Turning on a side axis

Returning to our theme of turning on a dime, this lesson finds the relation between really standing, the freedom of the head, and the freedom to turn.

Heavily but not completely edited to remove all my evening’s left-right mix-ups. Left in the local colour in the form of free-associating to Ellen Page (from Halifax) and the movie Hard Candy.

Turning heels out

This lesson–entirely in standing–is about finding your axis for turning, with the head and the pelvis coordinated in a smooth arc, and the volume on the extensors of the back “turned down.” It’s the first of our “turning on a dime.”

I’m particularly intrigued by this lesson in relation to a passage in The Potent Self that I’ve always found intriguing. In the chapter, “The means at our disposal,” he talks about needing to shut down the habitual work of the extensors in the low back and neck before anything new can be learned. This makes sense and doesn’t in light of his usual progression of introductory lessons–a “flexor” lesson is often first. And of course lessons are usually done in lying for this reason. But none of these intro lessons are as extreme as what is described in that chapter of The Potent Self. This lesson, paradoxically in standing, actually carries through this thought: maintaining the rounding of the spine while shifting weight and “coming up on each leg” is remarkably potent as a means of reeducation of the generally over-working and poorly-organized extensors.

Face down, circles with the head

Where does flexibility come from? Why is it that we can only move so far, and then we stop? Tight muscles? Bad joints?–Or habits?

What are habits anyway? Feldenkrais had the idea that our limitations are the things we do really well. They work for us. So we do them again and again and forget that we can act differently. And what dissolves the power of habits isn’t willpower, but perception. A habit is like a blind spot, and the process of change is a process of changing perception.

This was a “free intro” night at the Yoga Loft. This lesson does a nice job of showing an impact in the first 10 minutes of the student’s experience.

Found it! Lesson re-attached, May 2013.