What is Somatic Awareness?

Carly Ko

Have you ever heard any of these expressions:

A lump in the throat,  get it off your chest, have the stomach for, open your heart, pain in the neck, scared stiff, shoulder responsibility? 

These expressions relate to physical sensations in the body that relate to situations in our lives. Our body literally responds constantly to all external and internal impulses even before our brains are aware of it. 

The body talks. Stiff shoulders? It could be that you feel too much responsibility in your life. Tight stomach? It may be related to anguish or fear about an upcoming event. Heart pain? It may be related to sadness, or lack of love. Stiff legs? It may be related to an inability to advance on the path that we should be on. 

Every cell in the body has memory and the body is constantly registering new information. When we move, it stimulates subconscious memory stored in our cells. When we open arms wide, an emotion may arise, or a flash of embracing a loved one 15 years ago. The brain is constantly creating connections between past and present moments throughout the body. 

Somatic awareness consists of bringing to consciousness what the sub conscious brain does automatically at every instant. Why is this important? To be able to recognize automatic behavior response and change it for the better to live a fuller and happier life!

“If you practice the same yoga posture as if going on a journey into your muscles, into the tensions in your body and infiltrate them with qualities you desire to have in your life, like love, patience, peace…you will have given new memory to your body.”



For instance, if every time you move into a certain yoga posture, trying to hold on until the teacher calls for transition, giving all muscle force and endurance and wondering what you might eat for lunch that day, the body will register that. If you practice the same yoga posture as if going on a journey into your muscles, into the tensions in your body and infiltrate them with qualities you desire to have in your life, like love, patience, peace, joy, gratitude, etc… while releasing all resistances, your body will enliven these qualities into your cells. You will have given new memory to your body.

So the next time when you are in a posture or situation requires force and endurance, your body will remember the qualities of love, joy, peace, and release that you programmed it with. The more often you practice with deep somatic awareness, the more your body learns to act accordingly in situations that may be difficult or strenuous.

Going Deeper: Introduction to Somatic Awareness

On February 25 at Yoga Garden SF, Carly Ko host this workshop, to help students learn to identify the different levels of awareness and ask the questions; What am I feeling physically? What emotions does this posture or movement provoke? What images, flashes come up? How do I feel connected spiritually?

Students will also learn how to put an intention into practice. For example, how does the metaphor of reaching and letting go in yoga practice take place, and how does it translate into life? By placing an intention on the practice without analyzing and simply allowing it to be present, the sub conscious mind will find it’s own answers and resources. 

Students will see that every emotional reaction has a physical sensation. Identifying the physical sensations and deeply accepting them, helps students learn to accept and handle the emotions that cross through us hundreds of times a day. 



Carly Ko Yoga Garden SFFor 18 years I have worked with the body through various forms of movement in circus arts, acrobatics, yoga, dance, corporeal mime and physical theatre.

I first became fully aware of the relation between physical sensations in the body and emotions and thoughts when I had to sit still and simply observe the sensations in my body for 10 days during a, Vipassanā, silent meditation retreat.

I continued this observation in my daily life and was brought into the Tamalpa Life Art Process began by Anna Halprin from Marin County. It is a process of healing and self exploration through somatic movement, dance and expressive arts. 

I use these various techniques combined with my yoga practice to go further into self discovery and to peel off layers of veils that cover the true self. I find somatic awareness is key to understanding oneself on both the spiritual and physical levels, it is a key to heightening one’s consciousness to be able to more fully express one’s true self in the world. 

More about me : www.yogadancenature.com