Feldenkrais® Workshops with Susan Marshall
Feldenkrais® is an incredible mindful movement form that is beneficial for everything from posture to movement to healthy aging to injury and illness and more. The form has been getting a lot of buzz in the last few months, including write-ups in the New York Times.
We have been fortunate to have Susan Marshall teaching weekly Feldenkrais® classes for us the past year plus and we are very excited to have her scheduled to teach three micro workshops this spring. We asked Susan to tell us a little more about each of the workshops. Read on for what she had to say!
I am pleased to be teaching my first series of Feldenkrais® Sunday Micro Workshops at The Wellspring School:
How I Got My Wiggle Back: Sunday, February 25th 1:30-4:30
Fear of Falling: Sunday, March 25th 1:30-4:30
Help! I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up: Sunday, April 29th 1:30-4:30
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc. (1904-1984) is the founder of the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education. His professional influences range from Professor Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo to F.M. Alexander, founder of the Alexander Technique, Russian mystic G.I. Gurdijeff and German educator in Heinrich Jacoby.
Dr. Feldenkrais, who taught many of his classes in Tel Aviv to holocaust survivors, thought of the Feldenkrais Method as a way to restore human dignity to people.
I am a Feldenkrais Guild Certified Practitioner, which means that I have completed a four year training program and each year that I have been certified, I have practiced a minimum number of hours and certify that I continue to improve my skill level. I teach group classes and see clients individually.
Over my years of practice and teaching, I have gained some insights I would like to share with you in these upcoming workshops. All of these workshops will consist of hands on learning.
Because the work we will be doing is more about changing your brain and nervous system to change your habits, than it is about doing something physically strenuous, you will be surprised at how much energy you use! So, leave room for some tasty snacks to replenish your energy levels during the workshops. These snacks will be provided by Mary Wilson, graduate of the Wellspring School Nutrition Program.
I look forward to seeing you in one or all of the workshops!
Dr. Feldenkrais was known for saying repeatedly: “It’s all about the pelvis!”
In addition to being the seat that life springs from, the pelvis is shaped to allow our spine and legs to balance us as we move. When our pelvis does not move freely, our movements culminate in pain from our “efforting” unnecessarily. That pain can be expressed anywhere in our body! Simply put, we exhaust ourselves for no good reason. But when our pelvis moves well, our spine expresses fluidity, we roll the top of our femur leg bones all around the inside of the hip sockets of the pelvis which sends a message to our knees and ankles to roll a little as well. The result is a feeling of freedom and ease.
Can you restore healthy hip movements? Absolutely! In this workshop, we will review the physical mechanics of the pelvis, explore simple, mindful movements, then use our nervous system the Feldenkrais way to establish those new movements as the new “normal.”
Did you know that human beings have one of the smallest base-to-height ratios in the animal kingdom? To balance on a base that is often smaller than one square foot, is a great engineering feat! It’s a good thing our bodies are built this way. Most animals stand and walk on four feet, which provides solid balance. Once children learn to stand and walk, they almost never go back to crawling on hands and knees as a mode of operation.
One thought in human evolution is that when we lived in trees, we were at risk for falling all the time, from babyhood on up. Think of the old lullaby:
Rock a bye baby in the treetops.
When the wind blows the cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and
Down will come baby, cradle and all!
Today it’s a different story. Being ready to or knowing how to fall is not something that we do instinctively. We assume cuts and scrapes and bumps and bruises are part of the deal as we grow up. But do we ever really learn how to live without fear of falling? Our posture often reflects how well we have learned, retained or recovered the ability to balance on two feet without fear.
As adults our posture reflects the sum of our experiences. We end up in some sort of half-ready, half-unsteady posture that we see today in many adults: head forward and down, shoulders hunched, lower back stiffly over or under arched. Most people use their arms and hands to steady themselves instead of relying on the more mechanically sound legs and feet.
Our brains generalize the inefficient learning to our mental outlook and emotional attitude. We guard even more against other kinds of falling or “failing.” From our head being oriented down, we no longer engage our present circumstance accurately. Instead we rely on our past experience and don’t trust ourselves to try new approaches. Even our ability to “fall in love” suffers!
Knowing where we are in space is key to overcoming the fear of falling. Once we somatically understand how to fall, we no longer need to be constantly in a half falling posture. We can stand erect, ready to engage our life as it exists today.
Come to this workshop to begin to change your every day posture. It may even change your life!
So there you are doing your best to have good standing and walking posture, and out of nowhere, this uneven piece of concrete simply attacked you! (Of course, that is how it appeared, or with wishful thinking, how it really was.) You end up facedown with a twisted ankle or bruised ego, withstanding friend’s ironic comments of “Walk much?” or unwanted solicitations of strangers “Are you okay?!!”
Most of the time we are just not in touch with our environment. We don’t even need cell phones as a prop, really. The growing amount of data thrown at us in our daily lives is just overwhelming. Our minds are pre-occupied with things other than where we are in the moment. We don’t have a sense of where we are in space.
Most of us are on auto-pilot. Unless we walk or drive home in the same way every day, we may remember a smidgen of that journey. Our brains luckily fill in most of the gaps in our momentary awareness and concentration so that we don’t die even younger than we do!
There is a great story about Dr. Feldenkrais at a cocktail party in post-war London. He cultivated a keen awareness of his body and balance. In one hand he had a wine glass, in another the plate of hor d’oerves. In the middle of an engaged conversation, he proceeded to sit on a chair that had, unbeknownst to him, a broken leg. As soon as he sat down on the chair seat, the chair gave way.
Without missing a breath or spilling any wine or food, or dropping to the floor, Moshe simply stood back up, and continued making his point. This was despite a disability in one of his knees from an old soccer injury. His fluid movements were a testimony to his awareness of where he was in space at all times. Others around him were duly impressed to say the least. He understood on a somatic level how to bend and straighten his back and how to achieve an “unstable” balance using all the joints of his human skeleton (including his ankles and feet!).
We will use those same principles to learn a way of coming up off of the ground or floor after you have fallen. In addition, we will cultivate a familiarity with balancing on many surfaces of the body. Understanding and experiencing the mechanics of the human body will put you in a position to fall less often and to recover from falling easier. Simply put—you will learn to be aware of where you are in space.