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S3NSE: Better Balance

“Whole life have a balance, everything be better.”

~Mr. Miyagi from “The Karate Kid”

There was a young martial artist named Chang. He was driven to reach his highest potential and was frustrated because no one in the valley could teach him. Chang asked the village elder what he should do and was told to search for a Grand Master in the Mountains. Chang thanked the wise woman and headed for the mountains.

After several years of searching, Chang stumbled upon an old man picking herbs. Chang asked the man if he knew of a Grand Master of the mountains. “Why?”, the old man replied. Chang answered by demonstrating his Tai Chi form. The old man told Chang to hold the White Crane Spreads His Wing posture. He kneeled down and touched the hard muscles of Chang’s calf.

“Your Tai Chi is wood. Wood is no good,” stated the Grand Master and then effortlessly transitioned into the same posture. “My Tai Chi is silk. Silk is good”. Chang pressed the Master’s calf and felt his finger gently melt towards the bone (like the muscles of a cat). It was then Chang knew he found his teacher.

This story was a mystery to me for many years. How was the Grand Master able to achieve a level of softness that eluded young Chang? It took a four year Feldenkrais training and several advanced trainings with Mia Segal before I could figure it out.

A little known function of the skeletal system is to act as an anti-gravity device. When this system is organized and aligned, an upward force is created that balances the body against the downward force of gravity. Because Chang was not optimally aligned, his calf muscles had to work to keep him from losing his balance. The Grand Master, however, organized himself so his skeleton did more of the work opposing gravity than his muscles. Once freed from this task, his muscular system is able to produce more efficient and effective movement.

Most of us will not find a Grand Master on a mountain top, but we can learn this skill from S3NSE’s Feldenkrais group movement lessons and/or individual sessions. Students often say they feel taller and lighter after a lesson. This is a result of their skeletal system being better organized to work against gravity. They also notice that their balance has dramatically improved, and everything is a little bit better. Make S3NSE out of your life.

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