28 January 2008

How she move: Like a baby

I am taking a movement class through our local parks and recreation center. It's Feldenkrais, which as far as I can tell is relearning how to move, based on how we learn to move as babies.

What it reminds me is that I don't have to keep doing things one way. When someone says "Look to your left," I can twist my entire body to help me see, rather than cranking just my neck to one side as far as possible (and usually farther than is comfortable).

There are, as in any endeavor undertaken in this town full of athletes, people in various physical states in the class. I'm restless if I'm not active every day but tend toward lassitude, and I'm probably in the middle of the range: there are true athletes in the class and people who haven't done much exercise for a while. This is not an exercise course, or a stretching course, and it's not a workout, the instructor assured us, and I like that. I find it suggests an absence of competition. In yoga, there's no right or wrong way to do it, but you can see the way that looks like the right way and if you don't quite match the image of Leonardo daVinci's proportions of man figure, all your limbs at perfect angles in relation to one another, you can wind up feeling you're not quite measuring up to that ideal.

If anything the competition in the Feldenkrais class is to see who can discover the most fluid interpretations of the movements and ideas given to us. It's the creative process itself that is rewarded -- and the creative process turns out to be its own reward.

In one of the conversations about skiing, the athlete next to me talked a little about efficiency in movement. And I found myself wondering, is the most efficient motion always the best movement? How would our teacher, who is kind of like a Zen master and likens himself to a guide in his body-awakening work, answer this question?

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