Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education
For those of you who chose to actually move your eyes the couple inches down after reading that mouthful of a title, I applaud your curiosity and encourage you to read further.
"The Feldenkrais Method is based on principles of physics, biomechanics, and an empirical understanding of learning and human development." Still here? Good!
Let's boil this method down a bit then. First and foremost, the method is named after its creator, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, who was a Russian born physicist, judo expert, mechanical engineer and educator. Quite the resume! This Method really caught my eye because it encompasses a lot of the natural learning processes that truly appeal to me. The Method accents the individual and doesn't hide the fact that there is very little separation from the mind and body during daily life. Too often we see workouts and diets that focus very little on the entire being and more on just certain aspects of only the mind or body.
The Feldenkrais Method attempts to expand the self-image through movement sequences that bring attention to the parts of the self that are out of awareness and helps you to include more of "yourself" in your functioning movements. In all essence, the Method attempts to get you to pay attention to how your body and mind interact and then learn to participate in that interaction. We tend to let certain small pains slip by or just pop a couple pills to take care of that nagging ache. The Method encourages the participant to pay attention to that ache and trace it to its root. After you have found the root of the issue, the Method provides you easy ways to align yourself and eliminate that ache. These methods of alignment can all be integrated in your daily routine, there is no need for daily trips to a gym, just focus on your individual self. Here is an example:
"First, move forward toward the front edge of a fairly firm chair, so that you are sitting on the front third of the chair seat, with your feet comfortably on the ground and your pelvis vertical. To find the vertical, rock gently forward and back making the movements smaller until you feel you are “in the middle,” with your pelvis in a position that you sense as vertical. Stay there and notice how your back feels. Is there a bit of tension somewhere? Imagine putting a sticker on that part (or parts), so that you can check on it easily later.
Now, place the palm of one or both hands on your belly, and rock your pelvis forward slightly, so that your belly pushes your hands forward in space, toward being over the front edge of the chair. Allow your belly to soften and your breathing to be easy. This is not about inflating or sticking your belly out, rather you are rocking your pelvis forward slightly and allowing your belly to soften. Your pubic bone (the very center of the front of your pelvis, the bony part just below your belly) will move forward and down slightly, toward the chair. Practice this movement a few times, pausing when you get there, so that you get used to this feeling. Now, you are in a new configuration, slightly forward of vertical. How does your back feel now?
Check back to the spot(s) where you placed the imaginary sticker(s). Is there less tension than before? If so, it is likely that you have found more support from the natural curve of your lower back, or lumbar spine. Notice that you can still allow your belly to move slightly as you breath and your pelvis to shift, without destroying the feeling of ease and support. Your lumbar spine is curved naturally in this direction and with practice, you can learn to recognize the feeling of support that your spine affords you in this configuration. A “forced vertical” can interfere with your ability to sense and use your natural structural support, and is also unnecessarily demanding on the postural muscles of your trunk."
This is just a small example of how deep the Method is and I only spoke on the physicality of it all, there is an entire mental and emotional health aspect to is as well. I encourage you, if you are interested, to read some more on this amazing, life altering, Method.