Moving, learning and healing
Awareness through Movement lessons include many fascinating ideas synthesised from varied fields of study.
Moshe Feldenkrais was driven to develop his method of lessons to help himself with a recurrent knee injury that was not medically treatable at the time. He looked to the disciplines of physics, psychology, neuroscience and martial arts to find out how he could learn how to move well again - with ease, grace and skill.
One of the foundational ideas he explored was moving from our centre…
Centre of gravity
Sports scientists think in terms of our centre of gravity (red dot in the image) and how that is poised over the centre of our base of support (orange dot). As we move through life, our centre of gravity constantly adjusts to each new configuration.
A central place of energy
Eastern philosophies and martial arts include the concept of the Dantiens.
The Lower Dantien is around two inches below the navel and is seen as a source of energy and important place for directing movements, in Tai Chi.
A body centred self
The emerging fields of embodied cognition, psycho-neuro-immunology and neuroplasticity have eroded the former boundaries between the concepts of ‘mind’ and ‘body’.
Studies show that our physical body is the foundation of our intelligence. In other words, our self is not located in our mind or brain; our self is ‘centred’ in your whole body.
Over a century ago, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it like this: “There is more reason in your body than in your best wisdom.”
Move from your centre the Feldenkrais way
The central part of our skeletal structure is the source of our power. The vertebrae along the length of the spine are articulated to allow movements in different planes – flexing, extending, side bending and rotating. And the pelvis has an important role in passing forces up through the legs to the spine and beyond.
Sometimes, poorly learned habits or injuries cause us to over-use some parts of the spine while others stay under-used. It is a relief when we learn how to spread the load more wisely.
In Awareness through Movement lessons we explore the movability of our spine and pelvis. Classic lessons are ‘Spine like a Chain’ and ‘Pelvic Clock’, though there are hundreds of others.
As we start to find how to distribute movements along the whole spine and into the pelvis, the areas that are overworked (like neck and lumbar) give up their efforts as unused parts start to join in.
We explore initiating movements from weighty central areas – pelvis and trunk. Shoulders, elbows and wrists gain more support when our centre is well integrated. Movements ripple and flow throughout our whole body.
We tune into our sensations and move only an amount that is truly comfortable and easy. Chronic tensions dissipate.
An unexpected bonus of moving with this congruence is an accompanying sense of calm and peace.
Mental busyness fades away as sensory experiences are foregrounded. You come to your senses, come home to your body and find the still centre of yourself.