Q: What is the Feldenkrais Method®?

A: The Feldenkrais Method® is a form of somatic education. (Somatic education is a form of neuromuscular knowledge of mind-body training that provides individuals with a way to enhance their mobility and free themselves from pain). The Feldenkrais Method is about self -education and it involves learning how to give up habitual neuromuscular patterns that may be causing or contributing to personal difficulties. By directing your attention to various parts of your self and how you interact with the space and ground beneath you, you learn on a subconscious level, to detect differences. You may learn ways to:

• Improve your posture, flexibility, and coordination

• Relieve pain, tension, and stress

• Overcome orthopaedic and neurological problems

• Enhance sports performance and prevent injury

• Overcome falling and balance disorders

The Feldenkrais Method® is not a medical treatment. It’s not something that is done to you. Instead, it uses decades of research in physics, biomechanics, learning theory, and human development to provide you with the means to help yourself. The Feldenkrais Method® is taught in either one-on-one sessions or in group classes and workshops.

Q: How is Feldenkrais® different from massage?

A: Massage therapists work with muscles and soft tissue manipulation. The Feldenkrais Method® is an approach that seeks to affect change by working with the nervous system. Since your brain directs the nervous system and is in charge of your movement patterns, if you want to change your movements you must literally change your mind. The Feldenkrais Method® works with your nervous system to help you safely regulate and coordinate your movement. It improves your ability to function regardless of pre-existing problems.

Q: How is Feldenkrais® different from yoga?

A:Unlike yoga, the Feldenkrais Method® does not require you to be flexible nor does it involve stretching or holding any positions. It also does not involve any practice to perfect positions. Instead of repeating and holding set poses as in yoga, you explore gentle and innovative movements, while learning to increase your awareness of habits that may be causing you movement difficulties or pain. Many Yoga devotees have explored the Feldenkrais Method® as a way to achieve postures that previously alluded them or that caused discomfort.

Q: How is Feldenkrais® different from Tai Chi?

A: Unlike Tai Chi and most martial art disciplines, the Feldenkrais Method® does not require any practice or intensive training to receive its benefits. There are no repetitive movements, and no physical conditioning is required.

Q: How is Feldenkrais® different from chiropractics?

A: Chiropractors work with your spine, through various adjustments and manipulations. This is a structural approach that seeks to affect change through changes in the structure of the spine. The Feldenkrais Method® works with your nervous system to help you safely regulate and coordinate your movement. Rather than attempting to change or correct you structurally, the method improves your ability to function regardless of pre-existing problems.

Q: How is Feldenkrais® different from physiotherapy?

A: The Feldenkrais Method® looks at the relationship between all body parts and concentrates on enganing the whole person. Physiotherapy works by isolating specific muscles for strengthening or stretching. Feldenkrais® is about teaching your body to work more efficiently rather than by building up muscles. It is about using the whole body to move and eliminating unnecessary tension and effort.

Q: How are Feldenkrais® practitioners trained?

A: After successfully completing 160 days of training spread over a four years period, Feldenkrais Practitioners® are certified by the Feldenkrais Guild of North America. They maintain that certification by participating in continuing education.

Q: Where can I find out more about the Feldenkrais Method®?

A: Go to the International Feldenkrais Federation (IFF) website to get resources or to the (FGNA) Feldenkrais Guild of North America website. There are numerous other practitioner sites, videos, and resources now available on the web.

Q: Do you take insurance?

A: Feldenkrais® is an educational method, not a medical treatment. In some cases; however, your extended insurance company may cover your visits. Check with your insurance provider.

Q: Who uses Feldenkrais®?

A: Professional athletes, actors, scientists, doctors, mothers, fathers, grandparents, pretty much anyone will benefit in various ways from Feldenkrais®. People like PGA golfer Rick Acton or celebrities like Margaret Mead and Whoppi Goldberg use Feldenkrais®.

Groups like the Canadian Men’s Downhill Ski Team, and world leaders like former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion have used Feldenkrais® as have musicians Yehudi Menuhin and Yo Yo Mah. Feldenkrais® is for anyone who wants to learn to move with less effort and less strain on their body.

Q: How can you work with such a diverse range of people?

A: The commonality between seniors, injured persons and athletes is function. On one end of the spectrum, the elderly struggle with very basic things, like balance or going from sitting to standing. Further up the continuum of basic functioning, people with injuries usually move pretty well, but are challenged by a specific limitation. Further up the scale, in working with athletes, the issue is how to improve advanced function. The question then becomes how to do you refine the performance of someone who has already spent years perfecting their skill. At the highest end of the spectrum, we work with people who want to improve themselves at all levels, not just the physical. This is where this method moves people from being just good enough to survive, to enjoying what they most want to do with their lives.

Q: How many sessions do I need, and how often?

A: This is one of those answers that varies per person. Usually a weekly session will be effective in helping your body make new connections more quickly. Significant improvement is noted with regular sessions over a period of time. As Feldenkrais® is a process of learning and improvement, how often you come depends on how quickly you and your body can learn, which depends on the severity and length of time you’ve had your condition.

Q: Do I need any special equipment?

A: No. There is no special equipment to use with the Feldenkrais Method®. When you do your movements at home you will only need a mat, and perhaps a pad or roller, all very inexpensive and easy to find.

Q: Feldenkrais® sounds more like loosening up than stretching and stretching is good for you - right?

A: Click here to read the New York Times article that challenges stretching. Stretching may be doing you more harm than good. Learn the right way to get the most out of your exercise regime.

Q: What is an ATM® (Awareness Through Movement®) lesson?

A: In an ATM class the instructor doesn’t demonstrate the movements. The instructor gives very specific verbal instructions so that the participants can follow along without changing to an external focus. Attention is directed to different parts of the body to help the participants discover the best possible way for each of them to move.

Awareness Through Movement is about your personal process and as such you need to become more aware of your own sensorium — sensory awareness needs to be developed.

In ATM there are no mistakes, every movement you do, whether it is exactly what the instructor described or not, are all variations on the theme of the lesson. As you become more aware of your body and more skilled at listening to the instructions you will know exactly how to execute the movement in the most functional way for your nervous system at any given time.

Q: What is a Functional Integration® (FI™) session?

A: It is a one-on-one session designed to help a client with notice differences in his/her body so he/she can discover how to make a profound change in the quality of his/her life. It is designed to help the client improve his/her biological fitness. Biological fitness is the ability to respond to a changing environment—the ability to move from position to position without hesitation or preparation. People need to feel safe—and feeling safe comes from a sense of confidence that they are able to get out of a situation whether emotional or physical. If they believe they can get out of a situation, they can be in the situation. This is biological fitness.

Q: Do you offer programs in the workplace?

A: Yes. We will work with an employer to design custom workshops. An example may be that a workshop is designed specifically for employees who spend a great deal of time on their computers. Employees working at computers for long hours often experience eye strain, headaches, and pain or stiffness in their back, shoulders, neck, arms or hands. Certain Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons are designed to help to alleviate or avoid these problems by teaching people to use their bodies more efficiently when interacting with the computer. Employees can learn ways to:

• Work at the computer in an alert, relaxed, tension-free manner

• Reduce stress during the workday

• Avoid injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, “frozen” shoulders, and lower back distress

• Maintain flexibility after long hours at work

Workshops can be delivered in a variety of formats–half-day, full-day, or extended over a period of several weeks.