Sunday, November 4, 2012

Walking Poles

Dear Feldenkrais® friends,

Greetings to you all!  Some of you may be interested in hearing about "Walking Poles".  These long poles seem to becoming more popular for people, not only for mountaineering or trekking, but just for ordinary folk who wish to go walking.  Walking Poles are also finding other valuable uses such as for the elderly, or people recovering from injuries.  Also known as Trekking poles, hiking poles, hiking sticks, or even walking sticks, these "sticks" or "poles" are similar in appearance and length to a traditional ski pole and can provide a wonderful form of "Movement Reeducation" to one as he or she is engaging about the fun activity of walking.

Walking poles can gently remind you that the action of walking is a Whole Body Movement.  Just as your biological ancestors (many millions of years ago) used all four limbs for walking, the use of the modern day walking poles reminds you that your arms, as well as the rest of your body, are participating in the action of walking, in addition to your current awareness of the use of your legs.
I have absolutely no business affiliation with anyone associated with any of the several different walking pole companies.  I am just happy to share with you all a helpful product.  Walking poles can be purchased from many places, one of them being:  "Highland Cork Air Shock" from Komperdell.

For those of you interested, you may like to check out the following link of this company's website:

http://www.komperdell.com/en/poles/trekking_walking/basics/index.php


Recall that it is within our geneological ancestry, or ancient biological nature, that when we used to previously walk on all fours, we naturally knew, without even thinking, how to integrate the movement of our front paws with our back paws, as well as with the rest of our body.  Now that we as humans walk upright, for the most part, we have perhaps subsequently lost some of that integration that we previously had naturally with our arms (a.k.a. our front paws).  Thus, as a useful tool for re-discovering or re-integrating the movement of our arms with the rest of our body, walking sticks (walking poles) are therefore very useful.

For someone who is having difficulty or balance issues while walking, rather than using the traditional cane while walking, which can possibly create an unnatural asymmetry within one's body, it can sometimes be more effective to use two different walking poles, one for each hand.  This is a more evenly distributed, balanced, and natural movement for one's body.

Happy walking!

All the best in great health!

James


Guan Yin Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 208
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tel. 310-395-1952
www.drlinspeer.com
www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.com
"Health Is All that Matters!"

James Speer

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Feldenkrais® for You, the Musician, or Future Musician

Feldenkrais® for You, the Musician, or
Future Musician


Awareness Through Movement® classes to help create your extraordinary musical skill!!!





Led by James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner® (1994)
tel.
310-395-1952



As a musician, or someone who enjoys playing music, would you like to improve your prowess, dexterity, breathing, or be able to play with total grace and pleasure, without experiencing any pain or discomfort?

As a Feldenkrais practitioner, my Awareness Through Movement® group classes will help you to expand your kinesthetic, or bodily, awareness of yourself.  By you ”encompassing more of yourself”, attaining a greater self-image, often times, pain or discomfort is eliminated.


Awareness Through Movement® is the group class format of Feldenkrais work.  Here, I will verbally direct you through a series of comfortable movement sequences that will engage you in a precisely structured movement exploration to make you more aware of your habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities and expand your options for new ways of moving while increasing sensitivity and improving efficiency.


When:  9 a.m. - 10 a.m.  Saturdays, beginning November 3, 2012



Where:  My office at 1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suite #206, Santa Monica, CA 90401  tel. 310-395-1952

Fee:  $12 per class, or 5-class package for $50

Class size limited.  To assure your class space, please call tel. 310-395-1952 to RSVP.



* Please feel free to bring a mat or blanket to class for further comfort.
James SpeerJames Speer




James Speer
, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner® (1994)
Growing up in a music family, James has gratefully been surrounded by music his whole life.
In 8th grade, he was seated as the 1st chair for Trumpet in the New York Junior High
School All-State Band (encompassing the whole state).  Herb Alpert and the Tijuana brass being his idol, he learned all their songs by heart, luvin’ it!

When sometimes having to experience dogma and rigid teaching from otherwise good intentioned regimented music instructors, James realized that his best developmental moments as a musician came when he was “cut some slack” and allowed to creatively explore his Self, his instrument, and the relationship between the two.

As a Feldenkrais Practitioner, James loves working with musicians.  James’s forte is playing the trumpet.  Also being familiar with playing keyboards and a little bit of guitar, musicians are his kin.  James was destined to be a professional trumpet player.  However, after becoming obsessed with the genius music of the world's greatest rock band, Led Zeppelin, this changed his focus in his musical taste.  After having finally met Robert Plant, James realizes that he is the world's absolute nicest guy.

After a 10-year successful career with Eastman Kodak Co. as a mechanical engineer, in 1994, James completed the 4-year Feldenkrais Professional Training Program for Movement Reeducation.  He has twice presented Feldenkrais for the International Association of Fitness Professionals at their World Fitness Expo & Conventions.  James treats all patients having neurological or orthopedic conditions, improving their mobility and action.  He currently plays and performs with the American TCM Orchestra in Los Angeles.



Guan Yin Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 206
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tel. 310-395-1952
www.drlinspeer.com
www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.com
"Health Is All that Matters!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Having fun while playing music … the best way to learn and develop

Dear Musician, Future Musician, as well as Music Lover!

A big “Hello!” to you.  You are "my kin"!

Let me start by saying that, as a Feldenkrais practitioner, I love working with musicians, albeit, my kin. My forte is playing the trumpet (more on that below).  However, I also am familiar with playing keyboards, especially the piano, as well as a little bit of guitar.  This helps lend itself to understand the aches, pains and tribulations that musicians of all instruments sometimes experience in an effort to achieve perfection.

Back in the day, I was rather good at playing the trumpet.  Let me please share some reasons for that.:

Sure.  It's sometimes good to have a regimented music teacher, someone who lays down a structure, who sticks to the basics, etc.  This kind of teacher usually sticks to drilling a student on learning to play scales, to play (sometimes boring) etudes, or other kinds of drills.  However, I also believe that it is helpful to have variety.  Therefore, I also believe what helped me a lot ...

I am blessed to have had as my very first music teacher, “Mr. Clark”, through the public school system that I attended.  It was in the 3rd grade when my beloved father purchased for me a brand new trumpet.  I remember vividly.  However, it was inferred as being a fun, casual thing.  I didn’t have to take it at all seriously.  Thus, I would say that my biggest years for musical development were my grade school years, grades 3 through 5 that I spent with Mr. Clark.  Looking back I am fortunate that my parents really never pushed me to succeed at learning how to play the trumpet.  They just sort of laid back and let me pursue my own curiosity and interests regarding the instrument.  There was never any push to make it better, or “play more nicely”. Or a push to enter a certain contest or win a musical award and the like.  However, on my own, because I wanted to, later on I did enter contests, win musical awards, enter competitions …

I would show up for my weekly lessons, in Mr. Clark’s office, sometimes with 1, 2, or maybe 3 other trumpet students, and we kids were allowed to have fun  … to explore  … to play  … to even frequently joke.

Outside of the fun, “free-to-explore” Mr. Clark, as well as weekly band practice with the grade school band led also by Mr. Clark, I was fortunate to have a wonderful role model, that being the marvelous trumpet player, Herb Alpert.  Most likely if you were born before 1970, you are familiar with the magnificently fun music group, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.  Herb’s unique trumpet sound was popularly heard on television, such as in the opening as well as in other parts of the notorious show, The Dating Game.  Herb’s horn became widely known for lively blasting the “Teaberry Shuffle”, for the illustrious advertisement for Teaberry Gum …  Not to mention, Herb’s magical renditions of the songs, “The Lonely Bull”, “Spanish Flea”, “Tijuana Taxi”, “This Guy’s in Love with You”, … the list of hits goes on …  Even as late as 1979, during the disco era, Herb had an excellent hit, titled "Rise", which was played in every disco.  With a great dance beat, everyone was luvin’ it.

I collected all of Herb Alpert's albums.  This was back in the day of the LP, with the uniquely illustrious covers protecting these priceless records.  Does anyone remember the cover to Herb’s album, “Whipped Cream”?  Let’s just say that Herb would always state in concert to the audience, “We’re sorry that we can’t play the Cover for you.” 
J
 

Within the comforts of my home, I frequently put Herb’s records on the stereo and played along with him.  I learned all the notes of his songs, either through imitation or by buying a "Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass songbook".  Because I was exposed to his smooth, make-it-look-easy, trumpet playing style, apparently my inner body intelligence (fortunately) thought that that was how a trumpet player is supposed to play, rather, how a trumpet player is supposed to sound.  Apparently, my body (and brain) registered or recorded that this was the way to play a trumpet.

Herb Alpert was my idol.  I knew and played by heart all of the songs of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.  Extremely Luvin’ it!

Occasionally, I would turn on the radio ... a pop music station  ... I would then play along with the melody of the song.  Sure.  I didn't get all the notes right away.  But, after several, ... several, ... several minutes, I was finally able to figure out what the notes were and to then be able to play along with the pop artist that was singing.  If it was a rock tune, I would learn the notes (with sometimes a lot of trial and error, but this was OK.) and then play along with it.  I enjoyed myself.  I enjoyed what I was playing.  I was having fun.  If I wasn't having fun, I let it go for the day.

As a child, when I became tired, or it didn't seem fun any more, I instinctively knew when to stop playing for the time being.  I didn't have the belief that I was to "push myself", rather, to falsely conjure up more energy to artificially continue to play.


I got creative.  I sometimes blew out any notes that I felt like honking or proclaiming out from my horn.  I wrote a few songs.  :-)   Shabby and as rudimentary as they were, my songs probably made no sense to anyone else, but I was having a ball.  And, apparently, it's under fun conditions like this that my body was learning to have fun and to play well.

I played fun stuff that was fun to me, again, Herb Alpert music.  I guess that Herb's sound back in the 1960's and 70's would be referred to today as something like "smooth jazz with a Mexican ethnic twist", or something of the like.  It spoke to me at the time.  I loved it!

Another thing that I believe was helpful for my development as a trumpeter was that I was very often receiving positive praise and feedback from those around me, such as my family, classmates and friends, regarding “Jimmy’s beautiful playing”.  I was often told how wonderful I was.  Thus, I actually started believing it. 
J
  This then nicely snowballed or grew upon itself in a good way, in that I continued to have more positive thoughts about myself, which then continued to nourish me and my development for trumpet playing.  Then, I received more praise and accolades … thus, a wonderfully positive vicious cycle.  It’s probably logical that you become great when you’re repeatedly told you’re great.  The universe manifests itself.

One other thing that I believe was helpful in my development as a trumpet player … 

When I was young, my beloved mother knew to buy for me as a gift one of the “Music Minus One” records from their extensive collection series.  She bought for my birthday, the “Music Minus One” series for “Duke Ellington”, with its accompanying songbook.  Duke was a legend within the jazz community.  With the accompanying song book mounted on my music stand, having my lead (solo) part written out for me, I then put the “Music Minus One for Duke Ellington” record on.  This contained all the necessary background music, which consisted of strings, piano, percussion, etc. for each particular song on the record.  Then, I was free to play the solo (lead part) of each of those particular songs, such as, “It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing”, and other fun songs composed by Duke Ellington.

Although I was within the comforts of my small bedroom, I actually felt like I had a live band all around me, accompanying me as best as they could.  They were there to support me, making me look good.  It was all about me.  This was my world, and the other “bandmembers” were just in it.

The following year, Mom bought for me the “Music Minus One” record for “Hits by Hal David and Burt Bacharach”, with its accompanying song book for the lead part.  This record included all of the background music for these well-known pop composers for many of their various hits, many of them which they wrote for Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, the Carpenters, and Dionne Warwick, among others.  I especially enjoyed playing the lead or solo for the songs on this record as the strings, keyboards, and percussion wonderfully supported me in the background.  I was free to be the soloist within my wonderful bedroom, free of any outside world distractions.

The company, Music Minus One, was begun in 1950.  If you're interested, today, they have an informative website where you can also order products, it being:
http://musicminusone.com/


Now, for the icing on the cake, here's my chance to "toot my own horn". Literally. 
J  By the time I arrived into the 8th grade, I was seated as the 1st chair for Trumpet in the New York Junior High School All-State band, thus, encompassing the whole state of New York.

By this point I was interested in becoming a professional trumpet player.  But, then in high school, I ultimately became obsessed with the primo rock group, Led Zeppelin, which changed my focus of taste in music.  By the way, I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Plant, the lead singer of Led Zeppelin.  With such a warm, vivid and amiable personality and demeanor, I am convinced that he is the world’s absolute nicest guy!

This all brings me to my Feldenkrais practice of today for working with musicians.  I work with these performers who often times have pain or discomfort in the back, neck, shoulder, and wrist areas.

Feldenkrais sessions are good in that they allow someone (a music student in this case) to "have options" .. to be able to have variety ... to not get unnecessarily stuck in structure or dogma.  The regimented, I would like to think good intentioned, music teacher may say that a student needs to, for instance, stand in one particular "correct" posture.  They may also unnecessarily deliberate that a student's mouth embouchure must contact the mouthpiece in one particular way, or that the student's arms must be positioned in a certain way, or that a student is to stand in a certain way - that they are to never slouch, etc.

Although this might be an ultimate deliverable to attain, it may be adverse, or work against you, if it is your direct primal interest to achieve.  You may wish to consider to possibly let the postures or stances form naturally around themselves after you first acquire the desired sound.  This way, you did not create the postures from some artificial means, with no “soul” behind it or backing it up.  Instead, your form naturally grew out from your skillfully attained prowess.  Rather than pre-set forms, this may all be unnecessary dogma.

[However, I will state that there is not necessarily any one formula.  For some, it may be ultimately productive to first go for the postures or stances, and to then subsequently allow the sound to emerge.  Hey, whatever works for you!]

Allow yourself to occasionally slouch, if you want to, as you play.  Don't worry.  Your body won't want to stay like that permanently.  Even slouching, if it is done all the time, rather than it being relaxing, will eventually become tiring.  And, after a while, your body will naturally want to get away from doing any slouching.  Allow me to say that if you find yourself all the time slouching, then, allow yourself the option of sitting more upright.  If you find yourself excessively slouching, you may want to ask yourself, "What is it that manifests for me to slouch?  Am I in need to rest my back?  Does the music I have selected to play manifest this?"

Whenever you're playing, allow yourself to do anything that you want, when you want to - provided that you don't hurt yourself or hurt someone else.

Here are just a few different fun variations for you to explore.  Stand on one leg as you play.  Stand on the other leg as you continue to play.  While keeping your feet planted on the ground, turn around about yourself as you continue to play.  That is, for example, with your feet in more or less one place, gradually twist the rest of yourself (from the ankles upward) to the left while continuing to play.  Or, go in the opposite direction, rather, twist yourself to the right as you play.  Look down at the ground while playing.  Allow yourself to gradually arch your back and neck to look upward as you continue to play.  When doing any of these variations, always stay within your comfort range. 

Have fun.  Discover and explore for yourself how you can make it fun.  Be creative.  Allow yourself to be creative.

When musicians schedule to see me for a Feldenkrais session, I welcome them to bring their instrument.  When they do, I have them play a few lines of music before, as well as after, the Feldenkrais session.  This way they have a “before and after picture”.  That is, they are able to directly transfer over the movement re-education experience from the Feldenkrais table work directly to their activity of playing music, and they have positive evidence and feedback of this.

As a musician, or someone who enjoys playing music, would you like to improve your prowess, dexterity, breathing, or be able to play with total grace and pleasure, without experiencing any pain or discomfort?  Feldenkrais sessions can help make you more aware of your habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities and to expand options for new ways of moving while increasing sensitivity and improving efficiency.

Please feel free to call me at tel. no. 310-395-1952 to schedule an appointment.

All the best to you,
James


Guan Yin Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 208
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tel. 310-395-1952
www.drlinspeer.com www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.com
"Health Is All that Matters!"

James Speer

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Try exercising in 2-dimensions (circular movements), rather than always exercising in 1-dimension (linear movements)


Wow!  That's a lot of words for a title.  What do I mean by this?

Please reference the following link to see an informative video made by Movement Specialist Jackie Mason, posted to Google.  Former classmates together, Jackie was actually in my particular Feldenkrais Professional Training Program with me in New York City back in 1991 through 1994, when we both graduated together.  Click below to see how Jackie's extensive knowledge of Movement Education comes through in the following video.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3005418105570551332

Movement Matters with Jackie - Part 8 - Relieve Back Pain with Rotation
58 minutes 5 seconds in length.


I did not intend for you guys to watch the complete video, it being over 58 minutes long.  Although if you decide to do so, you may find it very helpful.  I just wanted you all to see the first 3 minutes of Jackie's video, where she makes a good point to say how we, as people, when it comes to working out, treat our joints as "hinges".  Rather, to put it in my own words, we usually only move our limbs and the rest of our body parts in "1-dimensional" kinds of movements.   That is, we move "straight up and down", or, "straight back and forth". These are how most conventional workouts are designed.  To give one example, take the popular weightlifting exercise, the "Military Press".  You "press" or lift a weight directly above your head (in a straight line), and then you gradually lower the weight (in a straight line) back to "neutral" (the starting point) to then be able to repeat the same trajectory many more times.  This is moving in one dimension.  This is OK to work out like this some of the time, that is, to move "linearly".  However, as Jackie infers, we should probably also work out our limbs and other body parts in "2-dimensional" kinds of movements, rather, in rotational kinds of movements as well.

Thinking in these terms, check out the following video uploaded by Jack Cascio onto youtube.com back on December 14, 2011.:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qcXPg_2aYo

Intense "Pull-Up Workout" Get Faster!,
1 minute 54 seconds in length.


Jack Cascio is a revered fitness trainer, nationally renown for his knowledge and skill in improving athlete's sprinting speed and jumping ability.  I like how within this video, Jack demonstrates some great upper body, pull-up exercises, which, believe it or not, can ultimately influence your running speed.  [Remember, "Everything is connected to everything."  Thus, if your upper body is primed, it ultimately influences the finesse of your lower body (your legs).]

Note the second exercise that Jack demonstrates in this video, the "Around the Clock" pull-ups.  These are good in that they are not the conventional linear, or 1-dimensional pull up.  Rather, they are a 2-dimensional, or circular, kind of movement.

Circular movements are great for developing athleticism.  Speaking of which …


The “Push-Up”

We are all familiar with the classic exercise, the push-up.  This is a wonderful exercise.  However, keeping in mind what we have been discussing, it would perhaps also be beneficial for you if you modified the movement from time to time.  After all, muscles like to be exercised with variety, at all different angles and perspective.  This is why it is sometimes helpful to change up your routine from time to time.

As you know, the starting position of the standard push-up requires you to position yourself on your hands and the toes of your feet, with your head, torso, and legs above the ground, with your arms pushed-out or extended.  Thus, your arms are relatively “unbent”.  From here, you begin to allow yourself to come toward the ground.  Rather, you “go down” toward the ground.  That is, you allow your elbows to bend in order that you be able to, for instance, touch either your nose, chin, or chest to the ground.  Then, you immediately push out or extend your arms in order to push your body away from the ground in order to return to the starting position once again.

Note that this is a “straight up and down”, or linear, motion.

Here’s a fun modification to the push-up, which incorporates circular movements.:

I enjoy doing these.

From the starting position, the next time that you go down toward the ground, be different.  Try to throw in a little “twist” or circle to the movement.  That is, for instance, as you move downward toward the ground, have the intention of going downward as well as, at the same time, toward the right.  That is, allow your face to simultaneously drop downward toward the ground as well as toward your right hand.  When your face is about halfway toward the ground, then begin to allow your face to begin to move toward the left so that, after your face touches the ground, it continues to move toward the left so that when it is halfway up, it is over toward your left hand.  Continue the upward movement as you begin to simultaneously move your head toward the right.  Continue in this trajectory so that when you finally arrive up to the initial starting position, your head is once again in the center.  You have now just completed a full circle!  Bravo!

You may have just discovered how this modification to the standard push-up, this circular movement, seems fun, interesting, as well as maybe even empowering.

This circular movement may feel difficult at first.  However, as you get stronger and more skilled, it becomes easier.  You may even find that as you become more proficient with this movement, you’ll be able to increase the size of the circle, rather, the diameter of the circle.

Can you think of other movements or exercises that you can do to incorporate circular movements, instead of doing the conventional linear movement?  Go ahead.  Be creative. 
J

Hasta la vista,
James

Guan Yin Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 206
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tel. 310-395-1952
www.drlinspeer.com
www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.com
www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.blogspot.com
"Health Is All that Matters!"

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Even a Mercedes Needs a Tune-Up"


Greetings everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful, enjoyable and active summer.  If it was "too active", or more than you could handle,
please feel free to come in and see me.  Whether it's because of your tennis elbow, swimmer's shoulder, "computer user" carpal tunnel wrist pain, housemaid knee, runner's knee, or for your "office chair sitting" sore neck or back, I can provide you with hands-on Feldenkrais Movement Re-Education work for your body in order to learn a new pattern for movement.  Or, more simply, for body pain relief and healing.

If it's been a while since you've been in, you might be interested for coming in for your "monthly maintenance session".  As a long-standing client of mine likes to say, "Even a Mercedes needs a tune-up."  :-)


I look forward to seeing you soon!

To great health!
James

Guan Yin Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
                           Injury Rehab Therapist

1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 208
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tel. 310-395-1952
www.drlinspeer.com
www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.com
"Health Is All that Matters!"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Medical Animation Video, "Heal"

To my dear health enthusiasts,

Greetings to you all!  I thought that the following video, produced by Ghost Productions, was absolutely beautiful and fascinating.:



http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=xMYjfb_M9wM&vq=large
(5 minutes, 21 seconds in length)

This superbly done medical animation film wonderfully accentuates the process of "Heal". This inspiring film marvelously displays the human anatomy and its wonderful supporting systems, as well as the great technology and recuperative powers of modern orthopedic medicine. I especially enjoyed seeing a close up of the hero's spine and the wonderful advances that modern medicine has apparently made in the realm of very functional disk replacements.

At the conclusion of the video, there is the final screen display:

Ghost Productions.com … Celebrating 15 Years of Excellence in Medical Animation


I have absolutely no affiliation with "Ghost Productions".  I just thought that they presented an extremely well done video.  I hope that you enjoy this short film as much as I did!

The best to all,
James

Guan Yin Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 208
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tel. 310-395-1952
www.drlinspeer.com
www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.com
www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.blogspot.com

Sunday, July 29, 2012

To Protect Yourself from the Sun's Rays, Remember the "Shadow Rule"

Greetings everyone!


This being the summer time, you may often wonder, when is it healthy or OK to be in the sun?  Of course, we all hear the hype about the sun's "harmful rays".  Some say to simply use sun tanning or sun screening products.  However, I have my own reservations regarding applying these "chemical soups" to my skin, especially if you take the time to read some of the ingredients listed on the bottle that after application will be ultimately absorbed by your skin and into your body.  Can you say "Oxybenzone"?


Thus, I will use the commercial sun screen that is immediately available on the market only sparingly when I have no other recourse, that is, when I have to be out in the sun during those high intensity times of blazing sun.  Of course, applying sun tan lotion is probably the lesser evil as compared to getting a full, outright sunburn, which I have had plenty of in my life time as a result of venturing into the sun during those peak times, totally unprotected, when I should have been otherwise.


Thus, in order to be able to forego the use of sunscreen, some of us may be confused.  That is, we might be thinking, should we stay out of the sun, let's see, is it between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m?  ...  Or, if it's the summer time, should it be between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.?  ...  But, what if it's Daylight Saving Time?  Does this then mean between 10 to 4 p.m.?  ...  etc.  ... It seems to be a lot of guessing and confusion.


To help untangle this bewilderment, there is a wonderful book I once read, titled "
Doctor Morrison's Miracle Guide to Pain-Free Health and Longevity" by Dr. Marsh Morrison, D.C., 1977.  In the book, amongst many different health topics, Dr. Marsh writes:

The best test for sunbathing safety is in the length of your shadow.


Dr. Marsh goes on to state that as long as your shadow that is cast on the ground is longer than you are, then it is OK for you to be in the sun.  Or, another way to say this is ...  If your shadow is shorter than you are, you should be out of the sun.


If you must be in the sun when your shadow is shorter than you are, I have heard some people advocate a natural, safe alternative to the commercial sun screens is, instead, using "unrefined coconut butter" on your skin.  I will confess that if I have to be in the sun when my shadow is shorter than I am, I still reach for the Coppertone bottle.  :-)


The best in health!
James



Guan Yin Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 208
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tel. 310-395-1952
www.drlinspeer.com
www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.com
www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.blogspot.com
"Health Is All that Matters!"
 
James Speer

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FREE Feldenkrais! 15th Anniversary Celebration!

James Speer FREE FELDENKRAIS!!
15th Year Celebration!!

Free Feldenkrais® sessions on May 21 & 22 for you!!

Do something wonderful for yourself.  You deserve it!!
Since May 1997, this now marks the 15th Anniversary of my office location in Santa Monica.  To show my appreciation to you, in Celebration, I have chosen to offer free Feldenkrais sessions to the public in my office at Guan Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center in Santa Monica, California on both Monday, May 21, and Tuesday, May 22.
      Reservations Required:   
tel. 310-395-1952  or  cell 310-938-6595

Feldenkrais Functional Integration® sessions:

By developing your own body awareness, these hands-on Feldenkrais sessions have therapeutic effect in alleviating joint pain, such as back, neck, shoulder and wrist pain.  By discovering your own pattern of how your body moves during these private sessions, you learn improved mobility, pain relief, and a healthy way for using your body.  Sessions are 45 minutes.

Call tel. 310-395-1952, or cell 310-938-6595, to schedule an appointment, so you can say:
Goodbye! to Pain and Stiffness and Hello! to joy and comfort.



Guan Yin Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 208
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tel. 310-395-1952
http://www.drlinspeer.com/
www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.com
"Health Is All that Matters!"

Monday, January 23, 2012

Feldenkrais® for Yoga

The core of my Feldenkrais® Movement Re-education practice is helping people having acute or chronic pain of the back, neck, shoulder, and wrist.  However, I also work with yoga students, or yogis, who are interested in improving their flexibility, ease and comfort, within their practice of yoga.  Some of these people are currently in pain, some are already very healthy.  These latter individuals are simply looking for a better way to improve their yoga.

During a session with a yogi, I use Feldenkrais strategies to facilitate people's comfort in getting into the various beautiful yoga postures, or "asanas", as they are called.  Adaptable to all levels of ability or experience, working hands-on with clients, I present a Feldenkrais approach to "stretching" in order to improve their yoga practice.

We all know that Feldenkrais® is a wonderful body-centered self-discovery process.  Yoga can be also.  An obvious difference is that Feldenkrais uses movement for self-exploration and awareness while yoga uses asanas, mudras, and intentional kinds of breathing.  Therefore, I've found it sometimes to be a beautiful union between two different forms of self-exploration.

Complementing my primary passion of Feldenkrais, I've discovered in recent years a strong fondness for yoga.  It's interesting how my love for one ignites my passion and application for the other.  Within my own personal time, each occasion in which I design a Feldenkrais lesson around a certain yoga pose, I find that I enjoy the yoga even more so.  I'm also discovering that the more I do yoga, that returns my interest to Feldenkrais for more movement exploration.  What a serene blend between process-oriented and goal-oriented kinds of work!

Feldenkrais can dynamically help improve your flexibility and comfort within an asana.  Some of the asanas I have worked with clients for improving have been, in their English name:  Lotus, Cat, Camel, Hero, Plough, Spinal Twist, Head to Knee, Smiling Cow, Cobra, and the Bridge.



"Sensible Feet, rather than Sensitive Feet"

Each particular session with a client is unique with that particular person and on that particular day.  However, to give a tangible to what I do, I'll give a physical example of when I work with a yoga student who approaches me for improvement in sitting cross-legged, or sitting in Lotus.  Often times I am able to improve the yogi's flexibility by "working the client's feet".  More accurately, I am working through the client's feet, sensing for connections to the rest of the Self (body).  As I am working, I am asking within myself, "How does this (foot) connect to the rest of the Self?"  I may never actually articulate an answer.  However, it is this indulgement into this Inquiry Process that is the Feldenkrais® work.  I may also begin to gently turn or "play" with the client's toes and foot, as I am "into the process" of being aware of the connections throughout this individual as I am "exploring" the feet.  At some time during our "dance" together, I may find that I am even able to ultimately interlace the client's toes together, only if it is easy and comfortable to do so.  However, this is not a direct goal of the session.  As a practitioner, I am into the moment.  ...  I am into the process ... not the goal. 

Clients, afterward, are often amazed at how much more comfortably and easily they can sit cross-legged, or even in some form of Lotus.  What an improvement!  It's wonderful how this strategy can open oneself up for sitting.  One reason for this is because of the coherent connections between the toes/feet and the rest of the Self.  The toes/feet are instrumental in balance, which influences the organization of the Self.

An especially enjoyable moment in my practice occurred when a yoga teacher in the area, Deanne Shower, age 56, came to see me out of curiosity.  In the beginning of our session, she expressed that she was experiencing an intense tightness and pain in her right buttock when doing any Head-to-Knee pose.  This was unfortunately affecting her practice and teaching of yoga.  I guided her through a gentle “Head to Knee lesson".  Instead of having the intention of bringing her head to her knee (while the legs are straight), I built our session together around having her first explore bringing her head toward her knee while her leg is comfortably bent.  Then I would ask her to maintain the same relationship between her head and knee, namely that the two remain touching, while she slowly extend her leg in order to straighten it.  Instead of the traditional “hamstring stretch” that is taught to almost every American in our school system, this Feldenkrais strategy teaches the relationship between the hamstrings, back, neck, and the rest of the Self (body) for more efficient movement.

At the end of our session, Deanne was overjoyed.  She told me that she no longer had ANY pain when performing the “hamstring stretch”.  She then amazed herself by proudly showing me that she was actually able to wrap both legs behind her head, exclaiming “I’ve never been able to do this.  This stuff really works!”


I love how my experiences with yoga people have always been positive.  They have always been quite open to Feldenkrais movement re-education work. 

If you are just starting to develop an interest in learning yoga, I would advise you to first find an instructor that you feel comfortable with, and that you feel comfortable enough to be allowed to slowly go and learn at your own pace.  It’s important that you do not feel compelled to have to be able to pre-maturely force yourself into a yoga pose.  Be sure that you do not feel that you are, before you are ready for it, overly-stretching, in order to attain a, supposedly, certain level of fitness.  Find a teacher that you feel is nicely pacing you, and you do not feel is rushing you beyond your immediate abilities.

The best to all,
James


Guan Yin Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 208
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tel. 310-395-1952
http://www.drlinspeer.com/

http://www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.com/
http://www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.blogspot.com/
"Health Is All that Matters!"

James Speer

Monday, January 16, 2012

For Practitioners: "Two Tools for My Practice ... The Table (Folded) and Telephone Books"

[Please allow me to state up front that the following blog is for Feldenkrais Practitioners, rather than for others.  I will soon be coming out with some more articles for the general public.]

Greetings Colleagues!

I observe that many different forms of healing therapies employ the use of tools within their work. For example, some "bodyworkers" sometimes use a tool in order to be able to do, for instance, deeper soft tissue work, while still being able to salvage their thumbs, hands, or arms from overuse. Since our profession, The Feldenkrais Method®, an extremely powerful form of movement and somatic reeducation, also falls under the same protective umbrella with these other helpful modalities, vis-a-vis, the Healing Arts, it may be interesting to explore exactly some of the different "tools" that we frequently, or, occasionally, use within our own profession.

As Feldenkraisers, we are all familiar with the use of props, for the purpose of support, for a client when she is lying on our table. For example, supposing a client is lying supine (on her back), as practitioners, we may, or may not, choose to apply some sort of foam support behind her knees, as well as, possibly, under her ankles, if we see that it may be educationally useful.
Likewise, we may also apply padding, for instance, behind the lower back, the nape, the wrists, a shoulder, etc., if we see a large gap behind these areas. Thus, we may possibly consider the use of foam or pads as tools within our profession.

Evidently, the term, "tool", is not being conveyed in the traditional sense of the word, that is, "a device used to perform or facilitate manual or mechanical work". This use of the word, "tool", would convey a categorizing of a, for instance, "doing something", or, a "doing something onto". This would espouse the principle employed by a therapy, of a "working on". Whereas, we
are familiar that this does not, at all, confer Feldenkrais, which, instead, conveys the principle of a "working with". Utilizing this perspective, I am employing the term, "tool", to illustrate a device, which, as Feldenkraisers, we encapsulate its use, in order to assist us within our exploratory process.

When working with our clients, we are familiar with the use of chairs, or, even the use of a vertical wall, which is wonderful for using for standing lessons. We often times employ the use of rollers. Frequently, we place a pad(s) behind the head. Sometimes we enjoy using a plastic or wood board to simulate the valuable "artificial floor" lesson. Analogously, the use of a
board, applied to the hand, for an educational "artificial floor" lesson to the hand, can be helpful. This can be easily done with the client lying prone (on their stomach, or, front side), their arm hanging off the table, over the edge.

I propose two other tools which I relish within my work, the Feldenkrais table, itself, as well as the use of telephone books.

I enjoy using the Feldenkrais table, folded in half, and then securely latched up, as if for packing away. For instance, after positioning the folded, locked-up table, vertically (i.e., at an exact right angle with respect to the floor), I will then have the client straddle over it, so that her feet are just barely touching the floor. This set up provides a wonderful simulation for standing up in the vertical, while, at the same time, there is only a very minimal amount of force actually traveling through the client's feet. The client is "weightless" while in standing! The table is supporting the client in standing, through her groin area, as opposed to supporting her through her feet. This
provides the sensory motor experience of standing, without, otherwise, efforting through her feet, thus, an excellent opportunity for exploration, without the client possibly holding onto her, otherwise, habitual patterns.

The practitioner can also ask the client to bend her legs, so that her inner thighs are straddling, lightly pressing into, the table, in order to emulate sitting, more accurately, sitting on a bicycle or motorcycle, or horseback riding.

Using the folded table to emulate standing or sitting gives the practitioner an abundant access to almost all of the different areas of the client's body. Thus, it creates a large opening for simultaneously working THROUGH many different classical landmarks, which might otherwise be sometimes untouchable, i.e., a unique access to both sit bones, as well as full access to all sides of the ribs, etc.

Sometimes, for additional support, rather than having the table free standing, which might sometimes require the client to be a little concerned for her balance while straddling over it, I may, instead, place the folded table in between two sturdy supports. For example, I will push together my desk and my filing cabinet, so that the folded table, which is positioned vertically in
between them, is then securely locked into place. I position the table so that at least two feet, or so, is sticking out from in between my desk and filing cabinet, in order to allow enough room for the client to comfortably position herself over it.

Depending upon my level of comfort with the client, I may join her and also straddle the upright folded table, usually from behind, to position myself closer to her.  This provides an ideal place for the practitioner to run his fingers and hands up and down the client's spine and sacrum for doing, for instance, extension, flexion, or lateral bending lessons. The table becomes a "two-person saddle". Practitioner and client are, both, "riding the horse together".

On some occasions, if the client's feet do not comfortably reach the floor, I will place another "tool" that I use, that being telephone books, under her feet.


The use of telephone books also applies to when the table is in its original position, where it is unfolded, that is, where it is set up in its horizontal position, expressly, its entire length being about 16 inches or so along the floor.  In this instance, I will use simple, easily accessible, telephone books, when necessary, when doing a Kneeling Over the Table Lesson, and the client's knees will not, otherwise, comfortably reach the floor. Furthering the assurance of comfort, I will always place a kneeling pad between her knees and the telephone books.

Before using a telephone book, I will first wrap strong, packing tape around its entire perimeter, lengthwise, as well as, its entire width, in order to better maintain its solid rectangular shape. Otherwise, the depth (thickness) of the telephone book can sometimes buckle, slightly, under weight.  If, sometimes, the material of the outer cover of the book is too glossy or slippery, I will wrap it completely in paper, taped to seal. This allows better solid footing for the client, as well as being more aesthetically appealing.

Getting back to discussing the utilization of telephone books pertaining to working with the client while the table is in its original position, unfolded, that is, the table is positioned horizontal along the floor, the entire length of the table being about 16 inches or so from the floor.  ...  We all know how important it is to lift a client's arm, leg, head, or any part of their body, with the conveyance of little effort on our part in order to give the sensory-motor experience to the client of what it is like to move easily or effortlessly.  To give a practical application of how I use a telephone book to help me with this, let's suppose that the client is lying supine on my table.  I will arrange for her to be lying so that there is about 1 1/2 feet between her head and the edge of the table.  Within this 1 1/2 feet of space, I will sit on the table in order to bring my pelvis close as is comfortably possible (comfortable to both parties, the practitioner and client) to the client's head, in order to be able to gracefully and easily lift the client's head.  It is necessary for me to straddle my legs over the table in this position.  For shorter practitioners who have difficulty in straddling their legs over the table while it is in this horizontal position, simply place telephone books on either side of the table so that as your feet straddle over the side of the table, they don't need to go so far down as to be able to ultimately reach the floor.  Instead, having a thick telephone book nicely resting on the floor, your feet only need to go so far as to be able to rest them on the telephone book, which is supported by the floor underneath it.  Thus, a practitioner can feel very comfortable in this position of straddling a horizontal table.

As with any information ... Take what is useful to you. ... Discard the Rest. ...  Invent what you still need.

Enjoy!

The best to all!
James

Guan Yin Acupuncture & Feldenkrais® Center
Dr. Lin Cheng Speer, LAc, OMD, PhD
James Speer, Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner®
1003 Wilshire Blvd. Suites #203, 208
Santa Monica, CA 90401
tel. 310-395-1952
http://www.drlinspeer.com/
http://www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.com/
http://www.feldenkraisjamesspeer.blogspot.com/
"Health Is All that Matters!"


James Speer