When I first experienced The Feldenkrais Method (R) group and individual lessons at the suggestion of my physical therapist I thought it was a bit of magic. My pain subsided within the hour. Most of all I was thrilled to be able to do something to improve without causing more pain. I felt like I had discovered a wonderful secret. I recall wondering: how could such small movements make such a difference? Why does this work? Over the years I’ve come to think of this process in layers.
First is the unique approach which creates an environment of learning: move slowly and gently, move only in comfort, and move with attention. This allows you the time to feel differences, and develop the skill of sensing and feeling how you move, without effort. This is where you discover your own tendencies of movement, some of which are unconscious.
Second, the lessons explore functional movement patterns which we use every day, not just random movements. For example the pattern may be about walking, bending, reaching or turning. The result is a more connected, coordinated whole body movement.
On top of this a variety of strategies are employed to help bring gentle change and set up the opportunity for discovery. Some examples are: exploring the same movement in different relationships to gravity, doing movements far away from the painful place, initiating movement from different parts of yourself, and exaggerating differences. Some of these strategies might feel like tricks however it is really about finding a way to help you feel more and open up pathways.
And last are the rich and varied styles, and emphases of the lessons. From breathing, to tiny explorations of the eyes, or large dance-like or rolling movements, this wide variety gives us an opportunity to ‘find a way in’.
These combined layers have helped me to unlock long held muscular and other habits - getting to the root of my movement and pain patterns. I’m learning to slow down, listen and inquire. The most exciting gift is that I have learned to work with myself to feel better when in pain, and take care of myself. Feldenkrais lessons are no trick - just all treat!
by Vicki Kramer, Visiting Blogger