High level Functional Integration in the Feldenkrais Method

Feldenkrais Method Athens with Massimo Galli

High level Functional Integration emerges through the joining of two nervous systems and is an essential requirement of our work.

We often refer to this joining as a “dance” in which two systems interact and are linked as one.

But the word “dance” fails to acknowledge the complexity that is involved.

Joining in Functional Integration depends upon sophisticated self-observation, precise self-organization while moving, profound appreciation of the other, and the utilization of numerous physical principles, in addition to patience, persistence, and practice.

David Zemach-Bersin & Olena Nitefor

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The Feldenkrais Method for Actors: “if you know what you are doing you can do what you want”

The Feldenkrais Method for Actors

The Feldenkrais Method for Actors

Extract from an interview with Alan Questel (By Tommie St. Cyr)

St. Cyr: I’ve always loved a particular quote of Dr. Feldenkrais, “If you know what you are doing, you can do what you want.”

Questel: He said it often and it is one of the underlying tenets of our work. It may sound like an obvious and simple statement but if we pose it as questions “Do you know what you want?” and “Do you know what you are doing?” we find that they are not so easily answered. These statements, or questions, are the source of the inquiry that Moshe spent his whole life developing. (…)

St. Cyr: How does this relate to the actor?

Questel: In many ways. On the most basic level we are tuning the actor’s instrument, that is their body and voice. Every time one does a Feldenkraislesson they have the chance to broaden how they experience themselves. This is a felt experience that is represented in how one moves. Internally the actor feels different and is often perceived as looking different from the world.

St. Cyr: How does this actually happen?

Questel: Well you’re sitting right now. If I ask you “What are you aware of in sitting?” You may say “My back against the chair or my buttocks on the seat or my feet on the floor.” But if I ask you “What is the back of your neck doing? Or your chest? or your shins?” Your attention goes to these places and you either say, “It’s doing this” or “I have no idea what it is doing.”

But the fact is these parts are always involved in everything you do; your whole self is involved in everything you do, but we only sense certain parts of ourselves in our actions and its generally the same parts. By using our attention through systematic movement sequences we can learn to expand our perception of ourselves. Now if we bring this idea into movement and actions it allows for different kinds of communications to take place. If you got out of your chair to get a drink, it would be different than if you got out of the chair because you realized you sat in something, which would be different than how you would get up if you saw a child about to hurt themselves.

(from Association of Theatre Movement Educators (ATME) January 1995-Volume 3, Number 1)

Why should I try the Feldenkrais Method®?

Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity

Scientists have proved that the brain changes while learning.

This process is called Neuroplasticity (from neural – pertaining to the nerves and/or brain and plastic – moldable or changeable in structure), also known as brain plasticity, and it refers to changes in neural pathways and synapses which are due to changes in behavior, environment and neural processes, as well as changes resulting from bodily injury.

Neuroplasticity has replaced the formerly-held position that the brain is a physiologically static organ, and explores how – and in which ways – the brain changes throughout life.

The Feldenkrais Method® is based on this idea, the idea of being able to change the way of thinking, of moving and of behaving by introducing in your neuro-system new efficient ways to use your body in a more functional way.

The Feldenkrais Method® is easy: the lessons use basic everyday words, the touch is gentle and communicative, you are encouraged to cherish comfort and to reduce effort. The old idea of «No pain no gain» makes chaos in the nervous system and effort in the body. It should be thrown out from the daily vocabular, and we can show you how.

The Feldenkrais Method® is efficient: it has a reputation for helping people when everyone else failed. But you don’t have to be injured or helpless to have benefit from the method. We work with musicians, dancers and athletes which just want to perform better. Feldenkrais method is efficient because it uses the principles from physics, physiology, learning theory, psychology and brain science.

The Feldenkrais Method® is safe: movements are done slowly with lot of rests and you’re encouraged to avoid mechanical, unaware repetitions which are often cause of injuries, discomfort and pain. The basic skill of the method is learning to keep the movement in range of safety and ease, limits where curiosity and learning process can be activated.

The Feldenkrais Method® is evident: everyone learns in his own time but you can notice and appreciate changes already after your first group or individual lesson.

The Feldenkrais Method® is flexible: There are hundreds of lessons and strategies and everyone of them can be adapted to fit for every individual’s requests and abilities.

The Feldenkrais Method® is interesting: People often complain about boring excercises. It uses the fact that the nervous system is attracted by new sensations. Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais created Awareness through movement® (ATM) and Functional integration® (FI) by using non habitual movement patterns made from different variations to regain function and vitality.

By Massimo Galli

Can the Feldenkrais Method® help me with back and neck pain?

Back pain

Through the ATM and FI lessons you become aware of your tendency of making inefficient movements that are responsible for many types of pain that we usually feel: back pain, neck pain, knees pain, joints pain are all expressions of a not efficient use of our body. In order to stop this important signal that something in our body doesn’t work very well we have to learn new patterns, new alternative movements that will help, at the beginning, to have a better understanding of the inefficient use our body and then to introduce new efficient, effective and functional ways to move. This will be the beginning of the healing process that will bring us to a total recovery or an evident reduction (at the beginning) from pain.

By Massimo Galli

How does the Feldenkrais Method® differ from other techniques?

Feldenkrais Method® differences

The emphasis in the Feldenkrais method® is in the learning process that brings the student to increase his/her awareness about his/her inefficient way to move the body caused by habitual patterns and discover new alternatives which result in a better flexibility and coordination. The Feldenkrais Method® is a learning process that can last for the entire life and it is based on the idea that everyone can learn how to use his/her body in a more functional and efficient way through the neuroplasticity of the brain, the ability to replace old and ineffective habits with new ones which are functional and useful for one’s life.

By Massimo Galli

What happens during a Feldenkrais lesson?

The Feldenkrais Method® is expressed in two forms:

Awareness through movement® (ATM) – is mostly a group approach where the practitioner verbally teaches sequences of specific types of movement in order to improve specific functions. Each lesson can last 30-60 minutes depending on the complexity and they are usually taught while the students are lying or sitting on the floor, standing or sitting in the chair. Each lesson starts usually with easy and gentle movements that gradually evolve into complex movements of greater range. This self exploration of movements includes thinking, sensing, moving and imagining.

Awareness through movement® (ATM)

Awareness through movement® (ATM)

Functional integration® (FI) – is an individual custom tailored lesson where the teacher leads movement through light and gentle touch. The student is completely dressed and the lesson is done on a specially designed table in a lying or sitting position. It is a form of tactile kinesthetic communication where the student gets information about his/her body’s organization and receives by the teacher instructions that can help him/her start using his/her body in a more functional and effortless way. Each lesson is completely individual and adapted to the structure or request of the client who can seek help because of pain, or difficulty in coordination or, as we previously said, to improve his/her ability to move in order to have a better professional performance.

Functional integration® (FI)

Functional integration® (FI)

Who can benefit from the Feldenkrais Method®?

Feldenkrais Method®

Feldenkrais Method®

Everyone, young or old, those with great physical abilities or those with reduced abilities or difficulties.The Feldenkrais Method® can help people with chronic or acute pain in the neck, shoulders, back, hips, legs or knees by solving the cause of the problem, which is the inefficient use of the body. Based on this idea the method is effective also for those who want to improve the quality of their movement in order to improve their abilities in professional activities such as athletic competition and artistic performance (Dance, Music, Theater, Art, etc). The Feldenkrais Method® also helps people with problems of the central nervous system and neurological disabilities caused by Multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, stroke, etc. Last but not least, the method is optimal for everyone in search of improving his/her quality of movement and movement potential, of experiencing greater ease and comfort during everyday activities, as well as of improving his/her body posture, respiration and achieving a greater sense of wholeness of self and well-being.