The Feldenkrais Method ®
What is Feldenkrais?
Feldenkrais therapy uses the neuro-plastic ability of the brain to learn and change habits of muscular use. It increases awareness leading to a more functional, co-ordinated, and easier way of moving.
The Feldenkrais Method® was developed by Moshe Feldenkrais using the underlying principles of physics, neurology, psychology, physiology and early child development. The Method creates a learning environment for the nervous system resulting in embodied change and improvement.
The hallmark of Feldenkrais is the directing of attention to different parts of the body while exploring small and gentle movements. It includes attending to the use of the eyes, the breath and the ability to shift weight. Moving and breathing becomes easier, the mood lightens, a sense of calm radiates, and sleep improves.
Susan Hillier, Associate Professor in Neuroscience at the University of South Australia and Feldenkrais Practitioner explains it in simple language in this online journal.
How is Feldenkrais done?
Feldenkrais is presented in 2 formats; group lessons called Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) classes and one-on-one Functional Integration® (FI) sessions/lessons, both explained in more detail below.
Both approaches are designed to improve functional movement. The Feldenkrais Practitioner guides you through the slow exploration of movement, allowing your nervous system the time and space to observe existing habits of muscular holding to discover long forgotten or unknown ways of moving better.
The Feldenkrais Method® can help people with a wide array of issues; people seeking rejuvenation, sportspeople, the elderly, disabled people, those with niggling or chronic aches and pains, and children with physical developmental problems.
Feldenkrais can benefit almost everyone since the ability to learn and change relies on brain plasticity – the capacity of the brain to change. As with all learning, the pace of change depends on the individual.
“What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity.”
FORMATS OF FELDENKRAIS MOVEMENT LESSONS
In Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) classes the teacher guides the class through a series of novel movements through verbal instruction. Classes are often done lying on the floor using soft mats for comfort, and less often standing or seated positions are used. Classes last an hour and are delivered as a block of weekly lessons.
Classes are a pleasant, affordable way to learn and improve your self-awareness and begin to feel better and better each week.
While Feldenkrais classes are of benefit to every age group with a range of physical abilities, Vanessa’s classes are not suitable for people with severe mobility problems. Attendees need to be able to get up and down from the floor with minimal assistance.
ATM classes are not suitable for those with more severe developmental and disability issues or the very young, with Functional Integration® better suited to help in these instances.
This 5 minute YouTube video gives a feel for the style of learning in a Feldenkrais class.
Functional Integration® (FI) is a private one-on-one lesson, tailored to your individuals learning needs. In FI you are fully clothed and the Practitioner works with you using guided gentle touch. You will never be forced, stretched or manipulated into painful positions.
FI can help athletes identify what interferes with them improving in their field. Some of the effects of aging that we take for granted can be diminished with FI. Become that person who ages well, is more engaged, capable with a renewed zest for life. FI is also used where people face large challenges, developmental issues or disability where ATM classes are not suitable.
A minimum of 3 weekly visits is highly recommended while a single visit is also possible.
Vanessa Stephen is available for Functional Integration® sessions with rebates available with some health funds. Phone 0416 101 854 to inquire about the cost or make a booking.
“Nothing is permanent about our behaviour except our belief that it is so.”