An in-depth dive into the waters of introspection and proprioception
If you've ever taken a tumble while riding, you might unknowingly carry some lingering effects, even if you're pain-free and riding well. Each fall tends to leave behind traces of tension or less-than-ideal compensatory habits. This is more or less the same for bad experiences like learning under extreme pressure or discomfort.
When our bodies face injury, trauma, shock, or fear, our brain leaps into action, working to protect us. It deploys strategies like muscle spasms to stabilize the affected area, avoidance of certain movements, or, in cases of fear, heightened vigilance. These responses trigger automatic patterns within us, governed by the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze).
Usually, these compensations hang around until they're no longer needed. Our brain genuinely aims to assist us, but sometimes, abrupt impacts or strong emotion can fossilize these patterns, especially from the brain's perspective. That's where the Feldenkrais Method steps in with its unique effectiveness.
Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons communicate with the brain through its natural medium: movement. Through gentle, mindful movement exercises, we offer the brain new information, potential options, and updates, encouraging it to consider a "reset."
If left unaddressed, imbalances that our brain has been managing can manifest as various discomforts or undesirable changes in behavior. Light manifestations may include riding off-kilter, persistent one-sidedness, or irritating issues like neck or shoulder discomfort. Many riders eventually contend with chronic back or hip pain. Furthermore, these struggles can be internalized, as seen with unresolved fear. This internal conflict can manifest as breathing difficulties, heat regulation problems, or unwelcome muscle contractions (think stiff back, hips, or overly strong hands). When in doubt, take a good look in the mirror, your horse is your mirror.
Like injuries, learned movement patterns are hard-wired. Common riding directives like "shoulders back," "elbows in," "toes forward," and "look up" often hold little value when we approach our riding in a segmented manner and resort to forcing ourselves into compliance. While striving for independence in our aids is a noble goal, it's crucial to address these commands in a functional way. This necessitates the harmonious engagement of all the intricate components that comprise our selves. When riders exert force to conform to these demands, they frequently pile new layers of compensation atop the original ones.
Harmonizing with Ease
In the Feldenkrais Method®, we steer our students towards prioritizing ease as the most efficient route to improvement. At its core, this approach revolves around operating within your comfort zone, your "easy range." By doing so, we can gradually expand this range, rather than coercing ourselves into more strenuous, and sometimes painful, positions in the hope that they will eventually become effortless and comfortable. It's vital to acknowledge that our nervous systems naturally incline toward ease. Our objective is to create conditions where learning and progress become the norm, an adaptable skill set applicable across diverse contexts. We uphold the principle that commencing within your easy and comfortable range offers a relatively accessible pathway to learning. Embrace what feels effortless and comfortable, allowing it to evolve and develop organically from there.
Photo: Keeping things fun aids in learning. German Team Rider, Carina Scholz
Unlocking Creative Solutions
Many individuals often fail to establish a direct link between their current discomfort or movement limitations and the compensatory patterns forged long ago. As a result, they usually pursue relief for the immediate areas where pain is felt. However, this relief tends to be fleeting since it primarily tackles the problem at a muscular level, rather than delving into the root cause residing within the brain—the body's central control system.
The Mystery of Pain
Much of what we perceive as pain doesn't originate directly from the injured area. Our experience of pain is a product of how our brain processes signals from our body. In essence, when you sense pain in your shoulder, it's not the shoulder itself that's in pain. Rather, your shoulder transmits signals to your brain, signaling that something is amiss, and your brain deciphers these signals as pain.
When you encounter pain, you're essentially witnessing your brain's response—be it significant or subtle—to the signals sent by the rest of your body.
To coax your brain into a less vigilant state, where it doesn't immediately interpret signals as trouble in, for instance, your shoulder, you must initiate a reset by moving in ways that suggest pain-free possibilities. It's a case of "No pain, no pain," as opposed to the traditional "no pain, no gain."
Your Brain’s Symbolic Map of Yourself, and Your Capabilities
"We act in accordance with our self-image," and that can be clarified and improved through movement lessons. The homunculus, an important concept within neuroscience and neurology, it represents a symbolic map within the brain, offering a unique perspective on how our bodies are represented in our own minds. It depicts what humans would look like if our parts grew in proportion to how much we used them, and more particularly, the awareness around them and how we use those parts to sense and become even more aware.
It is most often portrayed by a comical or even creepy humanoid fictional figure, a depiction to show how our bodies are represented within the brain, the weighted significance of our sensory receptors. Within this cerebral cartography, distinct brain regions are allocated to specific body parts, creating a sensory and visual representation of our physical selves nestled within the confines of our brain.
What makes the homunculus even more intriguing is its capacity for change, adapting its figurative map based on our life experiences. For instance, if we were to peek into a baby's brain, we would encounter a rather comical rendition: a colossal mouth dominating the landscape, reflecting its vital role in early life.
Giant hands also make frequent appearances, shedding light on why many novice riders tend to be overly "handsy" when first learning riding.
What would today’s version of your homunculus look like? And your horse? Both together?
Breaking Free from Hidden Compensations and Discovering the Power of a Neurological Reset
Here’s One of Many Ways to Help you Reset
In Just a Few Days, Your Opportunity for a Quick and Easy Seat and Position Reset Begins, Live on Zoom.
The Dave Thind Method (DTM) “Fall Wheel Alignment” online seat workshop starts this coming Monday, October 2, and will feature 6 Easy to do Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons to bring out your best riding, with the promise of immediate results following each class. By making improvement on a foundational level, this series of deep-rooted learning offers a unique and powerful doorway towards general and specific improvement to every rider’s functional movement patterns, coordination, body organization, proprioception and ability to sense and feel one’s horse. Suitable and helpful to riders of all levels. A few spots remain!
The 6-part, step by step transformation eliminates compensation patterns and rebuilds upon a solid foundation, a “reset button” for restoring natural and healthy functional movement patterns. This is all accomplished from home, in just 1-hour a week, for 6 weeks. Students have the option to join live classes or participate through video recordings. With a learning-by doing approach, students will explore the fascinating subject of their own personal (often subconscious) movement patterns, as well as making lasting improvements to baseline “auto-pilot” habits and old compensation patterns. “When you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want.”
The Fall Wheel Alignment Curriculum: Each lesson is aimed at enhancing different aspects of your riding experience. Curated and led by biomechanics specialist, Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner® and certified German F.N “Trainer A” - Dave Thind. Class will be every Monday starting October 2 until November 6, live on zoom, 12 PM EST/18:00 Europe time, with lifetime access to the recordings.
Secure Your Spot Here >>> https://www.davethindmethod.com
More on the Feldenkrais Method®
A form of neuromuscular reeducation with applications similar to physical therapy, but with a more holistic approach. Wholistic because it always considers the whole person, not just the injured part or complaint. For one person, the method might help them recover from a recent injury, for another it may be about improving their balance, and for another it may be about improving their sport. This approach often provides changes that seem nothing short of magic, but there is a science behind it all. This scientific approach to improvement is sometimes overlooked and falsely reduced to a type of gentle exercise, supposedly reserved for the elderly or those with stiff necks and backs. Feldenkrais, however, is not exercise and has the power to re-wire your movement patterns and improve your athletic capabilities, often with speedy and impressive results. That is why it is used by Olympic teams, of various sports, in many countries, to enhance performance.
“The aim of the Feldenkrais Method is a person that is organized to move with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, not through muscular strength, but through increased consciousness of how movement works.”
Feldenkrais for Dressage:
DTM offers an array of learning Feldenkrais learning tools. The DTM Fall Wheel Alignment series is a specific set of classes designed to provide a comprehensive yet incredibly quick approach to improving your riding. Designed as a foundational reboot, similar to what Dave Thind employed this summer to help top riders in Germany including German National Team Riders and Olympians.
“The Feldenkrais Method® is a way of using movement to improve the function of the nervous system and the brain. We're not just working on the body, we're working on the brain-body connection. We're helping people to move more efficiently, more easily, with less effort. The Feldenkrais Method® and Awareness Through Movement® does not require any knowledge of anatomy or biomechanics, we do the movement lessons to automatically make improvement using neuro-reprogramming. A Reset!,” proclaimed Thind.
Industry Experts Agree on the Potential for a Transformative Experience with DTM. And the best part, the process is fun!
“Dave is an expert on schooling riders in person, and also with his online Feldenkrais classes. He is one of the best trainers in the world for teaching the position of good riding, and ultimately bringing two bodies together in harmony. He is brilliant in teaching the correct rider’s position in a friendly and positive way. I suggest that many of us should use the opportunity to train with Dave.” -- Christoph Hess
“Working with Dave was amazing. Starting with I normally wake up with some stiffness in my back, and I did not the next day! In my riding, I was able to easily keep my shoulders level, my "shorter" leg now equally long and I easily found my eyes up, much better head-carriage and spinal decompression, giving me a much straighter and more efficient position. I was really happy about this! Highly recommended.” -- Carina Sholz, German Olympic Squad Rider
Join easily at https://www.davethindmethod.com