscles below your hand. Continue until you feel relaxed.

Voo Breath

This is a simple, mindful breathwork for relaxation and peace. Start by inhaling deeply until your lungs are filled. Then, exhale slowly while making a low-pitched ‘voo’ sound. By doing this, you’ll feel the vibration and movement of all muscles, particularly the abdomen, chest, and throat. 


This is not a complex exercise and only involves gently massaging a tension spot by rubbing it with your hands in a slow, circular motion. During this process, you’ll feel the warmth and pressure of the hand.

Butterfly Hug

Cross your arms so your left palm is on your right shoulder and vice versa. Then, gently tap your shoulders with your fingertips. Feel the movement of the fingers and the sensation of tapping on your shoulders. Make sure to take deep breaths simultaneously.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Inhale deeply through your nose until your stomach rises more than your chest. Then, exhale slowly through your mouth. Feel the vibration and movement of muscles beneath your hand.

somatic healing techniques  

Pursed-lips Breathing

Inhale normally while sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Then, purse your lips as if about to whistle or blow out a candle. Now, exhale slowly through your mouth.

Box Breathing

This is a simple technique for mindful breathwork. Inhale for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds. Exhale for 4 seconds. Simple, and it’s done. Repeat this cycle a few times, feeling the movement of muscles deeply every time.

The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique

This technique uses your five senses to bring you back to the present and manage overwhelming feelings. See and observe five things. Touch four things and feel their texture, temperature, and everything. Locate and listen attentively to three sounds and differentiate well between them. Locate two smells in the environment. Finally, taste one thing and feel it on your tongue.

Body Scan

This helps you identify the parts of your body that are under stress. Observe and think about how each body part feels. To perform this exercise:

  1. Sit comfortably
  2. Take a deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth
  3. Close your eyes
  4. Feel your body
  5. Start at the top of your head
  6. Gently scan down through your body
  7. Notice what feels comfortable or uncomfortable
  8. Don’t try to change anything
  9. Keep scanning down evenly
  10. Notice each part of your body, all the way to your toes
See also
Somatic Yoga: A Journey to Self-Discovery

A Mindful Walk

Walking in a serene environment is one of the best therapies. It will help calm down your mind. However, the type of environment matters when you take a walk. It should be quiet and you should be exposed to nature.

Running Cold and Warm Water on Your Hands

Run cold water for a few seconds and feel the sensation on your hand. Then run warm water. Feel the temperature difference and how your hand reacts to it.

somatic healing techniques  


  • What is somatic shaking?

Somatic shaking is a method for releasing tension that is caused by trauma or stress. It does this by shaking the body to regulate the nervous system. The shaking helps relax the muscles and bring the nervous system to its original state (5).

  • What are the dangers of somatic experiencing?

Dangers of somatic healing include re-traumatization, breaking down of defenses, and abusive touch. Due to the nature of therapy, the client is physically and emotionally vulnerable to the therapist. However, under the guidance of a trained therapist, they can be avoided and managed.

  • Is somatic healing real?

Somatic practitioners believe that exercises and therapies that connect the mind and body help release trauma and stress. There is some research and evidence, though limited, that supports this belief (9) (15).

  • What does a somatic release feel like?

Somatic release makes you feel lighter, as if a weight has been lifted off you. You can breathe more easily and feel more active. Your sleep schedule will also improve. Exercising will make you feel great and your overall physical health will also improve.

  • What are the criticisms of somatic therapy?

Somatic therapy has been criticized for the lack of evidence, which is not true, as there is a growing body of research supporting the effectiveness of somatic therapy (10). Another criticism is that unlicensed practitioners offer somatic experiences.

The Bottom Line

To summarize, trauma from a painful experience can lead to many struggles in your life if it is not dealt with adequately. They can mess up your mind and negatively impact your body. Trauma can show up in your body parts as tension spots.

When a similar environment or a sense triggers the traumatic memory, your body immediately goes into a fight or flight state, even if it is not needed. If it is not addressed, this can build up over time and affect your physical and mental health in ways such as fatigue, anger issues, and not wanting to interact with people.

One of the best ways of dealing with this issue is somatic therapy. It is based on the body’s first principle and helps by improving your bodily awareness to link the pathway to your mind to acknowledge and release the unresolved emotions stored in your body parts. In this way, tension spots are identified and adequately dealt with in the body.

Somatic Experiencing (SE) therapy can include techniques such as body awareness, titration, and pendulation. Other somatic therapies include EMDR, Hakomi, and Neurosomatic therapy. Somatic therapies are often incorporated with bodily experience exercises to enhance the efficiency of these sessions. This helps the patient feel calm and safe and reduces some of the risks that are associated with physical therapy.

One more thing about somatic healing techniques is they can also be carried personally. However, it is recommended that you consult a professional therapist to provide guidance.somatic healing techniques


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. 8 Somatic Exercises for Anxiety, with Step-by-Step Instructions (2023,
  2. 10 Somatic Interventions (n.d.,
  3. 14 Signs your body is releasing trauma (n.d.,
  5. Can Shaking Your Body Help Heal Stress and Trauma? Some Experts Say Yes (2021,
  6. How to Release ‘Emotional Baggage’ and the Tension That Goes with It (2023,
  7. Putting feelings into words: affect labeling disrupts amygdala activity in response to affective stimuli (2007,
  8. Somatic Experiencing for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Outcome Study (2017,
  9. Somatic Experiencing Therapy: 10 Best Exercises & Examples (2023,
  10. Somatic experiencing – effectiveness and key factors of a body-oriented trauma therapy: a scoping literature review (2021,
  11. Somatic Therapy: Understanding The Mind-Body Connection (2023,
  12. Top Five Signs Your Body Is (2023,
  13. Somatic Techniques for Stress and Anxiety  (n.d.,
  15. What Is Somatic Experiencing Therapy? (2020,
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