Many people who have stress, they seek methods of relief like alcohol, drugs, compulsive behaviors, or whatever seems to work to relieve the tensions that accumulate in the course of our days. In this chapter you will find many lessons that can quickly provide not only the feeling of relief from stress, but for many, a sense of well-being and pleasure.
We rarely think of using unusual movements of our body as a major way to obtain highly relaxing states of mind. However, our body not only accumulates stress, it can also accumulate pleasure. Some of the lessons focus on relaxing tight muscle groups, some focus on using the body against the floor as if you were getting a good massage; and others focus on alleviating the muscular tensions that occur around our joints that make the feelings of stress so difficult and even painful. The following strategies are important towards reducing stress. There are no side effects bur pleasure.
A.RELEASING THE HIPS INTO PLEASURE
Most of people find that the inside of their legs, as well as other muscles around the hip joint, are stiff. In this post, you’ll find a comfortable and pleasurable way of releasing excess work in these muscles as follows.
- The first of all you are supposed to lie on your back with your arms down and your legs straight. Feel the pressure under your heels. Does the pressure on your left heel differ from your right? Is the pressure more on the outside of one heel than the other? Also, observe the pressure on the calf muscles. Does it tell you which of your two legs is pointed more to the ceiling and which is pointed more to the outside? Make sure your legs are relaxed. Don’t try to hold them in any particular way.
- Turn your right leg further to the right and let the knee softly bend, so that the outside edge of your right foot begins sliding on the floor up toward you very gently,. Slide the edge of the foot back down the same track it went up. Repeat the movement several times, very slowly, searching for the path of least resistance and effort as you slide the outside edge of the foot up and down on the floor.
Important thing to consider.
As you slide the foot up and down, make sure the knee hangs open completely, so there’s no work in the inner muscles of your thigh. Every so often, let the leg rest with the knee bent and the foot pulled up to make sure you let go of the inner thigh muscles. Many people overwork the muscles on the inside and outside of their thighs using far too many muscles that do not support the simple action of bending the hip and knee or straightening the hip and knee.
The more unnecessary muscular work you perform, the more difficult, heavy, and resistant the movement of the leg becomes. So be sure to concentrate on releasing the inner muscles of your leg as you perform this movement. After exploring sliding the edge of your foot up and down the floor, rest and observe what’s changed in the way the leg is resting on the ground.
- Perform the same exploration of this movement on the left side. Is it easier or harder than the right. Notice if your eyes, or even your head, pull to the left side when you move the leg up and down. Rest and feel the expansion in your pelvis and the release of excess work in your legs.
- Turn both of your legs open, with the knees hanging apart, and slide the outside edges of both of your feet up toward yourself at the same time. As you go up and down this way, slowly and gently, feel what your back and your pelvis do to assist the movement.
Remember.As the edges of the feet slide up, try to keep the space between your feet about a foot apart.
- Rest with your arms on the floor above your head and out to your side, with the elbows slightly bent. Once again, slide the outside edges of both feet up toward yourself and leave them there with your knees hanging open. Then, let your head easily roll from side to side while breathing deeply. Finally rest in this position, with the knees suspended and the arms open, and feel the comfort of being like a baby sleeping on the floor. Let your ribs move freely as you breathe.
B.ROLLING INTO RELAXATION.
Rolling is one of the most wonderful ways we have to refresh and relax our bodies.In addition it improve our coordination by integrating our arms and legs with our torso, but as we roll across the floor, we are also getting a free massage as the floor presses on our muscles. The following are the key of success.
- First of all rest with your legs straight and your arms on the floor above your head. Take a moment to observe the quality of softness in your body against the ground.
- Slide the back of both of your hands on the floor to the left while sliding both of your feet to the left at the same time. Allow your head and pelvis to turn to the left at the same time as well. Can you rest on your left side for a moment?
- Keeping your feet and hands heavy on the floor, sweep your arms in a long lazy arc back over your head as you slide your legs long, turning yourself onto your back.As you sweep your arms and legs to the left, feel that all you need to do is turn your legs at the hips so that the outside edge of the left foot and the inner edge of the right foot can slide on the floor. Feel the pressure of your body against the ground moving constantly over to the left side. As you move back, be sure to sweep the hands in a long reaching arc above your head, as your legs slide straight at the same time. Rest with your arms down at your sides and feel the difference between the two sides of your body.
- Then after sweep your arms and legs to the right and roll to the right side in the same way you did to the left. Which side feels more coordinated? Rest with your arms down.
- Finally rest your arms on the floor above the head again and then sweep your arms and legs from side to side as you roll from right to left.
KEY FOR SUCCESS.
If you feel difficulty breathing, or you feel stiff while doing this lesson, put all of your awareness into softening your body so that there’s no sharp effort in any particular place. Rest and enjoy the pleasure in your body and the improved quality of your contact with the floor. Get up very slowly to stand and walk. It may take some time to focus on the day’s activities.
The hamstrings are important because they flex the knee; when walking they pull the foot backward at the knee, while they also contribute to extending the hips slightly along with the gluteal muscles of the buttocks. They contribute to stabilizing our knees when we push without feet, as in jumping. Because these are very common activities, these muscles tend to get short and tight. Unfortunately, most exercise systems simply have us pull against the muscle to stretch it until it gives up. In this lesson you’ll learn how to comfortably and enjoyably lengthen your hamstrings so the muscle learns to retain its length. The important stages to consider are as follows.
- Lie on your back with your legs long and feel the distance of the backs of your legs from the floor. The tighter your hamstrings the higher your legs will be. Your two legs might feel different from each other.
- Roll onto one side and sit up. Sit with your left leg in back of you and your right leg straight out in front. Put your left foot in a comfortable place in back with the left knee slightly forward. If this is uncomfortable, bring your left foot near your crotch in front of you, with the left knee hanging open toward the floor. You can lean on your right hand for support
- Put your left hand on the outside of your right thigh and slowly massage your right leg by kneading and rubbing the muscles, slipping over them with your hands. Massage in long, slow strokes down toward your ankle.
Feel the texture of your leg, as well as its shape, as though you were exploring it for the first time. Make long, steady strokes down toward. the ankle and back toward the hip. Pay no attention to how far you’re going. Notice that if you let your shoulder release, and allow your body to turn to the right, it’s quite easy to go further.
- Put the right leg out in front of you again, with a straight knee. Put the leg at a different angle to your trunk. Begin massaging the inside of the right leg with your left hand and experience how you rock back and forth on your pelvis as you reach with your left shoulder and your head. If you happen to touch your foot, fine. If you can only go just below your knee, that’s also fine. Let your knee bend whenever it wants to so the right leg is soft and can adjust easily to your massaging. See if you can massage some part of your foot, and perhaps play with your toes. Allow the knee to bend to help you. Rest on your back and feel the difference in your two legs.
- Roll over and sit again. This time put the right foot in back of yourself, and the left leg straight in front of you, so you’re sitting as a mirror image of before. Use your left hand for support on the floor and begin massaging your left leg thoroughly with your right hand. Rest on your back again and feel the change.
Awareness Advice: You’ll have more weight on your left hip now. Remember that if the position is difficult, you can sit with the right foot near your crotch, with the right knee hanging open. Let your head and neck relax completely as you rock back and forth toward and away from your foot. Every so often, play with your toes, allowing the knee to bend so you can do so. You may never before in your life have taken the time to slowly and carefully massage your legs. Often we know nothing about our bodies until something hurts and goes wrong. Only then do we look at ourselves carefully and worry about it.
- Come to sitting again, this time leaning on your hands comfortably in back of you, with your legs straight in front of you, toss your legs wide apart, and bring them back again several times. It should be like opening and closing scissors. Now leave them wide apart wherever they easily go. Put both hands on your right leg near the hip, and begin to massage down the leg toward the foot in long, languid strokes. Let yourself breathe out as you go down the leg.
- The next time your hands return to your hips let them slide over your belly as well as your back to the left hip, and begin to massage down the left leg and back again. Think of yourself as a sculptor, shaping your legs as you massage. As you go down one leg and then the other, think of passing your hands across your body, as if you were sculpting the connection of your legs to your torso. Go in a smooth and steady motion. You may let your head, neck, and shoulders be soft and relaxed as you massage. Let your pelvis rock from side to side on the floor. Every so often, vary what you do with your feet by pulling your feet back and keeping your knees straight. Remember your goal is to let the movement be sensual, as if you were making a sculpture of your lower body. Let the knees be soft and bend as they need to. Rest on your back and feel how close your legs and back.
C.LENGTHEN THE BACKS OF YOUR LEGS.
Here, you will learn another way to lengthen the backs of your legs as well as all the muscles that extend your back and hips.
- Lie on your back for a few moments and feel your contact with the floor. Which side of your lower back is higher from the ground? Which is higher, the backs of your knees or your lower back? Evaluate this without moving your hands to measure.
- Sit up with the bottoms of your feet on the floor and your knees bent, close to your chest. With your right hand, hold on to the outside edge of your right foot. Use your thumb and fingers together to get a firm grip. Put your other hand wherever is comfortable for support; you might want to hold on to your left knee. Find a way to be comfortable in this position. Make sure your right knee is inside of your right arm so the right arm is not between your legs but around the outside of your right leg.
- Put any part of your face on your right knee, and rub your face against your knee as if you were washing it with your knee. Touch your chin, both cheeks, and your forehead on it . If the position is not comfortable for you, let your left knee hang open and bent to the side
- Keeping your forehead on your knee, and holding on to your right foot, slide the right heel away from yourself until your knee goes straighter. Only go as far as you can before your forehead wants to separate from your knee. Come back up again and go back and forth this way several times. Rest on your back for a moment .See how long your head can stay attached to your knee.
- Sit again the same way. Hold on to the outside of the right foot with the right hand again and put your chin on your right knee. Once again, slide the foot away from yourself and back again. Can you feel the difference in your back when you have your chin against your knee, as opposed to your forehead? Pause. Now, put one of your cheeks against your knee as you continue sliding your foot. Does one cheek make it easier to do the movement than the other?
- Bring your weight up to sitting again and hold on to the outside edge of your left foot with your left hand. Review and read instruction 2 carefully, as you will be mirroring that exact position. Repeat instructions 2-5 on the left side. Which side is easier? Rest on your back again and observe if it has gotten flatter.
- Sit with your feet on the floor and your knees near your chest. Hold on with your right hand to the outside edge of your right foot and with your left hand to the outside edge of your left foot. Make sure your knees are in between your two arms. Move your head toward both knees. There’s a groove formed between both knees that’s shaped perfectly for your forehead or your nose. If you can’t get your head there, that’s fine. Just let the head hang. Push both feet away from yourself sliding both heels on the floor. Let your head stay in contact with your knees as long as possible and come back again. Rest on your back and feel if your spine and legs are closer to the floor .
D.MASSAGE TO GREATER LENGTH.
Many people get some form of massage for stress relief, however, that’s not always convenient. Most of us do not realize we can create the same depth of relaxation by ourselves. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use your hands on your own body, while doing movements. This is not meant as a replacement for all the various mechanical devices sold to knead and vibrate muscles, but you might find it more effective.
- Lie on your back with your arms and legs long. Close your eyes to help you notice what parts of your body feel like they are pressing against the floor. Your pressure pattern is like your signature; it is unique to you. Observe how this “pressure signature” changes during the lesson.
- Bend your left knee and put your foot on the floor. Gently push down through your foot so you roll your weight to the right hip and lift the left side of the pelvis. Keep your left knee vertical. Notice if you feel any changes in your left ribs and arm. The Feldenkrais Method is a continuous process of exploration and discovery. Notice where is the best place to put your left foot in order to push comfortably. Allow the right leg to relax as the left leg pushes. Rest with your arms at your sides and your legs long. Notice if there is a change in the pressure pattern.
- Rest your arms on the floor above your head, but wide apart, and open your legs so that you are lying on the floor, forming a large “X” with your body. Bring your left knee up and place your foot flat on the floor. Take your left hand and begin massaging the right shoulder and continue down the arm toward the hand. Push through the left foot to help you reach the right hand. Let the massage move up and down from your chest, to your shoulder, elbow, hand and thumb. Go easily back and forth a few times in long, slow strokes. Rest, stretch out flat and notice any changes in your pressure pattern on the floor.
- Put your arms out to the side and a little above your head with the back of the hands on the floor. Bend your right knee and stand the right foot on the floor. Push through the right foot so your weight rolls to the left side. Keep the right knee still as you push. Explore where to place the foot to get the best push. Roll with gentle effortlessness back and forth allowing the head to follow with the motion. Rest with the arms and legs long and notice any changes in your pressure pattern on the floor.
- Put your arms out to the side again with the backs of the hands on the floor so you are lying in a large “X”. Bend the right knee and stand the right foot on the floor. Put the right hand on the left shoulder. Gently massage the shoulder, up and down the arm. If you are ready to go farther down your body then push with your right foot and let your head follow the motion. Make long, smooth strokes up and down your arm, letting the right hip lift to follow the motion. Make sure that the left side of the body is still and completely at rest. As you finish massaging the arm don’t forget to include the thumb. Rest with your arms and legs down and notice any changes in your pressure pattern on the floor.
- Sit up slowly, put the legs out in front of you, and open them comfortably to the sides. Lean the right hand behind you for support and place the left hand on the groin of the right leg (the crease where the trunk meets the leg). Slide the left hand down the inside of the right leg. Massage up and down the inside of the leg to the knee, or beyond. Massage the inside and then the outside of the leg and let the rest of your body relax to allow the motion. To make the massaging down the leg easier you can place some towels under the pelvis to sit a little higher off the floor. Allow the right knee to bend a little so you can massage down the leg to the foot, and include the toes if that is comfortable. Try massaging from the hip all the way down the right leg as far as is easy. Rest on your back and note any changes in how you rest on the floor.
- Come to sitting again, and repeat the experiment of massaging in the sitting position, and this time massage the left leg with the right hand.
- Sitting, bring your right palm to your belly and the left hand on your back. Take both hands and massage all the way down and up the left leg. As the hands come back to the starting position, switch so the left palm goes on the belly and the right hand is on the back. Take both hands and massage down and up the right leg. Alternate the massage by switching the hand position as described and repeat several times.
Roll to your side and rest on your back. Rest with your arms and legs down noticing how you rest on the floor. Compare your pressure signature now with what it was at the beginning of the process.