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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Yoga/Feldenkrais/Neuroplasticiy/The Vigorous Mind

I've been reading my yoga books again, in between all of the other books.  Maybe the feeling of Spring and regrowth and the beauty of azalea blossoms re-kindled my interest in yoga reading and more devotion in my practice.  I do yoga almost everyday, sometimes skipping Sundays, and usually attend two classes a week, but my yoga reading has slowed down in the last few months.

 Whether it was picking up the grandchild or moving furniture or a too enthusiastic practice, or a combination (most likely) of all of the preceding and the ever-present scoliosis, I've done something to that right SI joint.  As a result, I've been taking slower, gentler, more exploratory sequences of asanas and reading more about  joints, muscles, and lower back problems and choosing asanas that calm and strengthen and omitting those that interfere with strength and ease.

I have had a new yoga center on my radar for several months and finally decided to give it a try.  It was a lovely practice that seemed remarkably geared to what I needed.  The Arodasi Center is located in a wonderful old home in the Highland District, and the teacher, Kristin Hanna, is one of those people who seem intrinsically at home with herself and others.  The practice was slow and gentle and left me with the feeling of alertness and peaceful relaxation that I adore about both yoga and tai chi.
 Kristin Hanna is also a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist and Educator in the Feldenkrais Method.  I'm finding myself with a new fascination and have a one-on-one private session for Functional Integration scheduled for Friday.  

It is one of those synchronicitous discoveries -- when reading The Vigorous Mind (the first time), my interest in the workings of the brain and in neuroplasticity was aroused.  Norman Doidge's The Brain That Changes Itself  (one of my favorite "brain" books) mentions Feldenkrais' work and the way it can change brain patterns.  

Here is a bit about the Feldenkrais Method and Moshe's Feldenkrais' work as a physicist, his escape from Nazi-occupied Paris with French atomic secrets, his training of British paratroopers in hand-to-hand combat, and more about his method.  Yes, I definitely want to read a biography.
This post on my self-challenge inspired by The Vigorous Mind needs some serious updating, but the journey it set me on has included:  becoming a Registered Yoga Teacher, reading more about the brain and neuroplasticity, deepening my yoga practice, and now, perhaps, a new discovery that will further my understanding of the mind/body connection.
Have any of you had any experience with Feldenkrais? 


  1. What a lovely place to practice yoga. I need to get back to mine. I've gotten away from it for a while and I can tell. :-)

  2. At UT in Austin I took a class that I think was called Somatics that went through yoga, tai chi and other mind-body exercises. I was introduced to Feldenkrais then, but I never continued what I learned (and I have since forgotten). I bought The Brain that Changes itself over a year ago from Audible but have not listened to it yet. I always seem to go through phases in the nonfiction books I read and you sparked my interest in getting back into learning more about the mind-body connection.

  3. I was thinking that I would like to practice agin. I used to do it regularly but at the moment I never seem to be able to make time. It's sad, I miss it.

  4. I have been doing feldenkrais daily for 6 years. After tearing 3 discs doing pilates, I was unable to walk and was an in-patient at the Rehab Center of Chicago (RIC) for a month. RIC had a feldenkrais practitioner come in twice a week for its chronic pain patients. After my discharge I purchased a series of DVDs from Achieving Excellence that is by Eileen Bach-y-Rita. It has 6 DVDs and consists of movements for the entire body. It's cheaper than paying a therapist. Once you understand the principles of feldenkrais, you can do the movements at home. I can honestly say that I would be on disability leave if it weren't for feldenkrais. I don't understand how small movements fix everything wrong with the spine but it does. I highly recommend it over yoga.

  5. Shoot me an email if you want to chat more about feldenkrais.

  6. Kay - I went to another class yesterday and love the way she incorporates Feldenkrais into the lesson. Such slow, gentle, thoughtful movements! You've been awfully busy lately with the house, but you'll get back to yoga when you can!

    Lisa - I love Tai Chi and did it for several years, and I love yoga, but how great to have a class that like you took that introduces different kinds of mind-body exercises.

    The Brain That Changes Itself has some great information, wonderful case studies, and is written in a layman's style that makes it fun to read (or listen to).

    I go through stages with both fiction and nonfiction, moving away from a topic and then back again.

    Caroline - I do my own sadhana each morning, but enjoy attending classes as well. When I miss classes, part of what I miss is the social aspect. Hope you find time for a little yoga soon!

    Violette - It's awful to be doing something to increase your health and well-being, and then sustain an injury that affects every aspect of your life!

    I love the way Kristin incorporates Feldenkrais into her style of yoga, and I'm going this morning to my one-on-one session of Feldenkrais and Reiki.

    I do plan to purchase some DVDs, so thanks for the recommendation!

  7. What a wonderful yoga center! So excited for you as you continue to make discoveries in your yoga practice.

    You are inspiring! I'm hoping to get the all clear from my P.T. so I can go back to yoga soon.

  8. Iliana - It is a lovely place to practice, and I'm thoroughly enjoying my experiences there. I've had 2 yoga classes and a one-on-one session that incorporates a bit of several Somatic practices. Very relaxing and very satisfying.

    I know that Chris Elms has a Feldenkrais practice in Austin, and maybe you could eventually give it a try.