With a nod to my dear friend and mentor, Larry Goldfarb, who years ago coined the phrase, “FELDEN-What?”, here are several takes on the ins and outs of the Method.
So just what the heck is Feldenkrais®??
I like to call it lazy person’s exercise. More akin to Mindfulness Meditation than anything you’d do at the gym, it’s a call to pay attention to what you are doing so you can identify habits and patterns that are keeping you from doing what you want – and then swap out those habits for actions that support you in achieving your goals and dreams. The Feldenkrais Method® uses movement as its foundation, its “in” so to speak. After all, if you’re going to attend you’ve got to attend to something. Why not movement?
In Awareness Through Movement®, you spend a great deal of time rolling around on the floor just noticing what it is you are doing and how you are doing it. Sometimes you do very complex movements but you do them slowly and in a way that makes the learning about what you do both pleasurable and comfortable. We call all this lolling about “lessons” because each orchestrated sequence of movements teaches something about the harmonious function of your body. These lessons also cause the brain to wake up, pay attention and make new connections aka “learn”. Lessons start out simple, gradually building in complexity. You never do more than you can easily do. As you do, what you can do with ease changes and you begin to surprise yourself with your own ability. How does that happen? Simply, as you begin to pay attention, you quickly discover how much extra work you are doing, When you let that go, amazing things begin to happen. You breathe easier, stand taller, move more gracefully, feel less stressed.
In Functional Integration®, you get to lie down (or sit up, or stand and with all your clothes on) while the teacher does all the work of showing your body how it’s various elements are connected and how they can work together to support you instead of behaving like a bunch of renegades each with its own agenda. Sometimes the teacher asks you to take the reins for a bit, allowing you to consciously sense what you are doing and how you can be in motion in a different way. These passive sessions are also lessons. The the precise touch used by the teacher sends your brain the message that something different is happening. It tunes in and learns that it has other choices than auto pilot.
The Feldenkrais Method is good for anyone interested in improving regardless what you want to improve. It can be helpful in recovering from an injury, illness, accident, or surgery. Or, it can support you in improving a skill like taking a few strokes off your golf game or getting into that yoga posture more easily. The Method has proven effective as an adjunct treatment for neurological conditions such as MS. It is often used to help children with autism, Cerebral Palsy, developmental delay, sensory processing issues, etc. gain more organized control of their own bodies. Ultimately, the Method is for anyone who wants to age gracefully, curious to the end about what they do and how they are in the world. It keeps the brain active and the body supple.