Now that I am starting my second year of training to be a feldenkrais practitioner, I am finally supposed to do the lessons in Feldenkrais' book - Awareness Through Movement, so that I can learn to teach them to others, being, for the moment..the members of my study group. It can be really hit and miss doing the lessons from the book by myself. Sometimes things just connect in amazing ways, giving you a real A-HA! moment, and other times (more than I would like to admit), I can still feel completely lost trying to imagine or perform a movement. It is very much like practicing ashtanga, in that it is a very internal practice. I miss the energy of my fellow trainees, when we are all together in the training. Creating a home feldenkrais practice, along with my ashtanga practice (which is thankfully at a shala), is a lot at times.
The lessons often have interesting results, some of which I won't notice til the next day, in my yoga practice.
Today was one of those days. Sunday, I did a lesson on breathing. Breathing lessons (and eye lessons) are very easy to fall asleep from, and as usual, that almost happened! Then, something interesting occurred: I started to realize that the way the lesson instructed me to breathe, and the positions it had me try with this type of breathing, were very similar to what happens in the primary series. Now Feldenkrais himself was an expert at judo, so clearly he understood mula bandha, though never called it that. The breathing technique was simple - inhale and expand your chest in all directions then puff out your stomach as you exhale (yes, weird but it works). After doing this lying on my back, on my stomach, - trying to breathe into one side of the chest and "out" the opposite side of the stomach. This asymmetric breathing reminded me an awful lot of the seated section in primary series. The lesson continued by with breathing on your side, sitting up, kneeling, basically to experience breathing with the chest in different (mostly rounded) positions, to get you to breathe into the sides and the back rather than just into the front, as we typically do.
At the end of the lesson, I felt a lot more awake (after an hour of deep breathing) and my breathing felt much easier and deeper, and at some points in the lesson, I could feel myself breathing into the back of the body and sometimes feel the beginnings of mula bandha arising from my breath (for me, a sense that the inhale connected all the way down my spine to my anus in a lifting action, though more as a movement than an energetic charged feeling).Normally, in my practice I have been attempting to simply (hah!) imagine it, which is how my teacher suggested I work with it.
No, no great amazing mula bandha revelations during practice today. I could, however, feel my breath was deeper at times, especially considering my lack of sleep the night before. In shoulderstand, I could suddenly feel myself really breathing into my chest rather than my belly, something I often find almost impossible (maybe since I am not using a blanket to prop up my shoulders..this being the only prop usage that I actually miss from vinyasa classes). Oh, and I felt amazingly energized after practice, until about 4pm, which also surprised me. Usually on days where I have not slept enough, I can get really tired and/or feel really cold an hour or two after practice.
I will definitely be revisiting this lesson.