By Alison Wesley, Franklin Method Faculty
After taking one Franklin Method class, or watching just one video, it will be pretty obvious that this work will help you feel better in your body. That’s one goal, of course, and it involves being able to visualize something in your mind that will improve your experiences in movement.
But the effects go beyond even this. The Franklin Method helps you become more present. If you feel better in your body, you will feel better when having conversations with others. And even when you’re not feeling so great, you will be able to be better present for the conversation at hand, because in the Franklin Method, you have practiced being present with sensation in the body while coordinating your attention with something else (movement, etc.).
To translate this to dance or to yoga, imagine what it would be like to be able to see the spine so clearly, to be able to listen to the spine so fully, to be able to trust the structure and capability in the spine so deeply, that instead of driving a movement or forcing a position, you can step back and allow the spine to lead. Imagine dance movement or even a common yoga exercise like cat-cow being an experience really led by the spine. Imagine even standing or sitting with complete guidance from the spine.
Most of us spend years and thousands of dollars in training sessions to understand how to move. And these are wonderful map-making courses, in my opinion. We need the map. But we also need exploration time to be able to develop a relationship with each area of the body—to say, “hello, spine, how are you today?” instead of “hey, spine, I want you to be like this.” I don’t know about you, but in a relationship, if my partner said something like that to me, I would shrink away and not feel supported enough to express myself at all. But to feel special enough to be seen and to be aware of every day, that feels like true presence. (Of course, another option for how to treat the spine, or any other area of the body, is ignoring it altogether, which in a relationship, is also a huge issue.)
I began doing the Franklin Method because of my spine. I had been practicing yoga for years and never really understood my spine. I was moving with a collection of advice I had heard from teachers over the years, and most of what I was working with had to do with the need to “support” and “protect” the spine. I was working with a lot of tension, both in body and in mind, around the constant need to “support” and “protect.” It was exhausting. Over the course of my first training of Franklin Method, I started to see and feel my spine in a new way and I felt better.
What I didn’t realize was how I was also getting better at noticing in general. I started noticing that I had hiccups every time my then-husband walked into the room. That was the first of several things I noticed in my body when I was around him. I’m one of those lucky (or unlucky?) people who can choose to be okay in any situation. If I’m not actually happy, I have a hard time knowing it. This noticing about my reaction to my husband was huge for me. My body—my breath—had been telling me for years that, for some reason, I felt the need to be tense and protected and on guard around my partner. When I zoomed out and really looked at the relationship, it was so clear that my body wanted out and my mind just hadn’t caught on to the signals. Long story short: leaving my husband began with the ability to notice.
The sad truth is that I thought I was already very attuned. I thought I was noticing. I was already a yoga teacher and a meditator. I thought, “I already know this stuff.” But the moment you believe you know something, you’ve just cut yourself off to real growth and change.
Above all, that’s what I’ve learned in the Franklin Method: how to change.
Alison Wesley is Franklin Method Faculty, co-author of Understanding the Pelvis with Eric Franklin, and leads her own corporate yoga company, Working with Yoga. She lives in Portland, Oregon, which is also the setting of her therapeutic movement video series, Thru Movement. When she isn't teaching classes, conducting workshops, or writing, she enjoys samba, salsa, and kickboxing. She also loves taking her two German Shepherds to dog parks in the beautiful Northwest. Alison plays her original music in a band with her husband, and delights in eating Cuban food at his restaurant. She is a stepmother to two wonderful children and will be forever trying to learn Spanis