By Madeleine Perrone
When we are light in spirit, there is an ease and bounce in our walk. When we move with comfort, coordination, and balance, we experience life differently with less stress on our nervous system. We feel and appear younger.
We are capable at any age of making changes in our thinking and moving. It was once believed that as we age, the brain’s networks became fixed. In the last two decades, an enormous amount of research has revealed that the brain never stops changing and adjusting.
As presented on the recent PBS program, Brain and Neuroplasticity, scientists now know that we continue to create new pathways in the brain as we age. These ideas were not new to Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, creator of the Feldenkrais Method®.
Dr. Feldenkrais developed a unique and intriguing way to help people change habitual patterns of body movements. He understood that when the nervous system senses an easier way of doing an action, it automatically will choose that way. As a physicist, he also understood that if we can spread the workload of action throughout the entire body, there will be less strain and injury.
The Feldenkrais Method® helps people learn to use themselves more efficiently by feeling and sensing “how” to execute movement – using the large muscles to do the work and not straining to do an action. Simple, yet powerful exercise explorations train the brain to send signals to the body so it can move healthier.
The classes are unique and challenging, combining movements that seem unrelated at first but later connect to an entire action, making the lessons diverse and interesting. Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) group classes take place on the floor; yet there are many lessons that are experienced sitting, standing, or walking. These lessons are verbally directed using attention and imagination. The movements are subtle, which helps to develop awareness. They help the student learn to relax and abandon habitual patterns that no longer serve to enhance ease of movement.
The other technique used in the Feldenkrais Method® is Functional Integration® (FI), which are private lessons with a Feldenkrais practitioner. Sessions usually take place on a low table or chair, where the practitioner suggests movement possibilities by gently moving the student, thus re-educating the nervous system.
The FI session is so gentle and non-intrusive, that you will be surprised how effective it can be! This is because this method is based on viewing the body’s potential and not its limitations. It does not focus on tight muscles, weak muscles, misalignment, or structural deficiencies. Instead, both FI and AMT focus on the re-education of habitual patterns that can create pain.
The Feldenkrais Method ® offers several benefits to our well-being:
• Move with flexibility and strength
• Be rid of aches and pains
• Acquire tools to improve your fitness practice; yoga, golf, running, etc.
• Find new possibilities
• Learn to organize ourselves more efficiently
• Action becomes easier, more fluid, and more enjoyable through awareness
How does it work? It combines the understanding of physics, judo, yoga, anatomy, neurophysiology, learning theory, developmental movement patterns, and biochemistry. In offering new ways of thinking about movement, it is a continual learning experience for anyone, at any age.
Madeleine Perrone is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner. She works with adults and children using the Feldenkrais Method to enhance performance, to make the impossible possible and the easy elegant. She offers private sessions, ongoing classes and workshops year round. Body in Motion, 559-240-7895. (see calendar for upcoming workshop)