The Feldenkrais Method® uses movement with focussed awareness to improve mobility, posture, breathing, balance and co-ordination, and its benefits range from relief of pain and chronic muscular tension to realising your full potential in your work and your life – when we stop wasting energy on self-defeating muscular rigidity we can find the energy to do the things we really want to do.
We don’t tend to pay a lot of attention to how we organise ourselves to move; you have probably been instructed to lift heavy things with a straight back and bent knees, and most of us have discovered how ineffective it is to be told to “sit up straight!”, but that is probably the extent of the functional advice the majority of us have been given in our lives. However there are hundreds of ways to improve how we go about our everyday actions - sitting, standing, reaching, leaning, bending, rolling over in bed, the list is endless - by increasing our awareness of our muscles and our skeletal structure, and how they can be organised to work more efficiently together. Rather than removing the patterns of movement you have developed, the Method provides alternatives which may be easier and more efficient, reducing & releasing unnecessary muscular tightness and giving your nervous system choices in movement.
This learning process helps us to release ourselves from long-term, chronic muscle tensions that distort our posture and make it difficult to do the things we used to do with ease as children, and it also shows us how to maintain those improvements by incorporating what has been learnt into our daily lives. The most wonderful thing about the Feldenkrais Method® is that although the potential for change is great, the movements employed for the purpose are slow and subtle, avoiding extremes, and are therefore suitable for people unable to handle more strenuous bodywork methods. Awareness Through Movement group classes are so gentle that they are popular with M.E. sufferers and the elderly, and those who are more fragile.
Improvements can be achieved quickly with this method, but obviously posture problems that have taken many years to develop don’t disappear overnight - that kind of change necessitates long-term commitment and “homework”. Because the work involves hands-on stimulation of the nervous system, via the skeleton, it is effective for serious conditions like Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke and Parkinson’s Disease - not by providing a “cure”, but by making everyday life easier and less painful.
It is also profoundly relaxing – because the movements are generally slow and small, the amount of brain activity seems much reduced, allowing the nervous system plenty of time to focus on different areas of the skeleton and to develop an awareness of what’s happening now - and how it may be made more efficient. The nervous system seeks ease and reduced effort, so the end result is more agility and adaptability in both body and mind.
(Some of the above is extracted from my friend and mentor Maggy Burrows’ website, www.vocaldynamix.com - with her kind permission)