Before being introduced to The Feldenkrais Method® in 1975, I had spent about twenty-five years getting ready for it. I started with dancing— tap, jazz, ballet, whatever. I danced through my entire childhood, compelled by the sheer pleasure I experienced through movement. I didn’t think much about the importance of movement for health or well-being when I was young; I just knew that it made me feel good and gave me a sense of confidence.
In college I became interested in science, but continued to dance off and on. I yearned to find a way to combine the two, somehow. Then I took this workshop consisting of simple but unusual movement sequences that seemed so trivial—yet after each class I felt great! I still remember one of the classes, just turning our heads around to look behind us and then back to the front, repeating it several times. We then turned our heads while moving our eyes in the opposite direction, still very gently, repeating each movement. After a series of these strange variations, we were asked to repeat the original movement: I was shocked to discover that my range of movement had doubled with almost no effort, just by paying attention to my movement in new ways. This was my introduction to The Feldenkrais Method®.
After completing my degree in Zoology, I continued dancing, while looking for ways to integrate my two passions—scientific inquiry, and movement. When I heard about a training program with Moshe Feldenkrais, I knew that I had to do it. The four-year program began in Amherst, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1980, and culminated in Tel Aviv, Israel, where Moshe Feldenkrais lived. I graduated in 1983.
In my work with people, my favorite part is witnessing the often profound changes that take place in people as they begin to learn new ways of moving, thinking and being. And what shocks so many people is how gentle and effortless it really can be to effect huge changes in their flexibility, comfort, and performance. For some people, pain has become an unquestioned part of life, whether from an accident, a chronic illness or just a lifetime of wear and tear. It’s amazing to see how these people can often eliminate their pain and discomfort just by paying attention to what their doing in new ways, and gently giving their system a chance to recalibrate.
The most challenging part of my work is actually figuring out how to speak about the work to people who haven’t experienced it. It can so easily sound esoteric or strange, and the name “Feldenkrais” doesn’t help much! (“Feldenkrais–what’s that, some sort of cult, or a new health food product?”) And now, in 2016 it was one of the final spelling bee words, maybe it will soon be a household word. To see the 2016 Scripps Spelling be click here, it begins around 8 minutes and 20 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNDhp1u9eu4&feature=youtu.be.
Another challenge has more to do with our cultural mindset with respect to our bodies and learning. We tend to think of our bodies as clusters of isolated parts, which conventional medicine often reinforces. So when we’re feeling that something is wrong or doesn’t feel good, we assume that the “problem” lies with that “part.” If our knee is hurting, we tend to focus on what’s wrong with the knee, instead of realizing that our knee problem may have more to do with how we use our pelvis in walking, or how our feet may be perpetually gripping the floor, for example. When we make changes to the way we hold ourselves, the way we stand, sit, walk, move, we are also then changing the way our muscles and bones align. The result is often much more fluid and functional movement, greater ease, and better performance. Feldenkrais is even prescribed by many cardiology centers as an effective means of reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.
I love this work and how it has helped me to continue to do the things that I love!