History and Founder
To peer into the history of Hanna Somatic Education® is to encounter the bright star of its founder, Thomas Hanna. An original philosopher/teacher, Hanna developed a theory of somatology and of the field he named Somatics. As the founding editor of Somatics: Magazine-Joural of the Bodily Arts and Sciences, he saw the evolutionary/revolutionary import of somatic understanding and left a dazzling trail of insights into its many applications. His writings are a massive treasure to be discovered and rediscovered by all explorers of human potential. A few of his many published works include: The End of Tyranny: An Essay on the Possibility of America; Bodies in Revolt: A Primer of Somatic Thinking; The Body of Life: Creating New Pathways for Sensory Awareness and Fluid Movement; Somatics: Reawakening the Mind’s Control of Movement, Flexibility and Health and Letters to Fred- a novel.
In the early 1970’s, Hanna, then Chairman of Philosophy at the University of Florida, was introduced to the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli physicist and body educator. Meeting Feldenkrais and watching him work had a great impact on Hanna as the Feldenkrais Method was compatible with Hanna’s somatic philosophy. In 1975 Hanna arranged the first Feldenkrais training program in the United States as director of the Humanistic Psychology Institute (now the Saybrook Institute). He continued his study with Feldenkrais for several years and practiced at the Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training, an institutute which he and Eleanor Criswell Hanna founded in 1975. During the time that he worked somatically with thousands of clients he evolved the work in some highly effective ways, in part, by adding his understanding of the rules of biofeedback. Hanna observed characteristic postural difficulties in people of all ages and in all walks of life. He also noticed that certain procedures were extremely effective in helping clients regain control of muscles that were holding them in these postures and restricting their movements. These processes became known as Hanna Somatic Education®.
In 1990 Hanna offered his first training program in Hanna Somatic Education®. His intense dedication to teaching throughout his life was evidenced and illuminated as he transmitted the essence of his work to a group of 38 students. During five weeks of intensive training he laid the foundation of the work and claimed to have held nothing back. Intending to spend the remainder of the coursework refining the fundamentals so eloquently presented, the training took a sharp turn with the sudden departure of Thomas Hanna in a fatal car crash on July 29th, 1990.
For the past twenty years the work has continued thanks to the clarity with which Hanna organized and imparted his mastery. Thanks also to the dedication of Eleanor Criswell Hanna, Ed.D, director of the Novato Institute, along with associates from the 1990 course, many have been trained in the full range of techniques and theory comprising Hanna Somatic Education®.