Friday 30 September Upper Back/Lower Back

During 2016 we have been exploring our connections from top to toes.

After some gentle movements encouraging enhanced awareness of shoulder movements in July, our next workshop will give us the opportunity to connect our upper and lower back.

Upper Back-Lower Back. Everything’s connected. Expect a mix of focused awareness and whole body movements and integration. If you are new to Feldenkrais Method, the notes on our most recent workshop can give some idea of how sessions can be. On the other hand, as a participant recently commented, part of the delight of these workshops, is the you discover surprising things.

Veronica Rock will lead the workshop at The Life Centre, Romiley.

Now is a good time to book by sending your cheque for £30 (made payable to V.Rock).

Friday 30 September 2016

The Life Centre, Romiley, Stockport.

12-45 hrs for 13-00 start.

3 lessons in Awareness Through Movement

The third lesson will finish at 16-00 hrs.

 

Creating more options for moving with ease

Creating more options for moving with ease

Yesterday there were 8 of us in an upstairs room at The Life Centre. On a warm day, it was good to be somewhere light and spacious, with the air conditioning on. As we lay on our mats and blankets on the carpeted floor and followed Veronica’s gentle guidance, we enjoyed three lessons of beautiful simplicity that enabled deep shifts in our awareness.

Lesson One

Most of this lesson was followed on our sides. First on our left then on our right. An invitation to move our top shoulder forward and then to neutral. Several times. Slowly. Small movements. Just noticing. Increasing awareness with Veronica’s gentle questioning. Noticing where the movement is smooth or less smooth. Then move the shoulder from neutral backwards. Return to neutral. A few gentle repetitions. Pause. Relax. Then something similar with a movement first up towards our ears. Pause. Experiment and explore doing this move differently; perhaps a little towards the front of the ear, then a little more towards the back. Noticing.

Then we repeated this on our right side.

This may be something which sounds a bit insignificant in an exercise culture of being vigorous, so there’s no alternative but to give it a try and see how The Feldenkrais Methods works. Once the benefits are felt the merits in the approach can be experienced as something that feels a real joy. It’s nothing short of wonderful.

So, lesson one…  continued with the second part of the lesson paying attention to moving the shoulder around the points which we had identified. Joining up the dots, where the dots are the forward, backward, up down and neutral points. First joining up the dots to make up a quarter sector. Moving from neutral to edge in a clean straight line and then following the arc before moving back to the central neutral point. As awareness increases there’s an improvement in clarity and ease of movement: our neural networks are organising differently, organising better, giving us new options. This becomes evident when we circle our shoulders. A feeling of movement with ease.

For the second part of this lesson, when we turned onto our right side, we applied another piece of Moshe Feldenkrais’ brilliance. Once you’ve experienced the movements, and paid attention, then to visualise it enables the changes as well. So small moves, gentle repetitions and then some motor imagery. For more on how science is now verifying this approach see a recent BBC programme on iPlayer or at their blog: Trust Me, I’m a doctor (summer special).

Although Feldenkrais moves are not intended as an exercise programme, following through lesson one is an excellent way to relieve tension in the shoulders. A nice relaxing way to spend a few spare minutes in your day. And feel the benefit.

If Lesson One is a good way of releasing tension from the shoulders, then Lesson 2, let the release and relaxation spread through our trunk or torso.

Lesson Two

This was another simple, clear sequence. Deceptively simple perhaps.

In clear steps, Veronica guided us through the parts that make up the whole of a movement called see-saw breathing. It’s a movement that I think of as a wave. Like a spinal wave (practiced for example in Dru Yoga), but this is a wave at the front. With the back to the floor, the spine is fairly still and stable. The ripple runs from chest to lower abdomen. From my experience of it, I can see how it is both a massage for the gut and internal organs, a freeing up of tension and an engagement and expansion of the thoracic cavity. The shoulders are on the floor, so shoulder blades are stable and yet all the muscles, tendons and ligaments  get to move freely in a ripple or wave of expansion and contraction.

We first made the separate movements. Then we chained together. Then we experimented doing the movement in different ways, with an in-breath or an out-breath, in the pause between inhalation and exhalation, the pause between exhalation and inhalation.

Brilliant. It really brings your chest and abdomen to life.

And this see-saw breathing also helps the shoulders relax. Our shoulders have few connections to the skeleton. They sit on the ribcage / rib basket. Feeling the support of the torso allows the shoulder to relax. It felt as if the neck and muscles around my shoulders could breath a sigh of relief. They just don’t need to work as hard as they have been doing. Becoming more fully aware of the trunk and it’s support , allows release.

There was further release in Lesson Three.

Lesson 3

For the last 40 minutes was a lesson in integration.

Mostly on our back. Connecting whole body through movement.

On back. Legs standing and right leg over left leg with left thigh resting on right thigh. Tilting knees. Then tilting knees and raising right shoulder (Let it float up towards your knees)

Include the head in the movement, rolling in same direction as knees, then opposite direction.

With arms along side, hands in karate position with little finger edge on floor and thumb edge towards ceiling. Chaining and synchronising rolling hands to right and left. Allow arms to travel a few inches away from the body and repeat.

Chain into a kind of twist with a variety of options explored. Head rolls right. As knees tilt left. Hands follow head.

Twist leads to expansion. Actual physical expansion. Though there was also a sense of another kind of expansion, a more spacious feeling of being. Body and mind relaxed and in harmony.

One of the key benefits of an Awareness Though Movement workshop is the real expansion of possibilities for movement. A pleasant movement which the body enjoys and is happy to repeat.

More options. More Ease.

Cool. Gentle. Expanded awareness. A pleasure. Learning. And benefits that last.

Free your shoulders/ Breathe with Ease

Free your shoulders/Breathe with Ease

My Zhan Zhuang teacher says: you can always soften your shoulders.

Can you soften your shoulders? How?

Something we’ll be exploring as we experience enhanced awareness of the connections between shoulder and spine, shoulders and ribs, breathing and ribs, breathing and moving. Expanding, contracting, flexing, extending, rocking and rolling. Breathing and moving. Another Feldenkrais Friday.

Want to move and breathe with greater ease? Join our workshop on Friday 22 July, 12-45 for 1-4pm and 3 guided lessons with Veronica Rock, our Summer 2016 Awareness Through Movement Feldenkrais Friday at The Life Centre, Romiley.

Bookings now being taken for this Awareness Through Movement afternoon.

 

Rocking and Rolling

Our Feldenkrais Fridays are always a delight. Always with some element of surprise. Always joyful.

It’s movement…but not as we know it. It’s movement…and today it was all about rocking and rolling.

Lesson 1 was rocking

Lesson 2 twisting

Lesson3 rolling

We started each of the lessons standing, just checking, just noticing as we shifted our weight. So far, so much in common with the start of a yoga session or Zhan Zhuang. Then we do things differently in an Awareness Through Movement workshop.

The differences become clear as Veronica tells us that the key to Feldenkrais is awareness. The movement is what we do to help awareness. The movement is the means by which we focus our attention. However what we are doing doesn’t require movement. It requires attention. Which leads to awareness.

If, like me, you’ve some aches and pains, this is music to our ears, salve to our wounds. We can make very small movements and that’s good. We can even just lie there and imagine our body moving and that’s good too. We are even making progress if we simply be: benefits are gained in bringing awareness to our experience. An Awareness Through Movement afternoon at the Life Centre is effectively a kind of meditation. Bringing a kindly awareness to our bodies. However, the surprise and delight is likely to arrive when you start rocking and rolling.

Rocking and rolling is not always a part of a Feldenkrais Friday at the Life Centre. Today it was a very enjoyable and life enhancing way of increasing awareness and enabling our bodies to Move with Ease while our busy minds calmed into a relaxed almost trance like state. Bliss. There can be this bliss at the end of our Feldenkrais Friday. The bliss of feeling centred and relaxed. Whether you think of it as learning about movement with a side order of bliss and joy, or the other way around, or a different blend of beneficial outcomes will vary. Each individual response will be unique, somethings shared, some aspects individual.

This afternoon, we got in touch with our gravitational and energetic centre. Literally. Hand on area front and other hand on sacrum at the back. Moving and noticing shifts that hands can feel. It can be helpful to envisage a golden sphere of light in the area between a spot a couple of inches below the navel and the sacral bones of the pelvis. We used guided movements to develop our awareness of this centre. Through this focused attention we were able to engage this centre more effectively.

This idea may be something you have come across before, in Tai Chi or martial arts. Even so, it can take this kind of focused attention to really feel it, to see it in action, to get it, know the difference that it can make. After an afternoon of rocking and rolling on the floor the benefits become tangible: the body feels the benefits. The body learns that it can move with greater ease.

The reward for attention is always healing. This kind of guided attention increasing awareness and leading to a healing motion is why I do Feldenkrais. How about you? Any movements you’d like to bring to the healing possibilities of an Awareness through Movement afternoon?

Moving from your centre

Our recent workshops have had a focus on the physical periphery of our bodies. Hands, eyes, feet. While exploring the movement of these, it is impossible not to notice the connections and to see the possibilities. A gentle opening and closing of our hands, synchronised with each inhalation and exhalation, relaxes us to the core. Curling our toes, we notice muscles in our abdomen engage. We walk on our feet, the movement is made easier, lighter, more graceful with better connections throughout the body and the involvement of the core of our being.

Where  is this core? Where is our centre?

‘The centre that we use in Feldenkrais is the tanden as in Judo or tan t’ien in T’ai Chi (two inches or so below the navel). My teacher, Russell Delman, calls it ‘the golden ball’. I guess it is a little higher than the hips. And actually, in terms of physics and biomechanics, the centre of gravity can be much higher, depending on the position you are in and the movement you are making.’ Veronica Rock

 

The dynamics of this are not one dimensional. In the mind body system, we can achieve beneficial shifts by paying attention to the Tan T’ien.

Moving from your centre

Moving from your centre

‘The centre that we use in Feldenkrais is the tanden as in Judo or tan t’ien in T’ai Chi (two inches or so below the navel). My teacher, Russell Delman, calls it ‘the golden ball’. I guess it is a little higher than the hips. And actually, in terms of physics and biomechanics, the centre of gravity can be much higher, depending on the position you are in and the movement you are making.’ Veronica Rock

Friday 20th May

Life Centre Romiley

12-45 for 1pm start

1-4pm

As Veronica says, this idea will be familiar to anyone who practices martial arts and  T’ai Chi.

‘The centre that we use in Feldenkrais is the tanden as in Judo or tan t’ien in T’ai Chi (two inches or so below the navel). My teacher, Russell Delman, calls it ‘the golden ball’. I guess it is a little higher than the hips. And actually, in terms of physics and biomechanics, the centre of gravity can be much higher, depending on the position you are in and the movement you are making.’ Veronica Rock

 

Feet: Your stability and mobility

A trade off has been made.

Increased mobility reduced stability.

Bigger feet might be more stable, though we’d be less mobile.

As a result of the relatively small size of our feet much of the muscular activity to move our feet is in our legs, particularly our lower legs.

In the workshop we developed our awareness of movement in a variety of positions. Some slow easy walking with awareness. Standing and shifting weight. Then crossing legs in standing and looking around. Noticing. On the mat, time on our backs, with knees bent and feet resting on the floor, we made very small movements, raising the outer edge of a foot a few millemetres. Then raising the inner edge in a similar way. Then rocking gently between the two edges. It seemed that an exceptional amount of attention was needed to focus on these small moves. And that’s the point. By making them small we must pay attention. Though it’s also the case for many of us, that this possible movement is one we rarely make. Recruiting more of our little muscles can enable more fluid movement. Once we know through experience what this movement feels like, it becomes an extra option.

We’d a part of a lesson on our fronts. This time knees bent meant that the foot was in the air. Then there was an exploration of the movement of the foot. Tilting toes up to ceilings and down towards the floor. Circling the toes. Curling toes one way and then the opposite way. Tilting heel, up and down, circling round and round. Slowly with awareness. Sounds easy enough. And yet. Noticing the engagement, feeling the body moving. Becoming aware that many these movements can include movements of hips, pelvis, torso. This focused attention, the novelty of some of the moves can be tiring. Plenty of pauses. Opportunity for the neural network to absorb the new information. To re-wire.

Other activities involved resting on our back, knees bent and feet standing. Our attention was directed to the triangle shape in our feet, to the heel and the balls of our feet. By lifting each part in turn, our awareness increased. While these activities are all about attention and gentle awareness, when we stand and are guided to walk around the room, there is a change in how we move. One participant comments on the how she has tended to walk on her toes, now she is walking in a more balanced way. Another participant notices that the opposite has happened – instead of placing most pressure on the heels, the movement now involves a more dynamic curve of feet as the weight shifts in walking.

Here’s another key to the success of Feldenkrais. We have our own ways of moving. Bringing awareness, extending our ideas of how movement happens, we give our selves more choices. As a result our body makes better choices and moves with greater ease and grace and power. This is where a skilled guide through this process is vital. For without that guidance, then we repeat our habitual patterns.. Doing over and over what we’ve always done. Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always got. Want to do things better? Then change. And yet, habits can be strong and seem to have a power of their own. So how to enable change? The Feldenkrais answer is: gently, through awareness. Gentle awareness. This acts as an invitation to the body.

Interested to get the feel of how powerful and effective this can be? Then there are two workshops in Romiley this spring/summer.

Friday 20th May : Moving from your centre

Friday 22nd July : Theme to be confirmed (We are considering more around the theme of breathing, though welcome ideas.)

Moving from your centre

Friday 20th May

Life Centre Romiley

12-45 for 1pm start

1-4pm

As Veronica says, this idea will be familiar to anyone who practices martial arts and  T’ai Chi.

‘The centre that we use in Feldenkrais is the tanden as in Judo or tan t’ien in T’ai Chi (two inches or so below the navel). My teacher, Russell Delman, calls it ‘the golden ball’. I guess it is a little higher than the hips. And actually, in terms of physics and biomechanics, the centre of gravity can be much higher, depending on the position you are in and the movement you are making.’ Veronica Rock