Improve performance in new movement class

After suffering whiplash from a car accident and visiting five different chiropractors, Tommie St. Cyr was sent to a Feldenkrais instructor because of her chronic pain.

Students can study the Feldenkrais method and learn alternative body movements in basic positions next semester. “We all suffer from sitting at a desk in poor alignment or from having experienced traumas like car accidents, or skiing collisions or just poor habits,” St. Cyr said. “These habits create accumulated tension and distortion in the skeleton, what we call bad posture.”

Awareness Through Movement will be offered through the theater department starting Spring Semester. It is a three-credit-hour course and will fulfill a fine arts foundation requirement.

The structure of the class is based around the Feldenkrais method developed by Mosh Feldenkrais in the late 1940s. According to St. Cyr, the instructor, the lessons will guide students through a sequence of movements in basic patterns: sitting or lying on the floor and standing or sitting in a chair.

The method helps improve posture and breathing. Because the method integrates movement and thinking, feeling and sensing, it can potentially expand other areas such as creativity and problem-solving, according to St. Cyr.

“I believe that the unity of mind and body is an objective reality,” Feldenkrais wrote in an article in 1980, Body and Mind. “They are not just parts somehow related to each other, but an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think; at least, the continuing of mental functions is assured by corresponding motor functions.”

Part of the course’s emphasis will teach students how to learn from his or her body. They will learn which movements are optimal and notice the quality of changes in the body such as increased flexibility. Enid Atkinson, a ’97 alumna who took the course during her undergraduate studies from St. Cyr, said, “It was really a self-awareness of my body. You learn to minimize and economize your movements and save energy for other things because you don’t need to over-stress yourself anymore.”

The class will teach students how to relax and abandon habitual patterns in order to develop new alternatives.

The method is not an exercise, but it enhances any form of exercise by making it more effective, easier and potentially more enjoyable, St. Cyr said.

It will help maximize training abilities for singers, athletes, musicians, actors as well as business people who sit at computers, according to St. Cyr.

Atkinson said, “It is truly beneficial to anyone, not just actors or athletes, but to anyone off the streets. It makes you look at your body movements in a different manner.” Feldenkrais studied mechanical engineering and physics and worked with Fredric Joliot-Curie in nuclear research. After a crippling knee injury, Feldenkrais taught himself to walk again painlessly because of his background combined with his deep curiosity about linguistics, biology, perinatal development and athletics.

St. Cyr completed her training in Israel with Feldenkrais. For the past two years, she has taught students the method at the Korean National University of Arts.

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