This case study, “how somatics saved me from hip surgery,” was written by Mara Blackburn.

“I’ve been doing sport since I could walk (and I’ve spent half my life teaching it): dancing, surfing, swimming, yoga, aqua aerobics. But going hard hammered my body – it left with me arthritis and chronic hip pain.

It started when I was 38 – I lifted my daughter out of the cot and my back went into spasm. My life changed for good. One the top hip surgeons in the country told me it was among the worst cases of arthritis he’d seen in a 40-year-old – he said I was ‘riddled’ with arthritis and ‘battered’ and that surgery was my only option. I blame my twin sister: pelvis problems often start in the womb for identical twins, and giving birth to my own child didn’t help.

Goodbye, Fit, Amazing (Young) Me; hello tired, worn out old wreck.

I cried. I read articles. I sought a second, and third, opinion, from other surgeons. They all conflicted, but they agreed on one thing: arthritis is a grey area and the results of surgery (for pain relief) are inconclusive. I tried everything: physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture and diet. I’m an Ayurvedic massage therapist and yoga teacher; none of that helped.

Discovering somatics

Then it happened: I discovered somatics, by accident, at a yoga camp. Wow, it was subtle. Small, gentle movements in a very relaxed state. It was like a cross between self massage, movement therapy and meditation – I was intrigued.

During the class I became very aware of the discomfort in my hips; I had to work through the pain (it wasn’t instant relief). But after the class I realised the pain had eased off; it was a massive difference.

After years of mental torture, pent-up emotional energy, I felt a release…I cried…again.

Not a quick fix

Somatics is not a magic pill. It’s a process; it’s something you need to do on a regular basis, but it works because you are in charge. You teach your brain to become responsive to the muscles via the nervous system. It’s slow, focused and gentle and so deeply relaxing it makes you yawn, which helps you let go (which is the key).

This is self healing – I’ve finally found something that alleviates my hip pain (sometimes the pain vanishes completely, sometimes it just eases) and the best thing about it is that I’m in control.

Thank you, Thomas Hanna and Moshe Feldenkrais (the two neuro physiologists who developed the first somatics training courses in the 1970s). Who’d have thought neuroscience would be the key to easing my pain.


The mind is our most powerful tool, we just have to learn how to use it. Somatics is self-healing through awareness; it changed my life. I believe everyone should be able to relieve their own pain. We all have the tools within us to heal ourselves – we just to learn how to use them.”

Find a somatics class, or read more about somatics.