Two ways of learning
The Feldenkrais Method takes two forms: Awareness Through Movement (ATM) and Functional Integration (FI). These forms look very different (ATM is verbally directed and usually done in group, FI is one-on-one and is done hands-on) but they are based on the same principle. By slowing down the movements and directing the attention to the body, the nervous system itself creates new schemas of action. In living beings, everything is connected: a change in one part creates change in the whole system.
Discovery of this Method cannot happen only through reading about it, one must experience it.
ATM – Awareness Through Movement
During these 30-60 minute lessons, the practitioner creates a learning context for the participants by leading them verbally through a series of movements that address a function (e.g. turning, balancing, reaching, breathing, etc.), a skeletal joint, or a specific movement coordination. Regardless of the focus of the lesson, ATM is always given in relation to the whole of the person.
The lessons explore a broad range of possible movements, from movements inspired by the development of a small child all the way to movements that look like they were taken from an acrobat’s playbook. Regardless of how complex or challenging the movements are, first and foremost is the search for the sensation of ease and effortlessness in the movements explored.
Each movement is explored on the way there and back, and repeated several times so the participant can become aware of many aspects of the movement. A strict interplay between the assignment, various differentiations and coordinations of the joints, and especially the way the participant’s attention is focused on himself, all stimulate the nervous system to organise itself in a much more natural fashion.
In this way, our intentions are translated much more effectively to actions. Little by little, new patterns of behaviour emerge. The participants usually lie on the ground but the Feldenkrais Method also contains lessons done in sitting or standing. In the explorations of an ATM lesson, the participant is his or her own boss and can choose his/her own pace throughout the lesson. There is no model to follow, no one to imitate, and no goal set ahead of time. They only requirement for the lesson is harmonious movement and a feeling of well-being.
TESTIMONIAL: « I lie on a mat and I feel the weight of my body. Then the awareness process begins.” Read more
FI – Functional Integration
The second aspect of the Feldenkrais Method is the individual approach, which is essentially non-verbal. It utilises one of the oldest elements of our sensory system: touch. The practitioner begins a sensory-motor dialogue with the student, who remains fully clothed during the session. Each lesson is based on a specific request of the student. This can be a habitual way of moving, a posture that has become too familiar, or any other subject (physical or not) that the student may wish to explore.
The touch and movements of the practitioner are soft, subtle and never insistent. They respect the capacity of the student. FI invites the student to pay attention to habitual movements in an increasingly subtle way. By doing so, the practitioner creates a safe environment for the student to experience new ways of moving, to expand his/her movement vocabulary and to enrich the image of his or her way of moving and thus the self-image.
Various props (rollers, balls, padding, etc.) Can be used to increase the student’s comfort, to encourage movement in difficult areas, or to deliberately constrain the over-activated areas in order to invite movement in the normally still areas. The student usually lies on a low, wide table but lessons are also done in sitting and standing.
Individual FI lessons are appropriate for everyone who has a specific problem or a specific question, as well as for those wishing to take their ATM experience to a deeper level.