“Through our personal history, upbringing, culture, injuries, illness, etc., we each adopt patterns of physical and psychological behaviour. These patterns are deeply embedded in our nervous system, and often become outmoded or dysfunctional, creating unnecessary physical, and psychological limitations”
The Feldenkrais Institute
I took a yoga class recently in which I had a forward bend epiphany.
I struggle with forward bends. I try and keep my back straight. I try not to bend my knees. I do everything the teacher asks and to me it feels like a forward bend. But when I look in the mirror it’s a different story. It’s a ‘back bent, knees bent and bum sticking out’ bend.
In this class we began the forward bend differently; bottom and legs pushed up against the wall. Not sticking my bum out and leaning forward a little more meant I could bend more freely from my hips and without the back pain I always anticipate.
Aha! Now that’s a forward bend!
This small change in starting position gave my body a range of possible movements that I didn’t give it credit for; that I didn’t think it had.
Yes there are physical limits to my yogic bending abilities, but this experience taught me that I have other limits; those which are not physical.
These are limits which have become habits. Habits I was oblivious to. These are ‘facts’ I tell myself.
At some point in my life I made an error/assumption/choice which I repeated. It went unchallenged and became set in stone and a limitation mantra in my head.
Without realising it these limitations became like a defensive wall that left no room for new ideas, possibilities and certainly not change.
With regards to forward bends it was:
‘FACT – I can’t touch the floor, never have and I’ll never be able to’
‘FACT – I have a weak lower back, I can’t bend that far’
‘FACT – My hamstrings are very tight, I can’t straighten my legs’
I can’t I can’t I can’t – it sounds like a chant…….
These are just a few of the ‘facts’ I tell myself, but just these few stop me really trying before I’ve even started. Do I really believe I can’t? I don’t know…
Do I create these excuses so I can fail? A disappointment buffer so I can comfort myself with the knowledge that I told myself so? Again, I don’t know…
A different perspective, a new point of departure, letting go of what I know or what I think I know….hmmm, easier said than done.
Stating the obvious; change is never easy. I think the most difficult parts are knowing where to begin, breaking through that inertia and searching for the catalyst of change.
For me, at this moment in time, movement through yoga and the body awareness it brings seems a good place to start.
P.S If you’re curious about the Feldenkrais Method quote, check out this link