Balancing Books - Feldenkrais Inspired Play

The afternoon light comes in through the window and shines bright on my skin. I hear the sounds I make on the rug, shifting weight on hands and knees. I crawl towards a pile of children’s books on the hard wood floor. I take a book from the top of the pile, crawl back to the rug and lie on my back. I lift my legs towards the ceiling and I feel the tacky cold surface of the book as I place it on the bottom of my right foot. Swirls of orange, pink and white from Dr. Suess’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go” frame my foot. I shift my weight from side to side, swinging my legs in the air while keeping the book balanced. I feel my right hip joint, knee and ankle bending and articulating, dynamically adjusting. I am dancing with the ground.

I am excited about what I am going to do, synthesizing lessons I have done before into this moment. Doing this while pregnant was a dream of mine from my last pregnancy. Today I move with my 36 week-old baby in my belly– a delicate dance of reversibility, balance, ground and breath. I start with one book on my right foot, taking my time to explore the edges of what’s comfortable, what’s possible in this moment. Then I experiment with the book on my left foot, shifting my weight right and left, slowly making my way to roll towards my belly and then to my back again. Then I play with all the variations. I balance a book on my right hand, then right foot and right hand, left foot and left hand, two hands, two feet, and then…

I see all four books balanced on my hands and feet. I am like an animal standing on all fours on the ground but I am flipped on my back. I feel a flutter of excitement in my belly, a sensation of readiness to move and buzzing energy under my skin as I breathe in and out. My attention oscillates from sensations of pressing, lifting, bending, arching, to seeing glimpses of my arms and legs turning and twisting as I make my way towards my belly, keeping the books balanced the whole time. I search for where I can soften so the path to my belly becomes more clear. I keep both feet and hands in my attention as they move through space. I am fully present.

I feel the fullness of my growing daughter in my belly and the reliable firmness of the ground. The room spins as my body adjusts to my changing orientation in gravity. As I flip over onto my front side, I press my elbows into the rug to create just enough lift for my belly to skim the ground. I feel excited. 3 dimensional. All parts participating.

There is a story that pregnant women can’t move freely or comfortably. The image of the waddling woman on the sidewalk. Someone recently said to me, “If I was as pregnant as you I would be in bed.” I want to transform that. I want to help people know what is possible. I flip from my back to my belly and continue turning to make my way across the room. I feel my speed increase as my coordination becomes more clear. I am thrilled.

Tiffany Sankary, 2015


Where the "Book on the Foot" lessons come from:

I learned this series of lessons from Elizabeth Beringer in my Feldenkrais training. When I asked her to clarify the history of where the lessons came from, this is what she said:

“I got the idea for the book on the foot lesson from Gaby Yaron. She taught a single lesson on the back with a book on the foot, focused on straightening the leg. At the very end she suggested we could roll around. I was the only one able to do it at the time, and I was left with the impression I was special and it was hard. Eventually I decided to put together a series of lessons so I could teach it to others. I was still thinking it would be really hard for most people. But it turned out the clearer I got and the more I taught it, the easier it seemed (and the less special I seemed!) Soon many of the people who experienced the series were able to turn every which way and have lots of fun and learning along the way."