You can’t go more than 5 blocks in the central business district of Victoria without seeing a yoga class, massage or some type of bodywork offered. What this means to me is we are living in a time and amongst a population of body savvy people. Stats Canada have surveyed us and concurred that yes we are the healthiest lot of Canadians and “out health” our more eastern brothers and sisters. Still we aren’t as far ahead as our California neighbors when it comes to “self awareness”. I loved the reinvention of Meditation as written by Mary MacVean in a recent LA Times columnist article entitled “Meditation has peacefully settled in the mainstream.”
Combining body centered yoga and mindfulness is an increasing possibility here in Victoria and ViVi Therapy is planning on offering yoga classes at our store/studio before and after our opening hours. We will be combining some Yoga classes in a mix with Feldenkrais classes for a body mind perspective that mainstream folks have not yet exposed themselves to. With the recent publication of The Brain’s Way of Healing by Norman Doidge M. D. people are now realizing how what we do with our bodies has everything to do with the functions of our brains and vice versa. Neuroplasticity they call it and it is on the rise.
The concept is that learning is contextual and what we do habitually without thinking can often be our demise. Since the book “The Brain’s Way of Healing” was published, dedicating an entire chapter to the work of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais the founder of the Feldenkrais Method we Feldenkrais practitioners, Feldy’s (as we call ourselves) have been bumped up a few notches on the radar of “those who would try new things”. If you have been there and done that when it comes to Yoga, Pilates and Meditation you really need to have a go at the Feldenkrais Method. Our group classes instruct you to do things with your body while teaching you to become aware of how you are doing it at the same time. Sounds simple, but actually like simple meditation skills this type of self awareness takes focus and time to settle in and reconfigure old habits of moving as well as thinking. As we know old habits die hard!
When you do an Asana (yoga pose) or a series of Sun Salutations in a flow format does it bring you immediately to a place of understanding how to sit better at a meeting, move while grocery shopping, surfing the net, watching a movie, moving the furniture, chopping vegetables, gardening, hugging a friend, even making love or cleaning the house? These are the places of everyday living, the places where I have discovered treating clients who do yoga and exercise regularly have difficulty. Even when people are very body conscious and exercise savvy there are missing links in the brain map that correspond with certain parts of the body that are not available in motion or certain motions and even in stillness . Feldenkrais brings these parts into the forefront of awareness and then into action.
Take your leg for example did you know it is connected to the line of your skeleton from your foot to your head and if you put your foot in a certain configuration you can actually work on that connection while lying on your back and paying attention. While executing a series of movements designed to elevate your awareness about that specific thing (how you are connected through your skeleton). When you focus and pay attention to specific body movements then you actually can translate those connections to balance, skeletal strength and power. Doing so leads to less muscle tension and energy being used by the body to perform daily tasks. This in turn leads to more graceful movement, better endurance and stamina to perform more intense athletic endeavors. To this end we think that no matter what level your yoga practice it could benefit from the insights your Feldenkrais practice/teacher has to offer you. Did you know it takes 4 years to become a Feldenkrais practitioner, long time eh? Well not full time but two full months a year for 4 years. All the while rolling around on the floor discovering the connections that we can teach you (the connections that Doidge mentions in his book that heal people from strokes, neurological deficits in learning and movement, pain suffering and on goes the list).
Want to understand the body more and spend more time during your yoga or other workouts being mindful and noticing how your body and your brain is contributing to your pain or your better performance?
When people become older, strength and agility tend to decrease, knowing more about how your habitual mind to body or body to mind connection works while exercising is insurance for avoiding injury, strain and loss of mobility. Loss of range of motion or stiff joints affects your quality of life as does pain. Your body has much to teach you and like meditation it requires you to slow down, listen and learn.