Feldenkrais Lessons for Pandemic Pastimes

In Art of Living, Featured, News, Recovery, Stress by MaryBeth Smith

by MaryBeth Smith, GCFP

Is it just me, or are you also mildly annoyed with the steady stream of social media posts about people who have done amazing things with their spare time during coronavirus lockdown? For example, a woman in India has transformed her apartment balcony into a producing organic farm. I’ve seen so many pictures of perfectly formed and baked sourdough loaves, rainbow challah, and perfect rhubarb muffins that I felt moved to post a few myself. We North Americans are apparently so competitive and driven that we can’t bear the idea that others might see us “doing nothing” while we’re at home. 

Culinary experimentation is flourishing and apparently knows no bounds, from giant cinnamon rolls to brave vegan experiments with exotic vegetables. Arts and crafts of all kinds are enjoying a resurgence. For a bit of balance, reassurance,  and realism, multiple Pinterest boards have also emerged with hilarious “Pandemic Fails.” Where would we be without hobbies and humor?

When did we buy into the idea that there’s a way to excel at lockdown? One genre of internet articles preaches that we should be making good use of this time to be better afterwards than we were before. Found a new tech startup at your kitchen table? No problem. Homeschool your kids while maintaining your own peak job performance? Piece of cake. Learn to cut your hair like a pro, enrich your relationships, learn a new language — Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that. Good for them. But sheesh! Are you exhausted yet? Happily, there’s another genre of articles that advocates something more sustainable. Take advantage of the pause to reflect and rest, recover from the rat race. After all, if you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want. You can find refuge from pressures and the push to perfectionism by simply lying on your floor and exploring movement with no agenda other than to find comfort and enjoyment in doing so. Then, as Dr. Feldenkrais often said, improvement is effortless, inevitable, and limitless.

MaryBeth Smith, MM, GCFP, is the founder and director of the Feldenkrais Center of Houston and Brain Body Learning. While staying home during the pandemic, she sees all her clients and classes remotely, re-potted a large aloe plant on her balcony, and has learned to bake sourdough bread from scratch.

See the list below for some video resources to help you find comfortable and sustainable ways to enjoy yourself and stay mentally and physically vital, even in times of anxiety and uncertainty. Here’s a list of the top hobbies, and the increase or decrease of Google searches about them during the pandemic. With so much that is beyond our control there is some sanity in taking a beautiful loaf of bread out of the oven, re-potting those plants, or enjoying a Feldenkrais lesson.

GARDENING
Digging tips from Paul McAndrew
Relieve aches between shoulders with Sandra Bradshaw
Knee pain relief with Dr. Lori Malkoff

COOKING
15 Feldenkrais-style exercises to save your back while standing in the kitchen, with Cynthia Allen

CRAFTS
Save yourself from wrist and hand pain with Taro Iwamoto

EXERCISE
Weight lifting considerations from Rich Goldsand
Running with Jae Gruenke
Yoga with Erifily Nikolakopoulou