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The Feldenkrais Method

The way to improved posture

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The Feldenkrais Method

The Feldenkrais Method is a gentle way of working with the body to release holding patterns and increase flexibility and coordination,

The Feldenkrais Method is a gentle way of working with the body to release holding patterns and increase flexibility and coordination,

Do you suffer from chronic back pain, sore muscles, stiff joints, poor balance, or repetitive strain? Have you tried everything from aqua aerobics to Pilates and yoga without success?

If so, the Feldenkrais Method might be right for you.

Pioneered by physicist and martial arts master, Moshe Feldenkrais, who lived from 1904 to 1984, the Feldenkrais Method is the opposite of a punishing no-pain-without-gain gym routine. The Method works at a subtle level with the brain and nervous system to help you change the way you relate to your body.

Learning key connections

In Awareness Through Movement classes, a Feldenkrais practitioner guides you through a series of gentle floor-based movements. You may start by lying down to sense how much of your body contacts the floor.

Once you have completed the lesson—perhaps learning to connect the movement of the pelvis with that of the head and neck, or performing a series of rolling movements—you then see what has changed in your body organization.

You may, for example, notice that your neck is moving more freely or that the arch in your back is less pronounced. Over time, your brain learns to remember these new and more efficient ways of moving.

Letting go—of pain and stiffness

During a Functional Integration session you lie on a padded table while a practitioner uses his or her hands to guide your body through a series of subtle movements to give sensory feedback about how you are moving.

As the Method is all about tuning into the body, the slower and smaller the movements, the more the brain can integrate the learning. Letting go of muscular strain and tension and rediscovering how the body was designed to move (just watch how babies roll around) helps to free the body of pain, stiffness, and restriction.

Studying the benefits

A recent study of American adults over age 65 showed that after attending the Feldenkrais program for 60 minutes three times a week for five weeks, the subjects enjoyed improved balance and mobility. Researchers concluded that the Feldenkrais Method could offer a way to reduce the risk of falling in older adults.

Using your connections

“Self-awareness is the key,” says Tahnee Woolf, a Feldenkrais practitioner, explaining that the Method is not about muscular strength but using minimum effort to achieve maximum efficiency.

“For example, you may come to realize that every time you reach for that coffee cup in your kitchen cupboard, you hold your breath and brace your ribs, which restricts the natural movement of your shoulder.”

Every bone in our body is connected. The Feldenkrais Method awakens the body to these core connections and encourages fluid and integrated movement, training the body to operate as an efficient whole.

Everyone benefits

The beauty of the Feldenkrais Method is that it can benefit anyone at any age and any level of mobility—from office workers with repetitive strain to athletes, singers, dancers, and tennis players wanting to improve their performance.


Practitioner training

Certified Feldenkrais practitioners undergo an intensive three- to four-year training program. Internationally accredited, the Feldenkrais Practitioner Program involves experiential training that includes biomechanics, human movement, and learning theory.


Alternative therapies

Many people are choosing alternative therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, and massage for relief of back and neck pain and osteoarthritis.

Acupuncture
In a 2009 study, 60 percent of patients treated with acupuncture or simulated acupuncture improved their symptoms after eight weeks of treatment compared to 39 percent of those who received conventional care.

Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that acupuncture releases blocked energy (qi) in the body. Other experts suggest acupuncture works because of the endorphins that are released when the needles are inserted.

Chiropractic
Spinal manipulation has been shown to relieve pain for up to three months, and may be as effective in the long term as conventional medicine. A chiropractor may twist, pull, or push the bones in the spine, relieving pain and improving mobility.

Massage
A recent study of the benefits of massage for low back pain found that after 10 weeks, 1 in 3 patients felt better, compared to 1 in 25 for the group that had conventional care. Try one of these popular types of massage.

Swedish This is a gentle, relaxing massage. It combines long kneading strokes with light tapping strokes using the flat surface of the hand.

Deep tissue This uses slow, forceful movements to get deep into the muscles or tendons to relieve pain in specific spots in the muscles.

Shiatsu This is a Japanese massage which involves putting pressure on certain points with the thumb or fingers for up to 90 seconds to release knots in the muscles.


Build your bones

Strengthen your bones with these supplements.

  • Green tea According to a recent study, 4 to 6 cups of steeped tea per day make bones and muscles stronger. Green tea contains polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant, which lowers the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Calcium The number one mineral in the body is also the most important when it comes to building bones. About 99 percent of calcium in the body can be found in the bones and teeth. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, the body takes it from bone reserves, reducing bone density.
  • Vitamin D Vitamin D helps with calcium absorption. Getting 15 to 20 minutes of the sun’s ultraviolet rays two to three times per week is often enough for the body to produce vitamin D. Some dermatologists recommend getting vitamin D from food and supplements instead to avoid possible sun damage to the skin.

Additional supplements Ask your natural health practitioner about other important bone-building minerals and vitamins such as iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins C and K.


Contacts

For a list of Feldenkrais practitioners and classes near you, visit feldenkrais.com.

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