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Monday, February 28, 2011

Larry Goldfarb Talks About Awareness Through Movement

Moving Beyond Habits - by Larry Goldfarb, CFT, Ph.D.

Each Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lesson consists of a series of movements that fit together to form a meaningful sequence. These lessons are not exercises in the normal use of the word. Instead, Feldenkrais® lessons are guided formats, carefully constructed to bring you to a new sensory appreciation and conceptual understanding of your movement abilities. The main obstacles to easy, efficient action are the habitual, unconscious aspects of our movements. As the lesson guides you to a new awareness of self-limiting habits, you learn to move beyond these restrictions. A central theme to each sequence, even those that emphasize the small motions, is how the whole person—all of you—can be involved in every action. Other themes include learning about your capacity for easy and pain-free movement, changing through awareness rather than effort, learning to learn, and tapping into the possibilities for further improvement.


No Pain, More Gain

How you approach these movements is of utmost importance. If you were to perform the sequence as some sort of exercise, repeating each movement a certain number of times, straining, moving against resistance, and not paying attention to how you move, you would receive little, if any, benefit. Unlike strengthening or flexibility exercises, these lessons do not require struggling, making great effort, and forcing. These lessons are for learning how to improve the way you move. Do every movement slowly and gently, without forcing, pushing, or stretching. Direct your attention to the quality, rather than quantity, of your movement. In each action, use the minimal amount of effort possible and strive for a smooth, continuous movement. That is to say, perform the movement without any little stops and starts, without unevenness in effort or motion.
Do only as much as is comfortable and easy for you, stopping before you experience any strain. If, at any time, you notice discomfort, further decrease the range and effort of your movement until it is comfortable. If you cannot make a specific movement without discomfort or strain, do it only in your imagination.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Awareness Through Movement Class Content

Dear friends,

Last week I began the first in a series of 12 extraordinary Awareness Through Movement lessons designed by an Israeli Ph.D. who has a deep understanding of Dr. Feldenkrais' method. She works closely with Dr. Feldenkrais' remaining original students and has devised some of the most interesting and effective lessons I've had the pleasure to learn and give.

Below is a quote about Lesson #2, the lesson we will be working on during the first week of March, 2011. It is focused on rediscovering and improving the movement of the head, neck and upper chest/back. The lesson builds upon the first lesson which helped us lengthen the extensor muscles and develop more upright posture in the back --by exploring bending in the middle, i.e., the work of the flexor muscles in the front. The result (of Lesson #1) was a surprising and delightful effortless and beautiful, upright posture.

Some aspects that we will touch upon in lesson 2, noted by Dr. Shelhav, are:

*Synchronized movements of the head and eyes
*More coordinating action of the flexors and extensors
*Shaping the curves of the cervical and lumbar spine
*Improving the lifting of the head

"The movement of the eyes in this lesson have an effect on the tone of the muscles in your neck. Tension in the neck makes lifting one's head more difficult...
In order for people to communicate with their environment it is essential that they can easily lift their head. The environment arouses their curiousity and thus stimulates further development. All the components which improve as a result of this lesson, harbor within them the potential for further development."

Dr. Feldenkrais' ability to deconstruct human motor development and serve it back to us in digestible, extraordinarily useful bites, was brilliant, unrivaled. My only dismay is that more people do not have, or make use of, access to this extremely effective, imminently practical and now readily available teaching.

Best wishes,