I had heard the word “Feldenkrais” before, but really didn’t know anything about it, so when the opportunity arose to take a workshop recently, I couldn’t resist. This workshop was about vision and I thought that was a good enough place to start as any.
The instructor told us a little bit about Moshe Feldenkrais (1904 – 1984), the creator of the method. He was a smart guy with varying interests from mechanical engineering to perinatal development. When a debilitating knee injury left him unable to walk, he decided to teach his body a new way to move. By increasing awareness of habitual patterns of moving and holding muscles, one can learn to move utilizing less energy. Athletes, dancers, singers and everyday people use the teachings of Feldenkrais to optimize function with less energy output.
In the vision workshop, the instructor guided us through a sequence of movements that increased awareness about our eyes. Who stops to think about how many muscles they use when they blink? Through the process of paying attention and focusing on my eyes, I became aware that when I blink, I engage a muscle in my neck. This habit of activating this muscle doesn’t make me blink any better, but through the course of a day and many blinks later, it certainly tires out the muscle! The instructor guided us through repetitive movements slowly re-teaching the nervous system and the muscles to work in a more energy efficient way.
At the end of the class, I was much surprised to discover that my posture was better and I felt very calm as if I had just finished meditating. Learning to move with less effort and optimizing that magical mind-body connection is a wonderful gift that you can give yourself.
Feldenkrais is taught as weekly Awareness Through Movement (ATM) classes or in workshops which focus on certain areas of the body. Feldenkrais practitioners can also work one-on-one with clients through Functional Integration to work on specific problem areas. If you have a Feldenkrais experience that you would like to share, please feel free to post it here.