You probably first researched the Feldenkrais Method® because you wanted to change. Maybe you wanted one of your knees to be more reliable in walking. Or to diminish back pain so you could run with pleasure.
You might have an explanation about why the problem exists. Like your age. Or because you have a particular skeletal pattern like scoliosis. Or because your gym teacher said you weren’t athletic.
Feldenkrais practitioner John Tarr wrote an excellent blog, “Growth Mindset and Movement,” about the importance of believing you can change. Which means letting go of those explanations, your familiar stories, and creating space for something different with a growth mindset. He writes, “. . the march of time and fate do bring about irreversible changes, but often we are not fully using the potential we still have.” We can investigate this potential by cultivating curiosity, enjoying investigation and discovery the way we did as children.
“When I practice getting up and down off the floor, I’m building resilience in my musculoskeletal system. Being able to get up and down off the floor is an essential movement skill. It is not only one of the first things we learn as infants; it is one of the last things we want to lose as we age. In fact, the ability to get up and down from the floor is associated with greater longevity. People who do this regularly are counteracting the long-term effects of gravity and maintaining their proprioceptive abilities that are part of maintaining upright balance and navigating the world with less risk of falling.”
Proprioception is how we sense where we are in space, and the speed and intensity with which we’re moving.
Most of us discover the Feldenkrais Method when something goes wrong. For me, it was neck spasms. For many, it’s back pain which resists massage, chiropractic, and other well-known treatments.
Why investigate the method if you feel fine?
Because most of us learn just enough about movement to get by. We function fine. Some of us learn far more—elite athletes, performing artists, surgeons, for example. But there’s so much more we can refine. So much to discover about how movement can be not just okay, but delightful—light, graceful, and effortless. Many more movement choices we can uncover and expand into.
MaryBeth Smith, GCFP
Feldenkrais teacher and vocal coach MaryBeth Smith underscored the value of an expanded movement vocabulary in a recent blog:
“It’s good to have alternatives if one way of doing something stops working! Think of Major League Baseball switch pitcher Pat Venditte, who can throw a baseball right or left-handed with equal skill and power. When he experienced an injury to one shoulder a few years ago, he simply threw with the other arm. He continued to play that season, instead of going on the injured list.”
If you’re in my classes, you’ve heard me talk about how we humans are designed to move, not sit for hours on end.
Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk, is credited with coining the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” Just Google the phrase and you’ll find a slew of recent articles invoking it. This Huffington Post blog sums up Dr. Levine’s findings nicely.
Check out the cool TED animation below making the same point. Murat Dalkilinç gives the lesson: the animation’s by Oxbow Creative.
What the video doesn’t mention: most chairs are designed to tilt us behind our sit bones. Check your own: is it pulling you back into a slump? Or encouraging you to sit erect? Is your pelvis free to tilt in any direction?
What can you do, if you have a desk job? One simple solution: set an alarm for every 30 min. or so. When it rings, stand up for a moment. Shift your weight from side to side, back to front. Compare how you feel when you come back to sitting: perhaps more alert?