What is the Feldenkrais Method®?
The Feldenkrais Method® is a gentle system of movement education that can change your established (or “set”) movement patterns. Feldenkrais’ known effects include greater comfort, efficiency, vitality, resilience, and adaptability.
The Feldenkrais Method® was developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) in the 1940’s. It has been practiced worldwide for over 50 years. Dr. Feldenkrais, a Russian-born physicist, mechanical engineer, martial artist and educator, based his work on the principles of physics, biomechanics, and an empirical understanding of learning and human development.
Through Feldenkrais, you can re-educate yourself to move with greater ease and efficiency. The first step is to observe how you move your body. Called “somatic education,” observing how you move is more important—and more transformational—than most people realize. Rather than sitting to study movement analytically, somatic education uses movement itself to reconnect gradually, intrinsically with your own movement. This is called using “felt sense.” Somatic education allows you to develop a clear link between your thinking and your actions.
How does Feldenkrais achieve this?
Feldenkrais consists of two techniques: Awareness Through Movement (ATM)® and Functional Integration (FI)® .
Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement®
Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) lessons are taught in a group setting. Through verbal instructions, the teacher will have you repeat lightly directed movements—not just to do them; to explore how your body feels while you do them.
You will be encouraged to do each movement many times. You are not encouraged to find a single way to do the movement—“the best” way. Rather, look for the different ways you can do the same movement. A little to the left this time, a little more softly the next.
Why explore along these lines? Just to try it. Just to observe the direct felt-sense differences you feel in your body when you do it a little to the left as opposed to a little more softly. All the while, you are cultivating curiosity while allowing habitual patterns to dissolve into more novel and efficient movement patterns. You are literally changing your brain patterns.
Also, it can feel wonderful and relaxing.
ATM lessons are done in many positions: lying, kneeling, and sitting, as well as during transitional movements, like rolling over or getting up from a chair. ATMs range from tiny movement such as opening your eyes or simply breathing, to large movements like lifting a leg. Additionally, an ATM might transition from simple to more complex movements, from laying on your back and lengthening one arm over your head to swooping that arm in a circle around your body and observing how the arm can lead your body into standing. All these situations challenge you to refine your awareness skills.
Don’t worry if these words don’t make sense right now. Movement awareness is refreshingly non-intellectual. It is best understood by direct experience. You can explore this a little by visiting the Walking Way page.
Feldenkrais FUNCTIONAL INTEGRATION®
Functional Integration® (FI) lessons are one-to-one sessions with a Guild-Certified Feldenkrais PractitionerCM such as myself. Rather than talking you through the process of moving your own body, I use gentle, non-invasive touch to help you feel how you move your body, to feel how you can move more comfortably and more efficiently. When you are ready, I will encourage you to take over the exploration yourself.
The goal of FI is similar to that of ATM: to improve the organization and functioning of your neuro-musculoskeletal system. Where an ATM is a group-led activity led by the teacher’s verbal directions, the FI session is mostly non-verbal, and custom-tailored to you.
FI lessons are most commonly performed on a moderately firm table that is low to the ground. You are fully clothed. I may use props such as an exercise ball or a foam roller to help you feel new patterns of movement. However, FI lessons also can be done while sitting, standing, kneeling, or while moving.
Through the engaging processes of Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration, you discover new ways to approach daily activities with greater ease and efficiency. Benefits also include improved posture, flexibility, coordination, balance, and reduced pain.
You feel more comfortable in your body, you think more clearly, become more creative, and feel an increased sense of well-being. This can awaken access to your full potential for vital, embodied living.
Feldenkrais in Seattle
I offer both Functional Integration and Awareness Through Movement lessons. Please take time to explore my current classes and workshops. Contact me for individual Functional Integration sessions. You may call me directly at 206.459.1773 or send me an email if you want additional information.