Margaret Mead’s burning question for Feldenkrais

Margaret Mead, the noted Anthropologist, had a chance to meet Moshe Feldenkrais in 1977.

And she asked him to help her with something that had deeply puzzled her for more than 20 years.

She could not teach children in Bali how to hop. That is, she could not teach them to make a small jump and shift their weight from one foot to the other.

She had studied it from every angle and she could not figure it out. It did not make sense to her as Balinese children were highly-skilled in using their bodies. They could dance, run, swim and engage in complex games.

But they could not hop.

Feldenkrais had an answer,

"I told her, in my view, the fault or interference most probably arose from an inhibition or taboo affecting crawling in early childhood."

And Mead exclaimed,

"That's it! The people of that island do not allow their babies to touch the ground until they can walk. They never learn to crawl."

Now, "crawling" is a series of movements that has quite complex underpinnings. And it can be difficult to classify. There have been academic arguments for decades on how many "stages" and "substages" there are in crawling, how the stages vary across cultures. And how crawling even affects cognitive and psychological development.

The *main* idea, that many researchers tend to forget, is that developing efficient movement from crawling to standing, to hopping, walking and running, involves *shifting* weight from side to side.

It is the process of going back and forth - right and left - forward and backward - that makes human beings so incredibly flexible when it comes to moving.

And it is the main idea in my series, "The Basis of Hopping," which I adapted from several of Moshe's early sessions in Israel.

When you can shift your weight and adapt your movement to any context - and maintain that ability as you age, it helps keep you mobile, independent and free.

Check it out to learn more: