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You Make It Look So Easy

February 6, 2012

On Friday in class, we finished up the last of our Gradual Beginnings series with a Standing lesson. It was the simplest of simple lessons. Moving gently from side to side, from forward to back and forward again, and around in circles the size of a coffee cup.

As the students rested, I shared information about good posture and being able to move in any direction, at any time, without a lot of preparation.

That’s when one of the students exclaimed, “You make it look so easy.”

Completely focused on what came next in the lesson, I simply responded, “Yes, and I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”

Later in the day, I found myself worrying that my student might think that it would take 20 years to develop such smooth movement.

It does not.

I worried that my student might feel that he could never find easier movement. He can, but he’ll have to hone in on what is getting in his way. He’ll have to notice smaller and smaller differences so he can notice when things aren’t moving well.

I worried that my student might think he needs to take classes for the rest of his life. He doesn’t, but he does need to pay attention to himself for the rest of his life. He can’t expect to take a 5-week class and walk away and never have to do any practice again.

We often don’t move fluidly because things that get sticky. Sticky like that whiplash injury you had when you were 25. Sticky like the ankle sprain from your 30s when you were running the marathon. Sticky like the hamstring tear from when you hiked up Mt Hood.

Some of the stuckness in our movements can be stuckness in our emotions and thinking. If I don’t think I can move very smoothly, I will imagine myself moving with jerkiness and cluttered motions. But, when I can finally feel, in a Feldenkrais class, what it is to find that grace and smoothness, even over the tiniest range of movement, that’s when I can bring that grace to the rest of my movement.

Pssssst, that’s why we ask students to make the movement slow or small or tiny. You can’t find grace and smoothness when you engage with as much force as possible. You need to make it slower and smaller.

If you can’t feel the movement because it’s too small, use your attention to track something different about it that WILL tell you that you’re moving. Maybe it’s the weight of your heel on the ground. As you move or roll your leg, the weight changes position. You can track THAT.

Anyone can learn to make it look so easy. Anyone. If I could, with my 2-by-4 legs that I arrived with in my training, then anyone can. No wonder I had knee pain, with feet and ankles that didn’t move and mold with each step. Today of course, no knee pain.

If you’d like to join us for class or a workshop, you can learn to make it look so easy too. Pick one of these and let the games begin . . .

Join us for classes on Wednesday at Noon (Hollywood District) or Fridays at 10:45am (Alberta Street).

Or, limber up your toes in Developing Flexible Feet, Thursday, February 9 at 6:30pm at PIE Footwear on Alberta.

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