Feldenkrais and early learning for aging well

How the 3 & 4 dimensional movement patterns at birth are reduced to one dimension through the influences of  well meaning adults

  • Aging well begins as children
  • Resilience begins at birth 
  • Physical, mental & emotional flexibility is shaped by outside influences 

Learning Patterns

As a Feldenkrais Practitioner I see a range of people of different ages and capabilities who are seeking to increase the range of motion in their movement functions.  What has stood out for me is the similarity in linear patterns of  movement and the inner-narratives my students share, both young and old alike.  The loss of  three and four dimensional movement patterns of early childhood is obvious. These fluid patterns have been replaced with a linear pattern that I call one dimensional.

Consider this picture of squares and circles.  When I look at it my eyes are drawn through a tunnel to an opening.  I use this to demonstrate an experience of dimensions and to reflect a balance between right and left brains.  The left brain is structured, so I am using a square to demonstrate it, and the right is flexible, so I am using a circle.

In addition to the square and circle reflecting the left-right brains, I am also using it to demonstrate the balanced learning patterns of  babies rotational pattern of movement. 

Physical movement through the body is rotational due to the:

  • nature of circular bone joints
  • independent movement of each vertebrae to turn left and right
  • rotational swinging movements of arms and legs
  • independant swinging shifts of movement available through the right and left sides of the pelvis

  These rotational skeletal movements create counter balance.  

The definition of linear is:

  1.  Linear movement:  arranged in or extending along a straight or nearly straight line.

2.  Linear narrative:  progressing from one stage to another in a single series of steps; sequential

Early learning patterns

How early stages of learning differ and the effects on mobility  

A traditional learning environment for children is the classroom.   However prior to entering the educational system children are learning in a home environment. 

At birth a baby has its own inner system of learning. 

Babies independently learn how to create patterns of movement to bring themselves into rolling, holding objects, crawling, sitting, eating, standing, walking and running, etc.   They develop inner abilities to transition from one posture to another in conjunction with absorbing what is going on around them.  When coming into these upright positions babies will model the actions and behaviours the environment has stimulated.  Before they come into upright positions a baby must first simultaneously feel its own bone structure through the feedback of hard surfaces that is bearing its weight in conjunction with making a conscious connection to intentionally shifting its weight.  What makes this  interesting for us as adults is that a baby does not have the same mental stages of development we do.  Consider how an adults mental education has  taken years to develop.   A baby is just staring this journey and is born with an uncorrupted system of learning encompassing a broader range of functions.  Very different than the limited focus of attention that an adult has learned.  This uncorrupted learning ability is universal in all babies.  

Rotational movement actions  

The roll initiated by the flat line feedback.  The circle contained within the square. 

Stage two of early learning patterns

After exploring at home for a few short years a baby will enter into a phase of learning that shifts their focus from right-left brain balance to dominantly left brain.  This stage is primary school. 

In primary school school babies enter into an environment that slowly shifts their earlier focus from physical and mental  learning to mental tasks and memorization.  This includes elusive patterns through the environment itself.  In these pictures you can see this shift through the 3 designs.  There is a subtle shift building  momentum in this direction from physical to mental processing.   One example in these pictures that contributes to lifelong habits of not aging well is the development of sitting in chairs for long periods. The natural design of the body is to squat, not sit on chairs.  There are serious consequences to losing connection to one’s physical body function from sitting in chairs for long periods.  

On the classroom influences that reduce rotational mobility

Remember

Right-left brain learning has a focus of somatic creativity through exploration while left brain dominant has a focus on memorization and tasks. 

A baby’s learning pattern harnesses both right-left brain in balance from birth. Well meaning adults, who no longer tap into a balanced right-left brain approach themselves, are eager to teach and shape their futures.  This shifts organic learning to a prescribed model that has focus on linear patterns and a hierarchical perspective that is solution orientated.   As mentioned above, a tool being uncloaked as dangerous to future wellbeing is the chair.  A dominant tool still used since the first schoolhouse focus of  drilling down on the A, B, C’s.  We now know that chairs interfere with future patterns of whole function.    As adults, it is now considered the most unhealthy piece of furniture, yet a child is still placed in a chair for hours a day.  Upon learning this adults will seek outside solutions.  Yet, the most important aspects lost in these strategies are the movement patterns themselves.   Learn more on how to create healthier chair experiences in the classroom and make it apart of your daily curriculum.  This does not include getting up and running for a minute or doing jumping jacks.  

Learn more on how to increase the connection between physical mico-movements and the classroom chair for developing a child’s ability to age well

Background

As a Feldenkrais Practitioner I see a range of people of different ages and capabilities who are seeking to increase the range of motion in their movement functions. The focus of a Feldenkrais session is to tap into the current patterns of movement and to investigate any potential of expanding it.  Attention is on the movement itself versus giving it labels or diagnosing it.  The primary goal is to become present to the felt experience and explore a new pattern of available movement.  Not memorization.   The actual somatic learning experience is inside the function without any limitations of philosophical self-image.   The self-image development through one’s first phase of development is the felt sense image.  This has a connection to the support through the body as a response to the ground.  After the first self-image phase the focus is on outside worldly feedback.    

An example for understanding this suggestion of philosophy and self image is the philosophy and practice of yoga.  Yoga is an Eastern Indian spiritual philosophy comparable to Buddhism.  The movement of Yoga focuses on poses with names not associated with the body.  Dog and cat poses reflects a movement seen in dogs and cats and then mimicked for a wonderful stretch.  I have had students who adopt yoga as a lifestyle that includes adopting a new identity.  This is through clothing,  community and how they wish to seen by others through behaviours or appearances.  Rather than natural random pictures in their social media posts I have observed posed  yoga themes whether they are out for coffee or at the beach.    The standing tree pose seems to be the most popular.  This is where one is standing on one leg with the other leg bent so that foot can rest on the inside of the standing leg.  Sometimes awkwardly as the body is not a tree!

Language and images can shift natural inner development and create an alternate way forward deepening the divide between inner body awareness and external self imaging.

The focus of Feldenkrais isn’t on posing and stretching.  The focus is on the felt sense of anatomy, specifically the skeletal micro-movements.  As a Feldenkrais Practitioner I view the whole skeleton from skull to toes as the core of one’s strength and flexibility.  The skeleton is the foundation to intentional movement for each of us in our own movement patterns which  motivates us to roll, sit, stand, walk and run.  A baby spends its first months developing a felt sense of their own skeletons anatomy which  I now observe as a gap in the adult experience.   Feldenkrais can take an adult into an exploration of the skeletons anatomy using felt senses  to fill in some of the missing gaps.

Over time the experience of working with differing ages of students has led to my belief that everyone is learning from the same hidden or elusive patterns.  Patterns modelled in the surroundings at early ages, and for extended periods of time.  Some patterns being integrated create constraints later that lead to reduced function.  This influences false narratives of conditions in later years.  I have observed how change can happen when stuck artificial patterns are brought into obvious awareness.  Once recognized there is choice and the hidden consequences are easily balanced.  Some early tangible and elusive learning patterns can be replicated to successfully create new patterns for aging well.    

An aspect of somatic learning in babies is the choices moment to moment.  As newborns lose their shiny newness they are molded into the communities lifestyle that limits choices by its very nature.

On the classroom influences that reduce rotational mobility 

The only way to change is action


by Renee Lindstrom

Feldenkrais in the Classroom integrating Awareness through Communication & Awareness through Space

Mentoring Programs Available:

 1st Level – Getting Started (Introduction & Pattern)
 2nd Level – Getting Intouch (Experiencing & Connection)
 3rd Level – Integration (Embodiment)

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by Renee Lindstrom, GCFP @ Inside Awareness,  Living in Natures Love Blog
Renee Lindstrom Live
Copyright 2014 – 2021 Renee Lindstrom, GCFP

Feldenkrais®, Feldenkrais Method®, Awareness Through Movement®, Functional Integration®, are registered service marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America. Feldenkrais Method®

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