The Answer is Always The Pelvis

I’m teaching a 6-week series of Awareness Through Movement® classes starting this week, which I’m calling (not all that imaginatively, I confess) Integrating Hips and Pelvis. I wrote a bit about the hips a few months ago, for a workshop I did on spirals. I thought it might be good to have a few words on the pelvis, too. Here’s the description I use when I teach a workshop on the pelvis:

       

The Answer Is Always The Pelvis: Learning to use your center


We like to joke in the Feldenkrais community that there are no quizzes in our studies, because the answer is always 'the pelvis.' (Well, either that or 'it depends....'). In this workshop you will discover what we mean.

The Pelvis is the largest and heaviest bone in the body, it is centrally located, supports our most vulnerable organs and is traversed by our largest muscles; our nervous system identifies the pelvis as the center of our selves. Developing awareness of the pelvis leads to centered, graceful movement and is an essential element in the alleviation of any musculoskeletal discomfort.

As with so much
Feldenkrais work, you are likely to find this centeredness extending beyond the quality of your movement to your mood and state of mind.

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Spirals

There are spirals throughout the body, and learning to take to feel these spirals and take advantage of them is a major theme in the Feldenkrais work. Realizing the flow and ease that come from moving with spirals has been one of the most enduring lessons I have learned in my own movement -- one of those things that doesn’t go away even when I’m stressed and fall into all my old habits. This is why my Spirals workshop is one of my favorites, and why it’s one of the three of four themes I like to teach in my summer retreats at the World Fellowship Center.

One of things I don’t get to do all that much in my workshops, though, is to explicitly examine the anatomy which we so clearly learn to feel in our Awareness Through Movement classes. Nowhere are the spirals clearer (in both experience and anatomy) than in the hip joint. Usually we Feldenkrais people think in terms of the interaction of bones and joints, but take a look below at how evident the spirals are in the ligaments and muscles as well.

Take a look at the thigh-bone (femur) itself:
Femur copy
Well, this isn’t the best picture (an actual photo would be better, but this is what I found online), but you can probably see right away how the head of the femur rises from the shaft like a basketball player jumping up from under the basket.


Let’s zoom in to the hip join, and take a look at the structure of the ligaments. Note how they continue and amplify the spiral in the femur on a smaller scale:
Pasted Graphic

Now take a look at some of the muscles that surround the hip joint. See the same line continuing?
Psoas
When these muscles contract, they slacken the ligaments; when they relax and lengthen, those ligaments balance prevent the leg from over-extending backwards (along with lots of other muscles we’re not looking at here).

By the way, these muscles also happen to be some of the largest and most powerful muscles in the body. My teacher Jeff Haller pointed out to me that the spiralic action of the hip joint is involved in practically every powerful action in sports or martial arts (just think of a pitcher’s wind-up or a golfer’s swing), or in more mundane movements such as walking, running, or, to be more seasonal -- raking leaves or shoveling snow.


Of course there are lots of spirals in the rest of the body too. Take a look at this collar bone:
Clavicle
And think about how it translates twist in the spine into a twist in the arm. There’s a particularly great ATM that explores this which we tend to call “fencing”.

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