After defining somaesthetics and explaining the terms of its definition, this paper distinguishes between somaesthetics and other somatic disciplines concerned with improving the quality of our movement. The paper then outlines the roots of somaesthetics in pragmatist philosophy and the philosophical idea of the holistic art of living that combines cognitive, aesthetic, and ethical concerns. The next section discusses the three branches of somaesthetics and its three dimensions while also mapping their interrelations. After a section that contextualizes somaesthetics in relation to affect theory and cognitive science and that briefly notes some of its many interdisciplinary applications, the paper concludes with a discussion of the somaesthetic approach to the issue of norms and values in somatic experience, inquiry, and practice.
Somaesthetics in Context
An Education for Life: The Process of Learning the Alexander Technique
Charlotte Woods, Lesley Glover, and Julia Woodman
The Alexander technique is an educational self-development self-management method with therapeutic benefits. The primary focus of the technique is learning about the self, conceptualized as a mind–body unity. Skills in the technique are gained experientially, including through hands-on and spoken guidance from a certified Alexander teacher, often using everyday movement such as walking and standing. In this article the authors summarize key evidence for the effectiveness of learning the Alexander technique and describe how the method was developed. They attempt to convey a sense of the unique all-encompassing and fundamental nature of the technique by exploring the perspectives of those engaged in teaching and learning it and conclude by bringing together elements of this account with relevant strands of qualitative research to view this lived experience in a broader context.
Evidence for the Effectiveness of the Feldenkrais Method
James Stephens and Susan Hillier
The Feldenkrais method (FM) is a process that uses verbally and manually guided exploration of novel movements to improve individuals’ self-awareness and coordination. This paper reviews recent literature evaluating the therapeutic value of the FM for improving balance, mobility, and coordination and its effectiveness for management of chronic pain. The authors also explore and discuss studies that have investigated some of the other bodily effects and possible mechanisms of action, such as (a) the process of learning itself, (b) focus of attention during motor learning, (c) autonomic regulation, and (d) body image. They found that research clearly supports the effectiveness of the FM for improvement of balance and chronic pain management. The exploration into mechanisms of action raises interesting questions and possibilities for further investigation.
If It All Comes Down to Bodily Awareness, How Do We Know? Assessing Bodily Awareness
Wolf E. Mehling
A purported key mechanism of action in most mind–body movement approaches is the maturation and development of bodily awareness. This is an experiential learning process with its own phenomenology, underlying neurological processes, and challenges for scientific study. This report focuses on the assessment of changes in bodily awareness, which is of key importance for the documentation of this learning process for both research and clinical application. Objective assessments requiring lab equipment are briefly reviewed. Qualitative assessments can be performed by interviews, focus groups, and second-person observation of movement performance. In addition, systematically developed self-report questionnaires have become available in recent years, have undergone extensive validation, and are presented here.
Potential Mechanisms of the Alexander Technique: Toward a Comprehensive Neurophysiological Model
Timothy W. Cacciatore, Patrick M. Johnson, and Rajal G. Cohen
The Alexander technique (AT) has been practiced for over 125 years. Despite evidence of its clinical utility, a clear explanation of how AT works is lacking, as the foundational science needed to test the underlying ideas has only recently become available. The authors propose that the core changes brought about by Alexander training are improvements in the adaptivity and distribution of postural tone, along with changes in body schema, and that these changes underlie many of the reported benefits. They suggest that AT alters tone and body schema via spatial attention and executive processes, which in turn affect low-level motor elements. To engage these pathways, AT strategically engages attention, intention, and inhibition, along with haptic communication. The uniqueness of the approach comes from the way these elements are woven together. Evidence for the contribution of these elements is discussed, drawing on direct studies of AT and other relevant modern scientific literature.
Volume 9 (2020): Issue 3 (Aug 2020): Special Issue: “Re-Education”
The Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program Model: A Proposed Illustrative Supplement to Help Move the Needle on Youth Physical Activity
Collin A. Webster, Judith E. Rink, Russell L. Carson, Jongho Moon, and Karen Lux Gaudreault
Birthed over a decade ago and built on a solid foundation of conceptual and empirical work in public health, the comprehensive school physical activity program (CSPAP) model set the stage for a new and exciting chapter of physical activity promotion through schools. On the academic front, there has been much enthusiasm around the potential of CSPAPs to positively affect youth physical activity behaviors and trajectories. However, program uptake in schools has yet to take hold. This article examines the CSPAP model and proposes an illustrative supplement to enhance communication about its application. The authors begin by charting the model’s challenging contextual landscape and then highlight the model’s early successes in spite of such challenges. Subsequently, they turn their attention to limitations in the way the model is presented, which appear to undermine CSPAP advocacy, and focus on improving the messaging about CSPAPs as an immediate step toward increased implementation.
The Shared Criticisms of Periodization Models and Behavior-Change Theories for Exercise: An Opportunity for Collaborative Advancement?
Kelley Strohacker and Cory T. Beaumont
Engaging in regular exercise is a common strategy to meet physical activity guidelines. It is generally accepted that exercise programs and interventions that are theory driven and provide clear exercise prescriptions elicit greater improvements than ones that are and do not. Several researchers have further surmised that the application of periodization may be useful for insufficiently active and at-risk populations. Although periodization is most commonly used to elicit peak performance in athletes, the goal of manipulating human movement to elicit favorable health and fitness adaptations is shared by interventionists applying behavior-change theories. However, the commonly applied theories and concept of periodization have received criticisms alluding to their potential obsolescence. The purpose of this review was to synthesize these criticisms and present current opinions in intervention development, with the goal of promoting cross talk and collaboration between experts in both disciplines to address potential shortcomings and stimulate innovation in exercise-program design.
Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Implementation of a Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program: A Review
Shannon C. Mulhearn, Pamela Hodges Kulinna, and Collin Webster
The Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program (CSPAP) is a whole-school model for increasing opportunities throughout the school day for access to physical activity (PA). Opportunities for PA during the school day are an important part of the field of kinesiology and critical to individuals’ developing patterns of lifetime PA. Guided by Guskey’s theory of teacher change, this scoping literature review summarizes findings from 29 studies that collected data concerning the perceptions of stakeholders in a CSPAP. Teachers’ lifelong learning process is the focus, including K-12 classroom and physical education teachers and students, as well as current preservice classroom and physical education teacher education students and education faculty at teacher-preparation institutions. Positive perceptions of CSPAP programs were reported by all stakeholder groups. Although studies often include barriers to implementation, the stakeholders generally shared strategies to overcoming these and focused on benefits to the school setting that the researchers explained in their discussions.
What Triplett Didn’t Find and What Lewin Never Said First
Jeffrey J. Martin
The purpose of this brief commentary is to correct some misinformation that appears in many sport psychology writings. As the title of this paper indicates, the author discusses two historical giants in social psychology, Norman Triplett and Kurt Lewin, who are often cited in sport psychology publications. The problem with the typical commentary on these two social scientists and the events they are linked to is that the discussions of them are typically inaccurate, as Strube, Stroebe, and Bedeian indicate and the author next elaborates on.