Lengthening the hamstrings

What does this have to do with lengthening the hamstrings? Holding your feet and rolling from side to side?

This lesson is a good example of how, in Feldenkrais, we tie some localized “function” to which our culture has attached a great deal of importance (everyone’s hamstrings are “too tight”!) to a broader functional movement that is an echo of something in the developmental process of the first few years.

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.

Circles with the heel

Watching the local students do this lesson this week was really a treat. It’s like watching a room of people giving themselves FI lessons (one-on-one hands-on Feldenkrais).

The work becomes most powerful when you can approach it with a very conscientious attention to the instructions (in this case, making a circle), while at the same having that attitude Moshe calls “wasting time.” It absolutely matters not at all whether you can draw a circle with the heel–so leave behind all the effort and trying you put into what you do every day–while at the same time, if you can even out, smooth out the circle even one little bit, you will find remarkable transformations in the length of your spine, in how you stand over your feet, in how you carry your head.

In FI one can spend a lot of time on this line through the skeleton from the heel (or just ahead of the heel) to find how every inch of the spine can be part of this foundation for action that is being upright in gravity; in this lesson you can work with it yourself.

Folding over bent leg

With a certain obsessive focus I return from three weeks of holidays to come back to the last theme I was teaching….the raising and lowering of the head will be familiar from the Lowering the head lesson.

But in addition to the raising and lowering is something a little different…when you slide your arms out along the floor, what kind of movement is this for your spine (and everything connected of course)? Not just the extension you know from Lifting on the stomach, but another kind of lengthening….after which we come back to this idea of lifting on the stomach but with a different perspective. (Not to mention with one leg folded up under you in a crazy way!)

At the end you lift your head. What else could you lift? Where would you take this movement next?

Or check out a few youtube versions of the dying swan and look for what’s different for these dancers–

Uliana Lopatkina doing it the way it “should” be done (particularly 2:00 to 2:20):

And Allen Dennis camping it up in drag (at 2:40-3:00):

Scissor legs

Two weeks earlier, we did a lesson (not recorded, but similar to Amherst, Year 2, Tape #31) that involved rolling a full 360 degrees on the floor. I noticed that there was much less agility in the phase of the rolling that was face down–and in that lesson, we spent less time on that aspect. So here’s a lesson a couple of weeks later to spend some time developing that agility face down. It also introduces a different trajectory to go from lying to sitting…but for some reason my voice recorder has decided to stop after 43 minutes. So this lesson is incomplete.

Where would you take the elements given so far in the lesson? How would you put them together into a movement that starts lying face down and ends sitting up, legs long, facing the other direction (i.e. your feet stay pointing the same way, more or less, but you sit facing your feet at the end)?

Baby rolling

It’s developmental, it’s political, it’s another take on the previous week’s (unrecorded) lesson. Would you like to think of variations? How about going from a 180 degree turn to a 360 degree turn? How would you develop that movement? “Last week’s lesson” referred to here but not recorded is Amherst, Year 2, Tape #31.