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.

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Move with Ease – Breathe with Ease

Freeing your shoulders and neck  on 31 March 

Breathing into your own space on 9 June

Our next two Feldenkrais Friday afternoon workshops at The Life Centre, Romiley.
 

Freeing your shoulders and neck  on 31 March

 
Shoulders and necks. This is the most frequently requested theme. So a timely return for anyone who would like to experience the benefits of an Awareness through Movement workshop. 
 

It can be a seemingly instinctive thing to tighten around the shoulders. It’s always interesting to bring awareness and alternatives to this part of our bodies. Small, gentle movements that can be made with ease can sometimes surprise and delight. And that’s what can be possible in one of Veronica’s Feldenkrais Fridays at The Life Centre.

 
Although the theme is Freeing Your Shoulders and Neck, as is the Feldenkrais way, this might involve freeing the shoulders by extending the heel, moving our legs, extending our arms, doing something a bit different with our eye movements. Noticing. We are looking to see how we might notice different ways in which our eyes can aid ease of movement. Making new options available.
 
Breathing into your own space on 9 June
 

At the end of our last workshop, we were standing, relaxed and moving with ease. Gentle guidance through movements, bringing our attention to our body and Veronica’s words enabling each of us to fully inhabit our own space. Open spacious awareness.

 
And so, we’ve chosen to follow our most recent theme by doing a further exploration of ways of doing this more, more often and with greater ease.
 
While there was some direction to notice the breath at our January workshop, in June we will use breathing as the focus for our 3 lessons. We are calling this workshop: Breathing into your own space. It will take place on 9th June at The Life Centre in Romiley.
 
Booking as soon as you like!
Usual arrangements for booking.
Both workshops at The Life Centre, Romiley.
Arrive 12-45 for 1pm start. 4pm finish
3 lessons.
Cost: £30
Cheque made payable to V. Rock.

Just for a change…

…a post from another participant.

After last week’s workshop, Karen sent an email (reproduced here with her permission).

 

l absolutely loved the workshop on Friday! 

Veronica is a great teacher and there is something very special about the Feldenkrais method. l’ve explored many movement disciplines throughout my life and Feldenkrais certainly stands alone as being the most complete mind and body system that l’ve ever experienced. 

The workshop touched me on so many levels – eyes and breathing –  and l was particular fascinated by what l described to Veronica as bringing my awareness to the ‘stress response’: the reflexes that create these habitual muscular contractions, which when continually triggered create tightening and contraction. This is something l would love to explore more. 

In the last lesson, Veronica asked us to create movements such as lifting one shoulder up towards the ear, or lifting (both) shoulders forward. These can be typical stress or/and fight or flight responses. They can be quite normal, except when these responses are excessively or inappropriately ingrained in our body. On Friday, for the first time, l grasped an understanding of a stress reflex and its ability to trigger body responses. A big breakthrough…..

Another interesting observation for me since Friday has been the breathing. As Veronica suggested, l have been bringing my attention to the pause following exhalation and it does help to bring about a more natural breathing rhythm. l think it helps too in dissolving muscular tension and holding. Something l’m going to work with…

l’ve already penciled March 31st in my diary, keeping that day FREE. You can definitely count me in as a cert!

l hope you’ve had a good weekend and still enjoying the fruits of the workshop. Veronica’s lovely work is still continuing to process and l am loving this new found freedom of movement in my neck (long may it last) but for now it’s quietly liberating. l’m also relishing the ‘feel-good’ factor from the lessons.

It was really lovely to meet you, along with a delightful group of ladies. Already looking forward to the next one!

 

If you’d like to try an Awareness through Movement afternoon at The Life Centre, Romiley, you can book now for the next one: Friday 31st March.

Getting Ahead of Yourself?

Noticed how the body follows the mind?
Picture this. I’m walking round a green summer lawn. Slowly and mindfully. After all, this is a walking meditation. It feels lovely. The teacher/guide says we may carry on walking, though suggests that we move towards the next location for the following session. Then I am moving across the grass and heading towards the Tara Cabin. I notice that now I am moving differently. My eyes are on the goal. I have a target. A deadline. I move with purpose. And I am no longer in my body. I am in my mind, looking towards my goal and moving towards my goal.
Picture also those moments (that perhaps you’ve also seen) when, inadvertently glancing, seeing my reflection, in a window or a mirror.  I might notice how my head is pushing forwards, ahead of my body. Literally. Physically. In front. No longer atop the spine with the whole body supporting it. Ahead. Where carrying it’s weight becomes more effortful. Didn’t I read somewhere something about the weight of the head increasing for each inch out of alignment? How many lbs per inch  or grams per centimetre?
Have you ever experienced that moment of getting ahead yourself?
Aware that this weight distribution will have an effect on movement, I thought it might be interesting to explore this. Becoming aware of movements, perhaps becoming aware of how to be more fully present and aligned. Aligning with the now. Not getting ahead of yourself. Yes, moving forward. Moving forward without getting ahead of yourself. Awareness through movement and moving with awareness.
Our next Awareness Through Movement afternoon.
Life Centre, Romiley.
Friday 25th November 2016
1pm – 4pm
Teacher and guide: Veronica Rock.
Cost £30
Book as usual, by cheque made payable to V.Rock

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.