Movement as medicine and trying the Feldenkrais method.
At 10:30am on a Saturday morning Brenton willingly accompanied me to a dance studio. Why? So we could try a Feldenkrais class. Feldekrais method is a movement class focused on moving your body in the most natural way. I highly recommend starting your day with a class like this if you can; it was so relaxing.
This class, which revolves around small movements and lying on the floor, triggered a breakthrough for my relationship with movement. Little movements are just as important so we can use movement as medicine for our bodies and minds. Want to reap the benefits of movement? Carry on reading!
Movement as medicine for the body.
I have chronic upper back pain. What started as a tweaked shoulder at 18 has turned into years of massage therapy, doctors visits and tiger balm. I’m not a doctor, but I did notice my pain increased anytime I stopped working out completely. After doing a little research I’ve discovered that 80% of adults will experience back pain. According to the ACA one of the best ways to combat and prevent back pain is to move (“Motion is Lotion” is my new favorite catch phrase from this research). While lying on the floor in our Feldenkrais class the instructor reminded us that our movements did not need to be big, they needed to feel smooth and natural. I love the imagery this provides. When you move your body in a way that feels smooth, and only to the point where it is easy to return to your starting point, you are providing lotion to your tight muscles and joints.
Not only is there some valid commotion about motion and our joints but there’s also validity in the importance of movement and our immune systems. According to this study as little as a 20 minute walk can boost your immune system. What I love about this is that it proves that small and slower motions are beneficial for the body. You don’t have to run a half-marathon to reap the benefits of movement in your body.
The Feldenkrais Method
During a Feldenkrais class you dive in to the fundamentals of movement by laying on the floor and being lead through small movements, starting with the neck and moving down to the soles of the feet. The instructor had us go from moving one segment of the body to moving multiples at the same time. An example of this would be laying on the floor with your feet planted and your knees towards the ceiling, then moving your head one way and your legs another. With each movement we were told to focus on how our bodies felt; was it easier to move our legs and head to the left or right? How far over could we take our knees before we had to start using extra force? We built from there but the premise was the same, small, natural movements.
Movement as medicine for the mind.
Focusing on movement has changed my physical body significantly but it has changed my mental health even more. I find slow movement, like this Feldenkrais class or Yin yoga, excruciating at times because I JUST WANT TO WIGGLE AND MOVE. The small movements force me to live presently, and notice the smallest changes in my balance and focus. Classes like this are meditation for those of us who struggle to sit still. It’s amazing for my nervous system and creativity.
My one true movement love will always be high intensity exercise. Whether its weight lifting, HIIT, or plyometrics creates dopamine, serotonin and all the happy hormones. This is amazing for my mental health because as Elle Woods said “happy people don’t kill their husbands”.
So, have I convinced you? Assuming you have the privilege of being able to move, try moving! Go for a run, a walk, or just stand for 5 minutes in your house. Do it if you can and let me know how you feel!