Yesterday, when I crossed through the small park on the way to grocery shopping, I stopped to watch a dad (I suppose) take pictures of his boys (I assume) practicing a skateboard trick. He had them old-school jump over a low hanging rope that was set up between two skateboards (they had their skateboards roll underneath the rope while leaping with their feet over the rope). Little did he know (I guess) that I was watching him perform the most awesome trick of all: he was kneeling, like in a textbook Kneeling Sniper position.
He had his left foot standing flush on the floor, and his right knee leaning on the floor next to his left foot, his right foot was bent in its toes, and he was sitting with his pelvis on his right heel, his right heel perfectly placed in between his sit bones, a bit in the back, at the height of his sacrum.
Note to students: how would you describe his kneeling position in your own words? What’s the difference between describing a final position as opposed to describing how to get into that position?
This made me recall parts of a conversation I had a few days earlier with Bryson Newell (Somatic Primer podcast). We were talking about the practice of Feldenkrais and the kind of mindset one enters while practicing. I was happy that Bryson didn’t pester me with the frequently asked question, „How long do the good effects of a Feldenkrais lesson last?”, even though it would have been a valid question.
Thinking of it, a more relatable question: When you read a book, how long do the benefits of reading last? What part of book reading is permanent?
My answer: when I read out loud for 30 minutes–or more–every day my reading skills improves. But if I stop doing so my reading skills get worse within mere weeks. Most of what I read is gone and forgotten soon too, but some things, at least the gist of it, stay for life.
Now, kneeling. With my new „From The Ground Up” Youtube series [link] I noticed: it takes only a few days for me to almost completely lose the good effects from such a demanding Feldenkrais lesson. In this specific case, my ability to sit comfortably back down on my heels, with a hint at the possibility to sit in W-sitting fashion. If I don’t sit like this everyday at least once, it will be gone in less than a week for sure.
Therefore, the way to preserve the movements from a Feldenkrais lesson (I infer) is to put them into one’s active movement vocabulary. Much like with the vocabulary and sentence structure of spoken language, in movement too we go by, „use it or loose it” (I presume).
Also, when I think of the actual physical movements of Muslim prayer, the Ruku, Sujud, Tashahhud (I believe) the standing to kneeling to bowing down, maybe it’s reasonable to say (I generalise) that doing a movement 5 times per day is necessary to keep it in good shape? Because if I look at the people of my own culture—that was shaped by Christianity—maybe being supposed to kneel down only 2 times per day to say your prayers might not be enough to preserve your legs’ ability to fold down.
20 minutes later, after having finished my grocery shopping, I crossed through the same park again. The guy was still kneeling and taking pictures. „Pretty strong kneeling practice”, I thought, “I should do some serious kneeling myself”, I reasoned. Also, glancing at his tired looking, slow moving kids and how they were being coerced into lining up again and again to practice the same old trick over and over, at this point (I conclude) they already hated Skateboarding more than anything else in this world.