07 Sep The Class Where You Let It All Go
Ever wondered how that one athlete makes it to the finish line first, despite his or her competitors being as well trained, strong and capable? Or how do you get that niggling injury to finally become a distant memory?
For proponents of the Feldenkrais Method – an exercise therapy that aims to reorganize connections between the brain and body to improve movement and the psychological state – the answer could lie in the concept of neuroplasticity, or constantly rewiring our brains to assist us learn and relearn, both mentally and physical.
“There is a great way of explaining Feldenkrais,” says certified Feldenkrais practitioner Paul Pui Wo Lee. “It’s about making the impossible possible, the possible easy and the easy elegant.”
But how does it help us do this? Essentially, the Feldenkrais approach encourages people to focus on the quality of their movement and their movement habits and to make changes – not through tension and force – but by paying close attention to the way they move.
“When you visualize,” says Paul, “you’re organizing the movement; you’re firing different pathways. The more you do this, the more it can enable neuroplasticity,” adds Paul.
This awareness, he explains, helps us find a balance. Moshe Feldenkrais, the method’s creator, called it organic learning. That is, you can only really fully understand the change once you’ve felt it.
“It’s about tapping into that intelligence to sense what is good for us, such as being more organized physically. Before, we thought, oh well, (over time or after injury) we just lose the ability to move well. But now, we know we can relearn.”
So what happens in a class? In a one-on-one session with Paul, the process was inspiring and enjoyable:
- Initially discussing personal physical needs (injury, stiffness, pain, weaknesses)
- Relaxation through breathing.
- Using visualization to move ‘better’ (or thinking about how you will move better) before undertaking simple movements, sometimes shifting the gaze to assist more fluid or stronger movements.
- Being aware of how the body feels when you’re lifting, bending and so on.
“I really like to help people move in a way that reflects who they are and why you want to be,” says Paul.
Furthermore, proponents say it’s the ideal accompaniment to your usual workout.
For example, “It’s not just about going to the gym and cranking out however many kilograms you can lift,” Associate Professor Susan Hillier, from the University of South Australia reportedly explained. “It’s about sensing, ‘how can I learn to lift with more quality? How can I learn to lift more efficiently?’”
Feldenkrais is nothing new, however. Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais was born in what is present day Ukraine. He lived in various parts of Europe and the Middle East and spoke several languages. He also studied physics and engineering in Paris.
In Paris in the 1930s, he earned a black belt in judo and opened the first judo club in the city. Just before the Nazis march into Paris in 1940, he fled to the UK, and during WWII worked for the British Admiralty developing anti-submarine detection equipment.
At this time, he aggravated an old knee injury he’d originally suffered while playing soccer. Instead of surgery, he chose to focus on self-rehabilitation.
He is said to have based his rehabilitation program on close observation and deepening awareness of his own body, and by putting together what he had learned from judo with his scientific curiosity. This became the basis of the Feldenkrais Method
Its benefits are well summed up by Frank Wildman, a leading US Feldenkrais teacher: “most people stiffen themselves. They try to force their body to fit what they think is an ideal, mechanically, like a set of bricks, stacked all the way up. But we are not bridges or buildings, we are living organisms that change all the time”.
To experience this ultimately relaxing and inspiring method in Hong Kong, the very experienced Paul is running several workshops in One Island South and Central studios.
Free yourself of blockages, imbalances and pain, by learning simple techniques that can easily be practiced at home.
Introduction to The Feldenkrais Method
Oct 12th 4:30PM -6 PM
Oct 13th 11:30 AM – 12:45 PM
Improve Mobility through Feldenkrais
Oct 14th 1PM – 2:30 PM
Oct 15th 3:30PM -5 PM