I have been taking some classes in Feldenkrais movement. It’s very interesting. During the first class we did what in yoga we would call The Universal Stretch – lying on your side and describing an arc with the upper arm. But we came to it very gradually and mindfully, feeling our way from a very small movement of the shoulder. Yesterday we experimented with moving the foot from the outer edge inwards and vice versa, but trying not to involve the knees. What I find appealing about it is that if your mind gets too heavily involved, it doesn’t work. Your body arrives at its own understanding if you let it. In my case, my left foot understood what to do and my right foot didn’t. My teacher, Philippa, explained that in Feldenkrais you always start with what is easiest. For example if you have an injury on one side that impedes the movement, then you start with the other side. Eventually your body learns what to do, new connections are forged in the brain and it becomes possible to work with the damaged side at last.
These classes will definitely inform my yoga practice. They have shown me some of the pitfalls that can happen in yoga: the idea that there is a right way and a wrong way to approach something (obviously it’s important to avoid injury, but does it really matter how you get into a pose otherwise?), the fact that it’s possible to do an entire yoga class inside your head – intellectually if you like – without ever feeling what’s going on in your body. I think this is particularly true if you have done yoga for a long time – the autopilot switches on and off you go. We miss so much of the experience when we work like this. I am trying to pay much more attention to the micro movements that go on. Try standing in Tadasana and closing your eyes and experiencing how hard your feet have to work to keep you balanced.