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Feldenkrais® “Wings”

By Bettina Morphett-Savage

Be like that bird that, pausing in its flight,
Tarries for a moment on a bough too slight;
And feeling that it bends beneath it, sings,
Knowing it has wings.
–Victor Hugo–

With the Feldenkrais Method®, we learn to use gravity for easy alignment, not fight against it. With no feathers, still like that bird I sing, sensing my “Feldenkrais wings.”

Good balance is neither spinal extension nor flexion, but easing upwards and forwards like lengthening rope. Movements once learned may be practiced in the car, on the telephone, holding a child or groceries, or falling into or rousing from sleep. Here are a few ideas for the supermarket. Try this.

Choose a shopping cart that has free-rolling wheels. Place your hands on it as you would for shopping. As with a walking stick, it brings us UP, TO NEUTRAL, as long as we do not “fix” it to the floor with pressure. Leaning may feel supportive, but slows movement, reduces choices. If someone leans upon a shopping cart, unbalanced, possibly squashing breasts, cramping breathing, clamping the cart downward, they place wedging forces upon spinal disks, inviting pain.

Notice each shoulder blade (held in place mainly by muscles), and ask “What can I soften?” “What can I allow to lengthen?” as you bring one forward, the other back. Pause, breathe into the lower abdomen, or into a rib area where either hand fits comfortably. Wherever your hand sits, begin a tiny tapping 20 times, followed by a pause to breathe, then repeat. Now, begin to nod the head down and up, first following with eyes, then reversing. How could you “dance” the mid-spine, or shimmy the sacrum? Imagine “conducting an orchestra,” airing armpits, as your elbow movement reduces its effort. Using your hips, sway weight from left to right foot.(If you fear thieves, use the babyseat-belt to click your handbag safely, handle gently in fingers. Anything held in the palm may become locked into it, hankie, chair arm, handbag etc.)

These easeful tiny movements assist circulatory flow, allowing a fuller, less painful, more joyful life. Self-assisted learning, like Hugo’s bird singing, has wings! Let’s fly!

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