So having done workshops on things like strength and movement development over the last year, I thought it was time to go back to some fundamental activities. The kinds of things we do every day: sit, walk, use our arms. These kind of workshops are a great way in if you are new to the method because they relate so directly to every day needs, but they are also great themes even if you have done a lot of the method because there is always another layer of learning, of awareness, of improvement. The first one in October is around sitting.
We do so much more sitting than our ancestors and the discomfort or pain it can involve is often the thing that leads people to seek out a Feldenkrais teacher – from academics and other kinds of professionals, computer users, office workers, drivers and musicians to professional poker players. Mostly the people who come are concerned that they don’t sit ‘properly’ and that their ‘posture’ is bad or ‘incorrect’ or that their core is ‘weak’ or their back is not ‘strong’ enough. Often they simply want to know how to do it ‘right’, as if there is one answer: a position to get into and that’s it – got it. Hold the position. Don’t move!
But of course we are never still when we sit. Or not much. We are typing, moving the mouse, drinking, eating, talking, gesticulating, playing an instrument, dealing cards, picking something up, looking around, borrowing someone’s pen from the next door desk … whatever. So really it’s a question of how we move comfortably in a seated position: how we organise ourselves to be upright comfortably and able to shift weight on the chair and move and breathe and do all the things we need to do there. And as I have said before in this blog, Moshe defined ‘good posture’ as a place from which you are ready to go in any direction at any moment immediately without any preliminary re-organisation ie without having to shuffle your feet or seat or un-cross limbs or heave your weight into a place you can make your intended move from.
I threw the word ‘organisation’ in there which is a rather different thing to the classic idea of strength, because while sitting may not require a lot of muscular power, it does ask for a good organisation of the skeleton (and so of the musculature). Of course it involves the muscles working in enabling balance and support but it is a question of improving ‘how’ rather than increasing ‘how much’. Secondly, what if sitting well isn’t to do so much with an idea of what your structure should look, or even be, like but with you being ready and able to DO something? Notice how you are sitting now to read this on your screen and now notice how differently you sit if you imagine you are about to turn and look behind you (don’t look behind you, just imagine you are about to) or are about to reach up – or even stand up. What subtle (or less than subtle) changes do you make to your sitting? Of course that depends a little on your ability to turn, stand up or reach up easily which in turn depends on what you perceive to be involved in those activities – and that means, interestingly, that if we improved those activities, then its very likely that your sitting would improve. Thirdly, and maybe obviously now, it means sitting is – ideally – dynamic and not simply a fixed position to be held.
I say sitting usually involves movement, but there are times when it doesn’t so much and that can be a difficulty all in itself. Of course when sitting does get fixed, it often gets fixed in a less than optimal organisation, but if we take the idea of readiness to move as central, than any rigidity or fixity is likely to be in some way a disorganisation. I am thinking, for example, of someone who gets very drawn into the computer screen: their vision becomes very narrowed down, breathing tight and their movement minimal. Driving is another with the added challenge and restriction of the seats; having to keep the hands on the wheel and feet on or by the pedals and the tendency to tense up in concentration or frustration. Poker can be another if you can’t handle the pressure, don’t want to give away tells or if you play on the computer. Just the lock down can be a problem – its not necessarily even the lack of movement, but the lack of readiness for or possibility of movement: the fixedness.
So this workshop on sitting isn’t going to be just about sitting up straight or a recipe for how to do it ‘properly’. We will use carefully designed ‘Awareness Through Movement Lessons’ to find out more about what your habits in sitting are now and explore different ways you can shift weight, breathe and organise your spine, chest, legs, head (everything in fact, even your eyes) in different movements in sitting and how those activities make just sitting feel different, easier, more comfortable.
And of course that’s going to be a very useful lead into ‘Easier Shoulders and Arms’ later in the series (Nov) – and maybe surprisingly,’ Easier Walking’ too (Jan). But if you do this first one the reasons for that will become obvious…..
(For times, price, venue for workshops etc see schedule page: http://www.feldenkraisworks.co.uk/schedule/)