Flexibility: More Than Just Touching Your Toes
Thursday, January 1, 2004
by: Bonnie Angelie

Section: Flexibility

As human beings, we develop through movement. But, once we are more or less functioning, we go on to other “important” stuff. We do not realize how much more room there is for improvement.

Through Feldenkrais Method® lessons, we can give people the possibility, once again, to experiment with movement in a safe way, without prejudice, judgment nor competition, just to continue the learning from where it left off, and continue to polish it—and it can work wonders!

Here are two stories:
A woman in her mid-seventies came to see me because everything was difficult for her, she was feeling heavy and had no energy. In her first group class (Awareness Through Movement®), she said she would at least like to be able to roll over in bed, to her sides, and from the back to the stomach, without waking up because of the effort. There were five other women between 70 and 87 years of age in the class as well, so we did a lesson exploring this question.

First, I asked the group to turn as they always did. It was fun to see how many ways there were to do the same function, and not all were easy. Then we slowly started integrating the foot as motor to the movement; played with trying to bring the roll from the foot, and then from the pelvis. They discovered what to do with the ribs, the arms, the head, and the eyes.

I invited them to repeat the original rolling movement and say how they felt. This woman was astonished. “I did not know it was this easy.

I went to the floor feeling like a hippopotamus, and came up like a ballerina. Now I understand…I hope I still remember it tonight,” she said laughing. What we all shared was a feeling of well being and joy. They now could feel more comfortable in bed.

I gave a Functional Integration® lesson to another woman (77 years of age). She had experienced medical death while undergoing heart bypass surgery. That was almost a year ago. The only thing that still bothers her is a tremor in her hands when she tries, for example, to open a zipper, cook, or put on her shoes. This trembling was the result of the surgery. We worked in a sitting position, because she gets dizzy lying down. We slowly explored the possibilities for movement in the ribs, as I listened to her stories. Afterwards, I told her to open and close her zipper. She succeeded in two tries. She was so happy that she insisted on putting her coat alone for the first time in six weeks.

Flexibility has a lot to do with self confidence—knowing one can learn something further. One’s actions can stop being governed by chance and habit. Feldenkrais Method lessons can help one learn to understand what one is doing so that actions are repeated by choice, not compulsion. Society expects one to know all the answers. It is very relaxing to know that one does not have to know, instead one has the possibility to relearn, and to experiment through trial and error.

The Feldenkrais Method is not only about physical flexibility, but about giving dignity back. The quality of the everyday life of these women changed. We are not satisfied with just getting “it,” we can always improve what we already know and make it easier, more flexible, and continue to move toward improvement.
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