Your Body: experience it to know it with The Franklin® Method
The Franklin® Method is not a set of exercises. The Bone Rhythms, Muscle Imagery and Organ Rhythms are more like a map which leads you to understand your own individual body. Because it is not a form of exercise and does not boast a set of movements or shapes the method itself has been slow in gaining awareness. Many who train to become a Franklin® Method Educator (FME) are already educators or established in various fields including: Physical and Occupational Therapists, Chiropractors, Nurses, Massage and Body Work Practitioners, Pilates Instructors, Dance Instructors, Yoga Teachers, Dentists, Engineers and Computer Programmers, just to mention a few.
Nearing age 40, I was trying to move away from the realm of teaching dance and into the mind/body world of Yoga and Tai Chi. I had already spent years under the tutelage of a local Tai Chi Master; and had almost completed my 200 hour yoga certification program, when the Franklin® Method entered my life. I was physically in need of a more mindful movement practice. The over used and abused joints of my previous career as dance performer, choreographer and teacher did not find the solace I had expected within my yoga practice. Later I realized this had nothing to do with the form but from the poor postural habits which accompanied me everywhere.
My first experience of physical change occurred the first day of my Franklin® Method training. While learning the Bone Rhythms of the pelvis I suddenly realized that I no longer needed to worry about doing the movement (hip flexion, aka plié, lunges, squats) wrong or poorly; for the first time the Franklin® Method was teaching me and my body, what the right movement felt like. Within specified training techniques there exists a mountain of physical apprehension, a constant anxiety of doing the ‘technique’ wrong. At this time of my life there was a larger fear of doing the movement wrong and spiraling back down the path of injury, pain and recovery. For the first time I could spend my efforts on movement which was right for my body (and notcompare myself to others). Massive amounts of mental stress and physical tension suddenly slid down the fear slope of my own decline and disappeared.
No longer susceptible to the teaching cues of old dance teachers, yoga teachers or fitness experts I was now capable of being my own physical Guru. This indeed was physical enlightenment. Immediately I set an intention to find ways to help others experience their physical presence; to help other people feel good living in their body. I am convinced that this is a key element and a fundamental step towards physical happiness. People from all walks of life attend Franklin® Method workshops. Their physicality and fitness interests vary, their occupation, age and background also vary but they are all searching for the same thing. What is it? Each would probably word their response a bit differently but the over-all idea is that these people want to feel good physically and the Franklin® Method provides the tools to achieve this.
The Franklin® Method does this by addressing the thing which precedes all physical forms, techniques, styles and somatic therapies which is the movement of human body. Even more to the point, the Franklin® Method introduces you to your individualized human movement. This is important because each of us is unique – not just in our finger prints but in the specific shaping of our bones and the exact size and placement of our organs. These distinctions create a ‘one of a kind’ perception. No one knows you in the way that you know yourself. Presenting bio-mechanics within the basic formats of Bone Rhythms, Muscle Imagery and Organ Rhythms; The Franklin® Method leads individuals to define these movements through embodiment experiences and imagery tools. Take a look out there now at how the world speaks about functional human movement. There are numerous experts, techniques and different modalities utilizing specific types of language or props; some include an organized progression of movements, some of these progressions are based on human development, a specific body system or some other criteria; but none of that really matters when it comes to your body. Because like falling in love, or anything else of great significance, you have to experience it – to know it. So instead of telling you what the Franklin® Method is from 15 different angles I am going to offer up a few real people experiences some of which are my own.
Integrating Franklin® Method into my yoga and Tai Chi instruction was natural. It started by backing up common imagery cues used for the physical practice of these mind/body forms. The results at first astonished me. The imagery backed by the scientific facts of body mechanics set my students on a fast track to self-awareness. The ‘Bubbling Well’ is an image in Tai Chi used to teach ground reaction force. In modern science this is Newton’s third law of motion. I used the three arches of the foot as an embodiment practice. Students explored their placement and use in force absorption and force production (it is into the arch of the foot that the well bubbles up its energy). For the first time no one questioned the image. Instead of a philosophical and kind of artsy conversation about the imagery of the ancient Chinese; students immediately started to look specifically at the force absorption and force production of their own feet. They were feeling and analyzing how they use their feet and correcting poor movement habits. When you stumble upon a treasure, a teaching tool as significant as this, in the midst of 20 or more people your big hope is that you do not look as dumbfounded as you feel; looking giddy works much better.
Basic and powerful, I began to use pieces of Franklin® Method embodiment practices to bring about quicker unquestionable mind/body connections. I spent three years training in the Franklin Method. Each time I would get together with my fellow FME’s I was always amazed by the experiences they had with in themselves and those they fostered in the people around them. The experiences of my colleagues manifested into personal motivation and inspiration.
From head to tail people have benefited from the Franklin® Method in terms of working with poor postural patterns and recovering from injury. John Z, a Chiropractor and FME shared his experience. “I have gotten so much out of this [training]. I could not have paid for therapy that could have helped me like this. The neck pain I have had for 10 years is gone! This method has helped me with my patients, with myself, my movement; I feel better than I have felt in the last 15 years!” While John was not specific about the elements which lead to the onset of his pain Marie W. a student at a Franklin® Method Pelvic Power workshop, shared a bit of her frustration in dealing with an injury. “I came because my pelvis has been frozen and immobile since a car accident last year. It has been affecting my neck, too. Now after this workshop my pelvis feels like it has air in it and my neck feels more free. I am very excited to attend the next workshop!”
The Pelvic Power for Core Integration material is very popular, not just because the workshops follow material from Eric Franklin’s book, with the same name, but because the way we use the pelvis has such a tremendous effect on both the upper and lower body. Plus it’s the pelvis! The pelvis is a super bowl of sorts containing all kinds of organs, functions, connotations, desires, excitements and fears. My friend, study buddy and FME colleague Mary Beth spoke endlessly about the possibilities for this work after I told her about my trampoline experiment.
The trampoline experiment arose after purchasing the joy jumper for my children. Upon putting the monstrosity together with my neighbor we decided to jump for joy; and very quickly learned the joy jumper was more of a juice jostler for two women who have had birthed multiple children. My experiment was the application of Pelvic Power exercises. Within two months I was a “juice-free” jumper once again! Mary Beth, who is by profession a nurse, was equally excited by the news. The result of our many conversations was a workshop entitled, Take Back Control: Simple Exercises for Independence, Continence and Vitality. This was not just a series of variations on the kegel, but included Bone Rhythms, Muscle Imagery, Organ Rhythms plus work with connective tissue. The connective tissue is a vital piece since it is woven into the muscular makeup of the pelvic floor. The organ column itself is directly supported by connective tissue making this aspect important to those who have issues with organ prolapse. What I found in the teaching of this material may surprise you.
Many women are concerned with issues of continence. One of my students, Edith M. who was a very in fit and agile woman in her early 60’s was surprised that her problems had arisen from constantly tensing the musculature of her pelvic floor, which weakened the connective tissue. Another student Diane G. suffered from a similar problem which originated from the opposite end of the spectrum; she needed to increase the tone of her musculature and decrease the downward pressure of a flaccid organ column. These were not my assessments or conclusions. This is what the students discovered about themselves through the Franklin® Method ‘experience’. In this example you can see how students faced with similar physical issues actually have very different needs and required different fitness approaches.
Currently I offer this work in a series of private sessions under a more encompassing name of Sexual Vitality, in this way I hope to help people address the variety of issues which can arise out of this super bowl section of the body and give people the opportunity to achieve wellbeing before seeking surgical or pharmaceutical; embellishments, interventions or remedies. Through continued interaction with my FME colleagues I have learned that I am not the only one who has benefitted from the tools offered with in the Pelvic Power material. Several colleagues both male and female have had improvements in their health not only concerning the process of micturition, but also with in the topic of sexuality including increased desire and sexual function. This does not surprise me. While the Franklin Method work is based on anatomy it is not ‘sexual’ in nature. But if you think about how we tend to treat this area of the body it is not surprising that the super bowl as an entity in itself suffers from a type of depression or over all gloom. I have started to view this part of the body, and all other parts of the body much like a child.
The child is always asking the adult for attention; “Look at me!” “Watch me!” “See what I can do!” A child who is put off or ignored kind of shrinks into themselves, turns sullen and becomes inactive. While the child who is given attention flourishes and blossoms into a wonderful being. All our body parts are like a society of sorts. Each has its place and purpose, individuated within the system to create the whole. But at the same time each has similar needs of attention and love. Mind/Body work as a whole fulfills this need. The Franklin® Method as a modern mind/body technique directly addresses this issue accessing the mind/body connection directly through the individual parts of the body.
Those who work in the various fields of fitness or movement styles not only notice a change in how they move themselves, but also receive insight into their teaching practices. Crystal a dancer and dance teacher in NY was amazed by the result of melding the mind with the body. She noticed a difference in her own movement and also had this to say: “I fed my students some harmful information, which I thought was correct. I didn’t know. It (the movement of the students) looked correct and aesthetically pleasing. I took anatomy and kinesiology in college. But now I know how to instruct my students so that they can prevent injury.” Pat G. a Pilates studio owner/operator and instructor has been teaching Pilates with a Franklin® Method foundation for several years. “I just can’t have any one teach in my studio who has not taken the Franklin® Method Training. I want my clients to have the very best experience possible. After my experience with the Franklin® Method and those I have shared with my clients and students, just being able to teach a set of exercises or a particular technique is not good enough. The people who come to my studio get more than a workout. They get an experience much deeper than that and they also get the opportunity to make lasting changes in how they move; not just during exercise, but within their daily life.”
For more information on how to get your body involved please check out the following sources:
http://franklinmethod.com/fm-educators?cn-pg=1 – A listing of Franklin Method Educators world wide
http://franklin-method.us/bin/view/Main/WebHome – A listing of Franklin® Method Educators in North America and a calendar of workshops offered by FME’s in North America
http://franklinmethod.com/fm-teacher-training – Find out how to become a Franklin® Method Educator and integrate the Franklin® Method into your current practice or teachings.
About Rie Franklin
Rie Franklin FME, RYT500 is a movement specialist who combines elements of both ancient and modern mind/body techniques into her instruction. Currently on Faculty at the University of Richmond offering classes in Human Kinetics, Yoga and Advanced Anatomy within the Massage Program she also teaches continuing education workshops for Yoga Instructors, Massage Therapists and Body Work practitioners and is a NCBTMB approved provider. Along the central east coast, Rie offers wellness workshops to a variety of audiences based on the mind/body techniques of the Franklin® Method, Yoga and Tai Chi. Find out more:
Finally the answer to the question you have been asking all along: Rie Franklin is no relation to the Franklin® Method developer, Eric Franklin. Being a supportive teacher and kind friend just doesn’t count! ‘Franklin’ just happens to be a lovely and popular last name. However, Rie Franklin is an integral member of the FME community in North America. She helps coordinate the information on www.franklin-method.us and has interests in facilitating connections between FMEs and populations interested in the Franklin® Method. Rie hopes to provide and be a part of forums for support and collaboration among Franklin® Method Educators. While the www.franklin-method.us site currently caters to FME populations with in North America we do seek to include any and every FME interested in communing with other’s within our specialty. Rie is interested in receiving commentary, ideas and questions pertaining to the Franklin® Method; please send these to: rie@DesignsforBodyandMind.com