Many years ago when we were in Sante Fe, New Mexico, doing our Feldenkrais Professional Training over 4 years, we’d be out-and-about in town, and someone would ask us this question: “What are you doing in Santa Fe?” And when we would tell them we were there training in Feldenkrais, they’d give us a puzzled look and ask: “What’s Feldenkrais?”
The two of us would then give each other a look that meant, “You try to explain it.”
Here’s the thing…Feldenkrais is amazing. Brilliant. It has a rather awkward name, which many people mistakenly hear as “FeldenChrist.”
Not connected with Christ at all, it is named after Moshe Feldenkrais, the very smart guy who developed this work.
So, back to the question: What is it?
You may have guessed by now that it’s a little hard to describe. The experience is worth thousands of words. But we’ll try, because that’s what we Feldenkrais lovers do on our websites, and when we meet strangers in Santa Fe who ask us what it is.
There are a few ways you can experience this amazing work.
One is called Awareness Through Movement.
You can experience this through classes or downloadable lessons you can do at home.
In this context, you learn enjoyable, varied, incredibly smart movement lessons. Movement is used as a way to learn, as opposed to moving to stretch or strengthen the body.
The lessons are brilliantly designed to integrate deep change in the brain itself. How smart to affect the part that organizes the body and movement habits! The Awareness Through Movement ® lessons refresh our innate sense of coordination and rehabilitate our organism’s natural intelligence.
They’ll leave you feeling GOOOOOD, and stunned that such small movements can have such a profound and lasting effect.
If you show up to one of our classes, you’ll find a comfortable room full of curious, super cool, amazing adults who love to roll around on the floor and learn. The people who come to our classes tend to have insatiable curiosity, a great sense of humor, and a deep love of learning and moving.
We love to create a safe, respectful and enjoyable learning environment that’s not competitive but great fun. You’ll be verbally guided through a movement lesson. Topics are widely varied – from playing with your toes to subtle movements working with your respiratory diaphragm to dynamic lessons that take you from supine to standing in one elegant swoop. Click here for our schedule.
You might be working with small movements, such as sensing how smoothly you can move your eyes while coordinating that movement with rolling your head. Or you might be invited to work with learning to dynamically roll yourself from side to side without unnecessary contractions. Or you might be standing and playing with different ways of bearing weight through your feet, which can powerfully improve posture, balance, walking and running.
Whatever the movement theme, you’ll learn to sense yourself more intimately as you move, and by doing so, you’ll discover far easier ways of doing things.
For example, you might discover that you always hold tension around your hips, (or whatever your specialty spot is). Or you may discover that if you tilt your pelvis ever so slightly, you can do a movement that usually hurts you without any pain at all!
You may also discover, as many people do, that you have the habit of cranking on yourself. Of pushing through discomfort to get to some end result. And, that you can powerfully increase your well-being by turning this habit around.
As Moshe Feldenkrais quipped, “You can’t do what you want until you know what you are doing.” So true.
Through these sophisticated movement lessons, you discover on many levels how to know what you’re doing with your body. You’ll also learn many new ways of being in your body, in your movement, with yourself, and in the world so you can truly do what you want. The fruitfulness of these explorations is hard to overestimate. It’s awesome. The more aware you are of what you’re doing, the better you function. In countless ways.
Another aspect is Functional Integration.
If you come for a lesson in Functional Integration, you will get one-on-one learning in the presence of highly trained, sensitive, friendly and non-judging guides (that would be us.)
In our comfortable offices, we’ll explore different body movements as a way to support your learning. We use a table, similar to a massage table. You remain fully clothed throughout the session.
Most often, we’ll use our hands to gently move you in a variety of ways.
However, we don’t work on you; we work with you. We do this with listening hands, with great sensitivity and skill. Don’t worry, it’s not painful. In fact, people are often shocked at the powerful results that come from small movements that don’t hurt.
We don’t aspire to get you to do a certain range of movement for its own sake, but as a way to support you to learn. To help you sense where you’re holding, unbeknownst to you. To FEEL yourself. To know the connections in your body experientially.
The hands-on lessons are distinct from having a therapist rub your muscles into submission, (which can be delicious, for sure!) Instead, you actually learn to sense what you’re doing and change it if you like. (We believe in teaching you how to fish, rather than just giving you a fish.)
When you start to use a part of yourself that has been “offline” for a long time, your brain gets a big “aha!” This learning tends to integrate and last a lot longer than the results of a massage or a stretching practice. Have you ever had a great massage, and 24 hours later your usual aches and pains are back? Us too. Bummer.
Through friendly, refined, touch and highly sensitive guidance, you learn to:
- Inhabit your body more fully
- Let go of chronic holding
- Awaken dormant parts
- Move as a coordinated, graceful animal
- Feel your wholeness and innate body intelligence
- Feel centered, relaxed, and ready for what life asks of you
- Allow your bones do their job of weight bearing
- Allow your muscles to do their job of efficiently moving you when it’s time to move, but not effortfully holding you when you can allow yourself to be held by your bones and by the earth.
- Breathe more fully and more freely, without trying to manipulate your breath.
- Sense yourself in many activities in your life so you’re actually continuously learning to move with more grace, coordination and pleasure every day of your life.
Through hands-on lessons like these, amazing results can unfold. For example, you can eliminate back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, jaw pain, wrist pain, knee pain, and foot pain.
Often the pain arises not from something wrong with “the part” (the western medical view) but with its relationship to the rest of you.
We always work with you as a whole person, which goes so much deeper than just eliminating pain. You’ll learn to:
- Move with less effort, which reduces wear and tear and prevents future injuries.
- Do things with greater ease and coordination.
- Be empowered to learn from your own experience, and not be a dependent client forever.
- Find new possibilities and skills across many contexts in your life.
- Become the most trusted authority on your own body.
Many people find powerful results from this work, and often reach far beyond what originally inspired their interest. Common results include:
- Pain relief and greater movement skills
- Clearer thinking
- Greater attention span
- Positive emotional states
- An expansive and enjoyable life
- A sense of optimism and possibility
- Greater creativity
- Better sleep
- Improved athletic performance
- Effortless elegant posture
- And thousands of dollars suddenly appear in your bank account. Just kidding about that last one. But totally not kidding about the rest.
Some people find exploring this work is a profound journey of unfolding. Through continued exploration, they go way beyond the beginning fruits of pain-elimination into a deep way of knowing themselves, a profound path of inner-work, of unfolding potentials, of freeing possibilities and becoming more fully embodied, more fully authentic, more fully themselves.