The Feldenkrais Method uses movement to help you connect with yourself and expand your options of movement and action. It combines concepts such as functional anatomy, human development, and philosophies of learning into a unique, movement-based mindfulness practice. It is truly a “mind-body” practice that can have far-reaching effects on all areas of your life.
Here are some questions I often get about my work:
Who can the Feldenkrais Method help?
Most people start seeing a Feldenkrais practitioner because they are motivated to improve the way they move. This includes people experiencing persistent pain, neurological problems, or other difficulties in functioning, as well as people who want to pursue excellence in a field like athletics or the arts. It’s great for improving stability, mobility, and motor skills. However, it’s more about developing your own senses and judgment, rather than relying on an outside authority to tell you what to do.
I have worked with adults who want to maintain or gain mobility, or who are living with persistent pain. When I integrate this work into psychotherapy, I use it as a way to help people feel more integrated with their bodies, tolerate overwhelming emotions, unravel the body patterns associated with habitual emotional stances, and to process trauma from a “bottom-up” perspective where the processing starts in the body rather than cognitively.
Will this cure my pain?
Many of my clients have reported that our sessions have alleviated their pain in a way no other modality has done for them. However, the Feldenkrais Method is not a “treatment” for pain – it’s a systems approach to learning. This means that as we explore your movement together, you will very likely learn more about your pain on an intellectual and intuitive level … and learning is powerful. It can be amazing what happens when you are able to become quiet and gently listen to what’s happening inside. It doesn’t mean you will never be in pain again, but it means you will have more tools and awareness to deal with it when it comes up. In some cases, pain is an indicator of an underlying medical condition that needs assessment and treatment from a specialist; in these situations, I have worked with my client to find ways to tolerate, manage, and minimize their pain while seeking and starting the appropriate treatment.
What is it like?
The movements in the lessons are done in a mindful, quiet way to increase your own awareness of what you are doing. The lessons are not relaxation exercises, although you may feel relaxed after a lesson (you may also feel energized, confused, or just different). They are not intended to strengthen or stretch muscles, although you may feel more flexible or stable after a lesson. Most lessons introduce an element of novelty or challenge – non-habitual movement that may feel strange, difficult, or even seem impossible to do.
In group classes you generally do the movement yourself, following verbal instructions. You can expect to sit or lie on a mat on the floor, but some lessons are done in a chair or in standing, and a skilled practitioner could modify a lesson to make it doable for you if you can’t maintain a particular position.
In private sessions the practitioner combines touch and verbal instruction to guide your movement, tailoring the lesson based on your feedback. Usually the practitioner will interview you to find out more about your experiences and goals, observe you in motion (such as walking or turning), and then for the lesson you would lie on a low, firm table (fully clothed), or less often a lesson might be done in sitting or standing.
What do Feldenkrais Practitioners learn in the training?
My training included 800 hours of classroom time, over four years. The training is very experiential; in the first two years we spent much of the time on the floor doing Awareness Through Movement® lessons, developing an internal sense of organization and patterns, and the second two years were devoted more to hands-on practice. Areas of study included:
- Functionality of the human skeleton and the physics of how force is transferred through the bones to carry weight;
- Human movement development, especially the movements of babies as they learn to suck, roll, crawl, and walk;
- Ways to create an environment for learning – to present an appropriate level of challenge while maintaining a feeling of safety;
- Using touch in a respectful way, to “listen” with our hands and develop greater sensitivity to changes in qualities of movement.
Certified Feldenkrais Practitioners are required by the Feldenkrais Guild of North America to complete 20 hours of relevant learning and development activities per year. Most Feldenkrais Practitioners are lifelong learners and continue their studies in other directions that interest them as well. I have been taking my work into the arena of pain management, mental health and trauma treatment.
Why is it called Feldenkrais?
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was an engineer, physicist, inventor, martial artist, and a student of anatomy, movement, and human development. He was a survivor of oppression and violence as a child and young adult, developed a way to recover from his own knee injuries, was a black belt in Judo, and for a time was married to a pediatrician and had the opportunity to observe many babies developing movement. He developed this work from an integration of these experiences.