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Day Eight, Lizzie’s Yoga Challenge: Feldenkrais for Yoga with Daniel Gelblum

For better and for worse, internet connections don’t always work, and rooms are only built a certain size. My home internet connection has been down the past few days making reporting on life and The Challenge fall by the wayside; and the room of yesterday’s class with Daniel was only so big, limiting the exercises and class size. Both are different aspects of containment, the elements that limit and define. Ironically, this is one aspect of the Feldenkrais method.

Without going into too many details of what Feldenkrais is, Moshe Feldenkrais was an Israeli physicist who was interest in improving human functioning by building self-awareness through movement. He was a contemporary of Ida Rolf in the mid-twentieth century, and while their styles of teaching and interacting with clients were very different, both were pioneers in understanding how the body moves in space and facilitating beneficial change to overall human functioning.

The class I went to with Daniel Gelblum at the Life Centre Notting Hill was my first Feldenkrais class, though from what I have read on the subject, it followed the classical rules of a Feldenkrais class. We spent about 85% of the class on our mats, either engaged in a small experiment of movement or lying on our backs to feel the results. Each exercise was meant to explore the range of movement in a given territory of the body, the interrelationships between other territories of the body, and the level of freedom and containment to facilitate the movement. The class was full, with an equal mix of seniors and those of us in our 30 and 40s. While the room was so full that during several exercises bodies were bumping into one another, Daniel offered us excellent instruction and had a good sense of humour. He took us through several basic movements involving the legs, pelvis, spine, shoulder girdle and head. Each exercise started off with a very basic movement that was then added to and experienced in several variations. All of this culminated at the end of class when we engaged in walking and testing our balance, seeing how the legs felt lighter or heavier than prior to the class. Along the way, Daniel posed questions and offered support where necessary in an engaging, friendly and funny way. Actually, Daniel’s enthusiasm and love for the subject matter was contagious, and I believe it would be fair to say every person in the class walked away with a new experience of being in their body. While there were no yoga poses, Daniel mentioned a few different postures during the movement implying that we would remember the movements done in the class when we next practiced yoga. I would have loved even more of this type of relational information.

As a body worker and someone on the eve of becoming a Rolfer, I am fascinated with embodiment exercises and how they may relate and aid one’s yoga practice, so I was in an explorative bubble of heaven throughout the class. A day later, I get the sense that pockets of my spine were awakened yesterday, and would definitely return to the class. If, however, you are one who feels the need to move vigorously in a class to feel anything in your body, you may become bored in this environment. This class is for movement and space explorers, those who are interested in how the body fits together and functions, not for those who want to turn off and be told what to do and get a workout.

Next up, yoga with Leone Roberts at The Life Centre, Notting Hill from 17:45-19:00.

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