Tag: Movement

Are You Needlessly Aging Yourself?

Dangle a time and effort saver in front of my face and my first reaction is – “I gotta have it!” Visions of ease (we all know I’m all about ease) dance merrily in my head until somewhere from the back of my brain a new “reality” creeps to the fore. I begin to see what all the lack of motion that comes with those devices begins to do to a body.

Huh? Seriously. Every time you stop doing something – be that carrying water, vacuuming, hanging laundry, reaching for things on the upper shelves – you limit your body’s movement potential. And when you stop using your body in more complex and demanding ways, you essentially tell your brain – “Nope, don’t need that skill anymore. You can forget about it.” Which is exactly what your brain does. It adapts to the more limited repertoire you’ve given it and it, and your body, become ever less adapted to a life that requires manual exertion and complex motion.

But, “I go to the gym,” you say. Great. Working out can be fun. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, social engagement (one of the best life extenders known to man) and defined muscles. But does it improve function?

How many people do you know who regularly work out who can’t open a jar of pickles, reach a glass from the top shelf, or complain that stooping to get something from under the sink gives them a backache? Well?

We humans are designed for movement. Lots of it. In infinitely varied ways. To live in a youthful body, we need to expand our movement potential rather than diminish it. (That’s a fancy way of saying “use it or lose it”.)

I’m not talking about hard labor. Excess is rarely appropriate. I’m talking about reclaiming movements like bending, squatting, reaching, stair climbing, walking, etc., that modern life and effort “savers” are slowly eliminating. Put movement back into your day and see if you don’t feel stronger, more flexible and, yes, younger.

How? Here are a few suggestions:

* Take the plates out of that drawer and put them back on the upper shelves.
* Take the stairs whenever you can.
* Running errands? Consolidate. Park once and walk between your stops.
* Ignore the pull-outs and bend down to reach appliances.
* Get on the floor to play with the kids (grandkids?), or watch tv or read.
* Take business on the road with mobile meetings. Walk with associates.
* Ditch the car. Walk the kids to school. Help carry their books.
* Try baking bread (kneading), whipping cream (stirring), etc. by hand.
* Walk on the grass, balance along a curb, hike uneven surfaces…

What other ways can you think of (and TRY) to expand your daily motions?

Calm Your Nerves #12 – Step Lively

step livelyHow you’re feeling is evident in how you move.

If you feel down, chances are you’ll find yourself dragging about, every step an effort. Feel happy and your step takes on a bit of a bounce.

But mood isn’t all powerful. The opposite is also true. Change how you move and your mood will shift to match.

Give it a try:

Next time you’re feeling anxious, down, or worried, take a moment to notice how you are moving.

Are your feet dragging along?
Does your body feel heavy?
Are your movements labored and full of effort?

Once you know what you’re doing, get up and get going. Set a lively pace. The power to change your mood is in your footsteps.

For an extra boost walk outside in nature.
Add a shot of “happy” by walking with a friend.

Calm Your Nerves #5 – Reach for the Sky

reach for skyWhy wrestle with your emotions when simply changing what you do with your body can shift how you feel?

If you’re feeling down, out or anxious, chances are you’ll find your shoulders slumped, back humped and head hanging. There may be tightness in your belly, your lower back might ache or you may be experiencing neck and jaw tension. You may even find you’re fighting with yourself to maintain an upright position, wishing instead that you could curl up into a ball or slouch into a cushy chair.

When you’re ready to shift your mood and allow ease to creep into your body, give this simple exercise a try.

Option 1:Static Reaching

Make a mental note of what your body is doing and the corresponding emotions you’re feeling.

Reach both arms upward toward the sky.
Let your head tilt back and your eyes look upward toward the moon.
Hold this position for a slow count of ten.
Drop your arms and check in with yourself.
Are you feeling more at ease?

Option 2: Dynamic Reaching

Check in with your body, noticing where you hold tension and how you are feeling.
Reach both arms upward toward the sky.
Turn your head and eyes to look toward your left hand.
Let your head and eyes very slowly follow the length of your left arm from hand to shoulder.
Follow the path across your chest and up the length of your right arm to your right hand.
Reverse the process. Slowly let your head and eyes trace the path from your right hand, along your right arm, across your chest and up your left arm to your left hand.
Repeat 3 or 4 times.
Let your arms drop.
What has changed?
Are you feeling more relaxed in body and mind?

16. Seek Harmony


These are all buzzwords for the superfluous and non-harmonious.

Close your eyes and imagine you are watching your favorite performer – dance, theater, sports, music, driving, whatever you can envision. Your performer is “ON”. His or her performance flows without effort, without a single distracting step or note. Everything is perfection. Performer and performance are one. All is harmony.

What you see is the result of hours and hours of training (i.e., learning). It is also the result of letting go of anything and everything that is NOT the performance.

Michelangelo famously noted that he did not create a sculpture. Instead, he chipped away at the marble to release the sculpture that resided within. He cut away anything and everything that was not part of the figure he was carving. He took away the superfluous and what was left looked effortless. And beautiful.

Michelangelo’s sculptures did not materialize overnight. They took time – lots of it. Likewise, they took work. Michelangelo spent hours and expended much energy on his creations. Still, he did not struggle or force or rush the results. Had he done any of those things, no matter how skilled he was with hammer and chisel, the effort would have shown. The harmony of his David would have been disturbed and the sculpture would have been less than the marvel we know it to be.

The same goes when YOU learn to do something better. When you try too hard, it shows. When you push and force and hurry, the result of whatever you are hoping to improve can only fall short of its potential. On the other hand, when you look for harmony between all the elements of what you are doing and working toward, the result is efficiency, ease of effort, and, dare I say it, a sense of pleasure.

As you go about your learning, ask yourself:
Where am I forcing?
Where am I trying to make something happen?
Where am I rushing?
Where am I holding onto preconceived ideas of how something “should” be and not allowing the natural results to flow?
Where am I holding back?
Where am I resisting?

Then see if you can let go and allow yourself to learn at your own distinct pace, with the lightest of efforts. And know that as you let go into the abyss of wonder and knowledge, your skill WILL increase. Your speed will also increase – WITHOUT you having to do anything special to make it happen. You will find that what you do brings pleasure – to yourself and to others.

And when you least expect it, you will be your own performance.


If you’ve had a little wander about my site you’ve probably figured out that I am a Feldenkrais Practitioner.  Huh?  What’s that?  The better question is who’s that.

Moshe Feldenkrais was a scientist  who used his knowledge of physics and biology, combined with his experience in the martial arts to overcome his own debilitating injury.  How did he do it?  By using the elements we are exploring here.  His success led to others wanting to know more and he developed a method of Learning to Learn that bears his name – The Feldenkrais Method.

Sadly, most people think of the Method as an adjunct to physical therapy, something you do when you want to recover from an injury, get out of back pain or learn how to move better.  But that is only a glimmer of the Method’s potential.

Dr. Feldenkrais used movement as the foundation of his approach because movement is something we all have in common.  It is accessible and is the foundation of everything.  As Einstein said, “Nothing happens until something moves.”  But movement is only the platform.  Through exploring our movements in the broadest sense of the word, we learn about ourselves, the choices we unconsciously make, and empower ourselves to live, as Dr. Feldenkrais proposed, our un-avowed dreams.


Building a Better Student

The educational system could benefit from a little shaking up – literally.  Researchers have long known that the more senses you engage in the learning process the more readily you learn and the longer you will retain the information.  Now educators – the ones who work in schools with young children – are showing that adding movement to lessons can have a powerful impact on educational outcomes.

One such teacher is Karen Saura.  Her story of integrating movement into her lessons is both inspiring and encouraging.  Here is a link to her site and her story.  It’s worth the few minutes it takes to listen to her tell about her experience in the classroom.  Then check out the links to videos of her class in action.  Karen offers a powerful role model for dynamic teaching.  http://www.mindfulrhythmmovements.com/

Interested in a Feldenkrais specific approach to teaching in the classroom?  Fellow Feldenkrais practitioner Catherine Rosasco Mitchell brings movement to school children in Hawaii.  She documents some of her  tips in her book, “A New Sensory Self-Awareness.”  It is available through Feldenkrais Resources. http://www.feldenkraisresources.com/?Click=1432

We’re Living Longer But…

American’s are living longer but for many of us those extra years are fraught with aches, pains and debilitation.  A recent article in The Wall Street Journal highlights the gains in longevity along with the increase in chronic conditions that result in decreased quality of life.  Is this downward slide really due to aging as some suggest?  Or, could aging (as opposed to getting older which none of us has any control over) be the result of lifestyle choices – diet, smoking, lack of exercise, chronic stress, lack of social engagement, etc.?  The answer, no doubt, is complex.  Still, joining a Feldenkrais class gives you a leg up (literally and figuratively) on aging.  The simple movements are designed to keep (or help you rediscover) your body supple and your mind alert.


How do YOU see your body?

If you’re like most people, especially women, you’ve probably had more than your share of looking at your body’s superficial attributes — flabby thighs, too tall, too short, cellulite, not pretty enough, etc.  But what REALLY matters?  Interrupt Magazine asked a number of young girls ages 4 – 8 what they liked about their bodies.  The results are surprising – or maybe not.

What do YOU like about your body?  Take a moment to ponder your own body, your likes and dislikes.  Then compare your answers with those of the young girls interviewed for the article.  Were you surprised?