Let me start this with a disclaimer: it is impossible to convey in words all that we experienced yesterday afternoon in Veronica’s latest Romiley Awareness through Movement Workshop.
By 4 pm, in the light filled room above the Life cafe, there was a sense of transformation and delight. As we thanked Veronica, one participant said: I’ve had a lovely time, just a lovely time.
And that’s the thing. It’s a joyful experience. It can help us move with ease. And it’s also a brilliant way to have a lovely time.
Veronica guided us through three ‘lessons’. These lessons are more experiments in movement than lessons. It’s just that you need an expert guide to talk you through them, so maybe that’s why the term lessons is used. Still these are experiments in movement.
But please don’t let that put you off! If the idea of experiments in movement conjures up pictures of tying your body in knots, then I need to paint a more accurate picture of one of Veronica’s workshops.
Firstly, the sessions are very, very gentle. Veronica will guide you with her calm soothing voice: gentle as you can, small as you can, with as little effort as you can. If you have an idea of how much you can make that move, then just do 10% of that. Slowly. Gently. Just a little. And notice. Notice how that feels. Notice how your body moves. Gently.
Second: most of the time the sessions are carried out with you on the floor on your back. We lie with legs long. We bring our legs, so that feet are standing, knees bent. We explore the moves that Veronica describes. We rest. We lie long. We rest. Each pause an opportunity for our system, all of our system, to absorb what we have learned.
Thirdly: Moshe Feldenkrais developed his ‘Method’ by observing how children move and how children learn. And the good news is that they learn by just playing with movements. The more a baby or toddler is willing to have a go,the quicker he or she learns to sit, walk or feed themselves. Without judgement, this learning is fun. So our workshop is in part a replication of that – giving moves a try, seeing how it feels, without judgement. Extending our range of movement, our ideas of ourselves, without judgement. That’s a big part of how these workshops achieve the beneficial effects that they do. There’s play. There’s no judgement, just becoming aware of potential.
On Friday afternoon we had a brief introduction to anatomy. A printed sheet showing the human skeleton. A few minutes only. Mention of the 4 curves of the spine. Attention paid to the spine’s potential for strength and flexibility. Once again Veronica mentioned the importance of the rib cage. In a previous workshop we had learned that it can be the case that it is stiffness in the rib cage which restricts movement, then the neck and lower spine have to compensate, leading to pain in those areas. Allowing more movement in the ribs can be an effective way of reducing pain in the neck and lumbar region.
Our three experimental sessions in this workshop allowed each of us to become aware of the movement in our rib cage and to extend this by doing small movements. None of these were difficult. They were sequenced together perfectly, so that there was a tiny increase in awareness. Each of these tiny shifts builds up to light bulb moments, when ping, suddenly you are laughing, or smiling at a realisation of what this body can do, how wonderfully the connections work.
At it’s simplest, the spine and the body has three essential movements – bending forward/backwards, bending sideways (lateral movement) and turning or rotations. This formed the structure for the three ‘lessons’, one on each.
The first experiment explored flexing. We made tiny movements of our feet. And then used our hands to support out head. All supported by gravity. So those of us with neck injuries were able to do the moves with ease. There’s a joy in that. Then there’s an even greater sense of joy, when there’s the awareness that these small moves have somehow freed up the pelvis, so that is moving more easily. Suddenly everything is better connected. There is real wonder here.
Many will be aware of breathing’s key role in all movement. Veronica gently incorporated using the softening of the rib cage on the exhalation as a way of allowing greater flexing, easier flexing of the spine.
There followed an interesting few sentences about one of Moshe Feldenkrais’ early books (from 1949?), monkey behaviour and Freud. A I was in rest mode at the time, I hesitate to write more of that here. However my ears pricked up, another fascinating thought to come back to. Freeing up the flexors helps us to move more freely in the world and it has a profound emotional effect of how we stand in the world.
The effect of this was evident when we walked around the room after experimental moves part 1. Each of us noticed that we were more balanced. We were more grounded. We felt taller. Our posture and breathing alert and relaxed.
In the short rest breaks, each participant had quiet moments to absorb the experience. There were also moments when we shared that sense of wonder and joy as it affected each of us.
By 4 pm, a sense of transformation. As we thank Veronica, one participant said: I’ve had a lovely time, just a lovely time.
And that’s the thing. It’s a joyful experience. Yes, it can be functional. It can help us move with ease. And, this is why many of us keep returning, it’s also a brilliant way to have a lovely time.
If you would like to have a lovely time, why not join us on Friday 26th June for our next workshop. Bookings now being taken.