Monday, March 26, 2007

An experiment in Rolling Up to Sit

1) Lie on your back. Do a sweet and lovely scanning of your entire body. Notice how long your legs feel and what differences there are right and left. Notice the same for your arms. Notice where your spine is touching the floor or earth and where it is not. Notice how you are breathing and what the general shape of yourself is right now. Notice your pelvis and spine and head as a connected line of yourself. Notice the ribs and your shoulder blades. Notice whether you like to notice what is "painful" or what is "pleasant" or just "what is."

2). Roll onto your right side. Bend your legs slightly so you are more or less stable. Put your right upper arm under your head if necessary for your comfort. Now, straighten your upper, left leg down and your arm, left arm up, so they make a line up and down.

3)Now, do this little play around thing, of bringing your left arm and left leg toward each other in front of you and back to neutral, which is straight up and down. Notice how you use your back and stomach to do this.

4). Rest. On your side or back and just notice any differences.

5). Come back to your right side as in 2, and now bring your upper arm and leg back. As with all Feldenkrais play/ learning, and the many essays herein: small is as good as large, slow is much better than fast, and if you aren't aware, you are just a donkey cranking out motion. Go to 80% of your limit with 300% of your usual awareness. Go back with straight left arm and left leg and notice how the rest of you participates in this. Enjoy this. Soften this. Allow any extra effort to be dropped away.

6). Rest on your back and notice differences side to side and in how you are lying now from the beginning.

7) Come to your side again and now combine 3 and 5, so the arms and legs first come back and then forward. Notice our spine and how to use your belly in and belly out to help with this.

8) Rest.

9) Come to your side again. And now, bring the legs and arms as if they were a line, so that as the left arm comes forward, the left leg comes back, and as the left arm comes back, the left leg comes forward. This is fun, and even so, go slow and see how in one position you want to roll toward your belly and in one position your want to roll toward your back. Allow and enjoy this. Feel the deliciousness of this movement.

10) Rest and notice differences, side to side, now from the beginning.

11) Do 9 again, and, as you roll forward with your left arm each time, allow your head to come along with your arm as if your head is going to come along the floor toward your right knee. You can even try gluing your left arm to your left ear as you bring your arm forward and sweep your hand along the ground, get a sense of more and more of a circular motion to this side. Glue your head until it arrives as near to your knee as easily possible and then let your left arm continue a little farther in its circling.

12) Rest. And notice. And enjoy.

13) Now, as you go back to what you were doing in 11, allow your left hand and arm to keep coming toward your legs so far that your head comes near your right knee, your left hand goes on farther than your knee and your left leg keep counter balancing your arm, so that you end in a position where you need only to arch your back at the end of this move and your are up and sitting. THE KEY IS KEEPING YOUR HEAD LOW AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, UNTIL YOU ARE WAY AROUND NEAR OR AT YOUR KNEE. THEN SITTING IS A NATURAL FOLLOW UP. From sitting, think about how to reverse exactly what you did, head going first to knees, and hand along the floor and upper leg in counterbalance, as you come back to your side.

I'll post pictures on this in a couple of days, but for now: try to figure it out just as an experiment you get to completely figure out from within.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Slow Down

In our rush to get so much done,
we forget a minor detail:
this now
right now
is our Life.

One of the sweetest and best ways to
return to now
and our life
is to slow down.

If you've already done Feldenkrais you realize how important this is:

If you don't SLOW DOWN,
you are going to be stuck
in always doing something the way
you always did.

(that's the word the keeps
us same old same old:

Habit means
that the action,
like tying our shoes,
has gone on
which is fine for lots of things,
who wants to re-learn shoe tying
or tooth brushing each day.

But to learn
and hence become more than
what we are now,

Think about doing a rush job
learning to
opposite string first, in
opposite top down positioning,
and you'll realize it's impossible.

And yet,
when someone gets a system,
that is super powerful,
such as the Feldenkrais Method,
or the Byron Katie Work,
or my evolving
Wake Up Feldenkrais Work,
a system that fascilitates transformation,
(not just remediation)
by slowing us down,
and allowing,
that is ALLOWING US,
the tendency is to rush through,
do it the old ways,
get it over,
feel secure,
and learn nothing.

That feels familiar
and even "comfortable,"
though often this is a miserable sort of "comfort,"
but it is the known.

See today's essay at SlowSonoma.Com
on learning and knowing.
On how,
if we already know it all, we don't need
to learn anything
and can
stay the same.

Alas the age old problem:
we say we want to change
the hell we are in,
but darned if we are willing
to change anything about ourselves
to help this take place.

We want to change
without changing,
and this often means:
rushing through something.

( a big favorite, stay the same strategy)

if you are doing yoga
or Feldenkrais
or Desk Trainer:

slow down,
expand awareness,
do the work with

Make awareness the core of what you are doing.

Do the thing twice
do the Desk Trainer twice
do the yoga pose twice
do the Feldenkrais movement "many times."

Slow down
it's okay to feel delicious
it's okay to learn
it's okay to allow the brain a chance to learn
it's okay to allow the new and vital
and real
and enlightened
in you
to have a chance to wiggle up to the light,



Combine 20
Functional Integration® Lessons
( Amazing, Gentle, Transformative
Individual Lessons)

20 Minutes a Day of HomePlay ( not Homework)
Move, Think and Feel


April 29, 12- 6 PM

Amazing Parenting
May 20, 12-6 PM

• Improving Backs, Necks, Shoulders
Sports, yoga, health and Learning
June 17, 12- 6 PM

More Details
Workshops and Classes, Coming Up

For the brain
for the "body"
for moving with more ease
for healing
for learning
for fun.

Monday lunch break class
12:30-1:20 PM

includes touch guided and movement lessons
come wishing and willing for transformation
off Broadway
around the corner from the Post Office
and the Art Museum,
the little side street between.

For amazing and transformative
and gentle
one on one lessons,
Functional Integration®
seeIndividual Lessons


Sensitive Strength


Waking up to now.
Embracing Change.
Learning to learn.
Loving to move, improve and transform.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What is the Feldenkrais Method®?
What is WakeUp Feldenkrais?

What is the Feldenkrais Method?

One word: Learning.

people moving
An Awareness Through Movement® lesson. Photo by Rosalie O'Conner.

Two words: Neural rewiring

Three words: Refining Our Awareness

Four words: Learning how to Learn

Four words: Increasing Our Self Connection

Five words: Transformation thru Undoing Stuck Habits

Six words: Expanding horizons thru Learning and Awareness




    One sentence:
  • This is a system of mind/body whole self learning
    based on how we learned
    when we were a genius,
    which is to say,
    how we learned to roll over and sit up and crawl and walk and talk when we were babies.

  • Two sentences:
  • This is a way of learning how to learn,
    based on the primacy of movement
    in life in general
    and human life in particular.

  • Our brains are set up to learn,
    and moving is the most primary way
    our brains were set into motion (literally and figuratively) to learn,
    and learning by moving with awareness
    is the quickest and sweetest way
    to radically improve almost anything in our lives.

  • Three sentences:
  • We are alive and amazing and
    have a brain
    that loves to learn.

  • By going slow
    and minimizing effort
    and looking to reduce unnecessary effort
    and concentrating on the process rather than achievement,
    we can radically improve
    the quality of our movement and our being.

  • This work,
    being about learning,
    consists of lessons
    and these lessons can be with verbal instruction,
    as Awareness Through Movement® lessons,
    or touch guided lessons,
    called Functional Integration®

  • Four sentences:
  • A man named Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984)
    had a smart and curious nature
    and loved sports and thinking
    and wrecked his knees and
    set about learning how to heal himself.

  • He succeeded.

  • The ways he discovered involved returning
    to a discovery and playfulness
    as well as understanding that we function as mind/body unities
    and that connection and relationship
    and inner functioning/organization were what brought about change.

  • He discovered,
    and created ways for others to discover,
    inner learnings and possibilities of transformation,
    for both "body" and our whole lives,
    that had previously been considered "impossible."

  • Five sentences:
  • Human beings,
    more than any other creature on this planet,
    are dependant on
    to become who they are in life.

  • Some of what we learn is stupendous,
    to walk, talk, play dodge ball, find a mate and
    some of what we learn is "bad habits,"
    ways of moving and interacting and thinking
    and feeling that
    our having a rich and full life.

  • A man named Moshe Feldenkrais, 1904-1984,
    discovered, in the course of healing his own wrecked knees,
    that by focusing on the
    that takes place in the brain and the brain/body,
    he could achieve spectacular results
    in people as varied as children with cerebral palsy
    and star professional basketball players
    or world class musicians.

  • Freedom from being stuck
    in habits and patterns that aren't working,
    can be achieved by
    learning OPTIONS
    in ways we move, think and go about living.

  • This system can seem "slow,"
    because it focuses on the little places
    that are missing in our inner connection and awareness,
    and yet, because it fills in these missing areas,
    is much "faster" at achieving
    real and organic and long term improvement
    and transformation.

Books on the Feldenkrais Way, c/o the Feldenkrais Guild Bookshop

See, if you haven't yet:
U Tube Short Wonderful Video on the Feldenkrais Way

Wikipedia, on the Feldenkrais Method

What is Wake Up Feldenkrais?

One word:

Two words:
Waking Up

Three words:
Learnng New Options

Four words:
Expanding joy and effectiveness

Five words:
The Work of Byron Katie

Six words:
Transforming Lives thru Learning and Awareness

See More at
What is Wake Up Feldenkrais?

The Feldenkrais Method is a learning system
enables people
to transform from
poor to fair,
from fair to good,
from good to great,
from great to greater.

In the words of Moshe Feldenkrais:
"Making the impossible possible,
the possible easy,
the easy elegant."

In what?
Traditionally the Feldenkrais Method has been used by
who want to improve and transform the
quality of their movement in life,
from a cerebral palsy child who has very little useful movement,
to an adult with a sore shoulder or back,
or someone getting older and frustrated to no longer be able to do some activity they used to love when they were younger,
to someone who
at music, sports, yoga ,
even at a world class level,
and wants to become even more excellent.

It has also been widely experienced
that Feldenkrais work
increases everyday joy,
decreases depression and anxiety,
and can
radically improve thinking
and problem solving abilities.

With an in-depth exploration of this work,
people often realize suprising
and dramatic changes
in their life,
changes they didn't even know
they were hungry to make.

Moshe Feldenkrais:
"What I'm after isn't flexible bodies,
flexible brains.

What I'm after
is to restore each person
to their human dignity."

How is this done?

This is a learning system,
and brains learn best when awareness is heightened,
pain is minimized,
interest and curiosity is heightened,
novelty is encouraged,
and pleasure and success are ongoing.

This system is about increasing our options,
in moving, thinking and feeling,
about experiencing,
in real, physical and mental experiments,
how we can be more than we were but a few minutes before.

In the Feldenkrais Method
there are two categories of work, roughly.
One, called
Awareness Through Movement® lessons,
hands on elbows, moving
An Awareness Through Movement® lesson. Photo by Rosalie O'Conner.

involves verbal instructions,
to which a person (often in a group) follows
slow and interesting movements that
heighten awareness,
decrease stress,
increase pleasure and ease in moving and thinking,
and connect us more to our
here and now
physical and mental selves.

For upcoming classes, see Current Classes and Offerings

The other, called
Functional Integration® lessons,
involves touch guided sessions
on a low and firm but comfortable table.
The client/ student is fully clothed
and is moved in
gentle and
interesting and
that reduce pain
and increase mobility,
self confidence, and
leave a sense of a shift to new level of organization.

These lessons are as pleasurable as a massage,
but are for the brain as well as the body,
for the Whole Self, really,
expanding your sense of yourself,
opening new ways of moving,
and thinking,
and feeling.

Opening you to freedom
to begin to become more of what you
really want to be.

For prices and details,
the end of the essay on
Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain, One on One Lessons

or see the Posting:
Functional Integration, Amazing and Transformative Lessons

For another option,
of how to understand Awareness Through Movement
Functional Integrations,

Contact Phone: 707-996-1437

Email Chris Elms, M.A.

Chris Elms pic

Photo: Luke Mogelson

You can also try the Awareness Through Movement lessons,
in a mini-form,
via the computer cartoon program
Desk Trainer.
Here the lessons are 5 to 8 minutes long and the first one is free. The program costs $30 per year.

In this very blog
there are lots of instructions for small
and medium length lessons.
click on the label: Movement Lesson
and a batch will come up for you
to read
and have some
learning time.

There are a bunch of articles in this blog,
and at Feldenkrais Guild Articles,
and at almost all the Feldie Sites listed in the sidebar to the left.

See especially the slightly difficult,
but worth the trouble, articles of Dennis Leri, my trainer, at Semiophysics


The best to start with is Relaxercise
Go to the end of their list of books by practitioners.
Actually, while you're there A Guide to Awareness Through Movement, has detailed pictures and instructions, and
A Busy Person's Guide to Easier Movement
has gobs of short, useful lessons.

Also wonderful,
and with a GREAT explanation of the Method:
Awareness Heals.

Then would come: Awareness Through Movement by Moshe Feldenkrais, himself.

And also by Moshe, and quite wonderful,
The Elusive Obvious,
which is what the Feldenkrais Method is all about. (I.e. We live in gravity. We have two legs. We are tall, cylindrical beings,
and so on.)

CDs and DVDs as well as books, via:

See Feldenkrais Resources.

Achieving Excellence.

Excellent CD on necks, joints, backs, and DVDs on Back, and Special Needs Children:

The Anat Baniel Method.

Contact Phone: 707-996-1437

Email Chris Elms, M.A.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Going from -1 to +3 in ten minutes, or less....


Most people are functioning, but they really don't feel good and happy in their bodies. Sitting in chairs, watching television, worried and full of stress and then exercising either mindlessly or with a sort of punitive self-punishing "it's only real if it hurts" kind of attitude, they are "getting by," "doing okay," "everything's fine."

Ho hum. …. This is the way life is set up for many people.

Little bits can do a lot. Change is near, as near as awareness,
awareness plus very gentle movements.
Gentle movements that require attention, and delight by bringing
us back to our here and now brain/ body/ heart selves.

So: change is near and easy:

If you go slowly and you experiment and are willing to discover
the wonders
of being in this wonder

Throughout this blog there are mini-lessons, or mid-sized lessons, and all have to do with noticing and awareness and self discovery.

a)For example:
Come sit at the front edge of your chair. It's probably best to move it away from your desk.
Now, slowly and with delight in being you,
move your right shoulder slowly forward. See what else of yourself participates. (E.g. ribs, pelvis, eyes, neck, and so on)

Pause in neutral and sense yourself. What has changed? What do you notice?

b) Now move your right hip forward by moving your right knee forward. What else participates?

Can you feel your spine and ribs taking part in both these movements.

Pause in neutral and sense yourself. What has changed? What do you notice?

c) Now try bringing your right shoulder backward. Do this a number of times, slowly and with pleasure. Again, see how
much pleasure and learning you can bring to this.

Pause in neutral and sense yourself. What has changed? What do you notice?

d) Now try bringing your right hip backward, which means you have to shift your weight over to the left hip while you bring your right hip and knee back.

Pause in neutral and sense yourself. What has changed? What do you notice?

e) Now, slowly experiment with both shoulder and hip forward, and both shoulder and hip back.

Pause in neutral and sense yourself. What has changed? What do you notice?

f) Now, slowly, and just little movements are fine to get learning going in your brain:
bring your right hip forward as you bring your right shoulder back (small, small: make it delicate and aware).
Be simple,
move small. Just come back to a neutral.
Do this a number of times,
remembering to breathe,
and look for ease and learning.

Pause in neutral and sense yourself. What has changed? What do you notice?

g) Now, slowly, take your right hip backward, in little
aware movements,
as you bring your right shoulder forward at the same time
and same rate.
Just do this, an return to neutral, a number of times.
Again, easy and aware does it.

Pause in neutral and sense yourself. What has changed? What do you notice?

h) Now put f and g together, moving both ways with both parts.
Shoulder back as hip comes forward
shoulder forward as hip comes back.
This is NOT a stretch,
except for the awareness part
of our brain.

It's a chance to learn
and enjoy
and slow down
and reconnect
with skills that will help
lots and lots that you do.

Go slow.

Go small.

Go with discovery and following your breathing.

Pause in neutral and sense yourself. What has changed? What do you notice?
Getting up and walking around
is another very nice way to notice differences
after a lesson.

Enjoy your you-ness, and the new-ness you may be experiencing.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Glory of Being Human: Bones, Brains, Gravity, Learning

To be human is a miracle. And we can make our lives even better.

We have a skeleton.

This is glorious, because with the skeleton we can see from four or five or six feet above the ground, and we can walk, and make love, and plant a garden and move ourselves around in the field of gravity.

Gravity is always there.

I love to laugh at the We Create Our Own Reality people, and say: okay: hold a rock in front of your face and create a reality where the rock doesn't fall toward the ground, eventually. All the tricks of throwing it in the air, and having a shelf under it, still: gravity is there. It's not invented in our minds.

It's part of life on Earth.

That our parents could or should have been nicer, that is a matter for speculation. That we live on a planet with gravity as a daily and constant occurrence

We have gravity and we have two legs.

What does that mean? It means we are less stable than a four legged table or a dog or a horse, or even a three legged stool. We are instable, which means we can move easier than if we were stable.

And another reality is that babies don't know how to crawl, how to roll over, how to bring their hands to their mouths, how to sit up, how to walk, how to talk. A million people can put all the best vibes into the holiest baby in the world, and it's still going to need to learn how to move in the ways of a human.

Which means it will discover gravity. It has no choice. It will discover movement, almost always, and when it starts to move, the baby will start to discover that different ways of moving bring about different results.

The baby learns.

Without learning, human life would stay at more or less the sucking blob level.

So we have gravity, we have two legs, we have two arms, we have a spine, ribs, pelvis, head, arms, legs, hands, feet, toes, fingers, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, tongue, hungers and thirsts inside us, an ability to track inside ourselves (as we learn it) where the arm and hand and leg and spine are. We have muscles that move the bones around.

We have a brain that is learning how to put all this together and crawl across the room.

We don't know we are going to crawl.

We discover this.

This is what this work is about: discovering huge new possibilities that we didn't even know were there and available for us. And we do it like a baby: little steps, lots of learning, lots of play, lots of discovery, no real demand to "do it right," an openness to the new.

We are learning creature, with skeletons and muscles and amazing brains in a field of gravity.

We are, as we grow, amazing creatures for who all sorts of things that we might have considered previously "impossible," (as crawling would be to a two week old baby), can become possible.

The impossible becoming possible, the possible becoming easy, the easy becoming elegant: this is what this work is about, this wakeup feldenkrais work. And it is not just about moving easier and sweeter and more elegantly.

It is about learning how to transform into a larger and more complete being.

This is good work.

This is fun.

This is thrilling.

This is available, to you, to me, to us all. Give a call if you are inspired to change and transform anything in your life.