What’s the difference?

With the frontside facing the floor, lifting the right elbow, but in one case – we’re working on a case now, Dr. Watson – the legs are long and spread out, and in the other case a kind of kneeling or sitting on the heels.

What’s the difference with these two movements? What do they mean? Where do they lead to? Where do they belong? Flexion? Extension? Coming from kneeling to standing? Turning maybe? Do they affect the nerves in back? The sacrum? The legs? The neck? What are those movements for?

And the same question again. Leaning on the elbows, lifting and lowering the head, or sinking and lifting the spine in between the shoulder blades. Exhibit A: in kneeling – there’s documentary evidence now, Dr. Watson – Exhibit B: in kneeling on the heels. What’s the difference?

Can I try one more? Or is your brain already fried? Mine is mush!

What’s the difference, what’s the difference?  I need to know, what is it, what is it?

What do we do in Feldenkrais-inspired somatic movement classes?

I sent a quite elaborate and lengthy class description to Priscilla, my marvellous organiser for my upcoming online class, my contribution to her series, “Live with LULU”.

The class is free and open to the public upon RSVPing, the date is Thursday, March 31st, 2022, 6:00pm-7:30pm EST / 3:00pm-4:30pm PST, the RSVP sign-up form is here, you’re welcome: https://forms.gle/Xt1pT3XKiH9y9pSL8

And while I was thinking about my elaborate and lengthy class description this morning, I was thinking that I might have served them a stack of recipes rather than the menu. Therefore, I was thinking about what I could say what we actually be doing. And since thinking is one thing, and writing down thoughts another thing, please hear… er… read… the thing… it is what it is (says love):

What do we try to experience?

  • Improvements in our movements, in terms of smoother, easier, lighter, less painful, more pleasurable, warmer, more relaxed, better coordinated, better distributed and load balanced, better connected, using less effort, …
  • Becoming more aware of our physical selves, one’s parts/areas (e.g. the shape of the shoulder blade), and how they move, and connect and influence each other
  • Afterwards, feeling better than when we started

So, after having described some of the experiences we try to experience, or at least I try to help you to experience, I thought it would also make sense to describe what I do not consider when I plan classes:

What is not the primary purpose of my classes?

  • They are not designed for entertainment purposes, and thus might not work well to entertain a general audience
  • They do not work well for cardio or building muscle mass, even though they might help to improve your Calisthenics, Weight-Lifting, Pilates, Yoga, Gyrotonic, etc. practice

How do we achieve these experiences?

Here’s where I often stumble or confuse myself in my explanations. I try to supplement the first point (What do we try to experience) with explanations. Maybe to make my point, or to prove my point, heaven knows why.

There’s many things we will do, for example, introduce non-habitual movements, make differentiations, experiment with the reversal of proximal and distal, shift our attention in movement initiation, shorten chronically contracted muscles to release them, use reference movements and rests to make comparisons, …

How do I not teach?

I don’t use instructions on how to do something “correctly”, rather I create learning situations to allow the before mentioned experiences to appear.

What’s new?

The question I discovered recently is something about the theme of a lesson, as a movement teacher would call it, or the story, as a storyteller would call it. How do single events, or single movements, match together? How do we create a consistent narrative, where every new movement contributes to the development of the story, er, theme? What is an embellishment, what a distraction, what a relevant contribution?

How do I pick movements? What kind of movements qualify? Which movements qualify, which don’t? Which movements do relate to each other? Which movements do relate to each other closely enough? Which movements do relate to each other closely enough to… to… to achieve these experiences?

And how do I find movements that I didn’t know in the first place? Well, here we have the art and craft of storytelling. Here we solve this last question through writing, or speaking. An author is only an author if he writes, and the successful ones would add: daily. If he writes daily. And in movement? Through moving, if we move, if we move daily, I suppose.

(Some) movements of the shoulder (blades)

The shoulders and the spine are allies. Partners in crime. Masters of disasters. When the shoulder blades can move, the spine can, too. I guess. And if they can’t, it can’t. I suppose.

How to explore some of the movements of the shoulder blades, and in turn of course, improve those movements, reach a better understanding, awareness, and well-feeling for the whole self? Show pictures from an anatomy book? Say, “it should be like this, it should be like that?”

My next lesson will have two distinct movements to explore:

  1. lift the elbow with the hand relaxed, the hand hanging from the relaxed wrist, the index finger is leaving the floor last
  2. lift the arm with the elbow straight, with a fist, the base of the thumb towards the ceiling

Both movements lift the arm, but the way the arm is lifted results in very different actions for the shoulder blade. “One hand loves the other.” – Björk, lyrics from the song Unison, from the album Vespertine. One movement loves the other.

The ways of the reference movement

Somebody came up with the idea of doing a select movement as a first movement in a Feldenkrais-inspired movement class. And then do it again in between the class, or at least at the end of the class. See how it has changed, improved. Nowadays this is called a reference movement.

Now, in my latest Youtube video [link], titled: Looser, bigger, more relaxed – anatomy with mindful attention *New Neck Series Ep. 2*, I state that there are (at least) two ways to feel, to sense, the structures of the shoulders with the hands:

  1. Either move the fingers over the skin and palpate, sense, feel what you find.
  2. Or place the fingers on the skin, gently, listen, but don’t move the fingers, move the shoulder instead. The bones are moving under the skin and under the hand, and feel, sense, what you find.

This led me to notice something else: we can feel in movement, like for example in a reference movement, or we can feel in resting, for example in lying quietly, in supine position, on the back. How are we resting (as a whole, not just the hand)? What is moving inside? And maybe both are reference movements. Or to invent a new word combo, the latter being a reference rest. Something like that.

How good can it get?

“See if there is another improvement thanks to the additional movement. Pay attention to how much the movement increased from the beginning to now. If it is possible to create this huge difference in such a short time, it shows to what extent the chest and shoulders were in a bad condition, a repressed condition. If the quality is very bad to begin with, then the first hour makes a huge difference. However, it only shows how bad it was, but it does not yet show how much can be achieved in quality, in the positive direction. It is possible to do much better.” – Moshé Feldenkrais

The brain of a bird

If you had eyes like an eagle (the bird) you could (for example) stand at ground level and see an ant crawling alongside the top window of a 10-story building. According to the website Livescience, birds of prey can see up to five times farther than the average human can, meaning they have 20/4 vision under ideal viewing conditions.

They also have superior colour vision. They see colours more vivid than we do and can discriminate between more shades. For example, they can see ultraviolet light — and thus can see the UV-reflecting urine trails of small prey… ugh, yikes, but who wants to see that? The ability to see all the urine spills in your favourite park or on a stroll through the city would totally ruin the experience. There’s pee all over the place.

Lolz, how did this piece of writing happen? Actually I sat down to write a short poem, it should have gone something like this:

“In movement,
eagles can see better,
humans can feel & sense better.”

But then I was like, “is that even true?”, and started to look things up and thus found out about birds of prey being able to literally see old pee.

So, luckily, we’re far from that. But how many people in our myopia-inducing world maintain really good eyesight? I found this comment on Quora:

“About 1/1000. I would say, from practical experience, I would see about 6,000 patients/ year when I first began basically as a refractionist in a very large ophthalmology group (15 full exam lanes). And I would see about 6–8 per year. I mean they could read it, binocular, and get everything correct. Typically they were pilots, extreme athletes. I treated many teams on the olympics. I’ve had archers with 20/10 and gold medals as well!” – Emery Hall, former Optometric Physician

Now, how did the rest of us arrive at less-than-ideal eyesight? I myself I wasn’t born with perfect hardware to begin with, but I did pretty well in adjusting to what I have, and several hundred hours of Feldenkrais-inspired exercises did me very good, too. One time, at an eye exam, I left the technician stunned and scratching his head about how such great alignment is even possible given my anatomical eye position. But then, certainly, I did my eyes no good service with too much screen time, reading under challenging lighting conditions, going to bed too late, not spending enough time in nature, and such and such and such.

Ok, now, what I actually wanted to do is to write about the ability to feel and sense ourselves, and if that works better with or without movement. I’ll see to that on another day, though, because for now I ran out of time, I need to work on my next movement lesson for Youtube (which is about sensing ourselves in movement). I’ll see you around!

The oldest problem

It’s a great idea
truly well intended
to have everyone flow together
in harmony.

But then
there’s always parts that
can’t or won’t or don’t want
so it seems, how can we make them fit?

Aren’t we all part of the same river?
Why do some think that
they are the rocks of the river bed,
the willow trees alongside the overbank flows,
the birds in the sky,
the bisons in the plains,
a cabin in the mountains,
why won’t they accept that they
are just drops of water in one of my rivers?