Envision Personalized Health



Return To The Pleasure Of Movement


Rediscovering Youthful Pleasurable Movement

 By: Rich Manuccia
Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher
Certified Personal Trainer

 What ever happened to pleasurable movement?  Remember the days when we could roll, climb, twist and bend and there was “nothing to it!” When we could get on and off the floor and in and out of chairs with the greatest of ease.  Turning to parallel park was a cinch.  We could bounce out of bed, reach to the floor and fly up the steps without a second thought.  Now we have aches that never go away.  Imagine how moving with greater ease and comfort could impact our lives?  The good news is we can regain our youthful way of moving when there was no fight, struggle or competition with gravity.  Let’s look how we can awaken new options for greater pleasure in moving.

 These concepts are a few of the principles behind the Feldenkrais Methodâ.  Feldenkrais? This is not just a made up name that is hard to say.  It is the name of the movement scientist who innovated the method, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais D.Sc. (1904-1984), a pioneer in the field of Somatic (Body) Education who taught himself to walk without pain after a disabling knee injury.  He was a physicist, engineer, author, Judo expert, and educator.  (There is short biography at feldenkrais.com.)  He explored the idea that our brains can change and learn throughout our lifetime.  This is the new science of brain plasticity and today we have MRI machines that actually show us how the brain changes.  We old dogs can learn new tricks when we are in the right learning environment.  The Feldenkrais Methodâ of Somatic Education creates this ideal environment.  Moshe Feldenkrais wrote that we can “make the impossible, possible; the possible, easy; and the easy, elegant”.  Whether we are a fine athlete or just want to walk with greater ease, we can all improve.  There is a lifetime of learning that is possible no matter where we begin.

 Let’s begin!  Here are some ideas to experiment with:

 Move more of yourself.

Whatever you want to do, the more of yourself that is involved in the movement the easier it is to do.  Spread the work throughout your whole self. The more of you that knows what you are doing and participating in your intention the easier it is to do anything.  With the work spread out no isolated part of you gets over used, strained or worn out.  Remember the children’s song about the knee bone being connected to the thighbone?  It’s the truth.  Everything is connected.  We could even say that the foot is connected to the head. Let me show you what I mean.  Think about the action of turning to the right to see the blind spot while driving.  Why limit the movement to seven little vertebrae of the neck?  Let the whole spine turn, the left shoulder move forward and the right move back, allow your pelvis to turn, move your left knee forward and the right knee back, include your eyes by actively looking to the right, and breathe out.  Sit upright rather than folding yourself and the movement becomes even easier.  With more of yourself participating you are now moving the way nature intended!

Reduce muscular effort

The more we eliminate unnecessary muscle contraction the easier it is to move.  We all have different habits of contacting muscles that don’t need to be contracted.  We contract our glutes, shoulders, abs, jaw, forehead, hands, feet, etc, inhibiting our movement.  Here’s an example.  As a culture we adults (kids don’t do this) often hold in our bellies.  Sometimes it is intentional and necessary but often we are unaware of this contraction and it interferes with movement.  Here’s an experiment.  Tighten your abs hard and walk.    It is like driving a car with the brakes on.  Relax your abs and feel the freedom in the movement of your hips, pelvis, back, legs, spine, and shoulders. Becoming aware of our own particular muscle contraction and letting it go is something we can all learn to do better.  We want to take the brakes off wherever we can.

Know what you are doing

Moshe Feldenkrais said, “Know what you are doing and you can do what you want”.  Being aware of what you are actually doing and thinking about what you want to do can open the door to finding the easiest route.  We often rely on our willfulness to go beyond what our bodies can handle.  This is often how we get hurt.  Why not pause and ask what is the easiest way to do this task?  There is a guy (me) who was trying plug a lamp into an electrical socket that was located behind a dresser.  As I reached behind the dresser with my right arm, forcing the issue, I felt my arm about to fall off.  I asked what am I doing, what do I want to do and how can I do it easier… I am tearing my arm off and I want to plug this lamp in.  Hmm?  Being the movement genius that I am, I moved the dresser and   switched to my left arm…Nothing to it!  Can you see how shinning the light of awareness onto how we are moving and checking our willfulness can lead to the path of greater ease?

Think of your skeleton

Thinking about our skeleton during a function (sitting, standing, walking up stairs, reaching, turning, etc.) can make a huge difference in the quality of our movement.  Our skeleton is usually not in the forefront of our attention.  We focus more on muscular strength to do work.  Here are a couple of examples of thinking and moving skeletally.  I was at a family event with my 85-year-old friend Alyce.  She was sunk down into a big mushy chair, the kind that when you sit your knees are higher than your buttocks.  When it was time to leave the whole gang, working from many angles, attempted to help the Matriarch out of the chair by pulling and pushing in different direction. She barked, “Everyone back off. I know how to do this!” (For many years she’s been a student of the Feldenkrais Method.)  Everyone stopped and watched with delight as Grandma walked with her pelvis to the edge of the chair where she sat firmly on her sitting bones.  Planting her feet solid on the floor she leaned forward until her weight shifted over her feet and then stood up.  No leg squatting, no heavy demand on muscle strength, all skeletal, yet strong as bull.  In other words…Piece of cake!

One more quick example of using the skeleton.  Often when walking up stairs we plant one leg on the upper step and with the effort of the thigh muscle we straighten out the leg and we lift ourselves up onto the step.  All the work is done with the one leg.  There is a great muscular effort plus a lot of pressure on the knee and if you have achy knees you know how this hurts.  But if you were to lift the lower leg with your pelvis, spring off your foot, fold your ribs to the same side, and move your shoulders and arms you could simply ratchet yourself up to the next step.  There is no strain on the knee and no muscular effort as the pelvis leads the lifting and the rest of you is participating.  Thinking of your whole skeleton, instead of just the lead leg making a powerful effort, makes the motion effortless.  This idea can even be applied to hiking.  Think of the pelvis and your whole body moving, not just your thigh, and you can effortlessly fly up a mountain.  

It’s an education

Moving and doing what we want to do with ease and comfort is a learning process.  We knew how to move effortlessly when we were younger.  But injuries, habits that limit choices, new restrictive environments (sitting at a computer), cultural impress (hold in the belly), and our own thinking (willfulness) have shaped how we move today.  It is worth relearning what made moving so effortless in the first place.   

The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education is presented in two ways, Functional Integration and Awareness Through Movement.   In Functional Integration Lessons, the student lies on a firm table fully clothed as the teacher gently moves the student in various ways that introduce to the brain and nervous system new options for moving.  In Awareness Through Movement Lessons the student is either lying down, standing, sitting or walking while verbally directed through gentle and fascinating movement explorations.  Each experience is pleasurable and filled with pleasant surprises.  After a lesson we feel light, flexible, movement restrictions are eliminated and we can move in ways that we thought were gone forever!  

 I hope this has been useful.  I know there are limitations to just reading about movement.  When it comes to movement there is nothing like experience as we sense, think, feel, explore, experiment and discover for ourselves.  Just as we learned to move when we were very young.  Perhaps your curiosity has been stimulated and this could be the start of new learning.  Maybe you’ll try some of these ideas.  That would be terrific!  

Rich Manuccia

Biography:

Physical activity has always played a big role in my life, lifting my spirit and keeping me more or less sane. After an accident I had to give it up for a time. This changed my life. I no longer had the one thing that helped me cope. But it put me on the road to self-discovery. I saw how resentment was destroying my spirit. Over time I learned about forgiveness and acceptance. Gradually my empathy muscle developed as I saw how others struggled. I could identify with those who had an insult to the body. Along with pain comes fear, anger, and thinking that it's the beginning of the end. I learned how my thinking and attitude were intertwined with how I felt emotionally and physically.  With the guidance of wonderful teachers I began to appreciate what I was able to do and saw the bigger picture for my life. In my work I see people who are challenged live courageously , with great love for life. Their attitude is inspiring. As a Fitness trainer and Feldenkrais Teacher I hope to open the door to new possibilities so that people can fully enjoy life.

Envision Personalized Health
4620 Alvarado Canyon Road Suite 14
San Diego CA. 92120
619-229-9695

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Remember the days when we could roll, climb, twist and bend and there was “nothing to it!” We could get on and off the floor and in and out of chairs without a grunt and a groan. We bounced out of bed with ease and bent to the floor without no moaning.  Turning to parallel park was a cinch.  It was easy to walk up and down stairs. Many of us now we have aches and pains that never go away and that make moving difficult and needlessly restrict us. Moving with greater ease and comfort would so positively impact our lives. 

 The good news is that we can relearn and return to our youthful, more effortless and less painful way of moving. We can recapture the way we moved when there was no fight, struggle or competition with gravity. We can learn new ways to move more efficiently and effectively and derive greater pleasure in moving. The path to more efficient, less painful movement flow from of the principles behind the Feldenkrais Method. 

 By way of introduction, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais D.Sc. (1904-1984), was a pioneer in the field of Somatic (Body) Education who taught himself to walk without pain after a disabling knee injury.  He was a physicist, engineer, author, Judo expert, and educator.  (There is short biography at feldenkrais.com.)

 Dr. Feldenkrais explored the idea that our brains can change and learn throughout our lifetime.  This is the new science of brain plasticity and today we have MRI machines that actually show us how the brain changes.  We old dogs can learn new tricks when we are in the right learning environment.  The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education creates this ideal environment. Feldenkrais wrote that we can “make the impossible, possible; the possible, easy; and the easy, elegant”.  Whether we are a fine athlete or just want to walk with greater ease, we can all improve.  There is a lifetime of learning that is possible no matter where we begin.

 Learning to move more painlessly and efficiently is the goal of the specific Feldenkrais training sessions, described in more detail below.  What follows here is a discussion of a few basic principles of the technique and some examples of how you might begin to apply these ideas beginning now.

 PRINCIPLE: Move more of yourself.

 Whatever you want to do, the more of yourself that is involved in the movement the easier it is to do.  Spread the work throughout your whole body.

 Application

 Think, about the action of turning to the right to see the blind spot while driving. Most people limit the movement to the seven little vertebrae of the neck.  Instead, let your whole spine turn, let your left shoulder move forward and the right move back, allow your pelvis to turn, move your left knee forward and the right knee back, include your eyes by actively looking to the right, and breathe out.  Sit upright rather than [folding yourself?] and the movement becomes even easier.  With more of yourself participating you are now moving the way nature intended!

 PRINCIPLE: Reduce muscular effort

 The more we eliminate unnecessary muscle contraction the easier it is to move. We are usually unaware that we are unnecessarily contracting our muscles (our glutes, shoulders, abs, jaw, forehead, hands, feet, etc.) Contracted muscles inhibit movement. 

 Application

 As a culture, we adults (kids don’t do this) often hold in our bellies.  Sometimes it is intentional and necessary but often we are unaware of this the contraction and it interferes with movement.  Here’s an experiment.  Tighten your abs hard and walk.    It is like driving a car with the brakes on.  Relax your abs and feel the freedom in the movement of your hips, pelvis, back, legs, spine, and shoulders. Becoming aware of our own particular muscle contraction and letting it go is something we can all learn to do better.  We want to take the brakes off wherever we can.       ROUGH DRAFT #1


Rich Manuccia
Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher
Certified Personal Trainer