As a wellbeing fan, stumbling upon the Feldenkrais Method was an inevitable consequence to my search for life improvement techniques that support a better way of doing things.
The Feldenkrais Method was developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais after he suffered a debilitating knee injury. He went on a journey to find something that would help him recover and ended up creating an exercise therapy based on mindful body movement and self awareness.
Body movement is hard to teach because it’s something you’ve got to feel, at least that’s what Jackie Snow, head of Movement at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), says about body movement in general: “You need to feel it to come to a full understanding of the way your body moves, and that can only be accomplished through getting out of your seat, following exercises, discussing the results, experimenting with your body and discovering what it is capable – or incapable – of.”
WHAT THE FELDENKRAIS METHOD CAN DO FOR YOU
The Feldenkrais Method recognizes that some habitual everyday body movements (reaching for a glass, bending over, getting out of bed) can actually cause a lot of problems down the road.
Its goal is to replace an old way of moving with unforced elegant functioning.
To be honest, when I first learned about Feldenkrais, it was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that a series of gentle exercises could do much of anything, to say nothing of improving a person’s life experience.
So, I searched for a class nearby and decided to find out.
WHAT A FELDENKRAIS CLASS IS LIKE
The class I went to was in a home studio. A great attic space where I joined a group of eight, all weekly regulars who were settled on the floor yoga-style. Our instructor showed up a few minutes later carrying decorative glasses on a silver tray (for tea we’d drink after class, one of regulars told me).
After greeting everyone hello, the class got underway.
She asked us all to stand.
Become aware of your surroundings. How do you feel today? Where in your body are you holding tension?
Simply become aware of it that’s all.
I was loving this.
Exactly what I wanted.
Then floor exercises composed of those gentle movements I’d read about, filled the hour. I continued to wonder how these exercises could actually be doing anything, and then mid-way, it clicked. My brain suddenly and unexpectedly had become an active congruent participant with the body movements.
It was an unfamiliar borderline uncomfortable sensation that I wanted to hang onto for as long as possible.
At the end of the 60-minute class we were asked once again to stand, become aware of our surroundings and check back in with ourselves, how were we feeling now?
More self-aware I had to say, in fact, I felt absolutely present – in my body.
And, yes, we did drink the tea. A piping hot organic ginger tea similar to the ginger tea I love and a perfect way to wrap up the class.
Over time the Feldenkrais Method promises to change habitual patterns of behavior, which allows new ways of thinking and doing to emerge.
After experiencing a class I could totally see how that would be possible.
MORE FELDENKRAIS BENEFITS
Not only does the Feldenkrais Method teach the brain easier and more pleasing ways of doing things, it can also do the following:
- create new ways for the brain to organize unconscious movement
- eliminate mental distraction
- deepen self-awareness
- improve overall health, posture, coordination, balance, and flexibility
- enhance fitness and performance
- increase self-confidence and joy of living
It’s a thumbs up for me and I urge you to give it a try.
The Feldenkrais Method is also worth your time if you’re using The Act As If Technique because it helps you focus your daily intention so that your thoughts and behavior line up with your narrative.
The best resource for more on the Feldenkrais Method is in the book, Awareness Through Movement: Health Exercises for Personal Growth, by Feldelnkrais himself. It offers a practical program of every day exercises that are good for all ages.
But nothing beats trying a class yourself.
And so, I leave you with a few links that will help you pinpoint a Feldenkrais practitioner near you:
International Feldenkrais Federation
If this blog was helpful or taught you something you didn’t know before, share in the comments!
Until the next time…