Side-Lying Somatics: A Therapeutic Approach

Side-lying Somatics is joyous and freeing for the practitioner,
and nurturing and pleasurable for the client. 

In these transformative workshops, you will learn to use side-lying techniques in every session.

Side-Lying  Somatics is a gentle technique that is comfortable for the client and the practitioner.
It involves gentle rocking and decompression movements, while eliciting client interaction using words and breath.


Because the positional advantages of side-lying allows easy movement in all directions, it is possible to apply those movements to very small and specific parts of the body such as individual vertebrae, facial and scalp muscles, the joints of the feet and hands, individual muscle attachments.

Because of the asymmetrical and  tensegral arrangement on the side we can be very specific about where we want to direct those movements and compressions without producing pain, re-riggering old defenses, and without losing the overall sense of dynamic interrelationship between different body parts.

Also, because of the ease of producing movements and releases in assorted body parts, we can pass on that ease of movement and articulation to the client.

Decompression can be an effective tool to add to our side work, especially in parts of the body like the shoulder, where the direction of gravity serves to ease some of the work of the connective tissue.

The practitioner, with very little effort on his/her part, can assist in a very gentle form of positional release and unwinding. By gently directing and compressing into attachments of muscles and along the lines of connection (fibers and joint capsules), we can significantly ease the client’s holding and pain.

Sometimes verbal direction can be used to increase the client’s awareness and thus enhance the effectiveness of the decompression.

After we have felt a relaxation response in the tissue due to decompression, we can affirm that change by imparting movement.

There are various types of positional release techniques from yoga, to strain-counterstrain, to Orthobionomy. The gentleness and effortlessness of decompression make it seem miraculous. 

Over the years, having given thousands of sessions, I realize that side-lying offers so many advantages that it could arguably be used in every session, not only in Trager but also in every school of bodywork.

Here are some of the advantages that I found:  

*Most clients, when properly bolstered, are more comfortable and less resistant when lying on their sides.

*Clients who have been abused usually feel much safer, less vulnerable in the semi-fetal position that side-lying offers.

*Gravity can be used to great advantage because of the way it loads the joints and muscle tissue, hips, shoulders, abdomen.

*The therapist benefits from all the positioning advantages and thus doesn’t have to work so hard.

*There is comparatively little body surface in contact with the table so one can introduce movement with very little effort. Like a pendulum, the further away a body part is from the table the easier it is to keep in motion.

*The shoulder girdle and hip that is not on the table can be decompressed and tension in the joint released non-reflexively with the help of gravity.

*Small amounts of motion can be transmitted through the joints with very little effort and very pleasurable effect to the client.

*The body in a side-lying position is similar to a piano keyboard with various body parts readily accessible at the same time.

*The body in the sagittal plane is asymmetrical from back to front so you can take advantage of the different ways the body moves. For instance, the pelvis and shoulder uppermost move independently of the torso. When any one is put into motion a gentle and freeing torque is created along the spine.


Advantages of side-lying work:

• Large body parts require far less effort to move.
• We can work more gently by using soft hands and whole body movement.
• Body parts can be compressed, torqued, isolated and lengthened simultaneously.
• More receptivity to somatic learning due to client comfort and safety.
• The client attends to bodily sensations rather than thoughts or sleep.
• We can recruit clients to become participants in their own sessions.
• The movements become more three-dimensional.
• The spine, sacrum, vertebrae and ribs can be moved more 3-dimensionally.
• The client grows in awareness through presence and internal anatomy.
• The client can interact directly with the practitioner’s touch.
• Clients can enjoy abdominal work because gravity helps their muscles relax.
• Clients feel physically more comfortable and emotionally less vulnerable.
• Many applications of positional release are possible, aided by gravity.
• The clients growth in somatic awareness produces life changes.