Who can Benefit? - Everyone!
Good Health, Fitness and Wellbeing
Attain a more Enriched Quality of Life
If your goal is to achieve, easier movement, or eliminate aches and pains, realise a more complete self-image, enhance confidence, achieve greater adaptability to situations, improve your mental health and wellbeing, reduce work related stress and anxiety leading to improved productivity, or just pursue an enriched quality of life. Then all of these are within your capabilities, and through Feldenkrais techniques I can help you learn how to attain them.
Your body tends to fall into habitual ways of doing everything from looking down when you tie your shoes, to shifting your weight as you stand grating cheese at the kitchen counter, to picking up your pet. These ways of moving get the job done but typically call for more strain and effort than is necessary. You may not realise that you're unnecessarily tensing up certain parts of your body, or that, in an effort to protect an injured area, you're putting undue stress on other areas.
In Feldenkrais sessions, my directions bring your awareness to the way you reach, turn, or bend. For example, perhaps a way to reach that lets your shoulder, back, and hips participate rather than overtaxing your elbow may be an improved strategy. Often, over the course of a session, you will integrate all the micro-movements that go into one large motion so that it becomes smooth and almost effortless.
Feldenkrais has helped people of all ages and walks of life, whether you are young, old, sporting, sedentary, fit, injured, unhealthy or healthy, I believe you will benefit. This is because it develops and enhances one of our most important human functions, the way we move.
You may be thinking “I don’t do sports and I don’t have any neurological issues can I still get benefit from Feldenkrais”. The answer is most definitely yes. There is no limit to improving your movement and this can also have a hugely positive effect on many other areas in your life.
Sport & Leisure
Move like a pro. Go to the next level in your performance
To proficiently perform athletic movements the brain must coordinate with the necessary muscle groups to produce the action. Whether the athlete is throwing a baseball, kicking a football, or even sprinting, these all require complex muscular coordination which starts from the brains motor cortex.
Many people practice for hours on their technique in a particular sport. Fine tuning the skills needed to develop that extra gain in performance, and these hours of dedication are essential in achieving that higher level in any sport. This is acceptable if you are already starting from a good base level in movement coordination, however many of us are not so fortunate. We have all seen people who move naturally well and appear to move without effort, runners who glide, dancers who flow and sports people who seem to defy gravity in their actions. However for most of us mere mortals we have to apply ourselves to achieve efficient, elegant movement.
When we were younger movement was often much easier, but as we progress through life we accumulate “baggage” because of pain, injury, poor training techniques, social environment and emotional aspects. We know how adaptive our brain is in dealing with situations and events, however our nervous system sometimes produces "maladaptive strategies” to compensate for the “baggage” leaving us with inadequate movement strategies that can cause pain, injury and loss of performance.
All skilled movement is based on basic fundamental cardinal movements that most of us learn from birth. As such these movements are ingrained deep within our nervous system. Flexion, extension, rotation, shifting weight, stability/support and orientation are all basic functions. However, quite often these movements become affected with our “baggage” and “parasitic movement patterns” take over and interfere with our refined coordinated patterns we once possessed.
Feldenkrais principles align with neuroscience principles enabling it enhance movement options, leading to greater choice in how you perform a particular task. As we know in sports, having more choice can give you greater ability to deal with, or challenge your opponent, and also maintain a higher level of skill and for longer.
Changes in motor skill neuroplasticity are often divided into a “fast-stage” (short-term) and “slow-stage” (long-term). During fast-stage learning, it is believed that the primary motor cortex in our brain recruits substantially more neurons for new motor tasks. This increase in brain activity can result in big improvements being seen within a single session. After making progress with a motor skill, we transition to the slow-stage of learning where multiple “awareness” sessions, may be required. Just noticing what you are doing in your movement during the day could constitute an “awareness session” and may be all that is needed to retain or improve that skill.
Unlike the fast-stage, the slow-stage of learning results in small improvements at a much slower pace. This is due to neuroplasticity’s “use it or lose it” principle when it comes to motor skills. The brain’s plasticity will either slowly strengthen or reduce a motor pathway based on how much it is used, or the lack-of. However, past repetitive practice of motor tasks could lead to a quicker re-adaptation if there was an interruption of that skill. This term is called “savings” and is why many athletes can still perform a skill such as shooting a basketball, even after years without practice.
Feldenkrais has been used at an elite level in numerous sports for decades now, and I believe it can be an essential and powerful tool in your training regime. The new finely tuned and coordinated movements that you develop can be incorporated into your specific skilled actions, achieving greater skill with less effort.
Having successfully worked full-time in the elite sports environment for nearly 30 years in movement and function, I believe I am ideally positioned to help you go to the next level in your performance and achieve your potential.
Bring something new to your craft
and raise the level of your art.
Imagine an actor who has limited choices in their movements because of habitual patterns. It would be difficult for them to play the parts of a wide selection of characters. If they are restricted in their movement, then every personality they play could have their subtle traits and mannerisms woven into every breath.
For example, when you prepare for a performance, instead of over thinking about the performance, Feldenkrais can help you take time out and perform crucial movements in order to organise yourself, so that when you come to the show you work with less effort and have more time to enjoy the work. Awareness of balance, your relationship with gravity, skeletal awareness and breathing, give you the space required to find economical movement and freedom in your thinking, which in turn allow you to come closer to the direct experience of what it is to exist in a theatrical environment.
Feldenkrais is about learning, or rather, learning about learning. During Feldenkrais sessions you facilitate the breakdown of unconscious muscle patterns. By making new and unusual movements in new and unfamiliar positions, the nervous system must generate alternative solutions, which combine familiar movements with unusual sensations. Awareness of what the body is doing is enhanced and you begin to choose how you move.
As an instrumentalist:
Are you interested in improving your hand-eye coordination while playing? Are you longing for a deeper connection between your-self and your instrument? Are you recovering from a repetitive strain injury?
As a singer:
Are you looking for more vocal freedom to express, in words and melody, what you feel inside? Has your “technique” only taken you so far, and now you are looking for more?
As a dancer:
Are you looking for ways to find more subtlety and grace in your movements? Are you finding yourself in pain and experiencing frequent injuries? Are you looking for more freedom, coordination, and more of yourself in your dancing?
As an actor:
Are you looking to connect more deeply to the inner world of your impulses, emotions, and thoughts? Are you looking to inhabit new movements as part of developing a character? Are your habits getting in the way?
The Feldenkrais Method is many things, above all, it is a method for learning how to learn. Practicing Feldenkrais immerses you, through movement, in deep and personal explorations that are at once question and answer, doing and not doing, specific and totally open. As an artist, this probably sounds familiar, because it mirrors the creative process itself. It also mirrors the process of development that you all must go through to raise you craft to the level of art.
For performing artists, the Feldenkrais Method can;
bring you the kind of intimate connection to yourself that all artists are looking for,
help you gain a self-awareness practice that will transform the way you think,
aid warming up and preparing for performance,
assist you with comfort, ease, and mastery in both your daily and artistic life,
bring you a smart, creative, novel, and fun way to figure out any artistic problem that you might face.
Because the Feldenkrais Method works in the background of experience through movement, any lesson, even if not explicitly related to singing, acting, dancing, or playing an instrument, will bring something new and useful to your craft.
Why is the Feldenkrais Method important to theatre and acting? As a performing artist you would benefit from developing a very high level of physical awareness in order to understand your capabilities as a performer. The finest performances are those where there appears to be no effort, where we do not ask questions, but believe in the world that is created for us.
Have you suffered from a Stroke, have MS or
Cerebral Palsy, or any other neurological problem?
Feldenkrais at Smart Somatics aims to restore human dignity.
By helping improve function to an acceptable level and regain
mental health and wellbeing.
Through neuroplasticity the brain can reorganise itself around this damage and functional recovery may take place, but the new neural connections need the right environment and guidance along the way. This is where therapeutic interventions and movement re-education come into play, including Feldenkrais.
The extent of neuroplasticity and functional recovery available are both highly individual. They are dependent on both previous levels of health and resilience and the severity and location of the Stroke. Moshe Feldenkrais is described as a pioneering ‘neuroplastician’ by Norman Doidge in his recent book on the applications of neuroplasticity: “The Brain’s Way of Healing”. Moshe worked successfully with many Stroke and neurological patients during his career and he outlines his highly inventive, customised approach to working with Stroke in his 1977 case study: “Body Awareness as Healing Therapy: The Case of Nora”.
Often people, following Stroke, display an imbalance of activity which means they do too much on the "good" side, and inhibit activity on their affected side. In Feldenkrais we frequently begin by increasing awareness of the dominant or more active side first. By illustrating this asymmetry, we can help inhibit and decrease the over-activity and ultimately guide awareness to the affected side. Sometimes all that is needed is for the client to gain awareness of their dominant over-activity and the activity on the affected side is allowed to return.
In the longer term, Post-Stroke, Feldenkrais can be useful in maintaining and improving functional movement, as neuroplasticity is life-long and often we develop unhelpful movement habits over time. Feldenkrais can help shift these habits and give you access to more useful alternative patterns. This can be done during Feldenkrais sessions at Smart Somatics, where every session is specifically developed for you, custom-tailored to your unique circumstances, and at that particular moment.
The Feldenkrais Method explores how the brain and our nervous system can change.
Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects the brain and the nervous system. Here’s why I find the Feldenkrais Method to be beneficial to those with Multiple Sclerosis (MS):
Since we know that MS can affect any part of the nervous system that is covered with myelin (the “insulation” covering nerves), any approach to increase function must involve the whole person. That makes the Feldenkrais Method a good match; not only because it connects one part of the body to others, but because it involves little to no stress, energy use, pain, or sweat. Also it can lower an over-heated body temperature by relaxing the “fight or flight” system.
There are four primary types of MS; clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting, secondary-progressive, and primary-progressive. Even though there are common factors among those with MS, everyone is an individual. Depending on what type a person has, symptoms can vary widely from day to day. That means there’s no standard approach to increasing function. Since the Feldenkrais Method is about awareness, how to attain it, and how to use it, each client learns how to assess his/herself continuously and create their own strategies for change.
The combination of awareness and flexibility is very powerful in combating the effects of this disease. Using muscles to move rather than to support will improve range of motion and aid in increasing energy. Initiating motion from the large muscles closer to the centre of our bodies will allow for a more proportional distribution of movement, thus allowing energy and strength conservation, two major concerns for MS patients. In turn, these components add to the maintenance of flexibility of the joints and muscles that are important for walking and other daily living activities. All of us have enormous potential for learning, no matter what our physical ability is in any moment. Learning about awareness, flexibility, and change will enhance function.
Since Cerebral Palsy usually affects motor and muscle function, many therapies and treatments are based on focusing on movement optimisation. One method of rehabilitation for Cerebral Palsy is the Feldenkrais Method.
The Feldenkrais Method relies on the nervous system's ability to change and learn. Through "teaching" the nervous system, Feldenkrais can redirect a body's nervous growth. The Feldenkrais Method can help people with Cerebral Palsy do such basic things as move and lie more comfortably. The method can also aid people with Cerebral Palsy in pain cessation or avoidance.
Feldenkrais for Cerebral Palsy is based on redirecting misdirected patterns of physical and psychological behaviour. By varying therapy sessions, Feldenkrais can change and modify certain habitual inclinations such as sensory and motor functions. In people with Cerebral Palsy this method can particularly be of help in overcoming movement problems. By retraining the body and mind to move in certain and varying patterns, Feldenkrais can help a person with Cerebral Palsy make progress.
A combination consisting of developing movement, biomechanics and psychological treatments, can organise these elements of the person into learning how to effectively control one's movements. Also to train the nervous system in acting in different ways. It can help by using very simple techniques that aid in spastic muscle function and its development. Many patients in Cerebral Palsy have spasticity, or stiffness, in their muscles. The Feldenkrais Method can be used to help spasticity and aid in walking, sitting, or pain relief from the tension in the muscle.
As the senses interact with motor functions, a development takes place that falls into an effective pattern for future improvements. Using the Feldenkrais Method for Cerebral Palsy, an affected person can work toward controlling and manipulating their own bodies. This control is essential in maintaining balance during walking or standing.
Recovery from stroke is dependent on a phenomenon called neuroplasticity which is the brain’s ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections throughout its life. Following Stroke there is permanent damage caused to part of the brain, usually on one side.