Feldenkrais

Flexible Body, Flexible Brain

Feldenkrais Method® of Somatic Education

“What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity.”  – Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc.

Do you have a flexible brain?  If you are rigid in your body, you must be rigid in your thinking – not flexible. If you are rigid in your thinking, you must not be open to trying new ways to make your life betterIt may be pain that you are dealing with.Would you rather take a pill and hope the pain goes away? Some may call this laziness – or rigid thinking. If you can stop the pain by learning how to move more easily, why don’t you?

Is your inflexible thinking a fear that keeps you from believing that YOU can control your health and well being?  Where is that fear coming from?  Did you learn this from your parents?

So, now you know that one goes hand-in-hand with the other. Tight muscles, tight thinking! Both rigid!

Recognize the fact that you CAN be in control of your body and thinking – you can be open-minded. One way is to join a movement class and become aware of how your body works and how it can work easierAfter you have become acquainted with who you are by observing how you move, your mind will open up to all kinds of new possibilities. 

Learning how to move can be an essential addition to the treatment of neurological, orthopedic, chronic pain and stress-related conditions.

Jan Larus, who just turned 80, anticipated needing a hip replacement due to severe osteoarthritis.  Weekly Feldenkrais lessons contributed to her ability to avoid surgery:

 “Today I can walk and sit, usually with little or no discomfort, and I feel more flexible than ever. I no longer limp and I do not feel restricted in my daily activities.  That’s good because I anticipate many more birthdays.”

Attending Feldenkrais Classes will expand your awareness of how you think, sense, feel and move. The possibilities for personal improvement and human development are limitless… allowing you to reach a higher level of intelligence.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” – Albert Einstein

Carol Siddiqi, a Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner, was introduced to the Feldenkrais Method while attending Kripalu Yoga classes over 30 years ago. She pursued her interest in The Feldenkrais Method by enrolling in a four-year training program, which she successfully completed in 1999.

The Feldenkrais Method ®


Reconnect with Your Natural Abilities to Move, Think, and Feel

Experiencing back, neck, shoulder, or knee pain? Having trouble focusing your attention? Not enjoying activities anymore? Gentle Feldenkrais lessons can help you reconnect with your overall well being.

Learning to move with less effort makes daily life easier. The Feldenkrais Method focuses on the relationship between movement and thought allowing Increased mental awareness and creativity to accompany the physical improvements. Everyone can benefit from the Feldenkrais Method because you will learn to fully use yourself and this self learning leads to full, dynamic living.

The Feldenkrais Method is a gentle and effective approach that helps with:
• Pain reduction and relief from chronic muscle, joint or headaches
• Recovery of lost movement abilities
• Recovery from surgery
• Neurological conditions such as MS or stroke, neuropathy, etc.
• Improved breathing and sleep
• The ability to shift habits of movement and holding – which may have begun as a response to your injury or condition and are now a source of pain or restriction in themselves
• A range of skills to help yourself recover function in your daily life

After attending Feldenkrais classes, one has the experience of the body feeling completely different – much more free and pleasant.

Positive change doesn’t come from using willpower, strength, or holding the body in certain ways to move. These behaviors and attitudes caused the problem in the first place.

The Feldenkrais Method teaches how to allow the body to do its own thing according to a natural flow principle. It is all about slowly repeating simple moves while intuitively searching for an easier way. This method of rehabilitation is designed to change movements of the body by re-training the nervous system.

Feldenkrais offers particular benefits for all kinds of people who move for a living or enjoyment: entertainers, athletes, movement teachers, & health care providers, etc.

Carol Siddiqi, a Guild Certified Feldenkrais practitioner has been teaching Feldenkrais since 1999 following a 4 year training program. Carol is also a certified instructor of Kripalu Yoga and Deepak Chopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga.

Especially Athletes! and All Others!

Diligent practice of hip stretches—what in yoga we often call “hip openers,” as though they are key to unlocking thesecrets of the hips—can dramatically increase your flexibility and range of motion around the hip joints. If you are athletically minded, this can be a good thing. But as with many good things, too much can be overdoing it.

The key for athletes is to develop or maintain balance between stiffness and openness: a balance of strength and flexibility in the muscles around the hips.This balance can change depending on both the athlete’s body and on sport-specific needs.

Depending on your sport, too much flexibility can be detrimental to your sports performance, as it can reduce your snappiness. Consider, for example the stiffness a runner needs for efficient transfer of energy to the ground. A floppy runner, one whose hips sag with each step, will have to work harder than one who springs lightly over the ground. But you need enough flexibility to move fluidly through your stride, without a hitch that can lead to an overuse injury. Poses that mimic the running stride, like lunges, can help you stay flexible through the range of motion used to run, and hip stretches that target the external rotators can help avoid overuse injuries like Iliotibial Band Syndrome and Piriformis Syndrome.

On the other hand, athletes need vastly more flexibility in the hips for engaging in activities like rock climbing, curling, or playing positions like catcher in baseball or softball.  A yoga practice for athletes in these activities can look very different from a practice for athletes who require more springy stiffness in their bodies; athletes who need to take deep squats can enjoy the full range of hip stretches, including poses that move deep into flexibility.

Consider where you fall on this spectrum. There may be a very good reason hip openers frustrate you, or a good reason for you to love and enjoy them. Either way, the process gives you an opportunity to consider what you can change and what you can’t, and to practice focusing your energy on creating useful change and accepting the unchangeable.

For all those who would like to improve balance and flexibility, reduce pain, increase range and ease of movement, and reduce habits of tension, consider becoming a student of one of the following: Yoga, Coordination Pattern™ Breakthru Training, Feldenkrais Method® of Movement Education, Personal Fitness Training, Pilates, Tai chi or Qigong,

Moving with the Feldenkrais Method for Sciatica Pain

Proper body mechanics are important at all times, but especially when you are struggling with low back pain due to injuries like herniated discs or sciatica.

Medical experts will often prescribe gentle exercise, physical therapy or mind body practices like yoga or Pilates, before considering interventional treatments or surgical options. A recent press release in the San Francisco Gate announced the publication of a new book entitled Stop Sciatica Now, which teaches individuals struggling with sciatica symptoms how to use the Feldenkrais method to alleviate their pain. So what exactly is this and how does it work?

The Feldenkrais Method was named for its founder who was a physicist, mechanical engineer and judo pro who developed the technique to cure himself after sustaining a debilitating knee injury. He based his ideas on biomechanics, physics and human development. The concept is that people develop certain habits in how they move.

When a person sustains an injury such as a herniated disc with painful sciatica symptoms, he will start adopting new patterns to compensate for the pain. It is believed that over time these new patterns actually hinder recovery so that he must develop a new perspective on functional awareness and develop new ways to move that enhance coordination and flexibility and ultimately reduce pain. The student must develop new neuromuscular patterns to retrain his mind and body–searching for new ways to move naturally.

Consistent with the idea that this is an education, individuals practicing the technique aren’t referred to as patients but rather as students.

If you suffer with sciatica from a herniated disc and your doctor has suggested exploring ways to get active through gentle movement, the Feldenkrais Method may be something you want to learn more about. The Mayo Clinic indicates the Feldenkrais Method is utilized for neck and back pain as well as neuromuscular issues.

In a session, the instructor guides the student at first with verbal direction and then with a hands-on approach, through a series of gentle movements. The student may be lying on the floor, seated or standing as they learn how to develop an awareness of new movement patterns.

Carol Siddiqi, CYT, GCFP, has been teaching Yoga, Feldenkrais Method®:
Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration® for more than 30 years

Feldenkrais®: Making the Impossible, Possible and Easy!

Anna, a middle aged mother of two has been experiencing more and more physical pain as she gets older. A childhood auto accident left her with physical challenges, but now her hip is the main concern. Her physician said that she would probably need a hip replacement in her future.

Naturally, Anna became very fearful about this prognosis and mentioned it to Laura, her good friend. Laura told her that she had read an article recently about an alternative health modality called Feldenkrais that helps people with hip problems, arthritis, and other painful physical conditions.

Anna was a little skeptical, but pursued the search for a Feldenkrais practitioner and made an appointment immediately. Sure enough, her experience after her first private session, which was called Functional Integration®, made her feel very hopeful.  Her tight muscles felt more relaxed and she was more aware of her body feeling more open. The practitioner used gentle, non-invasive touch and verbal instruction to guide her in her own movement process. As she walked down the hall after this session, she felt taller, her balance seemed to be better, and her hip was not hurting like it did before the treatment.

After a couple private Functional Integration sessions, the practitioner suggested that Anna attend some Feldenkrais classes called “Awareness through Movement.”  During the class the practitioner verbally directed the students to highly sophisticated movement sequences that were very pleasurable and effortless.  She did most of these exercises while on a floor mat, but there were others in the class who did them sitting in a chair.

Since Anna has been attending the classes for a couple months and doing the exercises at home, she has gradually felt less and less pain in the hip area. Her balance and flexibility has greatly improved along with her range and ease of movement.

What her original research said was that Feldenkrais exercises help at a fundamental level by improving the body’s underlying neuromuscular and skeletal organization. Learning new ways to move can be an essential addition to the treatment of neurological, orthopedic, chronic pain and stress-related conditions.

Since she caught the problem soon enough, surgery in her future is unlikely; however, she has learned that those who do have hip surgery still benefit greatly from the Feldenkrais classes because their physical therapy recovery is so much easier and faster.

Feldenkrais classes and private sessions are available at Twin Ponds Integrative Health Center.

Spinal Cord Injuries and the Feldenkrais Method of Movement Education

Cindy Allison, a University of Canterbury, (UC) PhD student, is carrying out the world’s first research on spinal cord injuries using the Feldenkrais Method to provide people the chance to recover movement and stability.

In the 1940s, Israeli physicist, Dr Moshe Feldenkrais, combined his knowledge of martial arts, biomechanics, neurophysiology, anatomy, learning theory, child development, systems theory, physics and psychology to develop the Feldenkrais Method, a form of sensory motor education.

Research has provided evidence of benefits including reduced pain, fatigue, stress and medicalcosts; and improved mobility, stability, coordination and breathing. However there has been no research done with spinal cord injury.

Cindy was drawn to the Feldenkrais Method because of her own pain and loss of movement and sensation. For her PhD she is developing the first Feldenkrais program in the world for people with spinal cord injury.

Rather than isolating muscles and working hard in an attempt to restore movement, Feldenkrais encourages expanding body awareness, and paying attention to the quality of movement and the effect that the movement has on  the coordination of the whole body.

You stay within your comfort zone; it is process oriented and fun. The focus is also on learning how to learn. Clients grow to understand biomechanics and learning principles, they are eventually able to improve their movement independently of the practitioner.

“I was so impressed with the method that I began researching its potential for people with spinal cord injury. Some of the world’s top neuroscientists advocate the method. I have people around the world with spinal cord injury discovering significant
improvement using Feldenkrais principles despite negative prognoses.’’

Kevin Hitchcock, a former director of news and Channel Ten in Sydney was told he would be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life, she said.

He has made an almost full recovery and written a book after improving via the Feldenkrais Method.

American Molly Hale, subject of a documentary film, broke her neck in 1995 and was told that she would be paralyzed from the shoulders down. Hale has made significant progress. In recent months she has walked unassisted for the first time since her accident.

Germany’s Irene Lober was able to ditch her wheelchair, ski, and climb hills despite being told she would need a wheelchair for the rest of her life. She documented her recovery in her Master’s thesis and then went on to train as a Feldenkrais practitioner.

Australian triathlete, Michael Forbes, describes on YouTube how he learned to walk again using Feldenkrais. More examples are on Allison’s website www.neuroplasticity.co.nz.

I suspect many more stories that haven’t been documented. Recovery is a gradual process but my clients have reported a number of benefits including reduced pain and spasm; and improved coordination and ease of movement, posture and breathing.

“Clients who had no sensation below their break are reporting that sensation and
movement are returning. I want to develop group programs that are accessible
and affordable for disabled people.’’

Voxy.co.nz

If you know anyone with paralysis from stroke, head injury, spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis, please have them contact us concerning Feldenkrais Private Sessions and Classes. Visit our website for information about Feldenkrais and Carol Siddiqi, Feldenkrais Practitioner.

 

 

Feldenkrais: Pain in the Knee

Feldenkrais: Pain in the Knee

Alternatives to surgery for treating joint pain from arthritis

Even if you still have a spring in your step, chances are fifty-fifty that you have, or will have, “some evi­dence of osteoarthritis of the knee,” according to Mark R. Cutkosky, a mechanical engineer at Stanford University. He is part of a research program, known as Movement Re­training, which focuses on alleviat­ing pain by analyzing and possibly changing a person’s stride.

One of the major problems at the root of knee pain is uneven wear and tear on the knee cartilage, which leads to arthritis. “We’re trying to slow the rate at which arthritis progresses,” says Cutkosky. But, he cautions, do not to try changing your stride on your own: you could do more harm than good. The program is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and covered in a special report in NSF’s Science Nation.

With the guidance of a Feldenkrais Method teacher, you could safely change not only your stride, but how you habitually organize and move your whole self—since the knees are dynamically connected to, among other things, the ankles, pelvis, ribs, breath, and eyes. Devised by a scientist determined to defy the medical verdict that only surgery could relieve his knee pain, the neurologically informed method uses gentle movement and attention to unlock the brain’s power to learn a better way.

Exercise in general is crucial for people with arthritis, according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, lack of exercise can make your joints even more painful and stiff, “because keeping your muscles and surrounding tissue strong is crucial to maintaining support for your bones.

Carol Siddiqi, Certified Yoga Teacher & Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner