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Monday, May 21, 2018

Softer, Gentler, Quieter Ongoing Awareness Through Movement Class for People Who Want This


CHANGE -- Thurs 6-7:30 pm Feldenkrais class at the Reno Buddhist Ctr (820 Plumas at Taylor, enter on Taylor St.) is now the official BEGINNERS ATM (Awareness Through Movement) class. 

Every week I will teach lessons that are relaxing, simple, organizing and meditative. The class will help people who want quieter, gentler support for movement issues and nervous system function; chronic pain; long-term health issues; trauma and stress relief; MS and Parkinson's; post-stroke, surgery or injury; cancer. 

This class is also for people who want a quieter, deeper way to connect with themselves to find wellbeing, integration and transformation. Everything begins with self-awareness. 
This is where we start, every class, every time.  
Hope you can join us! 

Use the contact form in the upper right corner if you have questions or want to discuss something privately. 

Best Wishes! Carole 


The Positive Effect of Skeletal Awareness on your Psychological Self Image


HEALTHY BEGINNINGS MAGAZINE, MAY 2, 2018
  • BY CAROLE BUCHER | RENO FELDENKRAIS INTEGRATIVE MOVEMENT




      Buried right below the
      surface of your skin, More
      or less in plain sight, is your skeleton, the most important mental health resource
      You've never heArd or
      thought about, right?
      Surprisingly, the skeleton contributes a large and
      direct component to our
      mental health once we have
      an active connection to it. 
So why don’t we have this already?
The short answer is — 21st century disconnection from ourselves, made
worse by a few specifics.
Take a look at your own body. Our bones are well concealed by skin, muscles,
fat and hair, and much of the time, by our clothes. Being mostly out of sight, we
don’t generally feel our skeleton until we bruise or break something. Even then,
our bones are tough, having the tensile strength of cast iron, so you might think
we’d be more aware of them.
Perhaps not surprisingly, once we begin to experience skeletal support, something
organic in us responds to this strength, and an almost magical process sets in
motion. Our sense of self begins to change fundamentally.
We feel the quiet, deep and neutral support of our strong bones — reassuring,
pervasive and, for many people, transformative. We are paying more attention
to our bodies. We feel more self-confident; our posture and movement improve.
This is evident in my Feldenkrais classes when students discover they’re no l
onger locked into cycles of pain and instability. Negative habits shift, bodies
become lighter, better aligned, attitudes more optimistic. People learn real
self-care and begin to take more responsibility for how they move, feel and act.
No matter our condition, with more attention, our access to strength and support
from our skeleton means we are sending more positive messages to the brain.
Using ‘body language’ is another way to do this. Body language is a powerful
two-way communication tool. It informs our own brain as much as it does those
around us. When we move in ways that connect us to our inner skeletal strength
and support, we feel it!
That is also true of our habitually weak, self-defeating postures. So we want to
know what we communicate through our bodies, consciously and unconsciously.
Are we standing tall, eyes at the horizon, engaged? Or stooped, fatigued, eyes
down, spine slumped?
These things really matter. And we will notice them if we work at it. Click here to
see the famous tedTalk presentation
 
by Amy Cuddy that explains what I mean
in detail.
Dr. Feldenkrais worked with similar concepts more than 80 years ago. Although neuroscience has yet to completely explain the mechanisms of action, we know
that using the brain to change the body and the body to change the brain are
powerful interrelated, exciting concepts (see Dr. Norman Doidge’s books).
The process begins by finding our skeleton, feeling how our bones provide structure, support and strength to body and psyche.
All we need to do is slow down and focus on our body. We can do it anywhere:
at work, in the store, while exercising. It is a useful, mindful way to ground and
reduce stress and tension, to discover our own power to improve our health and
wellbeing. It is part of our remarkable capacity to heal, fueled by our desire and commitment.
Carole Bucher, BA, is a Guild-Certified Feldenkrais practitioner/teacher and owner
of Reno Feldenkrais Integrative Movement. Visit 
renofeldenkrais.blogspot.com to
learn more.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Learn What you Can Do to Help Manage Your Own Pain and Limited Movement Without Drugs, Surgery or Ineffective Therapies

Reduce Pain Naturally With The Feldenkrais Method

8

Carole Bucher teaches a Feldenkrais method class at her office in Reno.
In our 21st century world, tethered to electronic devices, we stressed-out humans are deeply reliant on the autopilot feature of our brains. From this, unconscious actions and movements, unplanned thoughts and often-inexplicable deeds arise.
Periodically and persistently, physical pain penetrates this murky realm to remind us that autopilot isn’t such a great mode for our bodies. Years of poor posture and repetitive, mindless movement take their toll, illustrated by an absence of connection to our bodies and a lack of understanding about where our pain comes from. Something needs to change.
No amount of prescription pharmaceuticals, steroid shots or surgical “fixes” or time on a therapeutic table will cure movement-related pain — or prevent it from returning.
Why? Because the problem stems from how we use our whole body and from our habits, not just from the part that feels the pain. Physical therapy, chiropractic or surgical procedures will never change this. You are the only one who can.
Enter the Feldenkrais Methodwhere we learn to recognize and feel movement patterns, relieve pain and stress, and create permanent change in our structure. Here, we accept the responsibility for participating in our own outcome; we can regain optimism and create a new future for ourselves.
The Feldenkrais Method is a body and brain-retraining system that teaches us to reorganize our movements from the inside out. By working with attention and sensation, we use our muscles and skeleton naturally to reduce pain and stress, and to increase efficient, stable movement.
We practice this powerful intervention by doing slow, meticulously designed, non-habitual movement sequences in group classes or private sessions. We sense which movements are easy and which are difficult; we work at our own level.
In this way, we begin to create real change in the way we move, discovering new movement strategies to help us feel better, stronger and more comfortable.
Now back to autopilot. Humans have a highly developed, capable autopilot function that serves many useful purposes. Yes, we can find our keys each day when we put them in the same place, but we pay heavily for the convenience. This is especially true of repetitive movement habits — which kill change and variability, those critical neural stimulators of our brains.
Without noticing, we can become profoundly disconnected from our bodies. We are not aware of where we are in space. Suddenly we have a running accident, or hurt ourselves in a yoga class, or fall off a ladder. We encounter pain and injury because our brains are not connected to our bodies.
Practicing Feldenkrais directly counteracts our autopilot function. By learning to pay attention to our bodies and heed the signals it sends, we do two crucial things:
  • First, our increased awareness helps us to notice and feel movements that cause pain. And because our nervous system chooses comfort over pain, our brains naturally shift away from pain-producing movement.
  • Second, improved self-awareness reduces muscular tension and stress as we move through our day. Such relaxation improves skeletal alignment, balance and even coordination.
Together, these produce calm and confidence, reduce pain, and open channels to greater vitality, creativity and wellbeing.
So — the next time you feel pain in your body while moving, try this: Pause and identify exactly what large and small movements may have triggered the pain. Then reverse the movement carefully and see what you can do to diminish the pain.
Little by little, this is a way to improve your neurological process and to explore and reduce pain unwittingly caused by mindless movement. Additionally, in the morning or evening, take time to lie on the floor and feel how the right and left sides of the body meet the ground, comparing differences.
This Feldenkrais practice, with attention, helps manage pain by updating our brain-map and giving the brain fresh data to use as it makes movement choices. You can rely on it.
Carole Bucher, BA, is a Guild-Certified Feldenkrais practitioner/teacher and owner of Reno Feldenkrais Integrative Movement. Visit renofeldenkrais.blogspot.com to learn more.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Workshop April 15 - Immersing yourself in sensory experience to make movement wonderful again

An introductory/refresher Feldenkrais WORKSHOP, April 15 

at 250 Bell Street, Reno 

11 am to 1:30 pm

'Learning about Self-regulation' 


Get rid of that 'out of control' feeling in the body! Whether you’ve done Feldenkrais before or are new to it -- this class will wake you up to a new world of movement possibilities via your skeletal system. You'll learn about the Feldenkrais concept of 'self-regulation.' You'll get in touch with yourself in a new way, learn to feel and trust your body -- to use what you feel to change how you move – so you’ll be able to dance, garden, play on the floor with babies again! You will do simple, slow movements to explore when movement is easy and when it isn’t. Begin to say goodbye to stress, pain, fatigue, stiffness, and negativity. Better movement will open the door to better health and a better future. This event will get you ready to come to regular Feldenkrais classes and/or to learn how to be more comfortable and effective in your life, to have more fun, to be happier and more positive. If you want to actively participate in your own health and wellness, please join me. Bring a friend, your sense of adventure, your desire to explore and to learn. You’ll leave feeling like a new person. Limited to 20 people, cost $35. 

NOTE:  Please use the contact form on this page above to reserve your space. You must sign up and pay in advance. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Feldenkrais for Stroke and Brain Injury

Dear friends, 

A colleague has shared this resource for families and caregivers and people themselves who have suffered stroke. I am sharing it here with you for all the reasons that Annie enumerates below. Best wishes, Carole 


“Feldenkrais® Functional Activities for People with Stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)”

by Annie Thoe, Feldenkrais® Practitioner & Assistant Feldenkrais® Trainer

It’s difficult to assess exactly what was damaged in a stroke and how the damaged area of the brain interrelates with functions in the body. How can we optimize healing for someone with brain injury?
The more a family and care team can integrate functional learning activities on a daily basis, the better.  Financially, daily professional therapy may be impossible for most.  Therefore, I’ve written this general guideline for family, care workers and health practitioners unfamiliar with the Feldenkrais Method® on ways to help improve function for people with a stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI.) Many of these activities below may be used by occupational, physical and other therapists.  I have adapted and developed the activities below based on my work with the Feldenkrais Method® which has a focus on connecting with a person’s nervous system and skeletal awareness for easier movement.
The functional activities below are designed to stimulate the Sensory Nervous System which will in turn stimulate the Motor Nervous System for movement.  The Sensory Nervous System registers pressure, movement, direction, weight, space/time, hot/cold, smell, taste, and sounds.  Using sensory stimulation is a wonderful way to work with connecting and helping better organize someone’s brain for movement and function.  My goal is to provide care-givers, family and practitioners with information and tools to help their loved ones and clients heal and progress to higher function.

For best results:  

In general, work with an activity or movement which the person already does well or has an interest/passion for.  Connect the activity to something either useful, engaging or even entertaining in this person’s life.
If her right side is paralyzed or highly tonic, work with the left side first to improve her coordination and sensitivity and gradually introduce the less sensitive or responsive areas into the activity.  For the activities below, start with the functional side and spend a shorter time on the less functional side (so you don’t irritate them or frustrate them.)

Start with easy:  

Always try to choose activities they can easily succeed with before introducing something difficult and if they fail, go back to what they know and can succeed with.

A precaution about touch:  

Because people with stroke or traumatic brain injury are more vulnerable in being unable to move or speak, be careful with your touch (and also voice and sounds) to avoid overstimulation.   Slow yourself down with some nice full breaths before you enter the room to sense their state of mind and what kind of attention they have in that moment.  Are they tired?  Sleepy?  In Pain?  Content?  Bored?  Lonely? Happy to see you?  Assess what you can about their energy level.
●Move slowly and clearly so they can follow your movement the way you would follow a fly walking up a wall.
●Speak slowly, distinctly and allow pauses for them to contemplate what you are saying.
●Repeating yourself is helpful and helps to reinforce their understanding.  It’s good to explain that you are trying to just be clear and aren’t sure how hard it is to understand you so that is why you are repeating things to them.  If they can respond verbally or non-verbally to show their understanding, this is helpful.  Ask them for feedback and explore how to get feedback if they can’t speak.  Blinking, head turning, pointing, squeezing your hand— what can they do for communication?  This repetition may not be necessary as they progress, but I believe is very helpful to them as they learn to organize language and cognition again.
●Using a laminated paper with the diagram of a body – they can point to areas of the body that need attention or have pain, or can nod if you point to areas on the picture.  Also a piece of paper with some functional goals of what they want to work on:  Walking, eating, Hand dexterity, Feet, Arms, Legs, Swallowing, Rolling, Crawling, Jaw, Speaking, etc.  I have them pick two areas or two goals which helps with engaging their motivation and also giving them more a choice in their growth/healing.

Activities to help stimulate the connections of movement with the brain:

Interlacing Fingers:

After working a bit with the paralyzed side so they are accustomed to being touched, you can begin to have the functional hand interlace fingers with the non-functional.  Don’t force this.  Begin slowly and watch for irritation and agitation.  (If they get too irritated, they won’t learn as well and it can interrupt progress if not even be slightly traumatizing.)  Stop, take a break and distract them with something pleasant. Remember to breath if you feel them tense up.  If they calm down quickly, you can return to exploring the interlacing of the two hands.

Working with hand on clipboard or thin piece of wood (can use a thin hardcover book):

Put their hand on the clipboard and exhale (for yourself) as you touch – this will help them and you relax.  Hold the contact for at least 10 seconds to slow down your mind and connect with their nervous system.  After this time, begin to slowly move the board to find which directions are easiest and slowly return to a neutral place that feels like the middle.  Rest for approximately 10 seconds  (count if that helps you) – and notice how the resting may help settle their muscle tone and help their brain connect and integrate what you have done.
Gently, continue slowly to move the clipboard to engage the full hand, encouraging more and more contact of the entire surface of the hand (increasing the sensory area of stimulation).  As you tilt the hand using the support of the clipboard, feel how the weight of the hand connects through their skeleton—up the arm and perhaps all the way into the shoulder girdle. Make sure to do explorations in stages with a nice rest period between stages.  Compare how this hand feels compared to the other.  It’s an amazing process to feel the skeletal support in the movement and very pleasurable for the person receiving.

Working with a foot on clipboard or thin piece of wood:  

The feet can be very sensitive to touch— make sure you let them know ahead of time what you are going to do and show them the board.
Very gently, bring the clipboard to touch the bottom of the foot.  Sometimes, with bedridden clients this can elicit a lot of pain so you may need to do this introduction in stages.  A little bit of contact at a time, but be careful the contact with the board isn’t too light that they may feel ticklish.  As with the previous exploration, exhale (for yourself) as you touch will help them relax.  Begin with holding the contact for at least 10 seconds to slow down your mind and connect with their nervous system.  After this time, begin to slowly move the board to find which directions are easiest and slowly return to a neutral place that feels like the middle.  Rest for approximately 10 seconds  (count if that helps you) – and notice how the resting may help settle their muscle tone and help their brain connect and integrate what you have done.
Be careful to listen to move where their feet allow and avoid forcing their foot to stretch.  This is a delicate process of listening to where their body has an opening for movement.  Often the toes are curled and stiff or the opposite— flaccid.  Keep looking for the bone contact with the board and sense even with a light pressure how the bones press into each other all the way up the leg into the hip.  Be sure to rest even between each exploration for at least 10 seconds and often 20-30 seconds.  Compare how this foot feels to the other after you finish one foot.

Working with a ball:

Slowly roll a small ball from each finger up the hand in stages with rest periods as was done with the clipboard.  Until the ball can roll up the arm to connect the hand to the collarbone, and also to connect the hand to the chin (for hand coordination of feeding and grooming later on…).
Slowly roll a ball from each toe up the leg to the hip and even all the way up to the chin.  Again with the goal of creating neurological connections for movement of the feet and legs.
If they can hold the ball, assist them in rolling the ball on themselves, eventually to their paralyzed side (connecting the two sides in the brain).

Music and Rhythm:

Music is one of the oldest and broadest links within the brain.  Find out what their favorite music is and play it or sing it (unless they don’t want you to.)  Use the beat of the songs to stimulate movement:  clapping or tapping fingers or toes.  If they can’t tap, you can gently tap with your hands on their palms (imitating clapping) or on their thigh (simulating patting their own leg).  Sometimes, these experiences trigger links in the brain that tie into old movement patterns.  I’ve seen leaps of recovery using music.  Even if you don’t have the best singing voice, it can be lovely to have someone sing to you in loving manner.  Humming is also helpful and helps clear tension in the throat. Breaking down the “Om” chant into 3 parts:  Ah, Ohh, and Ummm is another great activity to calm and balance the heart, throat and brain.

Rhythmical Poetry or Songs:

Especially if they like poetry, this can be a nice tool to combine with touch or movement.  Be sure to repeat lines often.  Rhyming poems, limericks and goofy rhyming songs can be awesome — and I’d avoid disney’s ditty “It’s a Small World” unless you have a good relationship going :).  Poems and songs are a wonderful way to stimulate short term memory, especially if it’s a good poem or song!  The poet David Whyte often repeats lines over and over when he reads poetry and it’s a wonderful tool which helps the words stay in your memory.

Games:

Games can be fun because they are social and engage a playful versus work or therapeutic tone to interactions.  Make sure whatever game you play stays easy, fun, explorative and not too competitive.

Target Practice:

I use often in my general practice and particularly with brain and stroke clients.  Targets are helpful for vision/eye/hand coordination and satisfying— make the target big enough so success can be possible.  Often a soft beach ball is a perfect ball for throwing and won’t damage anything in the room.
Other target practice games can involve touching an object with their finger or if they can hold a small ball or stick, pushing back against pressure.
Pushing and Pulling:  with a rope, stick or ball in various directions – helps with balance and coordination.
Always stop if they get frustrated, find a way to make the “goal” easier and come back when it’s fun. Have other activities to do if one doesn’t work.

Cards:

Solitaire is excellent for working with numbers, sequential number recall, hand-eye coordination.  Just putting the cards in order or by suit can be satisfying.

Board Games: 

There are plenty of kids games that are colorful that can be used to point to colors, move the pieces on various colored squares and help with language and special connections.  Big jigsaw puzzles may be possible as well.

Catching and Throwing things: 

Use nerf like balls or light small beachballs or balloons, small basketball nets for targets or cans, any kind of simple easy games of catch or target practice is very fun.  It’s satisfying to bat things around and helps relieve some pent up frustration or aggression from being immobile.

Engaging the Mouth: 

Use a straw and practice blowing the wrapper off, or blowing paper wads.  Use a lollipop for sucking and have her move her lips and tongue in various ways to develop control.  Practice smacking lips, licking lips in all different directions.  Making vowel sounds.  Making one consonent sound over and over while singing… “Ba,  Ba,  Ba…Ma, Ma, Ma….La, La, La.”.  It’s endless the list of things we can do to refine the movement of the lips, tongue and mouth.  This can also be done as a game if someone feels self-conscious.
There are many more activities, but these are great foundation activities to address movement, language, and cognition.  Feel free to write me with additional tools you have found most successful and I’ll try an add to this guide over time. I’m making this available for free– this article is OK to copy but please include my name, copyright and contact info.

Annie Thoe, Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner & Assistant Feldenkrais Trainer
copyright 2018, www.sensingvitality.com




And if you are in the Reno/Tahoe/Sparks area, please contact me (Carole Bucher, GCFP) if you want more information about my classes or private sessions here in No. Nevada. My class schedule is posted on the side bar. You may also use the contact form at the very top right hand side of this page. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Pain free, easy gardening this year, with Feldenkrais

Try these Feldenkrais secrets to avoid injury in the garden


MARCH 1, 2018
BY CAROLE BUCHER, BA, GCFP
RENO FELDENKRAIS INTEGRATIVE MOVEMENT
CATEGORIES: FITNESS, HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY LIVING,NATURAL HEALTH

With gardening season right around the corner, now is the time to get your posture in order.
Gorgeous, ripe, mouthwatering tomatoes, multicolored squash, cucumbers, beans, corn, glorious greens, fragrant herbs, and best of all, no pesticides! Instead, I grow flowers and companion plants to keep pests away and attract friendly bugs and fungi.
I ADORE my garden! Even with our short growing season in Northern Nevada, the primal desire to garden overwhelms meIt kicks me out of winter doldrums and catapults me into a vision of future garden bounty strong enough to make me start planning the hard work that is the backbone of every garden.
And it IS hard work. Backbreaking, blister-making, muscle-straining work, which I do willingly, sometimes lovingly — the bending, lifting, pulling, digging, raking, hoeing hard work. However, this year I have a plan to work more intelligently and avoid garden-related injuries, large and small. How, you ask? Read on.
Generally, gardening injuries happen for two reasons: (1) We don’t pay attention to what we’re doing with our body, and (2) we don’t pay attention to what we feel in our body. That is, until it hurts, right?
So before rushing outside with a rake or shovel, here’s a totally new approach.
  • First, lie on the floor and do a brief body scan like the one I reviewed in January’s Healthy Beginnings Feldenkrais article. If it’s warm, go outside and lie on the ground. Spend some blissful moments connecting to the earth, the sky, and feel yourself as part of the life on our planet.
  • Sense the weight and shape of your skeleton; feel your head and shoulders; elbows, wrists and hands; find your spine and low back; your pelvis, legs, feet and ankles. Can you feel differences right and left? (Remember, this updates your brain-map!) Follow your breath, your sense of wellbeing, and check your alignment.
  • Then when you’re ready, get up mindfully and head to the garden. Don’t do anything painful or unsafe. Practice hearing and trusting what your body and intuition tell you.
8 steps to better aligment
Now onto specific movement strategies to align your body and avoid injury:
  1. Spine straight and long. Your spine runs from your head to your tailbone. Keep it flat, long, comfortable. Don’t bend from it.
  2. When you need to bend, bend in the hinge of your hips, not your back. Fold forward at the crease of the hip joints. Push your butt out behind you while you bend. This protects your back admirably, and no one will notice but you.
  3. When bending or lifting, bend your knees and ankles too. Slowly feel what kind of squat you can manage, and how your joints respond.
  4. Keep your feet flat, and feel the connection between your feet and hips. Foot and ankle mobility means good balance and support from below.
  5. When using your arms, keep your wrists straight. Feel the connection up to your shoulders, or down to your hip joints. This reduces carpal tunnel symptoms. Use the stronger central parts of your body to help, so the whole body supports the work you are doing.
  6. Lifting: hold the lifted object as close to the center of your body as possible. Keep your legs and feet under your pelvis, bending through the hips, knees and ankles, keeping your spine erect. Also, know when to get help. Herniated discs are a high price to pay for not asking. They are debilitating and take a long time to heal.
  7. Adjust yourself to keep your center of gravity low during most tasks; keep your spine long and your body aligned.
  8. Vary your tasks and have fun. Dig awhile, then sweep; pull some weeds; look at seed catalogs; come back to digging. And check in with your body periodically, from head to toes.
Try different ways of doing the same task. Be playful. Enjoy the process of gardening, not just the end result.
By being in your body actively and attentively, you protect yourself from injury. You experience a sensory connection with nature, absorbing sights, sounds, smells and textures of life all around you. Add in the bounty from your garden … and how much better can life get?!
If you want a more detailed, personal experience of the Feldenkrais Method, you can start Awareness Through Movement classes at any time or see me privately.
Carole Bucher, BA, is a Guild-Certified Feldenkrais practitioner/teacher and owner of Reno Feldenkrais Integrative Movement. Visit renofeldenkrais.blogspot.com to learn more.