Do it Easier and Better with The Feldenkrais Method®
By Carolyn J. Reese
The best exercise for me, so I thought, was to move fast and push myself as much as possible. Then I learned how important it is to exercise slowly and gently so that my body/mind system can work together more efficiently. Yes, when the body moves, the mind changes for the better! This new way of exercising has greatly helped with my arthritis and Post-Polio Syndrome. It is called…The Feldenkrais Method.
WHAT OR WHO IS FELDENKRAIS? The “who” is Moshe’ Feldenkrais, a physicist, mechanical engineer and one of the first Western black belts. After reinjuring his knee, having surgery and going to rehab, the doctors told him that he might spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
His understanding of how the laws of gravity and motion affected the mechanics of movement allowed him to develop short exercises that helped educate his body in easier, more efficient movement patterns. He eventually used this knowledge to teach patients effective techniques for self-rehabilitation.
THE FELDENKRAIS METHOD, based on the principles of physics and biomechanics, was developed from his experience and understanding of human physiology and the connection between mind and body.
With this discipline, commands are carried from the brain to the muscles, tendons, joints, and skin, and then reports on their condition are sent back to the brain. The purpose is to improve movement patterns rather than treating specific injuries or illnesses.
The Feldenkrais Method claims to be successful in training the nervous system to find new pathways around areas of damage.
At first, lying on the floor in a relaxed way and moving slowly, I mean really slowly, didn’t make much sense! Little did I know that the slower I moved, the more my brain was engaged (mindful) and the more my body responded. Even visualizing a movement changes the brain and helps the body! Being a “senior,” has given me years of incorrect exercising and therapy, but now with the Feldenkrais way of exercising, I don’t have to worry about hurting myself the way I used to and my body is retaining the improvements I made.
The Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes consist of a series of verbally directed and carefully structured movement sequences involving the body and the imagination. The movements are performed in a variety of positions – lying down, sitting, standing – which address a range of functions necessary for the safe, effective and powerful use of one’s body.
This safe and easy way of exercising can help with:
- Reducing pain, back and neck aches, headaches
- Re-educating the brain and nervous system to develop new ways of moving and perceiving the body
- Orthopedic problems in bones and joints (poor posture or habits of movement that may cause pain)
- Stroke patients, head trauma, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, neuropathy
- Degenerative arthritis, Fibromyalgia
- Recovery from surgery
- Segments of our society: athletes, children, elderly, martial artists, artists, musicians, movement teachers and health care providers
“…the Feldenkrais Method can undo many of the aches and pains that plague us, and I currently recommend it to patients whose movement has been restricted by injury or chronic pain. I also believe the Feldenkrais Method can help older people achieve greater range of motion and flexibility, and help all of us feel more comfortable in our bodies.” –Andrew Weil, MD
This style of exercise is not only revolutionary, but an enlightening experience!