Happy Hips & Low Back

Class Synopsis

Welcome To the First Class

 In first 5 minutes of the class, I covered some some basic concepts to help you be ready for the series:

  • The five lines (we will return to this in later classes)
  • Objective vs Subjective experiences
  • Body as a reference for the lesson
  • Comfort is primary
  • The midline

Then we started to move the right arm and used the experience of moving to explore a few more principles:

  • Comfort is primary (again)
  • Making small movements
  • Listening to yourself
  • Thinking and comparing distances
  • Inviting other parts of the body to participate

At the end, participants stood and listened/felt the differences in their arms, neck and low back.


Second Class

  At the beginning of this second class, I reviewed some important properties:

  • 5 lines
  • Objective and Subjective experiencing
  • The Body as a reference, and
  • Using the whole self for moving

I briefly mentioned the connection between these special movements and emotions. That there is a range of experiences that people experience as they delve in to learn more about themselves.

We moved into the movement part of the lesson with sensing in particular the "first cardinal line" from the tailbone to the head, using the objective data about contact and positioning and adding in subjective senses.

The sketch at right shows a basic position from which a number of variations were done. When one listens to oneself raising the pelvis, there are many questions that can arise. An overall  picture was finding ways for parts of the sine to rise while allowing others to rest, and, perhaps more than rest, to provide very clear support.

For one part of the body to rise, another part needs to sink into the floor. Thus, when the head rises, what sinks into the floor, providing support? When the pelvis rises?

When support is realized, those parts holding on let go.

When the students stood they found they were more erect and they felt taller. They tested the different ways of bending that had been done on the floor and found much greater ease. One student said, "My back was sore when I came into class, but now it is great!"


Class 3

At the beginning and throughout the class, the following ideas were presented as part of organizing your learning:

  • Notice and Wonder. Annie Fetter's ideas about learning using a process of noticing and wondering. See video at right.
  • Subjective and Objective experience. Attending to the objective experience.
  • Cardinal lines of the legs.

For most of us, high tonus of the muscles in the back preclude the possibility of experiencing objective data (positioning, etc) about the back in an accurate way. Further, we confuse some subjective sensations for objective ones (strain being the most obvious), and cannot sense other subjective sensations.

This lesson continues with the somatic education aspects of becoming clear about the objective data, this time being the location of the feet and legs, and the space they can move in. This is also a somatic mapping activity.

Through the clarification of some possibilities of movements of the legs, the habitual strain (tonus) in the low back is reduced.

We used the freedom of the low back to allow easy rolling from back to side and returning again.

At the end, students slowly walked, sensing their legs in a new way, and the connection of their legs in providing support for a comfortable back.

 Some people report this type of lesson improves sitting cross-legged, dancing Twist and putting on trousers and socks.



The following 13-minute video gives a quick summary of the movements, but not the "mapping" ideas. 


Video by my colleague, Cynthia Allen, on her website, Future Life Now.Click to see her page.


Class 4: What's the Twist Got to Do with it?

It is hard to imagine anyone with hip or low back problems twisting. Instead, their system organizes most of their movements as up/down movements. This is a shame because the body is designed to make many kinds of twists, and the spiral is the strongest and fastest way to change direction and height.


This lesson can be done as an exercise -- and that works. By pushing and straining, and by repetition, one can increase the twist of the upper body, and the lower body. If you approach it from this perspective, you will lose the larger benefit.

In this series we are developing the skills in self-observation, and learning which observations lead to changes in the body. It is through using these skills in these slow ways that you will begin to spontaneously use them to ease your pain and discomfort.

The positions and movements are a tool to observe HOW you move. You can use the observational hints to thus improve the way that you sense in order to allow your system itself to make the changes towards improvements.

The links at the right suggest the positions and movements. But the benefit emerges through attending to how.

Enjoy this lesson, and come back as many times as you like. There is always something to discover!

The day following the class, a new student called to say that she was so surprised that she felt so good when she woke up. She has constant hip and back pain and has tried many ways to ease the discomfort. Waking up without the discomfort was a blessing. She was surprised that the small, simple movements had such profound effects -- and wanted to know how to maintain the results.

Watch a demonstration of The Twist as a dance movement (click here: https://youtu.be/ETX03Zjtarc).



Class 7- The Neck Turns more Simply

A Bouncing Ball, constrain the neck, breathing, finding ease, finding support: do all these, and move. Not an easy request.

A note on positioning the hands and arms: it is a little tricky to get the most effective placement of the hands. They are to gently support the head through being crossed in front. The photo at the top shows a woman from the back with her left arm crossing the chest and hand caressing the place where the neck and shoulder join. Your hand could be their, or a little higher. Then the other hand is on the other side.

Below are other interpretations I extracted from a web search of a hand holding the neck.

What was the primary movement? It was turning the whole upper body -- or the whole body around the spine. The hands where constraining the neck so that the neck muscles were inhibited from turning the head, and the directions (almost) never mentioned the head turning. Instead, the turning was directed through bringing the shoulder forward, or the hip forward, or lifting the front of the foot.

 I added additional ideas that you can add to your own practice:

a. Bouncing Ball. So often, when we hear directions for a move, we take ourselves to the limit. In this case, each successive movement was 50 percent less, until we could hardly sense any movement was happening.

b. Breathing.  We habitually inhibit a full, easy breath, and this inhibition leads to limited mobility of the chest (in addition to a sense of generalized discomfort).  By intentionally pacing the breath, this habit is itself inhibited and the more natural breath becomes possible

 c. Finding Ease. Listening for ease produces ease and flexibility. Practicing this with small movements increases the likelihood of experiencing ease.

 d. Finding Support. When the head finds support in the spine and the rib case, then there is increased ease of turning, less holding and overall, great comfort. Thus one can intentionally listen for support - the ways that the body rests on the floor while the other parts are lifting. This then builds a new pattern of movement in which those parts that are supporting while lying down can be called upon for support while sitting and standing.



Class 8: Integrating Into Rolling

This class, the 8th, and last of the series, drew together many of the ideas and movement investigations into integrated movements.

Students discovered that they could begin to roll from their back onto their sides, and from their onto their tummies ... all gently and gracefully. In the language of the Feldenkrais Method, they discovered the principle of Reversibility.

Each student for him, or herself realized the joy of discovery, at his or her own pace.

Then, the group discovered they could roll over and over, from one end of a set of mats, to the other, and return. See the video, at right, of a recent group doing a similar roll.

When standing, participants felt refreshed, and more at ease. Their walking was easier and more balanced.

With this rolling, we complete the first phase of a two-part process, and now we are ready to roll into walking.

Here is a recent group at the end of a Feldenkrais workshop doing a similar roll:

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