I have suffered pain in my spine all of my life - in my childhood, I was told that it was growing pains, as a sporty teenager, who loved high jump and long jump, I was told that I did too much sport. Surprise, surprise when at age 23, and newly married, I suffered " a slipped disc" and had to be in a surgical corset for eighteen months. This time I was told that I was too young to be suffering slipped discs. The surgical corset only served to weaken the muscles in my back and eighteen months later not only was I in pain, but I was dragging a very painful and weak leg around and needed surgery to remove the bone which was pressing on the nerve. This is only the beginning of a long, painful story involving discs slipping and pressing on nerves during child-birth, disc fusion and several surgeries, which have been necessary as each crisis evolves. Suffice it to say that at the very least I have disc degeneration and vertebral osteoarthritis, and have not had a day free of pain since I was 20.
I have tried the Alexander Technique, yoga, pilates, osteotherapy, physiotherapy, chiropractic, Bowen Therapy, hydrotherapy, self-hypnosis, radiofrequency denervation, cryotherapy and massage in my efforts to alleviate the pain. All were successful to a degree until I met Sarah Guest. Now approaching the end of my sixth decade, I had given in to the pain and was relying on continuous morphine, which my doctors happily prescribed. From the first time I had a consultation with Sarah, I found that I can be without pain - only very short periods right now, but somatics made so much sense to me from the very beginning that I knew I had to learn everything about it. How can you not participate in a therapy, which tells you that if you are giving yourself pain, then you are going too far? Sarah has so much patience and is teaching me and helping me to understand fully what is happening in my body. Somatics is such a fundamentally sound system of treatment. In the space of one session, I was able to get out of bed in the morning and be pain-free for ten whole minutes! Next morning, it lasted for thirty minutes!
During a workshop, I went from not being able to walk without specially-made insoles for my feet, which had been variously diagnosed as having plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, flat feet, (I don't), and leg length discrepancy - to throwing the insoles away because they were agony. I had worn them into the workshop with no pain, but during the workshop, something in my body changed, and I no longer need them - I can wear normal shoes again. I can only recommend Sarah's patience, knowledge and enthusiasm. She has helped me regain some of my life and I look forward to a much brighter future, all through the practice of somatics, and I am extremely grateful. I hope that we will be able to work together for as long as it takes.
After many years of struggling with chronic pain and very restricted movement I was, a year ago, referred to something I had never heard of before which has proved to be the most healing way that I have found to release the chronically contracted muscles which have been challenging me for many years.
I met Sarah on the recommendation of a local mindfulness teacher and went along to a group day session in Tiverton, Devon, near where I live. I was incredibly nervous and sceptical about whether it would help me. I seem to have tried everything else I could think of. I couldn’t even sit on the mat to start with and felt very out of place sitting on a chair with others down on the floor. The group consisted of a mix of people (both men and women) of all ages with all sorts of health issues and who were at different stages of understanding about what Somatics is all about. Sarah’s teaching that day was inspirational, she was able to work with real beginners like me and others who were much more experienced followers of the practice. I came out feeling so much more flexible and even on a cold, wet January day, I was totally inspired to do more.
Since then, I have had one to one sessions with her and been to two sets of ten-week classes.
The one to one sessions are enormously helpful and healing. She is becoming a qualified clinician and is extremely knowledgeable about how to release specific areas of the body which are stuck and sore. She uses a hands-on approach to enable whole-body movements which release these tight muscles. She is very patient and you feel you are really being listened to and cared about.
The weekly sets of classes are always thematic in approach and with fun titles. They all link in the series with teaching that is reinforcing movements in different ways from week to week. Sarah explains the movements with perfect detail, showing her vast knowledge of musculoskeletal anatomy. It is always presented in a very understandable way for us to follow. She does not usually demonstrate because we all are doing it at various levels. She is enormously skilful at doing this and also makes the sessions fun, with colourful posters and visual material for us to see each week. Part of the sessions teach us how we can incorporate the movements into every day busy life. Her enthusiasm for her work is amazing, she is a true evangelist for the cause having been helped enormously herself by learning the skills. Sarah also takes a personal interest in and knows all her pupils and it is clear that she has empathy for everyone’s specific needs.
I know that for me, this is the best approach to pain management I have ever tried. I always feel much more flexible and energised when I come out of a class, I am able to fit the practice into my everyday life and as I have become more flexible. As a result of this, I am not nearly as fearful of pain as I once was. I am nearly 70 and am taking on a new and wonderful phase of life thanks to Sarah and her teaching of this very valuable skills.
It’s marvellous and I would encourage everyone who is having a struggle to try it and I totally recommend Sarah as your teacher.
K. Lewis. Somerset
My name is Kim Lewis, I am 60 and until this year, I never heard of Somatics. I was lucky enough to win a voucher for 3 sessions with Sarah Guest. As I have Parkinson's I was hopeful that this would help my condition, keeping an open mind because I will try anything to ease or help the discomfort. stiffness and tension it causes in me.
For various reasons my 3 lessons have spread over September, October and December (I was still recovering from breaking the humerus bone in my left arm). The aspect which convinced me to feel that Somatics would be effective was Sarah's general air of total enthusiasm, healthy sparkle and her confidence that I could learn. She radiates well-being and passes it on!
I found the movements taught were gentle, natural and felt good during and after; they are based on tightening, contracting essential muscles and relaxing them. Sounds simple? It is because it is just a natural way that we have lost or forgotten. My own lifestyle even before Parkinson's was diagnosed, involved years of sitting at an office desk, slouching in arm-chairs etc. The Somatics makes you more aware of posture. I have had fewer aches and pains. I used to get a lot of lower back pain when standing but very little recently. I like Somatics because it can be done seated, standing or lying down and fits into one's normal day. No need to set aside extra time or involve any fancy equipment. Watching your favourite tv programme is an ideal time and then becomes more of a habit. I try on waking up, while still in bed before anything intrudes on the day!
Watch a cat stretch and see how beautifully it moves when it runs! Somatics works in a similar way. Many thanks to Sarah for sharing this. My friends have noticed an improvement in my movement. Parkinson's is never going to go away, but the more ammunition I have, the better I can fight it!
V. Piris. Gibraltar
My name is Valerie and I am 51 years old. In August 2015 I woke up with lower back pain. I had suffered from back pain before but this pain was different. It was sharp and reflected down my leg making it impossible to stand or walk. The GP referred me to a Spinal Surgeon who after reviewing the MRI advised that an operation would not help. He referred me to a psychologist for pain management as he said that I would have to live with chronic pain. This made me very depressed as I could not lead a normal life. I suffered from a crooked torso too.
I tried physio, acupuncture, chiropractor but nothing helped. One day I met a friend and suggested I tried Somatics. I was then referred to Sarah who assessed me on my first one to one session. She heard my story and after my first session with her, my body was straighter and not feeling so tensed up. She gave me various exercises to do at home. Every day that went by I could feel my body changing.
I can say I am pain-free. I still continue to do my exercises most mornings and nights so as not to go back to where I was when this started. Thanks to Sarah’s patience, perseverance and expertise I am a new person today.
H. Foster, Devon
For me Somatics is 'mindfulness with gentle movement', it eases the body and mind from the daily stresses that we place on both.
Keen to try anything that gives me the tools to do the best for my body and mind, a friend suggested a taster session in Tiverton two years ago come November.
The list of things I have tried in the past, to ease the chronic pain of my congenital scoliosis, goes on and on, as well as the list of practitioners I have seen, both complementary and within the NHS.
I was hooked from my first session of Somatics and have practised daily, almost without fail. Yes, there is the odd relapse, during which time I no longer revert to panic mode, but take life at an even gentler pace, with minuscule somatic movements (a 'homeopathic dose') and I take extra care of myself.
The effectiveness of Somatics has reduced the number of my chiropractic appointments from six weekly to twice yearly, it has removed the need for a regular massage and also the four monthly boost of a steroid injection to ease sacroiliac joint pain. I don't expect to ever be pain-free, but life is now so much more enjoyable, and the pain is manageable for the most part. I am so much calmer in mind and body.
D. O'Reilly, Ireland
Somatics helps me with flexibility and ease of movement which has been great for my golf game! It takes the tightness out and helps me swing with more balance and rhythm. It helped me with the body rotation I needed to improve on for a better golf swing. Also, simple things like walking the course or squatting down to get the line of a putt are just so much easier. I didn't realize how tight my body was getting from sitting in front of a computer and a general lack of movement.
I found that Sarahs Somatics classes unlocked my body from tightness and released it so that the body feels comfortable and at ease. I find Somatics is also wonderful for treating your body to a complete "zone out" No matter what stress levels you're experiencing a Somatics session with Sarah will get you grounded and relaxed. At the end of every one of Sarahs Somatic classes, there is definitely a difference and my stress levels are diminished.
I would highly recommend attending Sarah's somatic classes. She loves what she does and it shows in her dedication to her profession and the well-being of her clients. She is always seeking to improve herself with continuous training, workshops and seminars. She is genuinely interested in you and improving your movement. It’s not a job for her but a vocation and there are many of us in Dublin that will miss her influence on our health and well - being.
M. Hobden, Somerset
BEFORE discovering Somatics: I had aches & pains leading to difficulty sleeping and a general fear of exerting myself and causing either injury or more pain. I came to accept this was 'normal' and came with ageing. I frequently went to massage to relieve pain and even a Chiropractor. My GP was helpful but was limited in treatment. I had a steroid injection in the end for a painful hip.
AFTER discovering Somatics: I found that Somatics is a personal exploration i.e. my muscle footprint is unique to me. In other words, I learnt behaviour patterns from my everyday life. The way my muscles react for me - all personal! So sometimes this leads to them ending up in a habit of movement which my brain then registers as normal. It took Somatics to unlock this to me - as not being right. I was on a 'feel good' path now.......
The sessions involve being taught movements whilst not moving into any discomfort or pain ( a big 'no-no'). The classes, therefore, are wonderfully relaxing and pleasurable. Physically, I have noticed an awareness that I didn't have before of my muscles being 'settled' in the place they are designed to be in when they are relaxed. This has been remarkable. I can now locate tension (e.g. after a period of say gardening or computer use) and have the knowledge of how to release those tense muscles - NOT by stretching but by pandiculation (lengthening muscles by resetting at the level of the nervous system). Aches and pains don't cause me the anxiety that they used to any more, because Somatics has taught me there is a simple solution. I feel more confident now when I do my everyday tasks (gardening, lifting etc.) with the Somatic knowledge I have gained that I won't be causing problems.