The first time I heard of a tribe that has a very different attitude to life than we do was in 1992. It was a recording of a lecture given by Dr. Deepak Chopra. He talked of the body mind and how our mindset determined the way we lived and died. He said that a tribe existed in Mexico that had running at its core and that an 80 year old ran faster and farther than a 20 year old.
He pointed out that in our society a 20 year old is considered at his peak and that an 80 year old is considered worn out and at the end of his. But this tribe had things the other way around. You got stronger as you aged and their 80 year old died quietly in their sleep and not immobilized in a hospice.
Though this sounded attractive to my 20 year old ears, it also sounded dubious. Though he did not mention the tribes name, I later found out that this people are called the Tarahumara. They are many tribes, though now most of the tribes have fallen victim to the vices that are associated with “modern” civilization: poor diet, drugs and alcohol.
The Tarahumara run in the copper canyons of Mexico, they are known as the Raramuri (the running people). I found all this out after my wife read Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run. In this book he mentions a person that goes by the name Barefoot Ted. I met Barefoot Ted in Auroville in February this year at Auroville’s annual Marathon. Auroville organizes a Marathon every year and the course is as of this year 100% asphalt free, so very conducive to barefoot running.
I spoke with Barefoot Ted on the subject of barefoot running and how we as humans were “built to run” so to speak. It is true that we tend to not see ourselves as natural long distance runners; most of us would gasp at the thought of participating in a Marathon. But the facts point to us being built to run.
This I found out more about after reading the book Born To Run. If you have any interest in running I would recommend you get hold of the book and read it. How does the Feldenkrais method fit into this. Well our modern lifestyle has cut us off from our “runner” birthright and instead given us very poor posture and movement habits. It is our poor movement form and poor biomechanical movement habits that have resulted in all our injuries.
We suffer so much from back pain and spinal problems as a result of the way we live life now. Moshe Feldenkrais injured himself playing football and found no one who could help him. So he deconstructed the way he functioned and found a way to function better. To function more efficiently, to regain some of our birthright.
This he achieved by creating movement lessons that he termed Awareness Through Movement. I strongly believe that these movement lessons could be very useful in learning to move in a more functional manner so that our inate running self can come forward and allow us to run without injuring ourselves.