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Let your skeleton out of its closet – the Feldenkrais Method®

In Health and Nutrition, Yoga, Dance and Movement by Jenni EvansLeave a Comment

Real stories of people whose lives have been changed with Feldenkrais.

The Feldenkrais Method is about the learning response of unique individuals, using movement as the stimulus. It is about building sufficient awareness of what we do, so that we can act spontaneously in efficient, comfortable and satisfying ways. It is best understood from the stories of experience.

Nicholas was born 16 weeks early, spending 9 months in intensive care

He came home with bilateral brain damage, chronic lung disease and total dependence on oxygen and a feeding tube. His prognosis was ‘high risk of never walking, talking or having independent skills’. His mum says, “We began Feldenkrais sessions with Louise within a few months. He couldn’t move at all; so she introduced tiny gentle movements with him, always looking to improve anything he could do. Gradually as he began to move she would follow him, looking for the chance to create learning opportunities. Other therapists tried to fix him, and force him to do the things he couldn’t do, but she always built on his strengths. We liked the idea of giving him a chance to rewire his brain so he‘d have the best chance of some function. Now after 3 years he’s walking, talking and eating and his specialists are blown away. We don’t go to therapy – we go to play!”

Sean was 15 when he first came to Feldenkrais

“I was having trouble because my shoulder hurt when I was playing cricket. I didn’t realise till my practitioner started moving my chest how tightly I was holding myself. Then I discovered that I was holding my breath every time I bowled; so the longer I played, the tighter and less flexible I got. Now that I know what I’m doing, we’ve worked together to increase my speed and power and it doesn’t hurt.”

Belinda had a background of traumatic abuse

After several sessions she wrote, “Something really significant changed in me. I will never forget that moment of realisation that change was not only possible, but had actually begun. In Feldenkrais you often talk about the quality of the practitioner’s touch. I think you understand about my difficulties with human contact. Although I yearned for it for years, my experience was that, more often than not, it was horrendously unpleasant.

Part of the reason that Feldenkrais was initially so difficult was that your touch was so obviously unlike any of the past demons. There is something caring about it, which makes it stand apart from the usual handful of doctors, etc., whose touch I may put up with from time to time. I want you to know that there is something in the way you do this work which is quietly reassuring, and which gives the doubting and frightened parts of me permission to let it happen. I’ve figured out why walking was easier last night. I had no pain in my left foot, which must mean that somehow I was distributing the weight differently and off those shitty bones. Now this is amazing, and makes me think that I should hold out for a while before I go back for more surgery.”

Lorraine lived with chronic pain

“I was a total mess when I arrived. The pain was indescribable and I was suffering from anxiety. I had tried everything, and nothing seemed to make any real difference. When she first put her hands on me it was so gentle I cried with relief. But there was also a kind of strength and precision in the touch as well. It felt like sometimes she just supported different places and within a few moments they somehow let go. When she began to work with my feet I could feel it all the way through to my jaw and I could feel things changing. After a couple of sessions she asked if it would be okay to touch my neck and jaw, and by then I trusted her totally. It’s really making a difference and I can laugh again.”

Others find what they need in verbally directed Awareness Through Movement® classes. Milana says, “I’ve learnt that when I’m in pain I don’t have to simply suffer. I can do tiny movements to get more comfortable and even if I have to move again in ten minutes. I’m not a victim any more. I have something I can do.”

I’m not a victim any more

Helen says, “Through practising spreading my attention and exploring options, I find that meetings go better now and I think more clearly.”

Pat Cash attributes a recent Master championship to Feldenkrais, while actor Robyn Nevin says, “Theatre requires an almost athletic strength. The work is very intense and your body doesn’t know the emotions you’re going through aren’t real; so I do Feldenkrais once a week wherever I am. You know, old people fall over and break a bone, go to hospital, get pneumonia and die. So when I was looking ahead, balance, flexibility and strength were major strategies.” Both forms of Feldenkrais can help reduce unnecessary tension, find skeletal support and improve the efficiency of the movement.

Alan says “I re-discovered that, when my muscles are really free to move me in any direction and I can feel my skeleton supporting me, I like being me!”


About the author

Jenni Evans

Jenni has been practising the Feldenkrais Method for some 20 years, helping a wide variety of people to find easier, more comfortable and efficient ways of being. Jenni is also a qualified NLP trainer and works with people as whole integrated systems.

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