Teach your old bod new tricks. The Feldenkrais Method is a system of exercises designed to improve physical performance and increase physical and mental self-awareness by unravelling your set patterns of movement and bad habits.
Time to take yourself back to the school room. Rather than ‘classes’, the Feldenkrais Method revolves around a series of lessons. Each one is designed to ask and answer questions about the way your habits of movement affect you. So, beyond getting deep and meaningful with your unconscious habits, what can you expect from a Feldenkrais lesson?
Firstly, it’s a good idea to wear loose, comfortable clothing as the lessons involve a lot of floor work. A lesson can either take place on a one-to-one basis (called a Functional Integration Lesson), or in groups, where the teacher will talk the class through a more general programme of movements (often called Awareness Through Movement). If you have a particular problem, it’s a good idea to have a little “me me me” time in a personal session.
Each exercise involved is designed to move the body in an unusual way to get you out of the groove of your normal habits. The gentle moves are repeated and advanced to try to change the physical memory and to help you to recognise the odd feelings within you and to learn the brand-new moves (a way of reinforcing "muscle memory"). As you progress around the body these moves are thought to be the keys to unlock chronic patterns of tension and give you the ability to do more with your body than before.
The Feldenkrais Method is designed for people who want to do more than just live in their bodies – practitioners of the method recommend it for musicians, artists and dancers to help them get a greater range of movement. It’s also said to be able to reduce pain and rehabilitate when movement is restricted.
It’s not all about getting physical, though – Feldenkrais is all about expanding your awareness. This means you could benefit from a better grip on your emotions, relationships, and intellectual abilities. So, if you’re suffering from stress or lack of energy, Feldenkrais might inject a little method to the madness.
Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was an engineer, a physicist and a Judo teacher. He invented this holistic, mind and body therapy when self-treating for a knee-injury.