Feldenkrais Method and My Teaching Practice

Part I:  The Self-Discovery Process

Over the summer months, I began utilizing Feldenkrais lessons learned during my August 2010 Teacher as Artist fellowship in New York City.

Feldenkrais is a somatic practice that allows the body to work more effectively and is proven to reduce stress and relieve pain. It also is a way to open up new ways of thinking and creating. Moshe Feldenkrais is quoted as saying,

”I am not after flexible bodies, I am after flexible brains.”

As a teaching artist in the public schools, it may be a new way of helping struggling students. I will talk about that in depth in part 2.

Feldenkrais’ philosophy is in direct opposition to our Western way of thinking concerning fitness and skeletal-muscular health. Feldenkrais emphasizes becoming aware of how the skeleton, joints, fascia, muscles and tendons work together. Many times our repetitive movement patterns are the very factors, which create and exacerbate chronic injuries. In Feldenkrais, we learn that “we must feel, not strain” that is, our effort can sometimes be more effective when we don’t work too hard.

Make no mistake; Feldenkrais exercises are not fuzzy science. Moshe Feldenkrais was an engineer, physicist, inventor, martial artist and student of human development. Born in Eastern Europe, he emigrated to Palestine as a young man. Later he studied at the Sorbonne and worked in the Joliot Curie laboratory in Paris during the 1930s.

The first time I experienced these awareness through movement exercises, a licensed practitioner led me. The results seemed nothing short of miraculous. But I attributed the power of the work to the skill of my teacher.

This summer I jumped into reading everything that Moshe Feldenkrais wrote during his life, and trying out exercises on my own. Attempting these lessons without benefit of training was a daunting task. Due in part to Feldenkrais’ reassuring words*, I began trying the exercises one by one. His philosophy, based on the science of the method, rested on the premise that endless possibilities exist when the effort is minimized and self-awareness is heightened.

I began to notice remarkable changes in my body, which were only surpassed by shifts in thinking. Suddenly creativity, which had been lying dormant for many months, returned. Beginning the new school year my primary concern has been how to make this fragile new practice part of my life.

This week’s realization is that one of the ways I will integrate these exercises into my life is by leading students at the Curley in this exploration of mind and bodywork. While my ultimate goal remains becoming a licensed practitioner, in my heart I know students will benefit from being guided through some of the fundamental lessons, with what I have learned through my self-guided practice.

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