Somatic Unwinding/Terra Cotta Studio

Somatic Unwinding/Terra Cotta Studio



“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Victor Frankel

The Brain: Feeling Can Interfere with Perception.

The older part of our brain (Limbic System/LS) mediates our reactions and actions for self-preservation. The more recent
Pre-frontal Cortex (PFC) manages higher-level functions: being curious, making distinctions, filtering information, choosing, and mobilizing intention. When you are about to unwittingly step on a rattlesnake, your LS prevents your foot from landing before your PFC can even recognize and sort the information. Initiating an intended action can take as much as ½ - 3/4 second. Reactions governed by survival mechanisms take only ⅛ second to galvanize.

Habits are developed from these Limbic System responses to basic threats or lack of safety. These are necessary compensations to ensure our survival and thus become patterned with little reinforcement. Our conditioned responses arise faster that we can interrupt them.

Read more here:
We love seeing how our Training Academy students are incorporating the method into their lives & work with others. Here's the latest from Karen Clay/Somatic Unwinding/Terra Cotta Studio!
Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® weekly classes in Seattle & Bellevue start next week! Open to all; no experience necessary. Register now for discounts & to ensure your spot!
Karen is a wonderful teacher of this process. Carol Ladas-Gaskin
Karen is the best! Thank you for working with me thru the process of Structural Integration. It was an amazing experience for me due to your incredible knowledge of anatomy and physiology as well as your ability to connect emotionally and spiritually. I enjoyed our time together and will continue to dedicate my attention to the improvements that you helped me accomplish in my posture and overall well being.
Provides unique avenues for becoming aware of & more fully integrated with one's body. Experienced, informed & attentive instruction provided constructively. An enrolling & re-invigorating discipline well worth pursuing

Somatic awareness movement classes, private instruction and Structural Integration manual therapy Movement is the teacher, sensation is the messenger.

Classes include simple, easy movement lessons that introduce you to the province of sensory-motor learning. These self care techniques work directly with the nervous system to facilitate the unwinding of habitual tension patterns of movement and posture. Private sessions include hands-on Structural Integration Bodywork and movement lessons to improve posture and function. Somatic Education: Habit

Operating as usual


There are only Two ways to live your life.
One is that nothing is a miracle.
The other is that everything is a miracle.

Photos from Somatic Unwinding/Terra Cotta Studio's post 01/25/2020

With the idea of giving me plenty of room to grow well into my 70's as a Manual Therapist and Somatic Educator, I am enrolled a four-year certification training in The Feldenkrais Method (FM) as of October 2018.
The FM is the branch of the healing arts that addresses how our functions affect our posture, attitudes and lives using movement education as a means to change unconscious habits into better choices.
This training is a once-in-a-century opportunity to study with some of the very best, all of whom studied directly with the master, Moshe Feldenkrais. The work lands in a richly fertilized layer of loam inside me & I expect it to take root & really grow me as a human being and as a practitioner of the Healing Arts.

A b o u t t h e T r a i n i n g
Four years, 2018-2022, 35+ weeks/year
Live 2-week segments, 4 times/year, in Seattle
100 hours Functional Integration practicum
100 hours ATM practicum
Competency-based learning environment
On-line meetings every other week with mentoring group
Monthly classes with Educational Director
Ongoing self-assessment
In-depth Study of Feldenkrais’ Amherst Trainings
Weekly homework
Marketing and Business training
Brain and Neuroscience training

upcoming workshops 09/27/2015

Breath practices are as ancient as the oldest spiritual traditions. They create a context for deep participation with one’s inner world while also connecting to a larger sphere that is universal. Breath is the interface between seeming opposites; breath practices are the means to fluid transition between organism & environment, inside & outside, stillness & movement, voluntary & involuntary, receiving & giving, being & doing, even death to life.

Breath is the most intimate form of expression. It is at the core of one’s being.
Broadening the scope, versatility and adaptability of one’s breath enhances the ability to respond freshly and appropriately to each situation, to recover quickly, and to maintain and recycle one’s vitality.

Meeting stagnant places with breath is the kindest way to open one’s defenses. New information and nourishment can be received, and something new can occur.

This is one way to describe the mystery of healing.

For information about upcoming weekend workshop in Seattle October 24-25, click here :

upcoming workshops Breathwork allows us to participate with the larger sphere of life processes and our biological origins. We are led to gently merge into the formlessness and flux that facilitates change and out of that discover the coherency of the system and its inherent ability to reorganize and heal.

Photos from Somatic Unwinding/Terra Cotta Studio's post 06/03/2015

Why Do Cats Purr?

The rhythmic sound of purring, made both on the inhale & exhale by a cat’s diaphragmatic and laryngeal muscles, happen at times of pleasure (being petted) and calm (nursing kittens) and also at times of stress (at the vet). The vibratory frequencies they create improve healing to tissue, bones and organs by creating micro-currents which stimulate, hydrate and replenish.

We humans can use sound to enter into internal territory which cannot be touched by the hand. Similar to the cat, when we make vibratory sounds and direct them into our interior we can achieve a shift to a calmer, more resonant state.

It is in this open, potentiated state that healing is maximized.

Timeline photos 05/22/2015

Fascia is the organ of shape.
Erase your bones, muscles, organs, nerves and vessels and your recognizable shape would still remain intact, because of the fascial web that creates your shape. It is a continuous, three dimensional collagen matrix which surrounds every bone, muscle, muscle fiber, organ, vessel and nerve. Fascia is the environment which informs our tissues, similar to the paint which surrounds and qualifies every fiber of a paintbrush. It is its elasticity, or lack of such, that maintains the shape of our bodies, and our posture. When strained by trauma, injury or habit this fascia toughens and holds the body in aberrant postures, ones that are taxing to the vitality and efficiency of the whole system.

Photos from Somatic Unwinding/Terra Cotta Studio's post 05/12/2015

Undulation is the universal language of the forces of life.

Water travels this way: waving back and forth, to and fro, side to side, in and out. Our bodies are mostly water, were gestated in water and are one of the expressions of evolutionary development, which began in water.

All creatures use some form of undulation as a means of locomotion. The cell expands and contracts it boundaries as it exchanges with its environment. The slug compresses and decompresses its tubular structure to inch along the ground. The tiger whips its tail side to side to stabilize the forces of its quadrupedal run. The human twists and untwists its upper body in oppositional harmony to the legs to remain balanced in walking.

Undulation is an easily maintained movement pattern, perpetuated as it is by the oscillatory properties of the connective tissue of our bodies. It is a form of renewal which balances stability and flexibility in three dimensions. It is highly regenerative for the spine, allowing spring, span, lift and integrity to return to this segmented chord. It creates fluid in our tissues by melting stiffened sliding surfaces.

Undulation allows us to reconnect to our fluid origins,
where rejuvenation can happen.

Timeline photos 08/29/2014

New Fall Class Wednesdays 7-8 pm !
Let Sensory Information tickle you out of your habitual slumber.
Movement is the teacher. Sensation is the messenger.

Fall Quarter 2014: Sept 17 – Nov 19. 10 weekly 1-hour classes
Wednesday Mornings 9:30-10:30 am
New! Wednesday Evenings: 7:00 – 8:00 pm

Tuition for either morning or evening:
Take advantage of early registration to save $25
$150 before Sept 1, 2014, $175 after
(preregistration required)

"Karen’s classes are an insightful way to learn from the inside out for anyone who has fallen prey to chronic discomfort in some part of their body. I have found Somatic Unwinding to be mentally challenging in a fun way and very relaxing; the movements one learns in class are easy to repeat at home - handouts are available. Karen is well trained in anatomy and bodywork and is an experienced, caring teacher that I cannot recommend highly enough." - JB

Timeline photos 08/18/2014

Breathing Waves: A Continuum Series
with Robert Litman
Saturdays 10 am – 1 pm: September 27, October 25, November 22

The struggle of existence is always expressed in our breathing.

Protective defenses that served us in a time of need now are programmed into habitual patterns that limit our capacity for cellular nourishment and open exchange. Continuum’s exploration into new ways of moving and sensing has the capacity to guide us through self-discovery into a place where personal identity becomes “fluid” again. The frequencies of sound displace boundaries of time, place, and condition. A breath becomes, not an act of survival, but a participation in the concert of existence; the timeless undulation of inhale and exhale from cells to tides. This is the dance of life/death/ and the eternal return.
We are not “other’. We are not elsewhere.

What you discover in this workshop can become on-going wisdom of self-care and pleasure.

“When immersed in the holy spirit of water, we become truly unified.”- Emilie Conrad

Series Tuition: $135 before September 2, $175 after
Single class drop in: $65 (priority given to series registrations)
Location: Terra Cotta Studio, 1600 S Main St, Seattle, 98144
Registration: Karen Clay, 206.329.7046, or mailto:[email protected]
Questions: Robert: 206.567.4029, or [email protected]

Robert taught with Emilie Conrad for over 18 years and is committed to furthering Emilie’s visionary perspective, “Continuum is about the artistry of human existence…an inquiry into creative flourishing.” He is also certified to teach the Buteyko Breathing Technique and Duggan/French Approach to Somatic Pattern Recognition.

Timeline photos 08/12/2014

The web of function and structure

The movement solutions that we discover which allow us to roll over, sit, crawl, stand and walk become in every respect expressive of our uniqueness. These choices are repeated and refined until they become preferences like our signature, automatically replicable without thought. These patterned responses inform how we sit still at school, kick a ball, slide behind the steering wheel of a car, look into a computer screen. As we mature, these movement patterns become solidified not only into our nervous system but also into our tissues, which then limit our ability to innovate new choices outside our repertoire. We no longer reach behind to unhook our strap, we sleep only on one side, we heave ourselves out of a chair, we no longer kneel on the floor. As our connective tissue becomes patterned by the repetition of a narrow range of choices, our shape solidifies into what we call posture. How I stand becomes immediately identifiable as me, another kind of defining signature. At this point in order to undo the strains of my postural distortions, my tissue must be manipulated in order to free the sliding surfaces of my total-body connective tissue matrix. What began as a choice became a movement pattern and then a tissue pattern, then the shape of my posture.

Timeline photos 07/13/2014

what is structural integration?

Structural Integration is the name that Ida Rolf PhD gave to her system of bodywork designed to align the structures of the body with gravity. Her approach, commonly called “Rolfing,” focuses on manipulating the fascial system of the body. Fascia is the organ of shape. It is a continuous, three dimensional collagen matrix which surrounds every bone, muscle, muscle fiber, organ, vessel and nerve. Fascia is the environment which informs our tissues, similar to the paint which surrounds and qualifies every fiber of a paintbrush. It is its elasticity, or lack of such, that maintains the shape of our bodies, and our posture. When strained by trauma, injury or habit this fascia toughens and holds the body in aberrant postures, ones that are taxing to the vitality and efficiency of the whole system. Dr. Rolf’s “recipe” is a ten session series of bodywork that unwraps the layers of the body to dismantle postural distortions and then aligns the body’s segments to interact with each other in balanced harmony.

Ida Rolf was the originator of Structural Integration. Several of her graduates advanced her work and added to or altered some aspects of it, calling their work by these names: Hellerwork, Kinesis Myofascial Integration (KMI), Soma, Zentherapy® and others. All of these types of bodywork apply a systematic approach to aligning structure, utilize a ten session protocol similar to the original one devised by Dr. Rolf, and fall under the category of Structural

Timeline photos 06/16/2014

Function-vs-Structure: What is Somatic Education?

Somatics focuses on the idea that

f u n c t i o n. c r e a t e s. f o r m.

It is the HOW of our existence that shapes and determines the WHAT

How we function determines our postural shape, just like whether we swim, stand, reach or fly with our "fore leg" determines the arrangement of that limb. Do we type with a forward head all day long? If so, this will determine our shape. Do we cradle a phone to our ear? This will determine the slope of our shoulder girdle. Do we stand throwing our weight on one leg? This will determine the slant of our pelvis.

Somatic Education gives us the opportunity to enter into our felt sense, where the "how" gets determined. The choices that get made and then patterned into our nervous system (where they seem "automatic") can be experienced and changed at this level. It is via the medium of movement that we get to experience the power of choice-making at its most basic level.
How am I initiating this?
How can it be begun differently?
How can it be done with more ease?
How do I want to feel this differently?

Photos from Somatic Unwinding/Terra Cotta Studio's post 06/05/2014

Did You Know?
Hair behaves just like we do in relationship to the ground!

A hair follicle that leaves the skull at an angle will wave back & forth, trying to regain equilibrium in center. That's what curly hair is!

And just like the hair shaft, if our feet/ankles get off to a crooked start in relationship to the ground, the rest of our structure will also "wave back & forth" making the jigs and jags of inefficient posture.

Timeline photos 03/04/2014

SOMA: the body perceived from within.
A first person perspective.
You as a subjective sensory motor event and
a self-regulating process.
Your brain and body are as wedded as the surfer is to the wave.

Timeline photos 03/04/2014

Somatic Education:
Using subtle movement exercises to create sensory information that can override the signals of automatic habitual response
and create the freedom
to make new and better habits.

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