Unlike yoga, the Feldenkrais Method does not require any flexibility, nor does it involve stretching or holding any positions. It also does not require any practice to learn postures.
Instead of repeating and holding set poses as in yoga, in a Feldenkrais class participants explore gentle simple movements, which at first can feel quite strange. The emphasis is on slow and repetitive movements and observing their effects on our bodies. The aim is to learn to become aware of habits that cause us to move awkwardly or inefficiently, or even lead to stiffness and pain.
This weekend I attended a day long workshop Awareness Through Movement led by yoga teacher and Feldenkrais practitioner Lisa McRory, for a group of yoga teachers in Oxford.
Our day began with lying down and repetitively moving the head from side to side, then opening the mouth, and jaw. Half an hour later, we were still at it, slowly learning to explore gentle movements of the head, and then moving on to explore gentle movement in the spine. We lay on our sides and made slow sliding movements with our arms. We did the same with just the knees. We explored our balance.
I could see the overlap with yoga, and why some yoga teachers are draw to this slow way of working.
At the end of the day, as we walked around the room for the last time, I think we all experienced some subtle yet deep changes in our bodies. I felt my hips more open and walking felt more natural, as if the muscles and the bones were somehow more in tune with each other.
As the Feldenkrais website puts it “these lessons tie directly into functional movements of daily life, such as walking efficiently, safely lifting objects, and improving one’s posture in sitting or standing.”
You can find out more about it on the UK website http://www.feldenkrais.co.uk
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