THE POWER OF THE
The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic, or body-oriented, intervention designed to help people reconnect with their bodies and learn ways to move with greater efficiency. It may help a person increase vitality, coordination, and achieve overall improved wellbeing.
Though this approach is primarily physical in nature, bodily changes such as improvement in function are likely to have a positive impact on all areas of a person’s life. People seeking treatment for a range of mental health concerns may find the Feldenkrais Method a beneficial complementary approach.
Developed by Moshe Feldenkrais in the mid-1900s, the Feldenkrais Method is based on basic principles of human development, integrated with physics and biomechanics. Feldenkrais taught Judo and other martial arts classes for decades, incorporating his knowledge of the nervous system and the body into his healing process after sustaining serious knee injuries. His recovery guided his eventual development of a mind-body approach that used guided movement to improve physical and emotional wellbeing.
We have all heard the saying “no pain no gain”, well in Feldenkrais we say “work smarter not harder”. Working hard is beneficial at times and can bring you rewards, however this is not always the case. Sometimes working harder at a specific movement or technique can actually be less productive, because you may be reinforcing the old compensatory patterns which can aggravate whatever problems or issues you are experiencing. People often see this as a plateau in their progression and it can be very frustrating, causing them to work even harder and become embroiled in a vicious circle.
By working “smarter” with awareness, you are using your brains natural ability to remodel and adapt through neuroplasticity, the movement then becomes more skilled, coordinated and refined. When the time comes for you to “work harder” the rewards can be increased because of the improved efficiency and greater choice you now have in your movement.
Your nervous system is incredibly complex and extremely adaptable and when offered the right environment it is capable of learning new and more efficient patterns of movement very quickly. Due to the advancement in neuroscience, scientists now have a much clearer understanding of what is happening within the brain during movement and learning. For that reason it is now wildly accepted by Health Professionals that applying brain based strategies into our movement practices stimulates our capacity to learn and helps overcome countless issues.
A subject I come across regular is the industry fed obsession with “poor posture”. We are all shapes and sizes and I believe posture should be viewed as a dynamic state and not a body position or shape. I interpret “good posture” as being able to move in any direction without prior adjustment or preparation. However sometimes people focus on “poor posture” as a static position. As far is the person is concerned this leads to a situation where their unconscious habits are feeding their conscious habits to “correct” this. For example, round shoulders have various reasons for being rounded. It could be poor distribution of weight when standing, or rolling in of the knees, or a lack of awareness of the sit bones while sitting. Until these issues are addressed as part of a whole-body dynamic, no shoulder openers will really change “poor posture”.
The Feldenkrais Method’s integration of motor skills, martial arts, biomechanics, and psychology has been shown to increase flexibility, coordination, and a person's self-image. Movement is believed to be an essential element in the process of uncovering the relationship between development and adaptation, as it can assist people in the identification and examination of their cognition, intention, and attention abilities and patterns.
This innovative method penetrates deep into the nervous system to promote change and liberation from any difficult-to-break habits that may be affecting wellbeing or daily function. The two most recognised applications of the Feldenkrais Method are Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration, both of which capture and expand the nervous system’s power to create intelligent action towards healing.
The Feldenkrais Method uses enhancement of one’s awareness to address dormant areas of the self and promote larger and more graceful motions, utilising the nervous system’s own ability to create change and improve movement. The goal of the approach is for those utilising it to realise potentially constricting habits and movements and learn ways to expand their range of movement. By becoming more self-aware, people frequently become better able to involve more of their body in their movements and may experience an enhanced sense of physical and emotional functioning.
Through the incorporation of subtle movements and focused attention, this method strives to improve overall human functioning by using the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to adapt to sensory input. The brain's response to change is considered an essential aspect of the efficacy of the approach.
The Feldenkrais Method is delivered in two formats: group classes and individual lessons, both of which last between 30-60 minutes. People who undertake this treatment therapy are often referred to as students to emphasize the educational focus of the approach.
In one-on-one lessons, which are also known as “Functional Integration,” the student has an individualized learning plan, and the teacher guides the student’s movements according to the learning plan through the use of soft, non-invasive touch
In group classes, which are also called “Awareness Through Movement,” the teacher verbally guides the students through a sequence of slow, gentle movements in a variety of positions while on the floor, sitting on a chair, or standing.
The Feldenkrais Method differs from remedial massage and chiropractic approaches in that practitioners of these treatments work directly to manipulate the muscles and bones. Feldenkrais Practitioners work with people in order to help them become able to strengthen and regulate movements on their own.
The Feldenkrais Method was specifically designed to treat those experiencing restricted, pained, or an otherwise limited range of motion due to injuries, chronic pain, or other physical or neurological concerns. People who participate in Feldenkrais sessions often see increases in flexibility and coordination, as well as decreases in pain and muscle tension. These changes might often combine to positively affect other areas of a person’s life.
Sessions may relieve pain, muscle tension, stiffness, and fatigue, but the increased ease of movement and higher levels of energy that may be experienced by participants can also have the effect of facilitating relaxation and easing stress. Thus, individuals experiencing anxiety, stress, or conditions leading them to develop feelings of stress or anxiety may also benefit from this physical approach to treatment.