Most of us think that balancing has to do with extreme activities. But we balance all the time.
Every time we step, every time we reach, every time we look up, lift, or run, we use it. As children, our sense of balance is effortless. We roll, swing, climb, and twirl. And we get up and down from the floor with ease as part of normal movement.
But as we age, we start to lose the pathways onto and off of the floor. We get good at sitting still…and not so good at falling.
There are many reasons for our deteriorating balance: arthritis, neurological issues, busy lives.
The natural tendency is then to hold ourselves more rigidly; which means we can end up compromising natural balance with behaviors that set in before we even know we’ve created them. As Moshe Feldenkrais said, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”
So how do we get back to our childlike ways; when movement was easy and fluid and we worried more about who was “it” than breaking a hip?
We start with self-awareness.
Unconscious movement got you into this mess, conscious movement will help get you out. Here are four ways we’ll show you how to do that in our Dynamic Balance Workshop:
Smoother Quality of Movement
You’ll learn an increased sense of awareness. Attention is drawn to the sensations while moving and resting. This is fundamental to the Feldenkrais Method.® You will become an explorer of your own experience. Your range of movement possibilities will grow. You will learn to sense immediately if a part is strained or painful. You will be able to cultivate a smoother, more comfortable way of moving your muscles and activity will become more efficient.
Improved Skeletal Support
You will learn to use the mechanics of the skeletal system. Muscles move us. But the skeleton is meant to support us. You don’t need to use your muscles as much to maintain balance or posture if your bones are aligned properly. Through your own experimentation, your muscles will become freer to move you more efficiently while your bones become free do their job.
Being able to sense how we are using ourselves means we can learn to be more efficient with all of our daily tasks. Once we’ve learned how to allow the skeleton to support us, we can start sensing our muscles for more coordinated actions. We’ll know when to use a specific part and when to give that movement over to another muscle or part. An example of this would be lifting, carrying, or reaching.
Improved breathing means better movement. Improved movement causes better breathing. So learn to tune into your breath: are you holding it? Where do you breathe? How do you breathe? When do you breathe? As we release the inefficiencies in the musculoskeletal system, breathing becomes easier as the ribs, neck, breast bone, clavicles, and belly become free to do their jobs.
Taken together, these steps allow for change from the inside out. You achieve improved performance through your own observation, exploration, and discovery. You’ll learn this not by working on individual muscles, but by engaging the nervous system and the brain.
This is the closest we come to the type of learning we do in infancy and early childhood, when we discovered how to move by rolling, crawling, walking, jumping, swinging, and, yes, even falling down.
The good news is that we can work on balance at any time in our lives. We can improve it by sensing and moving efficiently. Through this attention and awareness you can balance yourself to better health!