Spring into your Movement Mentor
Using the raw materials of space, time, energy and the human body we can choose to dance, slouch, saunter, swagger or shuffle. But what gives some people elegant and beautiful posture while others barely move enough to get from A to B?
“Each one of us speaks, moves, thinks, and feels in a different way, each according to the image of himself he has built up over the years.”
Self-image is central to his theory and technique. “To change our mode of action we must change the image of ourselves we carry within us.” Feldenkrais sees all movement as reflecting the state of the nervous system. Becoming accustomed to our movements particularly if they are bad can keep us in negative physical and emotional states. He believes in interrupting any habitual negative patterns to help the body learn to function more fluidly. Moving in a different way will improve self-image and body awareness. A Cape Town based dance teacher explains that, besides other factors, posture changes with different generations and with fashion. In the last generation it was all about ‘shoulders back, chest out, head up and striding forward. Many kids today follow the big baggy jean fashion where they wear their jeans halfway down their hips. Trying to keep their pants up means they have to angle their bodies backwards, slouch right down and kind of walk from side to side without picking their feet up too much. Some of these kids never lift their arms above their heads and when asked to do so find it quite awkward.
Helen Payne, author of Creative Movement and Dance (Winslow Press) mentions that long before a child understands verbal communication or responds to visual clues it feels the subtleties of the mother’s physical attentions and of its own movement. The early mother-infant relationship is a symbiotic phase through which kinaesthetic sensations particularly in holding and handling by the mother, the body image, a sense of self and the mind’s structure emerge. But through habitual movement, negative self-image and lack of awareness, most people have lost good use of their bodies by the time they are past early childhood. Feldenkrais developed his method of movement after suffering from a sports related injury. He was originally a physicist involved with nuclear radiation research, when injured he set off on a journey to explore the functioning of the body rather than have surgery. With many years of research and practice in psychology, martial arts, physiology, anatomy and neurology he taught himself how to walk without pain. He developed two methods of working with movement:
- The first is a group method where participants are guided through a slow and gentle sequence designed to replace old patterns of movement with new ones.
- The second employs the use of touch and gently directs the body through various movement sequences.
Being strongly opposed to forcefully imposed, rigid movements his teaching promotes exploration, experimentation allowing individuals to discover the movement patterns best suited to themselves.According to Michael Murphy, co-founder of the Esalen Learning Institute in California, bodywork disciplines have the potential for bringing about transformations of the human personality. He maintains that bodywork systems promote attributes beyond those to which they are primarily addressed.