Kay Barr completed the Level 1 and 2 Hanna Somatics Exercise Coach (HSEC) training before studying with Essential Somatics under Martha Peterson, Certified Hanna Somatic Educator, Theresa Evans, Laura Gates and Colm McDonnell to achieve certification as a Clinical Somatic Educator over a 3 year certification course beginning in 2016 and graduating July 2019. Kay is now one of the first 10 people to be certified in this field in Australia and one of only 2 in Queensland at this present moment! The other currently living in Brisbane. In October 2020, Kay was approved as a Registered Member of ISMETA (International Somatic Movement Education & Therapy Association). ISMETA ensures the field of Somatic Movement Education and Therapy maintains high standards of education and practice worldwide.
As a long-time student and teacher of martial arts and Traditional Chinese Medicine Kay completed a Diploma of Zen Shiatsu & Oriental Therapies in 2009. In pursuit of improved wellness and vitality Kay has gained experience and instruction in several bodywork modalities through the years and finally found Hanna Somatics in 2014.
“While the art of Tai Chi can be a life-long practice – I consider that Somatics actually is the modern-day answer to immediate relief from chronic pain and mobility issues caused by the unconscious tension in one’s body. The real benefit begins with the feedback given to your own soma (and brain) by your very own body – the ultimate in self-perception and self-sufficiency. No other modality comes close to Somatics in the tradition of Thomas Hanna!” Kay believes that living somatically will improve whatever you do in life, whether you have pain in your body or not.
Our daily lives can create tension in our bodies that we are simply unaware of. For example, if we sit slouched forward at our computer day after day, our nervous system learns to keep us in that slouched posture by keeping our chest and abdominal muscles contracted. Our muscles gradually get tighter each day, and our proprioceptive and vestibular systems allow us to get more and more comfortable in this unnatural position. Slouching forward begins to feel normal and even good, and sitting up straight takes effort and feels uncomfortable. This is known as "sensory motor amnesia" (SMA). SMA develops in the brain at the level of the nervous system. Before you know it, this can lead to compensatory movement patterns, injury and sooner or later pain.
You might be aware that you need to release certain muscles or make a change in how you're using your body, but be struggling to make it happen. That's because the traditional methods we use—like static stretching, massage, rolling, and strengthening—don't retrain the nervous system to release chronic muscle tension and change muscle memory.
The answer lies within our nervous system: pandiculation. (See FAQ section for more information on Pandiculation).
Living in an industrialized world puts an enormous range of stresses onto our lives and more emphasis is placed on attention to the external forces and events happening around us than our internal, somatic awareness. It is critically important to devote time and understanding to how you personally respond to stress and trauma and what it feels like in your own body. How do you physically react when stressed? Where do you feel the tightness and where are you most likely to become "stuck" in SMA either from repetitive stress such as long hours spent at the computer, emotional upsets or past trauma from injury? This level of understanding can develop by practicing Somatic Exercises for just 10 minutes a day.
Kay teaches ongoing Somatic Exercise Classes at Woree and Trinity Beach and continues to teach Tai Chi and Qigong for the Cairns community. She is also available for clinical somatic lessons at her private studio in Trinity Beach.
For information on Clinical Somatics and to find a practitioner in your city see the following link:-