Stewart Hamblin makes you conscious about your posture. Do you slouch? Are you stretching your arm out wrong? Is there even a right way to reach for your coffee cup.?
On his first visit to India and Hyderabad, UK-based Stewart brings Hyderabad the Feldenkrais Method of movement therapy. This unique method developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, a Ukrainian-Israeli engineer and physicist, seeks to improve life through body movements.
Twenty years ago, Stewart, a former barrister specialised in criminal law, met with an accident. After that, he says, severe pain in his right foot made him feel like a 90-year-old who could not even kneel. Three years after his accident, the doctors operated to discover the problem was not with the knee; the nerve connecting to his toe had been damaged in the accident; that was causing pain. “Then I came to know about Feldenkrais and got interested in movement,” he shares. These easy, small movements were revolutionary as they began to ease his pain and eventually he could move his foot.
Mindful movement brings awareness and leads to new possibilities for a pain-free life. “Many times our pain is because of the way we walk and move,” he says. Often, he explains, we see a person with fallen arch or flat foot squeeze their knees to get up, or use the wrong muscles, affecting their neck and spine.
“If a person can slowly transfer the weight, lift pelvis and get up gracefully, a change is visible. A person can improve the movement by organising their relationship to gravity,” he points out giving examples of Tai Chi masters who, even in their ’90s, move with grace and ease. “It is not a medical treatment but a kind of education system. The difficulty is not a person’s pain but rooted in the way they move.”
How long will a person take to recover by this method? “Not an easy answer,” he quips. Some issues can be solved quickly and some last longer. “Our shoulders and knees reflect how organised we are. It also depends on how open a person is to change habits.”
Also an Iyengar yoga teacher, Stewart observes that the West looks more at yoga’s physical practice than its spiritual side. “I love yoga but it doesn’t often teach how to get up and sit down on the floor easily, the transition in space and in relationship to gravity. One may do a padmasana yet walk around feeling heavy. Even in a gym workout, one is focussed to build muscles and a point comes when they can’t move because their muscles have gotten so big. I am not anti-exercise but Feldenkrais appeals to me as I believe that right movement looks after your body.”
Stewart has been a Feldenkrais teacher for the last four years. He says he was initially hesitant to come to India as ‘India has transported so much knowledge to the world through yoga and Indians are self-aware’ but eventually decided to visit. Because: “Indians too have bad backs and stiff necks like in the U.K.”
(Stewart Hamblin’s 1:1 sessions will be held from November 7-10. For more details87545 07365)