Section: Posture & Balance
Adjust your Positions as well as your Furniture
Many postural habits begin in childhood, and often we aren't really aware of our tendencies. Habit dulls the sensory awareness: if you sit a certain way long enough, your brain will stop noticing that it's not comfortable. For instance, many computer users mouse with the arm held a long way from the body. This position creates static load - essentially, you are holding up the weight of your arm all day. A similar strain happens in the shoulders if the head is held too far forward. But the inherent strain may not be noticed until it becomes pain-- by which time injury may have occurred to the connective tissue.

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Active Sitting
When you're busy at your computer, reading, or watching TV, you may forget that you're also sitting - until you get up, and feel pain or stiffness. As with all our activities, how we sit makes a big difference in how we will feel. Feldenkrais lessons help you become aware of how you habitually sit, and what changes would contribute to greater comfort.

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Growing Taller
The young woman, in my office for the first time, spoke to me about her back pain. She chronically slouched, and was concerned about her posture and its effect on her back.

I had her lie on her back, and began to gently explore the movements of her pelvis. Then, I lifted her head and studied how movements of her head, sternum, collarbones, and ribs related. Finally I returned to her pelvis and began gently pushing through the pelvis to the head, creating springiness in the spine. When I was finished, a small movement in the pelvis moved through the spine to affect the head.

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Moving While Standing Still: An Awareness Through Movement lesson
Find a short stool, a thick phone book, or use a stairway step about 6 inches high and stand in front of it. Place your right foot on the stool/book/step and place your hands lightly on a credenza, or some other supporting surface, such as the back of a sturdy chair, for balance. Imagine that you have a small hula hoop surrounding your left knee, close to it but not touching it. Now start moving your knee in a circular fashion as if to touch the inner circumference of the little hoop. Round and round, slowly and gently, and gradually more accurately as a circle. Keep going, and notice if you selected a circle counterclockwise or clockwise.

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Balance Issues
No, we are not talking about balancing checkbooks, though yes, I do have that problem occasionally. We are talking about that special vertical relationship we have with the ubiquitous force of gravity: yes, the one that is responsible for the collection of bumps on our otherwise perfectly-shaped domes, whenever that relationship becomes dysfunctional and we go down with a crash.

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The Art of Falling
I've always been fascinated by falling. Long before discovering the Feldenkrais Method, I had dreams that I was falling. You've probably had them too. The ones where you suddenly wake up with a jolt, just before landing. Only now and then my dreams took a different course. Occasionally I would fall and land in my dreams. Sometimes gracefully floating downward, other times landing with a good thump, but always uninjured. In fact, not only was I okay, I also experienced a huge perceptual shift as well. The room I was in was the same room, only it now looked completely different. The side of the mountain I fell off of, now offered an alternative route to the top that I hadn't seen before.
Reclaim Easier Movement
Kathy Whipps, a seventy year-old, down-to-earth, spirited British grandmother, came to the US two years ago to live with her daughter and son-in-law and care for their newborn son, Will. Kathy, who retired five years ago, had been a deputy warden at a sheltered accommodation for the elderly. She had crushed the lower disk in her lumbar spine in a fall about thirty years ago and began favoring her left leg since that time. About fifteen years later, she slipped on the ice and re-injured her back, this time on the right side. Five years ago she had another major fall during a hike, again bruising the lumbar and ischial areas.

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Feldenkrais Wings
It's been said that it's not important how old you are, but how you are old. Of the more than 80 students taking class and private lessons at The Feldenkrais Studio in Sarasota, Florida, nearly 2/3 of them are over age 65. They attend consistently, as their schedules permit, and speak enthusiastically of their experience with the Feldenkrais Method.

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Head and Eyes and Balance: An Awareness Through Movement Lesson
Find a nice place to stand, a wooden floor, or better, outside, with grass, sand, or small gravel underfoot. Provide yourself with a pleasant view, if possible. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and sense how your feet connect with the ground. Follow your breathing and notice the view in front of you.

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Balance Through Reversibility (Sit to Stand and Stand to Sit)
Marshall was 86 years old and referred to me by his brother, a regular client. Marshall's major complaint was that he had trouble sitting on the couch without falling the last 12 to 16 inches, and could not get up again without a hand from his wife who, also elderly, risked being pulled onto the couch -- or worse yet, toppling both of them onto the floor. Since Marshall was quite a tall fellow, he sensed that if he did fall, it would be a long way down, with a sizable impact. He had some stiffness, but no major knee problems, and was able to walk into my office with the help of a cane. Before asking Marshall to sit down on my table, I asked him to tap his foot, both the forefoot and the heel, on each side, which he could do.

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Falling With Ease and Flexibility, Landing With Freedom and Softness
Oh no! I will miss Melissa's first communion! I've never broken a bone before. Now at my age, I will be in a cast!

All of this flashed through my mind in the split second of being in mid-air after slipping out of the shower. I had been in a hurry and had not placed the bath mat on the floor. I landed on my backside and paused, waiting for the intense pain of a broken tailbone, wrist, lower leg, or back. To my surprise, I felt nothing! I regained my breath and carefully got up on my feet. I could hardly believe my good fortune. I was not hurt. I did not feel bruised. Nothing was twisted, nothing sprained.

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Finding Independence
Watch a child standing by herself the first time. Her joy is apparent; her pride knows no bounds. Triumphant over gravity, she takes her first steps toward independence.

As we age, we take our balance for granted. But perhaps one day we do something simple--stand on our tiptoes to reach or take a step--and we feel unstable. Maybe there's a sensation of spinning or whirling--what doctors call vertigo. Perhaps there's a sense of turning. Worse, we may fall.

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Balance: An Everyday Miracle
When we think of balancing, we often think of extreme acts and acrobatics--a gymnast's beam, a circus high wire, a yogi on one foot for days and days. These extreme acts of balance are examples of the awe-inspiring capacities of the human mind and body.

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Better Movement, Better Posture
"Good posture" is usually believed to entail standing up straight and strengthening some critical muscles to maintain that straightness. (The muscles most often seen as being in need of strengthening are the abdominals and the back of the shoulder muscles.) If you have ever tried to achieve better posture through such means, you probably realized that it is futile, and that in fact even if you can manage to "think" about standing or sitting straight, you forget the minute you go to do something else.
Escaping Good Posture
"I want to have good posture" is a request I get from many of my clients. One client, Glen, was a magician who wanted to improve his posture. He said his posture looked menacing to people and he wanted to appear more friendly to his audience. I asked him why he thought he appeared menacing. He said that because of his nearsightedness, he frowned a lot and his hunched shoulders added to this sinister impression.

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You are Not a Post
For many of us adults, standing and sitting upright are such routine functions that we don't put much thought into how we do them. That wasn't always the case. If we followed a typical course of development as infants, it took us about six months after birth to figure out how to sit up on our own without support. We did lots of experiments and explored many variations of sitting with decreasing support from caregivers and chairs. In the process, we developed and pulled together balance, strength, and flexibility with other aspects of our rapidly growing bodies that were and are shaped and supported by skeletons. We likely gained pleasure and motivation from being upright as it allowed us to see, hear, smell, taste and notice our position and place in the world from a whole new perspective. Notably, we had to discover how to orient and hold a big head (that was proportionately much larger than it is now) on top of a spine (with over twenty moving pieces) that merged at the base with a pelvic bowl that attached to long legs. This is a very abbreviated inventory of the pieces within the puzzle box of the independently sitting baby.