flexibility

Flexible Body, Flexible Brain

Feldenkrais Method® of Somatic Education

“What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity.”  – Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc.

Do you have a flexible brain?  If you are rigid in your body, you must be rigid in your thinking – not flexible. If you are rigid in your thinking, you must not be open to trying new ways to make your life betterIt may be pain that you are dealing with.Would you rather take a pill and hope the pain goes away? Some may call this laziness – or rigid thinking. If you can stop the pain by learning how to move more easily, why don’t you?

Is your inflexible thinking a fear that keeps you from believing that YOU can control your health and well being?  Where is that fear coming from?  Did you learn this from your parents?

So, now you know that one goes hand-in-hand with the other. Tight muscles, tight thinking! Both rigid!

Recognize the fact that you CAN be in control of your body and thinking – you can be open-minded. One way is to join a movement class and become aware of how your body works and how it can work easierAfter you have become acquainted with who you are by observing how you move, your mind will open up to all kinds of new possibilities. 

Learning how to move can be an essential addition to the treatment of neurological, orthopedic, chronic pain and stress-related conditions.

Jan Larus, who just turned 80, anticipated needing a hip replacement due to severe osteoarthritis.  Weekly Feldenkrais lessons contributed to her ability to avoid surgery:

 “Today I can walk and sit, usually with little or no discomfort, and I feel more flexible than ever. I no longer limp and I do not feel restricted in my daily activities.  That’s good because I anticipate many more birthdays.”

Attending Feldenkrais Classes will expand your awareness of how you think, sense, feel and move. The possibilities for personal improvement and human development are limitless… allowing you to reach a higher level of intelligence.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein

Carol Siddiqi, a Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner, was introduced to the Feldenkrais Method while attending Kripalu Yoga classes over 30 years ago. She pursued her interest in The Feldenkrais Method by enrolling in a four-year training program, which she successfully completed in 1999.

Myofascial Release, Structural Integration (Rolf Method)

FASCIA  IS WHAT?

Do you know what’s holding your body together!  Think again, it’s not your muscles or skin.  They weren’t made to do that job, but the “fascia” within your body was.  By now you’re thinking, “What in the world is the fascia?”

Well, the fascia is a structure of fibrous connective tissue distributed throughout the body that surrounds our muscles, organs, blood vessels, bones, and nerves.  Together, muscle and fascia make up what is called the myofascia system. The function of muscle fasciae is to reduce friction to minimize the reduction of muscular force.

Does it sound like a well tuned state-of-the-art mechanism to you? It is, but it can go wrong!  For various reasons, including disuse, not enough stretching, or injuries, the fascia and the underlying muscle tissue can become stuck together resulting in restricted muscle movement along with pain, soreness and reduced flexibility or range of motion.

Symptoms may be:

  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Pelvic
  • Pelvic pain
  • Neck pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Disc problems
  • Neurological dysfunction
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Adhesions
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Jaw pain (TMJ)
  • Painful scars
  • Scoliosis
  • Sciatica
  • Women’s health issues
  • …and more

Fascia Care:       

Move it: First thing in the morning roll around in bed and really stretch out

Stay lubricated: Drink, drink, drink! It works better, moves better and feels better when it’s wet.

Stretch your muscles: Keep the muscles from getting chronically tight.

Stretch your fascia: To stretch the fascia, hold gentle stretches for three to five minutes – relaxing into a hold.

Relax: Fifteen to 20 minutes in a warm Epsom Salt bath can coax tight fascia to loosen up – follow up with 10 minutes of light activity.

Use a foam roller: Be gentle and slow in your movements, and when you find an area of tension, hold sustained pressure for three to five minutes.

Respect your body: Even after your injury is gone, you may maintain that same movement pattern. That’s a recipe for an injury cycle. It’s better to take some extra time, see a fascial specialist, and join a movement class.  Don’t set yourself up for long-term trouble.

See a fascial specialist: Myofascial Release or Structural Integration (Rolf Method) practitioner.

Join a movement education class: The Feldenkrais Method®, Coordination Pattern™ Training, Tai Chi, Pilates, and Yoga are highly recommended.

Especially Athletes! and All Others!

Diligent practice of hip stretches—what in yoga we often call “hip openers,” as though they are key to unlocking thesecrets of the hips—can dramatically increase your flexibility and range of motion around the hip joints. If you are athletically minded, this can be a good thing. But as with many good things, too much can be overdoing it.

The key for athletes is to develop or maintain balance between stiffness and openness: a balance of strength and flexibility in the muscles around the hips.This balance can change depending on both the athlete’s body and on sport-specific needs.

Depending on your sport, too much flexibility can be detrimental to your sports performance, as it can reduce your snappiness. Consider, for example the stiffness a runner needs for efficient transfer of energy to the ground. A floppy runner, one whose hips sag with each step, will have to work harder than one who springs lightly over the ground. But you need enough flexibility to move fluidly through your stride, without a hitch that can lead to an overuse injury. Poses that mimic the running stride, like lunges, can help you stay flexible through the range of motion used to run, and hip stretches that target the external rotators can help avoid overuse injuries like Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Piriformis Syndrome.

On the other hand, athletes need vastly more flexibility in the hips for engaging in activities like rock climbing, curling, or playing positions like catcher in baseball or softball.  A yoga practice for athletes in these activities can look very different from a practice for athletes who require more springy stiffness in their bodies; athletes who need to take deep squats can enjoy the full range of hip stretches, including poses that move deep into flexibility.

Consider where you fall on this spectrum. There may be a very good reason hip openers frustrate you, or a good reason for you to love and enjoy them. Either way, the process gives you an opportunity to consider what you can change and what you can’t, and to practice focusing your energy on creating useful change and accepting the unchangeable.

For all those who would like to improve balance and flexibility, reduce pain, increase range and ease of movement, and reduce habits of tension, consider becoming a student of one of the following: Yoga, Coordination Pattern™ Breakthru Training, Feldenkrais Method® of Movement Education, Personal Fitness Training, Pilates, Tai chi or Qigong,

Structural Integration (Rolf Method) – Creates Real Strength!

Betty heard someone say, “Pain and strain is your body’s way of telling you it is out of balance.” She had no idea what that meant. After doing some research, she started to think that maybe her back aches were the result of her body being “out of balance.”

Inthe midst of Betty’s research, she read about Structural Integration and learned how soft manipulation, education, and awareness helps the muscles, bones, and organs move into proper relationship to each other.

The part that excited her the most was when she read that releasing physical restrictions actually increases strength, adaptability, and resilience. Betty loved to run and for the last several months wasn’t able to enjoy this exercise because her back was ”talking to her – real loud!”  So, she found a Structural Integration practitioner and committed to the series of sessions.  Each of these sessions was to build upon the last and the strategies were tailored specifically for her. 

 At first, it was a strange concept for Betty to think that if she builds and deepens a relationship with her “body and self,” she will live with more awareness and harmony in her life. But, this is exactly what Betty experienced as her Structural Integration sessions progressed.  It was working for her!  She could feel her body changing – more natural and powerful.

Betty was able to run longer distances in a shorter time because she was more flexible and stronger. To get back to running and be pain free was her goal and she succeeded. She felt so relaxed and peaceful while she ran.

Betty felt like a new person and decided that the best thing she could do for herself in the future was to continue with periodic Structural Integration “tune-ups.”  Structural Integration transformed her body – and life!

Feldenkrais®: Making the Impossible, Possible and Easy!

Anna, a middle aged mother of two has been experiencing more and more physical pain as she gets older. A childhood auto accident left her with physical challenges, but now her hip is the main concern. Her physician said that she would probably need a hip replacement in her future.

Naturally, Anna became very fearful about this prognosis and mentioned it to Laura, her good friend. Laura told her that she had read an article recently about an alternative health modality called Feldenkrais that helps people with hip problems, arthritis, and other painful physical conditions.

Anna was a little skeptical, but pursued the search for a Feldenkrais practitioner and made an appointment immediately. Sure enough, her experience after her first private session, which was called Functional Integration®, made her feel very hopeful.  Her tight muscles felt more relaxed and she was more aware of her body feeling more open. The practitioner used gentle, non-invasive touch and verbal instruction to guide her in her own movement process. As she walked down the hall after this session, she felt taller, her balance seemed to be better, and her hip was not hurting like it did before the treatment.

After a couple private Functional Integration sessions, the practitioner suggested that Anna attend some Feldenkrais classes called “Awareness through Movement.”  During the class the practitioner verbally directed the students to highly sophisticated movement sequences that were very pleasurable and effortless.  She did most of these exercises while on a floor mat, but there were others in the class who did them sitting in a chair.

Since Anna has been attending the classes for a couple months and doing the exercises at home, she has gradually felt less and less pain in the hip area. Her balance and flexibility has greatly improved along with her range and ease of movement.

What her original research said was that Feldenkrais exercises help at a fundamental level by improving the body’s underlying neuromuscular and skeletal organization. Learning new ways to move can be an essential addition to the treatment of neurological, orthopedic, chronic pain and stress-related conditions.

Since she caught the problem soon enough, surgery in her future is unlikely; however, she has learned that those who do have hip surgery still benefit greatly from the Feldenkrais classes because their physical therapy recovery is so much easier and faster.

Feldenkrais classes and private sessions are available at Twin Ponds Integrative Health Center.