Six years ago, before I decided to sign up for The Feldenkrais Method®, a 4-year intense course in Eugene, Oregon, I often suffered from lower back pain. It seemed as if it would come up all of a sudden with no warning and no clue as to how it happened. At times, I would have to clear my schedule because the pain was so intense and debilitating. Perhaps many of you with high stress jobs where you sit in front of the computer all day can relate to having intense back pain for no apparent reason.
During the training, I learned to sense into myself more accurately and deliberately. The daily practice of body awareness through movement was a delightful discovery, an opportunity to know myself through my body in motion. Feldenkrais has enhanced the perception of both how I move and why I move. I loved it so much that the student has become the teacher. That’s me in the above photo teaching some of my clients an Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) lesson.
What is The Feldenkrais Method®?
I realize that many haven’t heard of this method, so let me give you a little background. It was developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli physicist, engineer, judo master, soccer player and gymnast. After a knee injury, he began to pay attention to his own movements. Opting out of surgery, he turned to his knowledge of physics and using his own body as a research subject. Feldenkrais created a means of learning to move beyond habitual patterns of movement.
He believed that the central nervous system plays a key role in a person’s comfort, so he focused on encouraging awareness of the skeleton, muscles, and joints. This new awareness allows each body part to participate more fully in every action so that no one part is stressed more than another.
The skeleton is able to provide its intended support so the muscles feel more relaxed. This leads naturally to a decrease in tension and an expanded range of motion and flexibility. This new awareness helps a person understand their customary negative patterns of posture and movement and learn to create more functional ones.
He developed his discovery into a program called The Feldenkrais Method®. It allowed him to increase efficiency and range of movement, reduce stress, improve posture and flexibility, function and self-image with greater comfort and ease. After helping himself, he went on to help many others experience that same relief. Is that something you’d like?
How can you learn The Feldenkrais Method®? There are two ways of learning this technique:
Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) lessons. Generally these are group lessons. In a non-judgmental learning environment, the Feldenkrais teacher verbally guides the students in gentle and easy movement sequences. Students are supported in accepting themselves and their bodies by moving only within their ranges of ease and comfort. The emphasis is on curiosity, discovery and exploration, attending to the quality of movement, and especially observing one’s own internal process while performing the movement. The above photo illustrates one of these lessons.
Functional Integration® (FI). This is done in individual, hands-on lessons. The client lies fully clothed on a low table while the teacher uses gentle touch to explore ways that she can move more comfortably. The lessons are tailored to the individual and will be different each time. The quality of presence and touch in an FI lesson reassures the nervous system and can help restore inner balance.
Are you interested in exploring how this easy-on-the-body method can bring lasting pain relief and increased personal confidence? If you live near Ashland, Oregon, please contact my office and schedule an appointment so we can work out lessons that help you become more aware of movements that support you as a person. If you know someone who could benefit from this, please refer them to me so they can benefit, too.