Feldenkrais Classics

5 Lessons to put Awareness into Your Movement

Students doing a classic Feldenkrais lesson, lying on the floorReady to bring more of you home at the end of a busy day? Come to this series!

Moshe Feldenkrais created these lessons with beginners in mind. They’re the perfect introduction to making better use of yourself.

Experienced with Feldenkrais? Great! Use these lessons to go deeper.

Five Sundays, May 26-June 23. Taught by Russ Mitchell, MA.

$85 Early Bird (by May 12); $95 General.

Schedule Appointment

Move Your Shoulders Like Wheels

What’s Happening in May & June

The next Feldenkrais® series are just around the corner, and they’ll be shorter than usual: four and five weeks.

At the end of June, I’m going to the Feldenkrais conference for five days. Count on my coming back with a bunch of new ideas we’ll play with in class, as I’ll be training with my mentor Jeff Haller, as well as several other deeply experienced teachers. The theme this year is “Discover Ease: Finding What Already Exists.”

Interested? The conference has workshops open to the public. These include:

Human skeleton dancing DAB, perform dabbing move gesture, posing on white background.The conference is in Boulder, CO, which has been on my bucket list for years, so I’m taking some additional time to explore and perhaps do a short retreat in July. Classes will likely begin again the second or third week of July.

The focus in my May and June classes will be shoulders, arms, and hands. Most of us have injured our shoulders, or dealt with Carpel Tunnel or another repetitive-motion issue. We all benefit from understanding more clearly how to mobilize this area. (How often do you find your shoulders up by your ears?)

More about Your Shoulder Girdle

“Nearly every bone in the trunk, from occiput to pelvis, furnishes surfaces for the attachments of muscles which are also attached to some portion of the shoulder apparatus. . .”—Mabel Elsworth Todd, The Thinking Body: A Study of the Balancing Forces of Dynamic Man.

Classic Awareness Through Movement lesson.Todd points out that our shoulder and arm muscles have a wheel-like distribution. She writes, “The muscle power must be applied so as to operate through as many arcs as the range and direction of movements require. This is accomplished by a wheel-like design whereby muscles attached through great distances over many surfaces of the skeletal framework converge about the shoulder joint. . . . It is this wheel-like arrangement of lines of muscle force through all planes which gives such enormous power to the arms and hands, not alone in doing heavy work. . . but also in the control of delicately centered movements of the hands and fingers.” (Ibid)

We’ll be rolling those wheels in June: register here.

Sunday Classes

Russ Mitchell, fresh from the latest segment of his Feldenkrais training, will teach five classic lessons on Sundays. You can bet I’ll be there! Register for his series here.

Saturday Classes

Do Saturday mornings work best for you? Consider coming to Patterns Lab, 11:30 am-1:30 pm. Prerequiste: at least one series of classes or package of private lessons with me, or previous experience with the Feldenkrais Method®. Please email me if you’re interested in joining.

Does Feldenkrais Help Grief?

I was asked a few days ago, “Is Feldenkrais helping you grieve?”

Hugh in his octopus hat at White Rock Lake

My husband Hugh Resnick at White Rock Lake. He’s been described as “wonderfully weird.”

It’s not a trivial question.

My first answer was, “I don’t know.” Sometimes it’s difficult for me to tease out what is Feldenkrais® and what is meditation and what is coming from other influences in my life. I’ve practiced both Feldenkrais and meditation since 1996, and it’s no accident. They complement/blend/inform each other.

After a few hours of reflection, my second answer emerged: yes. I’m relying on both Feldenkrais and meditation to find the ground repeatedly, wherever it is. If I start to feel anxious (which seems to go hand in hand with sadness in my case), I can at least find my breath. I’m especially drawing on those skills in driving, where, for whatever reason, it’s hardest for me to not interfere with my breath. The approach I’m taking: when I notice I’m breathing shallowly, I invite myself to simply notice. I don’t immediately try to change the pattern. Then I notice where my left foot is (thank you, Russ!), and usually, it’s in my habitual, not so useful position, where my support isn’t so clear. And I pay especial attention to my hands, arms, and shoulders. Quite often these days, I notice an extra-heaviness in my hands, a kind of collapse in my shoulders. So today I played with making my hands even heavier (which I really didn’t want to do) for several minutes, and then lighter. I reminded myself I have choices.

Angela and Hugh at White Rock Lake

Me and Hugh. Feeling so lucky & grateful!

So there’s my invitation to practice: grief isn’t a choice. I miss my husband, and I will go on missing him. But how I support myself in grieving is a choice. I can collapse, and I have. I can also feel it without collapse, and continue to do what needs to get done. (Even in typing this, I’ve played with heavy hands on the keyboard, and lightening them up. I can tell you which way my breath is easier.)

My third answer: yes! Teaching Feldenkrais is an enormous help right now. Every time I teach class or give a private lesson, I’m more energized at the end. Teaching connects me with the part of me which is strong, intelligent, and playful. I’m grateful beyond words to all of you who come to class and learn with me. Thank you!

_____________

Celebrating Hugh Resnick

Would you like to come to Hugh’s memorial? I’d love to have you. I’ve been inspired and delighted by the stories his family and friends have been sharing, reminded again of what a “wonderfully weird,” generous, intelligent, and just flat-out good man I was married to. They’ve been inspired as they shared, and I think you will be, too. Please join us if you can, Saturday, April 27, 4 pm, at the Center for Spiritual Living Dallas. RSVP here, just so we have enough refreshments.

Driving with Ease: ATM® Series

Love your life, but hate DFW’s on-ramps? Like meeting people, but hate driving to where they are? Would you like to get out of your car feeling looser and more relaxed than when you got into it?

By helping you deepen your understanding of how you organize your body, this class will show you how you can turn a daily chore most Metroplex drivers dread into something you can look forward to and leaves you feeling refreshed and “ready to do the thing.”
Limit 8. Room for 5 more as of 2/1.

6 Sundays, Feb 10-Mar 17, 2-3:30 pm.
Cost: $100. Register by Feb. 1, save $10: use code “EARLYBIRD”.

Taught by Russ Mitchell.

About Awareness Through Movement®

Awareness Through Movement (ATM®) classes help you be more comfortable and skillful in your physical self. You might choose to attend class to enhance performance, recover from injury, or improve balance or coordination. You’ll learn to organize your physical self to move with greater ease and effectiveness, improving co-ordination, range of motion, balance, and your ability to act with pleasure and comfort.

Who Is Russ?

Instructor Russ Mitchell guides a student.

Instructor Russ Mitchell guides a student.

He’s a former medievalist and life-long martial artist/instructor who’s intimately familiar with the pains that come both from long hours at a desk, and from high-intensity hours at the gym. He says, ‘I use the Feldenkrais Method® to help those with goals who are straining to achieve their goals, and for those whose goal is simply to achieve a life with less strain. It’s always easy to say “do more, add more to the pile,” but I focus on helping people discover how to do less, while still achieving their goals. If you’d like to “work easier,” but achieve more, I’m looking forward to meeting you.’ Russ’ Feldenkrais training includes studying with Frank Wildman and Dennis Leri. He’s currently enrolled in the revolutionary new Feldenkrais Training Academy, under the direction of Jeff Haller, PhD, GCFP.

Uncover Your Innate Strength: 6 Monthly Workshops

A human hand holds her own foot.

© International Feldenkrais® Federation Archive, Robert Golden.

Beginning January 12 and ending June 8, this will be a monthly three-hour workshop taught by Angela Alston, GCFP, MFA. The over-arching focus will be discovering your innate strength and, each month, we’ll investigate new possibilities. You’ll leave with tools—investigations you can do on your own between workshops. To deepen your learning, there’ll be opportunities for discussion between workshops: online video calls and/or a private Facebook group.

This is the kind of learning and self-study Angela was introduced to in an 18-month advanced training with Jeff Haller, PhD, GCFP. Her two-hour Saturday class has engaged in it for more than a year. Join us to dive deep into self-discovery. You’ll be astonished at the resources you find within yourself and among your fellow participants.

Come to all six workshops, or just one (if space permits).
Themes will include:
  • finding clear support,
  • reversibility,
  • balance, &
  • minimizing effort
Limit: 8. FULL.

DETAILS

When

6 Saturdays, 2:30-5:30 pm
Jan. 12, Feb. 2, Mar. 2, Apr. 13, May 11, June 8

Cost

  • By Dec. 15: $275 for all 6 workshops. Special offer: Includes one private lesson with Angela & one free workshop.
  • After Dec. 15: $275 for all 6 (one free workshop).
  • $55 per workshop, if space remains. Registration for single workshops opens in January.

Tai Chi Series with Bobby Garcia

Join us to learn the 13-step form of Chen-style Tai Chi. Class includes warmup exercises, practice and discussion of specific sequences, and partner work.
Limit: 15.Bobby Garcia leads Tai Chi class

6 Fridays, Jan. 4-Feb. 8, 11:30 am-12:30 pm. $105. Register here.

Instructor Bobby Garcia began his martial arts education 29 years ago and has been teaching for 11 years. A motorcycle accident left Bobby with limited mobility. Through Tai Chi, he found dramatic improvements in his strength and mobility.

What’s a Workshop?

Somebody asked me, will there be Awareness Through Movement® in Uncover Your Innate Strength? (That’s the series of six workshops coming in 2019.)

I realized, oh! Not everyone knows what I mean when I say “workshop.”

So here’s what to expect!

Lessons

Yes, we’ll do ATM lessons. We might do two. We might do parts of several. But we’ll certainly be getting down on the floor. Having three hours to play with means we can stop and start. Pause for discussion or demos. We can also do extended lessons which are too long to offer in an hour class.

Partner work

Sometimes I’ll invite you to work with one or two other people to investigate something together, maybe in moving, maybe in discussion.

Discussion

Walking workshop participants grouped around a human skeleton

After our walking workshop.

We’ll do some talking about what we’re discovering. Each of us will make unique discoveries during each workshop, and over the series. We’ll probably find common threads. Naming and describing what we discover will help us decide whether our discoveries are useful—do we want to keep traveling in that direction?—or whether we’ve found something to change or improve.

As Moshe Feldenkrais wrote: “When you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want.” Part of knowing involves naming, really bringing your attention to what’s going on.

Homework

If you like, you can take one or two of the ideas from each workshop and continue to play with them on your own, during the month. Over the six months, your toolbox will grow.

You may surprise yourself. I once taught a rolling lesson. During the lesson I said, “You’ll never do these movements in this way in real life. The point of this lesson is flexibility.” Then I found myself getting into my car after class, tapping into part of the lesson to pivot, fold, and twist, all at the same time. Spontaneously and effortlessly!

Fun

It’s just plain fun to do a workshop. But don’t take my word for it! Here’s what Linda had to say after her first workshop: “Thank you so much for a most stimulating, enlivening, enlightening and totally fun afternoon.

More questions? Send me an email!

Tai Chi Flow & Form with Bobby Garcia

Join us for a special Tai Chi workshop & practice session! Great for beginners or for those with a regular practice. LIMIT: 15.
Cost
$25 EarlyBird (by 10/10); $35 after. Use code EARLYBIRD when registering.
Free for those attending Tai Chi with Bobby Garcia: 6-Week Series.
Register here.
 
Bobby Garcia leads Tai Chi classDetails
For the first part of the workshop we will be practicing a Tai Chi form together, 13 Harmony Form. This will be a follow-along portion of the workshop, with few questions and little talking. You’ll run through the form, and find the flow of the movements. If new to the style, you’ll get a feel for the overall practice.
We’ll flow through the form at least three times, with a short break in between each. You need not participate in each run-through (and may take a longer break as needed).
The second part of the workshop will focus on the basics, mechanics, and individual movements, as well as some two-person work). You’ll have the opportunity to correct errors, ask questions, and take a look at the overall philosophy of Tai Chi.
We’ll close with a final run-through of the form, done at your pace and to your level—you’ll be amazed at the difference a little warmup and work can make!

Basic Body Mechanics for Martial Artists with Russ Mitchell

Join us for this workshop introducing martial artists to elements of body mechanics. Learn why familiarity with how your body moves is essential for training efficiently and safely. You’ll benefit whether you’re an aspiring practitioner or expert.
Cover art for Basic Body Mechanics for Martial Artists
The workshop includes: an intro to principles of body mechanics, a practical movement lesson, and discussion.
 
Participants will receive their own copy of Russ Mitchell’s just-published book Basic Body Mechanics for Martial Artists.
 
Limit: 20. Room for 15 more as of 9/21.
 
DETAILS
When: Saturday, Oct. 6, 2:30-4 pm
Where: GoodWork, 1808 S. Good Latimer Expwy, Dallas TX 75226
Cost: $25 Early Bird (by Sept. 15, use code EARLYBIRD); $35 in advance; $45 at door
Register here. Use the code “EarlyBird”.
Interested in a group rate? Please email angela at dallasfeldenkrais dot com.
 
Russ Mitchell demonstrates body mechanics

Author Russ Mitchell.

TESTIMONIALS

“Russ Mitchell has put together a very nice collection of techniques which will help strengthen your body mechanics and deepen your understanding of optimal, martial movement. If you want to go deeper in your training, buy this book!” — Sifu Chris Bouguyon, MMQ, Founder, SimplyAware, President, National Qigong Association
 
“Russ taught at November Steel and I watched him work with the attendees. Russ was able to diagnose problems with a glance and work towards fixing them in minutes.”— Anthony Buonomo, Austin Historical Weapons Guild
 
YOUR INSTRUCTOR
Russ Mitchell created this approach to body mechanics in the wake of recovering from his own significant injuries. Russ is the founder of Great Plains Sword and BBQ, a historical fencing and martial arts club focused specifically on developing skill in beginning and remedial students. Russ has earned gant jaune in savate and nidan in hoshinroshiryu. He’s internationally recognized as a military sabre instructor, and his collaborative work on Johannes Lecküchner’s messer-fechten is regarded as one of the go-to texts on the subject.

Improving How You Sit

The media is continuing to focus on improving sitting: NPR just published another story on the subject. Given how much back pain we Americans are living with, it’s great to see the buzz growing.

Take Control of Your Environment

image of a cashew: how do you sit?Once you realize most of the furniture we humans have designed to sit on has nothing to do with promoting good function, you can begin to customize your sitting solutions. For example:

  • Sit on a jacket
  • Carry a wedge-shaped cushion
  • Use a short stool for your feet

Forget about ever using the back of the chair: designers created the shape of the back of most chairs without reference to the human spine and pelvis. Typically, chairs (plus car and airplane seats) invite users to collapse into the cashew shape I’ve referred to before. Recipe not only for back and neck pain, but also digestive problems!

When you’re improvising your solution, remember your goal is to create clear support for your sit bones and have your feet completely in contact with the floor. Your shoulders will be slightly forward of your sit bones. This position is new to many of us, so it won’t feel “natural” at first.Photo of the front cover of CROOKED

Limit the amount of time you spend sitting, when you can. Take frequent breaks. As a designer of ergonomic furniture said in Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery, when asked what the best position for sitting is: “The next one.”

Active Sitting

In an environment you control, try varying your relationship to your computer: stand, sit on the floor, or in a QOR360 chair designed to promote active sitting (that’s the next-gen ergonomic chair I use and endorse wholeheartedly).