In appreciation of limits
In a Feldenkrais class, the teacher creates the conditions for students to figure things out for themselves. Instead of showing or telling you how to move, you are asked to follow directions designed to reveal long-lost abilities and new skills.
How does this work?
Lessons often use what you might call an invisible teaching tactic: without drawing attention to it, these kinds of implicit instructions close off the easy, everyday options, asking you to discover an alternate action. Rather than coaxing you to move in a specific manner, they create a movement puzzle to solve (while silently demonstrating the teacher’s trust in your inherent ability to learn for yourself).
We do this by asking you to take a position that eliminates your typical ways of moving. For instance, if you hold your head, arm, and shoulder together and move them together, this stops all movement in your neck. Like a beaver’s dam, these added constraints redirect the flow of action. In this example, the restrictions call for unusual, unfamiliar, subtle, and significant motions in your ribcage and upper back.
Such limits don’t simply ask you to alter your movement; they also change how you sense yourself, altering your kinesthetic perception of your body and your capacity to move. In the example above, holding your hand, arm, shoulder, and head together and moving them as a package means no motion in your neck and, therefore, no sensation of movement there. Instead, you can begin to sense what’s happening in your chest. The educational application of this kind of tactical restriction changes your physical action, which alters the activity of your nervous system and changes how you sense yourself.
It is rare for a teacher to explain how these carefully constructed limits lead to learning and increase liberty. Be that as it may, I have found it helpful to make them explicit. When students do not understand these restrictions and the purpose they serve, they can easily ignore or push past them. When they do so, they are more likely to overdo and hurt themselves and miss the potential benefit entirely. When you appreciate how restrictions can reveal greater freedom, you have a better chance of getting what the lesson offers.
Suppose you are curious about how constraints are crucial to improving coordination, flexibility, and balance?
In that case, I invite you to join me for Liberty & limits, a free impromptu summertime class online this coming weekend.
To make this Awareness Through Movement lesson as convenient as possible — after all, the easy way is hard enough — you have to chances two participate:
- Pacific session
Saturday, 9 July 2022
5:00 PM to 6:30 PM US Pacific time
- Atlantic session
Sunday, 10 July 2022
9:00 to 10:30 AM US Pacific time
- Pacific session
[To find what time these classes happen where you are, please go here: https://dateful.com/time-zone-converter.]
You are welcome to attend either session or both, as your schedule allows. There is no cost whatsoever to participate.
Please note that this is a live event. Though we will record the proceedings for possible future use, we have no plans to make the recordings immediately available.
This last-minute class is also an introduction to this year’s Feldenkrais Summer Camp, The Power Within, which starts in two weeks.
To learn more and to sign up, please go to:
I based the image at the top of today’s blog on a photo I took of artwork on the side of a building in downtown Santa Cruz seven years ago; it is no longer there, but I have been thinking about writing this blog since then! The illustration of breaking free from handcuffs came from a photo on Pixabay on Pexels, and I created the depiction of the person in the archway using a photograph from Aa Dil @ pexels.com.
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