How to do AEQ Exercises
AEQ exercises (and AEQ Education in general) stimulates the brain and sensory motor system to change the muscular system by changing the central nervous system. As sensory and motor control improves, muscles release tension, sensory motor amnesia is eliminated, and pain goes away.
1. Your primary task in doing AEQ exercises is to become aware of the internal sensations of your body. There is no goal with movement exploration other than to improve awareness of what it feels like to be in your body, to move it and to regain control over areas that are stuck in a state of sensory motor amnesia.
2. Wear loose, comfortable clothing that is easy to move in.
3. Make sure you have a quiet place in witch to do your movements, as any distraction—be it music, the cat, or the TV—can interfere with your concentration. Here is a case where the ability to multitask is a liability.
4. It is best to do your movements on a rug or yoga mat in order to have a firm support for your body. If you are infirm or incapable of getting down on the floor, you can do your movements in the bed. However, the results will probably not be as good as if you are were to do them on the floor.
5. Move slowly, gently, and with awareness. Don’t attack the movements as though they were something to be gotten out of the way of exercises as you know them from the gym. They are movement explorations that should be pleasurable, not taxing.
6. These exercises should not be painful! If you experience some mild pain when contracting a muscle, simply contract that muscles only as far and as much as is comfortable. Go ‘’up to the edge’’ of that discomfort, and relax out of it. There’s no sense in trying to move through pain. If a muscle is sore when you’re moving, and that soreness doesn’t subside after a couple of days of doing the movements, then stop. Forcing movement can not only cause injury, but can also distract the brain from sensory awareness and feedback.
7. Remember to completely relax after each repetition. Otherwise, you’ll still retain a small amount of muscle tension. Try not to be ready and primed for the next repetition. When you completely relax, you’re giving your brain the opportunity to absorb both the sensory feedback from the muscles, and the sensation of relaxation.
8. A very small percentage of people may become a little bit sore for about twenty four hours after beginning these movements. The soreness should go away after a day or so. This can occur because you’re ‘’walking up’’ muscles that have been contracted for a long time. A muscle that has been contracted or in spasm for a long time will often be sore once it is relaxed.
9. Sensory motor amnesia often shows up as jerky, shaky movements, or areas of movements that just aren’t as smooth as you’d like them to be (similar to a skip in a record). When you sense that shaky movement or anything in that range of motion that doesn’t feel under your control, slow down. Go back, re-contract that tight muscle slightly, then slowly release out of it and you see if you can make the movement smooth. It’s always best to do what your brain already knows how to do (which is to hold the muscle tightly), and then slowly and gently ‘’nudge’’ the muscle into its new range.
10. Quality of movement is important. Try to perform the movements slowly and smoothly.
11. Be consistent with your practice. You will get longer-lasting results if you remember that all learning, whether in sports, dance, or chess, requires persistence.
12. Be patient with yourself, and maintain a positive attitude. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It can sometimes take several weeks for the brain to integrate the changes you create by doing Somatic Exercises. Take your time and intelligently integrate your new found awareness slowly.
13. People often like to find a ‘’trick’’ to release one joint or muscle—their tight hip, for instance. But before you jump ahead to a movement intended to relax that tight hip, don’t forget to first do some basic movements to relax the back, front, and waist muscles. Then go on and target that hip. Addressing postural abnormalities or recurring trouble spots in the one part of the body works best when you address SMA in the entire body. Just as a ballet dancer begins her routine with gentle demi-piles before going into leaps and turns, so should you remember to pay attention to the basics first.
14. Remember that these movements are gentle pandiculations meant to reawaken the cortex to sense and move the muscles with more control. I frequently ask my clients to imagine that they’re moving as if they are just waking up in the morning—almost as if they were yawning.
Aleš Ernst, teacher of the AEQ method Level 5