What does "moving naturally" actually mean, and what does it have to do with your life currently?
Take a moment to click "play" and watch the video below. It pretty clearly identifies what it is to move naturally, and how that directly relates to us human beings.
As I watched the video, I thought, ah yes, this is so simple, so direct - this is at the heart of what I teach and share in my practice. This is Awareness Through Movement and natural movement at it's foremost and finest, and it's something we all begin with (so eloquently represented in the video) and something we all (potentially) cultivate and use for the rest of our lives. What does moving naturally have to do directly with you? Everything. These natural movements, these are our basic, fundamental human rights; these natural movements are non-negotiable's, recognized and nurtured from birth through early childhood; but often forgotten thereafter.
We humans have a brain for movement (read more about this in Norman Doidge's phenomenal book, The Brain's Way of Healing Itself), and as such, we have some very basic, essential movements which sustain us through life; they are at the forefront of our basic survival. It's so clear when you look at the video, this is how we grow and develop into the world.
What becomes less clear, to me, is looking at the current state of society and seeing a spread of daily routines and activities that include movements that look nothing like the video above.
Instead we see an enormous amount of this: (sitting)
On chairs that help us to be repetitively shaped like this: (bucket seat, rounded spine)
We generally see moderate amounts of this: (walking & biking)
In shoes that commonly look like this: (thick soles & narrow toe box)
Shoes which don't consider in any way the actual shape of the human foot (wide spread toes - look at small children, their feet are the most natural shape):
We see a lot of our movement outsourced to modern "conveniences" such as these: (escalators instead of stairs, drive thru's instead of walking into the store, one-click from your phone deliveries straight to your front door):
Conveniences that negate our need to make movements like this: (bending down, reaching, carrying loads, walking on uneven surfaces)
Outside of the realm of childhood development, it seems to me that we so rarely see what it looks like to "move naturally."
And, unfortunately, it's been my experience that the awareness, the support, and the tools that cultivate a natural movement-based life are not taught or addressed in school, at work, or even at the gym.
It takes something of a perspective shift - for me it was a full blow paradigm shift when I realized the difference between my up until then perspective on movement and well being as seen through the lens of current culture (i.e. the unspoken but prevalent notion that sitting most of our day is absolutely normal, that convenience makes our lives better, that thick shoes are the only safe option for our feet), versus my experience of true natural movement which got me out of my chair, re-assessing my modern conveniences, and questioning the comfort of my shoes.
So how do we start moving naturally? How do we develop the awareness and learn the necessary tools and skills that as adults we may not be utilizing or mindful of?
These are exactly the questions I am fiercely dedicated to exploring, experiencing, researching, expanding, evolving and sharing with you in my practice.
I would encourage you to begin by taking a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Class (ATM), if you have not already had this experience. This is where the clearest, most fundamental part of awareness for movement and learning to move is explored and developed. If the ATM class resonates with you, consider committing to a consistent ATM practice (I recommend 1 or more classes per week, or a few times a month, at the very least multiple times a year) to really expand the depth of your awareness and learning.
In tandem, I'd also encourage you to consider enrolling in a series of Feldenkrais Functional Integration Sessions (FI). Working together at this level in a one-on-one setting is a true gift to yourself. These series are very often the springboard for real change and profound self-use tools that will stay with you for life. Interested in hearing what working together might be like? A recent client of mine wrote this note about her experience working together:
"Ashley is an incredibly kind and knowledgeable teacher and practitioner. I worked with her both one-on-one in Feldenkrais sessions as well as in her public natural movement and ATM classes. She is able to meet you exactly where you are at and her teachings are at once rich and accessible. Her love and passion for what she does genuinely comes through; she is absolutely delightful to work and study with."
Feldenkrais ATM's and FI's will develop your foundation for awareness and learning, and will profoundly expand your movement repertoire.
The next step is applying these new skills to a natural movement rich lifestyle; and doing this is a true game changer. This is where I implement natural movement, and guide and support you in considering your day to day routine as an abundant assortment of opportunities for not only essential, but enjoyable, strength building and mind stimulating natural movement. No gym membership necessary, no fancy equipment needed, not even a considerable amount of time is required, just you, your awareness, and the curiosity to explore and own the innate natural movement skill-set that you were born into (see video above).