Our Labour Weekend Retreat this year is a 4 day program called Openness & Spaciousness. It invites you to nourish yourself deeply with a beautiful flow of practices from the traditions of yoga and conscious movement.
Nicky Woodward is leading the Conscious Movement element of the retreat and is a registered Awareness Through Movement (ATM) teacher and NZ Guild-certified Feldenkrais practitioner. She has been involved with yoga, mindful movement practices and their relationship to learning, self-development and rehabilitation for over 30 years. Nicky teaches Conscious Movement classes in Christchurch and embraces a gentle natural process of embodied learning in a holistic way to expand and enliven the felt experience of joy and wellbeing.
We asked her to explain a bit more about the relevance of Conscious Movement this upcoming retreat.
How do you feel conscious movement works with the theme of Openness & Spaciousness?
Nicky: When we pay attention to how we find ourselves, how we sense, feel and move – then we refine the quality of the movement itself and also of our being. As we come home to the experience of our natural selves there is an expansion of awareness … a sense of spaciousness and openness that arises.
How does conscious movement improve a person’s health and wellbeing?
Nicky: We could say that in learning to move more consciously we are simply learning about gracefulness. When we slow down and bring our attention to sensing and feeling the quality of our movement …. We come into the experience of being present with ourselves ….. we become more aware of and attuned to our innate rhythms and energy flows. By switching the exploration away from trying to get somewhere, to an appreciation and direct experience of the deep wisdom and intelligence at the very foundation of our being, we create space for new possibilities – and new ways of being and wellness to arise. The more we come to know ourselves, the better we feel and the more resilient we become.
What enhancements can conscious movement bring to a person’s own yoga practice?
Nicky: Conscious movement can both enliven and enrich the yoga experience. As we sense more of our self – our mental, emotional and physical energetic being– we find we can bring more of our self into our asana practice. By improving the quality of our attention, and through these mindful movements, we touch into a deeper experience of all of the koshas. This is particularly true for the subtle bodies of vignanamayakosha and anandamayakosha, and we begin to experience our wholeness and our aliveness. For example when we encounter an imbalance with the physical body and we are not able to move in the way we are accustomed to, then the practices can help us to go deeply with the question of how to bring balance and nourishment to that part that is in pain or not functioning well. Resting with the awareness and this question, together, can open a small door to a new way of being.
When we talk about the Openness & Spaciousness retreat expanding one’s capacity to release deeply held tensions and patterns, to experience balance and harmony in life and give space for the experience of ease, joy, etc. to arise – how do you help people to work through this? It seems a lot to achieve in a 4 day retreat – is this all done through movement or is there an element of integration with other healing modalities in that?
Nicky: It is a journey and the beautiful thing is that we realise through the work that it is a great joy to BE in the journey rather than being at the destination … when someone learns this deeply through their practice, it is not forgotten and then gems of joy arise … wisdom begins to bubble forth from this deeper integrity of honouring the whole of ourselves … honouring both the bits that work, and the bits that don’t.
It seems like a lot, but in this workshop we are guiding people to explore sequences of movements that are unfamiliar. Part of the workshop utilises Moshe Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons. As we go through life we can get stuck in our habits, and fixed in our ways of moving and being. These lessons provide participants the opportunity to sense and explore movements in a different way, gently resolving conflict between muscle groups at a neurological level to create changes that are deeply sensed. They get under the radar of restrictive habitualised patterns of movement and facilitate the discovery of more efficient comfortable ways of being, enhancing the quality of everyday activities.
Nicky teaches Awareness Through Movement lessons® in Christchurch and has her own Feldenkrais practice, which is outlined on her website Movement Rewired – http://movementrewired.co.nz. She believes the beauty of this holistic and somatic approach to learning is that it enables people of all ages and abilities to improve and develop their potential. There is no time limit on improvement.
Nicky has specialised in helping children and adults with learning disabilities, and linked neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, strokes, etc. People also go to her for individual sessions with all sorts of issues that they need help with, often ‘having tried everything else first’. These issues include back pain, migraines, anxiety, balance problems, joint injuries, and arthritis, etc.
You can find out more about our Openness & Spaciousness Retreat here.