We are amazing creatures. As we grow, change, learn a new skill or are injured, our brain adapts our movement to our new self. Watch a baby on its back kick its feet and try to reach for them, slowly discovering that if s/he reaches with one hand a roll to that side begins. Go ahead and try it if you want, and don’t forget to smile. It is fun.
Small tiny movements like this stimulate the brain to learn. As we age, are injured, or diseased we often use old habitual movement patterns even though they may now be dysfunctional, cause pain, or limit our ability to go further in a new skill. Feldenkrais® ATM® classes lead you in exploring tiny painless movements which your brain uses to create a more functional, comfortable and elegant movement. Simple functions such as breathing, walking, bending, reaching, singing, running, playing an instrument or even sitting become less painful, easier, and finally even elegant. As the pain and tension used in maintaining a dysfunctional pattern decreases, relaxation and a sense of wellbeing often accompany the new ease of motion.
In Feldenkrais Awareness through Movement Lessons (ATM®) you will be guided through movements in lying, standing or sitting. The patterns of movement allow the student first to differentiate how a specific part of the body is involved in a movement and then to integrate the movement throughout the body. Extraneous movements and tensions disappear and only those necessary to the completed functional movement remain. Tension is released as unnecessary muscle contraction melts away and there is a sense of relaxation, a byproduct of the lesson. Often movements previously painful become much less so, or even pain free as the learning progresses.
You will notice certain movements seem easier or more natural. Old, habitual movement patterns often disappear as newer, more functional alternatives are discovered. The subtle ATM® movements develop not only awareness, but also flexibility and coordination.
The insight you gain into how you can support yourself and move without unnecessary tension helps to relax the mind, emotions and body.
After ATM® lessons, people often feel taller and lighter, breathe more freely, and find that their discomfort and pain has eased. They experience relaxation and a sense of release. Best of all, the new way of learning becomes a part of everyday living.
In a Functional Integration Lesson® you will sit, lie or stand, fully clothed, as the practitioner uses touch and movement to bring awareness to different areas of the body. This allows you to experience how the movement is integrated thoughout the body. You will learn how to eliminate excess effort and move freely and easily.
Lessons may address a particular issue brought by the student, or may be global in scope. Although the technique does not specifically aim to eliminate pain or "cure" physical complaints, such issues may inform the lesson. Issues such as chronic muscle pain may resolve themselves as you learn a different approach to your physical experience—a more integrated, free, and easy way to move.
Often, at the conclusion of a lesson, a student will be given a short Awareness Though Motion activity to do on their own to help reinfroce what has just been learned.
Renee Stringham is a physician who found Feldenkrais after traditional medical, surgical and alternative therapies failed to halt progressive disability, pain and weakness that slowly eroded her ability to function after surgery and recovery from an accident. She needed hand controls to drive her car, special chairs, and lifts in her shoes. After months of Physical Therapy with continued deterioration, and 8 days at the Mayo Clinic where only a cane and walker were offered as further options, her physical therapist referred her to a Physical Therapist who used The Feldenkrais® Method in treating children with Cerebral Palsy and she began Feldenkrais® lessons. Private lessons with one of Feldenkrais' original pupils, Gaby Yaron, yielded slow, steady improvement and now most people do not even recognize that she is disabled because of her ease of movement.
She decided to study Feldenkrais® (a 4 year commitment) and use the principles when practicing medicine for those who could profit from it. Additionally she offers private Feldenkrais Lessons, focused workshops to the public, and education to health care providers about the Method.