Several Feldenkrais practitioners told me that they do not like the tone of the article below from the U.K. Telegraph, but I love it! Slightly irreverent and 100% positive for Feldenkrais (from my point of view).
"I was seeing the best physios in the world – and doing Pilates,” he recalls of his injuries, yet improvements were elusive. “They weren’t causing me pain, but I lost what made me good at sport – speed and ability to react.
“In my first Feldenkrais session, I was moved in ways that invited my pelvis to sync up with my head again, and I floated off that couch.” He says that inaugural meeting still has the edge over fatherhood as “the most powerful moment” of his life."
I am in the process of watching some online videos of Moshe Feldenkrais doing he called in later life "Functional Integration."* And I was fascinated by the lengths Moshe went in the session to make the client comfortable while he was in a lying position on the table - and - to make the person ready to receive the session. I took a few screen captures of the beginning of the video so that you could check it out. I would love to share the actual video but it is copyrighted and I cannot do so.**
Below is one of Moshe's first attempts to have the person lying face down on the table. You would be correct to ask, "Why would he put the man in such an awkward position?" One of the reasons is that the posture is similar to how the man stands and walks. See the photo above. Moshe wants to improve his standing and walking and is doing his best to simulate that position on the table.
Below Moshe added a second blue pad that was taken from the man's wheelchair. He was, again, attempting to make the position more comfortable before beginning the work and (to repeat) give him access to work with his movement patterns during the session.
For a few moments Feldenkrais explored the idea of having the man in all fours and added even more padding.
For those of you doing some form of Feldenkrais-based table work, have you ever used pads and rollers to such a great extent? And to those of you doing group or individual audio sessions, remember to make yourself comfortable with padding so that you can get the most from your sessions 🙂
*I call "Functional Integration" what Moshe did when he first started developing the work, that is, "the hands on work."
** The video are only available to members of the IFF. You can access them here: IFF Video Collection.
I recently recorded a version of a session from Moshe's Esalen workshop called "Getting Back Back." And in it I found my new favorite Feldenkrais quotation! I present it to you with no commentary.
“Keep on doing that [the movement] until it dawns on you what your body wants to do. You don't know what it wants, and the object is not to say what the way should be, so that you don't twist yourself into someone else's way, but to find out what your body needs and let it happen.”
And to further his point that participants should find their own way:
“Now if you could have a look at all the bodies around you, you would see that there are no two people pulling the body back and doing the same thing with the shoulders or the same thing with the hands, or even the same thing with the legs.”
I will leave it at that. More Feldenkrais quotes on this page.
If you want to get comfortable teaching Feldenkrais classes and workshops there are some relatively simple ways to do so. It matters not whether you are Guild-Certified or if you trained with Anat Baniel, Mia Segal or for that matter if you trained with anyone at all. There are quite a few Yoga teachers, dance teachers and other folks who have learned to integrate Feldenkrais into their teaching. And to do so in a way that is respectful to themselves and to their students. I will tell you the simple way that I learned to get comfortable teaching and to SEE myself as a Feldenkrais teacher. You can do this as well.
Here's what I did: I read Feldenkrais transcripts in my own voice and I recorded them at the same time. And then I did the sessions myself by listening to my recordings.
It was one of the most empowering experiences that I had ever created for myself. And I still do it. Every week.
The benefits of doing this are deep and multi-leveled. You become both the teacher and the student. As the teacher, when you first start recording, you may not feel confident. You may feel scared, you may even make a few mistakes. But later, when you listen to your recordings as the student, you will find that it does not matter. Why?
First off, as the student you want to have a positive experience. You are putting in your time and energy to do a session. You want a result. This is called "positive expectancy" and you will have it for two people - you the student and you the teacher. As you do the session, you may not - likely WILL not - hear the mistake that you thought you made as a teacher. Or you may hear the mistake but it does not matter because you know what the teacher - you - was trying to communicate. And in this way you learn that the mistakes are not that important. That is, you realize that a small mistake does not change your positive experience - neither as the teacher not the student.
Does that make sense? If not, that's fine. Just do it and see how you evolve.
By the way, it was about 2004 when I first started recording Feldenkrais sessions for my own use. I bought no special equipment, choosing to use the crappy built-in mic on my laptop. And I spent very little time preparing. In fact, sometimes I did not prepare at all. I simply read Feldenkrais transcripts into the microphone. And from time-to-time I got SUPER confused (especially with the Alexander Yanai transcripts) and did not understand what Feldenkrais wanted. And I verbalized that. I would say, "Ryan, I have no idea what in the hell Moshe is saying here, but perhaps you doing this session right now can figure it out." And I did. It was very powerful.
Question: Where do you get the transcripts and sessions? Check out my Easy Feldenkrais series. (But now there are also tons of complex and challengings sessions on there as well). You want Alexander Yanai? Ryan has Alexander Yanai.
Note: I am re-posting these now as the files on my former blog were deleted accidentally. If you posted the podcasts on your site. Please update them with the links below. My apologies for the hassle. - Ryan
The two conversations below with Mia Segal and her daughter Leora Gaster were recorded on April 14 -15 2010, at Leora's home in Austin, Texas. Mia Segal began working with Moshe Feldenkrais in 1957 and she has a rich history and understanding of Feldenkrais and his work that few can match.
For me this conversation has many "firsts" embedded within it. It was the first time that I had recorded a podcast live, the first time I had met Mia, and the first time I had been back to Texas after spending quite bit of time there in my youth. Likewise, there are many stories and anecdotes that I heard for the first time. Perhaps you as well?
This conversation almost didn't happen. Both Mia and Leora felt we had covered a lot of ground during our previous conversations and weren't quite sure what else needed to be said. However, the message that they sent to me cancelling our meeting did not arrive. So Leora graciously agreed to talk me when I arrived. The conversation is only about 20 minutes. But in it we cover a great deal of ground. Mia shares stories about Moshe, how fun he was and how full of laughter and jokes. We talk briefly about Moshe's x-wife Yona Rubenstein. We also speak of Noah Eshkol who, according to Mia, was very close to Moshe in terms of personality. We end with a story of Moshe's fears about the work getting diluted based on what was happening at Amherst after he left.