The Feldenkrais Method®: Easing Movement Eases Life
There is something about the seemingly easy movements of athletes, musicians, singers or actors that catches the eye and holds our attention. Their body is well-balanced and does not seem to be struggling in motion. Such a person moves with good organization, with their intentions and actions reflecting each other. Often that person also seems to emanate an aura of confidence, fun and joy.
Ease of movement is a learned skill. In our culture, less effort can be associated with being lazy or not committed. However, experiencing the organization of our movement engages us deeply, like a healthy baby learning to walk. It invites us to be curious and be tuned to the possibility of pleasure in action.
No matter what our circumstances, it is possible to learn a more comfortable way of moving. It’s true for anyone…parents picking up infants or toddlers put their structure under daily strain or people with desk jobs who experience a work day with little motion but much stress. Unconscious habits while sitting at a computer or in a car or the compensations we adopt after a traumatic event usurp our presence with our body. The Feldenkrais® Method brings us back to a state of connection which improves movement, often dramatically, by providing the brain with gentle sensory movement information. The Feldenkrais® Method offers direct experience, using our capacity to be aware to bring more ease into our daily life.
In the Feldenkrais Method®, our body movement becomes our own personal laboratory for discoveries. We can feel how a turn of our head affects our spine, our ribs, our pelvis and even our feet. Sometimes we inhibit the efficient flow of a movement by tensing some part of ourselves. When we prevent that part from joining the action, another body part becomes strained and overworked; it wasn’t designed to carry such a large load. Often these overused areas are the places where we experience pain. If the underused areas learn to become active, the movement becomes easier and better organized. By bringing these areas into awareness, we empower ourselves to make more efficient, comfortable choices. The part of our body that was habitually off line begins to reconnect and act more harmoniously with our intention. Stress and chronic pain are often relieved. This occurs because the whole nervous system has learned a better way to function and is more relaxed.
The Feldenkrais Method® offers two kinds of learning opportunities: a group activity called Awareness Through Movement®, and individual sessions called Functional Integration®. In a Feldenkrais class, the student usually lies on the floor and receives verbal guidance through a series of gentle, powerful and cohesive movement sequences. During a private Feldenkrais session, the person is lying or sitting on a table that is similar to a massage table, and the practitioner gently provides hands-on, assisted small movements. In both instances, the student is encouraged to notice differences, especially in comfort levels and in relationship with the earth. The capacity to notice small differences develops kinesthetic intelligence and increases awareness. Neuroplasticity, the ability to increase neural connections, is enlivened through this learning. Awareness, in and of itself, is transformational.
Carol Lessinger, a Utah-based Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and a Cortical Field Reeducation Instructor with over 40 years teaching experience. Learn more on YouTube under “What is the Feldenkrais Method®?” and at CarolLessinger.com, CFRhealing.com or Feldenkrais.com. See ad, page 24.