It’s safe to say we’ve all been sufficiently cooped up this year. Many of us have been working from home for the first time ever, in addition to doing nearly everything else at home.
So if you’re feeling a bit confined and leaning into unhealthy patterns of movement— finding yourself hunched at the computer, for instance— you’re not alone. The good news is, the Feldenkrais Method can help you shift away from these habits and rediscover ease, joy and pleasure in movement, just like when you were a child.
At Hudson Healing Arts, we’re fortunate that our certified Feldenkrais practitioner, Noreen Haren, R.N, also works at the Hoboken Department of Health, meaning she’s uniquely well-suited to keep clients safe for in-person sessions. Also, in an effort to meet everyone at their comfort level, Noreen is offering Zoom consultations at a discounted rate as an introduction to Feldenkrais.
How Feldenkrais Works
Feldenkrais is a powerful yet gentle approach to improving students’ lives through mindful movement. It’s not about finding one “perfect” way to move; after all, we all have different bodies, bone lengths, histories of injury, fitness levels and so on. Rather, the goal is to create awareness and options personalized to you as a unique individual, which can guide you toward positive changes.
This can be helpful if you have a specific physical issue you’d like to work on. In fact, Noreen herself first found Feldenkrais as a student to address minor problems with her gait. However, it’s also beneficial for anyone and everyone. Why, you may ask?
For one, our sedentary culture lends itself to unnatural patterns of movement that make achy backs and stiff necks the status quo. Even if you don’t sit at a desk all day, chances are you spend a fair amount of time hunched over your phone or computer. Two, we’re all dealing with an incredibly stressful year...as a result, we’re all holding stress in our bodies in ways we’re likely unaware of.
“As a Feldenkrais practitioner, my role is to guide people through movement sequences designed to make them aware of their habitual patterns of movement,” says Noreen. “We then work together to identify options to move more freely and comfortably. The best part is, it’s fun, positive, accepting and entirely non-judgmental.”
This process will include safety precautions in line with state and national guidelines, so masks and social distancing will be in full effect. Noreen also opens the windows at Hudson Healing Arts for ventilation, so it’s a good idea to bring a sweater in case it gets chilly.
To learn more or book a session with Noreen, either in-person or via Zoom, she can be reached at (201) 798-1632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working from Home Checklist
As a special bonus for those who are cooped up on the computer all day, Noreen shared a few tips to help you move well and feel better.
1- The most important (and easiest) thing you can do? Breathe! Make frequent check-ins with yourself to take three deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Everyone’s breathing is different, but when your breathing is continuous and uninterrupted, you’ll feel far more relaxed, at ease and ready to handle whatever life throws at you.
2- Because most of us unconsciously scrunch our shoulders up high, one simple way to reset your nervous system is to deliberately lift them all the way up your ears. Take a deep breath in, breathe out slowly through pursed lips like you’re breathing through a straw, and then drop your shoulders down for an immediate sense of relief.
3- Another way to retrain your nervous system is through natural, easy and small movements with your neck. Take it slow and move your head a little to the right, through the middle, and then to the left; then, reverse your neck roll. The goal is not to move as far as you can, just as far as you can while remaining completely comfortable. Now try the movement again but this time keep your eyes straight ahead as you very slowly move your head little bit to the right, through the middle and to the left. You won’t be able to move as far as easily and that is fine. Pause for a moment, relaxing your face and jaw. Now return to the original movement of turning head and eyes to the right, through the middle and to the right. Remember to move very slowly, and only as far as you can comfortably. Notice if you can move a little further with ease after doing this small variation. You can also move your eyes and head in opposite directions, which is slightly more difficult. Do it very slowly, remember to breathe and don’t worry about doing it perfectly. Your nervous system will learn anyway. After this variation, again slowly turn your head to the left and right and notice if it is a bit easier.
4- Remember hula hooping as a kid? Turns out, mimicking this movement is wonderful for freeing your lower back. Simply come to the edge of your chair and rock your pelvis back and forth. As you rock back, you can round your spine and look down a little bit, and as you rock forward you can lift your head and chest just a little and look upward.
5- Finally, don’t forget to take a daily walk to get fresh air, or at the very least be sure to take frequent breaks to stretch your legs during the day.
“During these times, simple pleasures are so important,” says Noreen. “We all need that little boost. Feldenkrais might not solve all the problems at hand, but it’s a remarkable way to feel better and reclaim pleasure and ease in movement.”
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.