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Felden What??

By Liz Monnier, Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner  A Pathway to Easier Movement

Feldenkrais (no “t” at the end) is not a religion. It is a somatic approach toward movement re-education developed by Moshe Feldenkrais. The classroom version of the method is called “Awareness Through Movement.” So, do any of these names or definitions mean anything to you? If not, you are not alone. The students of Moshe wanted to stay true to his titles and name, but it makes for a difficult sell.

Anat Baniel, a student of Feldenkrais created her own version called “NeuroMovement,” with a definition of “Change your brain to move beyond pain and limitation.” That has a little more marketing power with an added contemporary appeal, I think.

When I first started learning the Feldenkrais Method®, the first hurdle was learning “how” to do it. How do you move slowly, do less than you can do, not approach movement with an ambitious mind? Perhaps a more pertinent question is “why?” It all goes against everything we’ve been trained to do. We’re told to stretch, feel the burn, pump it up and don’t stop till you drop. No attention is paid to how you move with intelligence.

With my years of background in many forms of dance, the Feldenkrais Method® has been the best way for me to know my body from the inside out. For many, our bodies are simply used to carry our brain around from one place to the next and it’s only when something hurts that we begin to pay attention. Our bodies don’t come with setup instructions: “the best way to operate your hip socket.” Through this method, we can learn the best way to operate every part of ourselves through carefully guided lessons that allow us to explore possibilities and then rely on the brain and the nervous system to adopt the most efficient path. For me, I no longer have a “good side” and a “bad side,” which most people will say they have. Both sides function at peak capacity together creating movement that is easy and light.

This method reduces injury. A few months ago, with arms full of props, I tripped over a four-inch landscaping fence. I could see which part of my knee was going to hit the pavement, followed by a trip to the hospital. But it only took that split second for my other leg, hips and ribs to get organized, whip around and save me. You also learn to listen to yourself when you are using too much effort that could result in strained muscles.

As Feldenkrais said, “Without movement, life is unthinkable.”

For me, it feels like the “Fountain of Youth.” Classes in Awareness Through Movement are offered at the Fort Wayne Dance Collective on Mondays from 12 p.m.-1 p.m. and 6:00p.m.-7:00 p.m. Join a class now and experience a pathway to easier movement.