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The Joy of Discovery

By Deedee Eisenberg, Ph.D.

Yoga poses and movements are meant to unfold from the core of an individual’s spine, breath, and awareness, rather than be copied from a model outside ourselves. The Feldenkrais® approach evokes this unfolding from within, gradually and steadily developing suppleness and release through the rib cage, stable balance through the limbs, shoulders, and pelvis, and fluid integration through the spine, tail to crown. These are the skills that make challenging poses easy! In fact, Moshe’s promise, ” to make the impossible possible” is listed in the Yoga Sutra as a benefit of yoga practice.

“I used to feel limited in my capacity to do these (yoga) movements. Now after the Functional Integration® work, I see that was just my perception. My perception has changed. I feel whole! These movements are within my reach,” Cathy Suttle beamed to me.”

I love to witness students’ delight as they discover yoga poses unfolding from within themselves. A Feldenkrais learning process primes their intelligence, readying the feet, hands, buttocks, eyes, mouth - the dynamic whole - to engage wholeheartedly, with great ease, in a practice sequence. No more pushing and pulling in an arbitrary manner to achieve a form foreign to them: rather, a simple inquisitive process to unleash their own self-knowledge, which guides them to a new, stable and open balance. Since both the Feldenkrais Method® and yoga explore unknown personal experience of the human nervous system, they delve deep into common ground:

  • * body as an expression of, and handle on, one’s emotional and social makeup
  • right and left sides of the body in an intricate dance of duality and union, conflict and cooperation
  • breath as a bridge between upper and lower body, conscious and unconscious action
  • imagination and inner gaze as an entry into and preparation for action.

Donna Maeboori, a physical therapist in Portland, Oregon, offers both the Feldenkrais Method and yoga strategies to people who seek help with chronic pain. She finds that small Feldenkrais movements give subtle information that augments yoga poses and guides people to move smoothly in and out of a pose. Her Feldenkrais window on yoga deepens her kinesthetic descriptions, freeing her students to find ease, confidence, and spontaneous full breathing in their poses. Feldenkrais lessons are akin to, and prepare for, meditation. Eryl Kubicka co-director of the Madison Zen Centre, who has decades of meditation experience, found that the quiet, relentless self-discovery process of an Awareness Through Movement® lesson reminded her of the intimacy engendered in meditation practice. “We encounter the same resistance, and must navigate our way through.” Yoga means attentiveness in action, and it shares with the Feldenkrais Method a thoroughly practical approach to improving one’s life, step by step.

Deedee Eisenberg teaches yoga and the Feldenkrais Method in Califon, New Jersey.

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