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Power from the Pelvis. A new map. A new awareness. More power and ease.

There’s something mysterious and wonderful about a Feldenkrais workshop. No doubt the person who leads has a better idea of how the outcomes are arrived at. For those receiving the lessons, the guidance can lead to such a transformative experience that there’s a sense of wonder along with the learning.

Today’s workshop would be a perfect illustration of such alchemy at work. Gentle guidance to explore moves, enhancing awareness of connections, sequenced in such a way that, at the end, the gains seem greater than the sum of the parts.

This afternoon: part one.

This lesson, on our blankets on the floor, began with each of us just noticing our body resting on our back. From just noticing, we moved a little and noticed some more. Part of the amazement comes with what is noticed when very small movements are made, perhaps in a novel way. Try it now. Lie on you back, legs long. Scan your body and notice sensations, where there’s ease, where things differ. Then bend the legs and allow the feet to stand. Now allow the pelvis to lift and gently return to rest. Notice where the movement originates, which parts of the body engage. Repeat. Slowly. Between each move, pause and breathe. Repeat several times.

During the afternoon we played with this movement and the connections between the movement of the pelvis and movements elsewhere. With legs long, press the left heel into the floor, gently. Then release. And repeat. Noticing. Right heel: press into the floor. Release. Each movement repeated several times. Always pausing between. Paying attention and noticing.  We followed this by pressing the shoulder blades into the floor in the same position. First pressing the left shoulder blade, noticing, and then the right shoulder blade.

Shoulders and heels were then connected through a sequence of moves. Extending left leg, turning head to the right. Turning left leg, head right, eyes left. Synchronising the moves.

Next: rolling onto the front and a similar chain of movements. Noticing how different this can feel, how different parts of the body engage and move. Allowing expansion of chest and back.

After this first 40 minute lesson, we stand, notice, at a gentle pace walk around the room. What’s changed? For some they feel lighter, others more centred. One participant notices that she is walking making better contact between her feet and the ground.

At the end of lesson one we have experienced a new awareness of all the connections from the body’s periphery through the abdomen and to the pelvis. All the movements we’ve experienced originate there, in the pelvis. This simple awareness enables a relaxed engagement of the pelvis in a way that is new to some of us.

In lesson two we expanded this. While I don’t know what the teaching notes say, I write from my experience. This time working on our sides, through a sequence of moves. Starting with legs bent, moving the top arm from a position draped along our side, small move to bend the elbow. Return. Repeat. Then increasing the extent of the move to allow the hand to rest on the floor behind. Then came the mind expanding, neural network re-wiring, new way of doing things. For me at least. We could bring the arm to its starting position without using the arm, but by an engagement of the pelvis. By pushing the belly out as the shoulders returned to position, the arm moved. Doing this movement repeatedly and with awareness, brought a real sense of the golden ball which we’d envisaged in previous workshops. However this time, for me, the sense was of something more like a beach ball. That kind of size and also that kind of movement, soft, buoyant, rolling, gentle. I’d never experienced the golden ball like this. My mental map of myself changed, there and then. And for the rest of the workshop, this buoyant, rolling ball allowed new ease in some of the movements we were guided through.

Some of the other moves in lesson 2 involved arms out stretched, moving them around the body describing a circle on the floor, with pelvis as centre. In making these moves, the body can feel exhilaration in the newly expanded functioning.

Lesson 3 synthesised the two previous lessons. On the back with right leg bent and foot standing, lift left side of pelvis a little off the floor. Repeat. And then explore this movement by doing it differently. (Tilt by pressure on foot alone. Tilt by rolling other side of pelvis. Tilt by imagining a string pulling knee down toward opposite foot. Then tilt with a combination of those ideas.) Then repeat on the other side. Then connecting the aspects of movements already explored and reinforcing the links between heels, knees, hips, pelvic muscles, shoulders, arms, head, and eyes.

New pathways. Maybe better pathways. That’s always the outcome of Awareness Through Movement afternoons. Where this one felt so profound, was that each of us felt the power of the pelvis. And since so much movement, even our breathing and digestion is related to this, our new awareness has enabled each of us to take this sense of power and ease away with us.

The pelvis is where some of the biggest muscles in our body are. Lack of awareness of how they connect results in weaker movement or compensating over-reliance with all the potential for strain which that can bring. Without a new mental map, there’s no way to move differently. Other exercises can strengthen what you know is there. The Feldenkrais Method is the only system that I have experienced that can change the mental map. A new map. New movement. More ease and power. Not bad for an afternoon spent relaxing in awareness.

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Friday 1st December

I’m now taking bookings for our December workshop.
  Friday 1st December at The Life Centre
 Our theme: Power is from the Pelvis.
Veronica writes:

“Power is from the pelvis” is about the pelvis being the centre of movement and the site of some of the biggest muscles in the body.

If you are able to use this part of yourself effectively, you are able to do powerful movements.
Moshe Feldenkrais was a judo black belt and had experience of using this powerful centre in his judo practice and of teaching others to move this way too.
To book your place, usual process: let me know by email and then send a cheque for £30 made payable to V.Rock.

Looking forward…

We have planned two more Feldenkrais Fridays for this autumn.

Themes requested by participants at our most recent workshop.

On 6th October our theme will be Jaws, Neck, Shoulders.

On 1st December : Power is from your pelvis.

Same time, same place.

Life Centre, Romiley on Friday afternoon 12-45 for 13-00hrs start.

Join us for 3 hours of gentle experimentation with movement.

Many participants comment on their improved sense of being afterwards. It is not uncommon for people to describe feelings of delight and joy as well as greater ease of movement.

 

 

Breathing lessons: how to breathe with ease.

Breathing Lessons.

Today at the Life Centre in Romiley we had breathing lessons.

Feldenkrais lessons, breathing lessons.

And yet Feldenkrais breathing lessons are not lessons in the sense of teaching you how to breathe. Or even how to breathe better. They are not presenting a model of right breathing or wrong breathing. So this afternoon’s workshop: 3 lessons, three breathing lessons. Not teaching you how to breathe correctly. So what’s that about?

It’s about the wondrous joy of the Feldenkrais Method. It’s about a gentle exploration of moves. Of moves you make every day. Done with a twist. Or moves you rarely make, or rarely make with awareness. Moves you make and hardly ever pay any attention to. It’s about making very small movements and being guided to pay attention to aspects of movements. Which, somehow, sometimes seemingly miraculously, liberates from old patterns, introduces new patterns, softens stuckness, transforms movement into flow. It is a synergy of mind body movement using awareness, healing power of attention and extended neural networks.

In each of today’s lessons we were guided to pay attention to a widening, lengthening zone of attention. We might have started just noticing our breath as it moves through our chests. Is it the body breathing the breath or the breath breathing the body? No matter. Breathing body mind, movement ripples and inhalation flows to exhalation. Our attention noticing this flow.

Then the serious attention work begins. None of the moves made are strenuous physically. Mostly we are on the floor, legs long or feet standing, though in the second half of the afternoon we are resting on our side, moving gently and noticing. Not physically strenuous. But requiring attention which can make the activities demanding. The brain work and the attention to body movement can be tiring. The nervous system and neural network is connecting and attending in novel ways and that focus uses brain power and energy. Rests during lessons allow these re-wires to sink in.

After the first short lesson participants commented about the changes in their perception, in the way they felt in their body and the way they moved and held themselves in space, an increase sense of being grounded. Walking lighter, feeling taller. Shoulders softer. Relaxed. Energised. Something transformed. Something learned. Not told to do or be in a particular way. Just given the opportunity to pay attention to the movements of the breathing body. Giving the body new experiences, new choices and leading to the liberation of new more relaxed ways of being, breathing, moving.

If you’d like to get a flavour of this approach, you really have to taste it. You really have to be there and experience it for yourself. However, here’s some of what I recall about the moves we made that, over the afternoon, allowed a release from constriction, from any tightness and to a transformative sense of breathing into your being, breathing into your own space, sensing the space around as somehow more generous, feeling better, more connected. All arrived at in a gentle, non-prescriptive way. Take away what you can of this improved connectivity and ease and flow.

First standing, breathing. Breath. Some shifts courtesy of visualising. (Anatomical inaccuracy warning) visualise breathing through left side.So left side expands with inbreathe and contracts with out breath. Repeat with left arm raised, hand in the air. Repeat on right side.

Then lie on blanket on the floor. Repeat. Now contact with floor offers more information. So noticing. Guided by Veronica we notice how the parts of the body move as we breath in and out. We slowly, gently and with small movements, focus on the expansion and contraction of one part of our rib cage, then another part. Hands stretched from clavicle to back of neck. Breathing into upper chest. Releasing out breath. Feeling any movement. Slowly gently moving and breathing with hands in different positions. Noting movements then of different parts of torso as breathing happens.

After this we are guided to breath in particular ways. Again this is done lying on our backs, with feet standing, knees bent, sometimes with one leg long, sometimes the other.Try breathing with the inhale taking place and allowing an expansion of the upper chest. A number of times. Rest relax. Then try breathing so that with an exhale the chest expands. Just notice. Do this for a few gentle repetitions before breathing and allowing lower torso in pelvic area to expand with in-breath. Pause. Try with pelvic area contracting with in-breath. We are guided to explore combinations of movements. Hands on side of rib cage. Allow touch to develop awareness. As breathing happens can you allow the space between the ribs to expand? Those spaces, the intercostal muscles. By just paying attention and breathing…and maybe not really knowing quite how it’s working, slowly over the course of the session, these areas relax, expand, offer new opportunities. The process of relaxed expansion into a real sense of your own being moves our breathing body mind into new, perhaps better, possibilities.

After this gentle exploration we move outwards with the connections between breathe and body. Exploring synchronising movements of the pelvis with movements of the chest. A slight lift of the pelvis. A slight lift on the left, relax down. A slight lift on the right, relax down. Sensing the rocking of the golden ball (see notes on previous workshop). Then going through the carefully co-ordinated chain we add in a slight roll of the head. With head slightly to left. Repeat moves and breathing pattern a few times. relax. Head to right and repeat and notice. Relax.

In subsequent lessons we move through a chain of instructions that expand our awareness and take our connections through out torso, to our arms and legs.

For example, resting on our sides with our knees bent, we are guided through a chain of movements of gentle in breaths taken as we move from the hip so the knee slides away. Gentle out breath and bring the knee back. Stretch out the top leg and breath in and roll slightly forwards, out and slightly back. Noticing what is happening as the rib cage gently expands and relaxes.

Our last lesson involves lengthening and also some gentle twisting. Particularly helpful for cross lateral movements and release of tension.

It began with the standing breathing into right side then left side exercise above. This was developed on the blanket. On the back visualising a breath expanding into the body, the length of the body, in at the feet unto the head. Feeling the whole side expand with an in breath and relax with the out breath. Experimenting, exploring.

Then we move onto our sides. On side, arm long (extended beyond head but resting on the floor), top leg long, breathe in. Expand with the breathing in: feel breath move through length of body. There were many little tweeks to the instructions. I recall, on left side with left arm long and right leg long. Right arm bent and flat of palm in front supporting. Synchronising breathing with an expansion and contraction. Then adding in a rolling forward with in breath and back in line with out. Roll back with in-breath and then return to line with out breath. Many tiny shifts in pattern of movement. Leading to a move with also right arm long and the rolling breathing movement, first from midline forward and back to midline. Then backwards roll synched with in breath and rolling back to midline. Noticing where there’s movement, in the ribs or back or pelvis. Lengthening and twisting in this gentle exploratory way allows and enables, not just a shift in how I inhabit my body and connect to the space around me, but also seems to be a way to let the body to experience a real sense of open spacious awareness.

Each of the 9 participants expressed something of their sense of changes in their experience of moving, their comments accompanied by a kind of delight, a joy in movement, a sense of oneness and connection. If you’d like to experience this for yourself, there will be a workshop you can join in the autumn.

Dates for September and beyond to follow.

In the meantime, please get in touch with ideas about themes for our future series of workshops at The Life Centre, Romiley.

How was it for you?

This is what Sarah wrote:

 

It was a lovely afternoon. The time spent rotating using the eyes had a lasting effect for me. When I got to my Pilates Class on Tuesday, I found that, during the warm-up ,  and before we had done any stretches, that I could turn ( and see) further that I usually can at the start of the class.

Thanks again for organizing it!

How was it for you?

Breathing into Your Own Space

Perhaps you sometimes notice that you contract. Perhaps there can be some habitual tightness. It’s a fortunate person who moves through life without some tightness and contraction. And when it becomes habitual, it is possible that we don’t even notice. It can become that it feels as if that’s just how it is.

An Awareness Through Movement afternoon allows each of us to become aware of our experience in a gentle and relaxing way. Through gentle awareness we experience movement differently and allow the possibility of change.

In this workshop we will be exploring the movements involved in breathing. There will be three lessons with a short 10-20 minute break between each lesson. We will be bringing our attention to our whole body.

These lessons seem to bring a profound shift in our sense of our bodies in space. How they do this feels rather mysterious. For those who would like to experience the mystery, there’s a chance to join us on Friday 9th June at The Life Centre, Romiley.  See what Awareness Through Movement can do for you.

A little taste of freedom?

On Feldenkrais Fridays at the Life Centre in Romiley, we’ve come to enjoy moving with more freedom and experiencing delight in movement. Our recent workshop – Freeing your shoulders and neck – was no exception.

As usual there were three lessons. As usual, there was the delight of being in a pleasant space with a gentle, expert teacher and guide. As usual, there was revelation, expansion  and deep, deep restoration.

The three lessons:

on the back working with the pelvic clock and the golden ball, with movements of head and eyes.

on the back, supporting the head and moving head and eyes and shoulders

on the side, knees bent, arms in front, sliding the arms and chaining in movements of the shoulder.

In the beginning, a very simple guide for bringing awareness to the region of the pelvis from which much movement derives. It can be helpful to visualise a golden ball in the area of the pelvis (similar to the idea of Tan Tien) and be aware that its movement connects it to every cell in your body.

Lie on the floor, knees bent, so minimal muscle activity required for support. Place hands flat on the pelvis forming a diamond shape, so that the tip of your thumbs touches the navel, and the fingertips rest on the pubic bone. Bring awareness to this area, notice breathing. Breathing in and out through the golden ball in this way can help focus attention. The rest of the moves made this afternoon can often be felt as starting here. Movements of the head can be easier when there’s an awareness of the part played by the golden ball as it rolls around in response to impulses for movement.

Take the first lesson as an example. This was a development of Moshe Feldenkrais’ use of the idea of the pelvic clock. (see page 115 , Lesson 6 in Awareness Through Movement by Moshe Feldenkrais) In this lesson, Veronica led us slowly and gently through the stages. In small movements bringing our attention to particular movements before linking them all together.

Our knees pointed to the ceiling and to make these moves and keep the knees pointing to the ceiling, then you need to engage the pelvis. For this we envisioned each of the moves originating with the rolling of the golden ball. By bringing this area into awareness, we allowed our neural pathways to develop. Clearer links between impulse and movements of the pelvis and other parts of the body can become wired into our neural networks, and helping strengthen links between aspects of our nervous system and our muscles. Each of the moves enabled these pathways and these movements to be more available to us in the future.

In making the movements of the pelvis as we described an arc around the clock, gentle guidance showed how this movement connected and how the head also moved. Observing the nature of these movements by slight changes in the movement and position of the head. Then noticing how the movement happened when the eyes moved in the same direction as the head. Or in the opposite direction. Or were fixed, with our gaze on a point of the ceiling. Noticing. Awareness. Awareness through movement.

After 40 minutes, we were guided to stand and walk and notice how we felt after this  lesson. For those of us with a seemingly ever-present shoulder pain, it was a delight to move and be unaware of shoulders. For them to lighten. For this lesson to ease their presence and their movement.  As Feldenkrais would have pointed out, for any living being, a nervous system that is quiet is a relaxed and happy nervous system. Moving with ease after an ATM usually means moving through space, spontaneously experiencing a kind of oneness. Each participant with their own sense of this.

In lesson 2, also on our backs, with knees bent, we explored ways in which the head might move, supporting the head with our hands clasped and held behind our heads. Small turns to the right. Gently repeated. Then to left. Then turn and synchronise eye movement. Turns head, eyes stay still. Turn the head and eyes move in the opposite direction. Then turn the head and move the shoulder down in the opposite direction. With a series of gentle slow repetitions this chained into a link involving moving head, shoulder, knees and eyes. During this movement it became increasingly clear that the movement of the head is not an isolated movement. This too can be felt to originate in the pelvis. With movements of muscles along the spine, across the back. And being aware of the engagement of the pelvis in this way can enable movement with greater ease and range. Many of the group noticed that, as they measured their turns in a sitting position, the range had noticeably extended. By simply bringing attention to movement leading to organising differently.

As we had been doing movements where we co-ordinated or differentiated eye movements, we used the pauses between moves to rest our eyes. ( Moshe Feldenkrais applied palming the eyes from the Bates Method.)

By cupping our hands and placing them over our eyes, we sheltered our eyes from light without applying any pressure to them. This enables us to enjoy the darkness. To look into the darkest, most velvety black areas of our vision. Deeply restful for the eyes and the optic nerve. The neural networks around vision and optic nerve can be particularly busy in our world of TVs, tablets, laptops and smart phones. This exercise, a kind of time out for our eyes. More than one of the participants commented afterwards that they felt an extended range of vision or a clearer brighter sense of the visual world. Another simple and yet profound way of being better connected, courtesy of Moshe Feldenkrais, delivered by our teacher and guide, Veronica Rock.

Our third lesson was just 30 minutes. Most of the time we lay on one side and experimented with sliding our upper arm forward and back. Progressively building up a sequence of movements which enabled us to experience a further connection between all the parts of the body, connected and enabling a twisting movement that allowed us to move head and shoulders with a better organised network of muscles and nerves. How much easier the movement became as we engaged and connected from the golden ball throughout the body.

As our bodies mature, youthful possibilities can become dormant as we accommodate to habits and injuries. Afternoons like these allow us to connect again to some of those youthful possibilities. Which is why Feldenkrais can help us all to move with greater ease. At the end of the afternoon, the comments from participants show a youthful delight at being able to do things we might not have done for a while or at simply feeling taller and more grounded, more present. For a taste of how it can be to simply stand, relaxed and at ease, happy in your own body, one of these workshops fits the bill for me!

Our next Feldenkrais Friday at Life Centre, Romiley will be on 9th June. Our theme: Breathing into your own space. A delightful prospect. Book as soon as you like.