There is a lot of emphasis around at the moment on being stronger in a muscular sense. In general if someone comes to see me they tend to say ‘I am not strong enough’, ‘my back is weak’, ‘my core is weak’ as an explanation for whatever it is they are having difficulty with. We also have a very exercise oriented culture in which things need to be done ‘strongly’ and nothing is any good unless you are using lots of effort and working very hard.
Now I should lay my cards on the table at this point and say there is nothing wrong with exercise and nothing wrong with using lots of effort and working very hard. I like to run pretty long distances and I have been training in Karate for some years now so I very regularly use lots of effort and work very hard and I love it and it makes me feel great. In fact here it I am on New Year’s Eve feeling twitchy because its pouring with rain and I haven’t had done any proper running or training for over a week! BUT – and its a very big BUT – not everything comes down to muscular strength, effort and working hard. I want to use effort where effort is needed and when it is needed only, otherwise I can’t do as much as I want or do it as well as I want. And I want the work and effort I do use to go accurately towards the intention I want to carry out and not be wasted unnecessarily or mess up the accuracy or speed of my stride, punch, throw or whatever I am doing. In short I need skill.
To this end, I do not want my basic walking pattern to be using up lots of energy because I am doing all sorts of extraneous movement or pushing or driving when I could simply organise my movement in gravity better. Nor do I want to be carrying unnecessary tension and putting strain where it will one day cause injury. And I find that since walking is such a basic human activity and something we do so much the time,( along with sitting and using our arms in fundamental ways as in the previous two workshops in this series) if I can learn to make it simpler, easier, more skilful– then other more complicated or challengingly repetitive movements become easier too. Its like improving the building blocks that you need for everything. And that’s what the Feldenkrais Method can help us do so well.
So that’s what this workshop is. Just notice next time you walk down the street how much you drive your leg forward and whether you really need to or whether there is another way to use your back, your hips, your middle, your chest and the effect of gravity to let the leg swing or even fall forward. Do you need to pull your toes up and flex the ankle strongly to roll the foot or are there other ways to use the lower leg and foot? How much of you shares the movement or do your legs have to do the whole thing? Do both legs work equally all the time? When in the stride does the leg need to work and when can it be less busy? Are there differences between the left and the right? Are your arms involved? In what way? Do you pull yourself along with your shoulders or pump your arms? Do you need to? How much is your neck working to ‘hold you up’? Does it help to tighten your core all the time?
The questions are indeed endless are there are of course many more. So we will look at as much as we can in a day. Explore some of these questions. Find out what we can. Of course what you want for walking up the red carpet, power walking to lose weight, getting to work on time, enjoying a stroll in the park, bird watching or wading through mud are all different so universal rules are not actually very useful , but noticing your habits in walking – where you work harder than you need even when you are not trying to go fast, where and how you are less efficient than you could be – and getting a feel for how all the parts of yourself relate in walking will enable you to adapt your walking more skilfully for greater ease, grace, softness, co-ordination, efficiency, speed, power or whatever you wish for however you want to use it.
see the schedule page for details of workshop: http://www.feldenkraisworks.co.uk/schedule