Feel Better with Feldenkrais®
“If you know what you do, you can do what you want.” - Moshe Feldenkrais
Would you like learn how to increase your self-awareness, improve your health, feel more self-confident and experience more joy in your life? To discover a way to improve and transform the quality of your life through movement?
Through the Feldenkrais Method® you will learn to use movement as your tool to improve your self-image and experience yourself more fully. How we learn and form habits is of central importance in the practice of the Feldenkrais Method® of Somatic Education. The Feldenkrais Method® utilizes functionally based variation, innovation, and differentiation in sensory motor activity to break down habitual patterns and allow new ways of thinking, feeling and action to emerge.
LEARNING TO LEARN
If you have already somehow acquired one way to do anything - even a habitually inefficient way - then you are capable of learning to acquire other ways to do that same thing. Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) lessons will provide you with ways to observe yourself while in action, to practice the skill of self- awareness. You’ll learn how to experience for yourself all those little details of how your habitual ‘organization’ includes unintended, unconscious MOVEMENTS which actually interfere with your intentions. In this process of “becoming aware of yourself” in totally new ways, new and more efficient ways of functioning simply emerge - and often quite quickly.
Feldenkrais is not intended to cure disease or disabilities. Instead, it is an effective way to learn about and improve physical limitations through freedom of movement. Because the Feldenkrais Method provides relief from many ailments caused by various neurological or physical disorders, it enhances the quality of living. A simple ranking of conditions responsive to this form of therapy is as follows. As with all alternative therapies, use of the Feldenkrais Method does not preclude the use of mainstream medical therapies in addition.
Top level (ideally suited for these conditions):
Autism, Back Pain, Balance problems, Cerebral Palsy, Chronic Anxiety, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic pain, Closed Head Injuries, CVA (stroke), Dystonia, Fibromyalgia, Head and Neck Pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Motor Limitations, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Neurological Disorders, Open and Closed Head Injuries, Orthopedic Injuries, Postpartum Care, Post-surgical Tissue Trauma, Psychosomatic Disorders, Repetitive Stress Injuries, Stress, Temporomandibular Joint Pain (TMJ), Whiplash.
Second level (one of the better therapies for these conditions):
Hypertension, Incontinence, Insomnia, Lazy Eye, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis (see also Bones for Life® program), Sleep Disorders, Tinnitus.
Third level (valuable adjunct therapy for these conditions):
Arthritis, Cancer, Constipation, Emphysema, Menstrual Cramps, Vision Problems.
Feldenkrais is presented in two gentle formats:
1) AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT® (ATM)
In these group classes, gentle exploratory movement sequences are designed to give each person more understanding of themselves. You learn to move with less pain and effort, and in such a way that changes occur in the brain patterns which organize control of your body. You will learn how to translate intention into action with ease, while getting rid of unnecessary interfering habits. The lessons begin with comfortable, easy movements that gradually evolve into movements of greater range and complexity, recapitulating the childhood experience of originally learning to organize and control movements. Functions that require repetition to learn are taught through numerous variations that maintain the novelty of the situation. Once novelty wears off, awareness is dulled and no learning takes place.
The lessons are so arranged that they require concentration in order to sense kinesthetic (felt sense) differences. Without real attention it is impossible to follow to the next stage in the lesson.
Participants engage in precisely structured movement explorations that involve thinking, sensing, moving, and imagining. The lessons are often based on developmental movements such as rolling, crawling, or moving from lying to sitting; or explorations of joint, muscle, and postural relationships. Minute, barely perceptible movements are used extensively to reduce latent tonus (degree of involuntary contractions) in the muscles. The gradual reduction of useless effort increases sensitivity.
One ATM lesson might involve measuring spaces inside your head in your mind’s eye. Or using your breath to find the midline of your body.
A famous series of ATM lessons enables you to learn to stand on your head – by guiding you to find that you can safely fall in all directions. Once you can fall from your head, standing on your head is no problem!
A few things distinguish all these different ATM lessons from many other forms of movement work. The teacher gives verbal instructions, and doesn’t demonstrate. You don't learn by copying someone else's way of moving. You play with the movements the teacher suggests, to discover your own idea of the movement and your capacity for teaching yourself.
You can’t actually do anything wrong in an ATM: the instruction is always an instruction to explore your own idea of a movement. Sometimes, of course, you clarify your ideas in the course of a lesson, so that by the end of a lesson “left” means the same thing for you as it does for other people. Moshe Feldenkrais’ idea was that we don't correct movement: we use movement as the means whereby you can correct your own self-image.
Lessons include many breaks – time spent just lying on the floor, sensing yourself, allowing the space for subconscious learning to happen. And movement is gentle and easy, below the level of a stretch sensation, so the lessons are safe for people of many different ability levels.
The lessons range in mood from meditative to challenging. The goal of every lesson is to wake up your innate capacity for learning new movement possibilities. And since our sense of ourselves, of who we are, is a sense of what we are capable of doing, how we are capable of moving, to improve your capacity to learn new movement means to improve your self-image at a very deep level.
Who is ATM for?
Students come to these lessons sometimes in order to improve a particular problem – nagging back or knee or neck pain, for example. ATM gives you the chance to discover where your own movement habits and habits of awareness are contributing to a chronic pain, and to learn new and more comfortable options for movement.
Sometimes people come to develop a greater feeling of being at home in their own bodies. The non-judgmental atmosphere of an ATM lesson is an opportunity for you to practice self-acceptance and self-awareness.
Some people come when they have grown tired of pushing themselves through life – always accomplishing things by trying too hard, by hurting themselves. ATM helps you learn how to accomplish more by doing less, by no longer wasting energy in fighting against yourself.
People in professions or with hobbies that are demanding on the body and their creativity find ATM very helpful – massage therapists, musicians, dancers, actors, athletes, martial artists.
People cultivating meditation practices find the ATM process a natural somatic extension of their interest in mindfulness.
Where and How Much?
All of Chrish's 5 weekly classes are held in the District in Chrish’s Studio at the following location:
2814 38th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
Usually one class per week is sufficient, but you will really benefit rapidly if you take more classes or combine classes with individual sessions. Classes typically last about one hour. Please wear something loose and comfortable. Mats will be provided. Cost for a series of ten classes is $150. If you prefer to pay by individual class, the drop-in rate is $20.
Please call Chrish at 202-338-1867 or email her here for more information about classes, individual sessions, or to register. You may join classes at any time – enrollment is open!
See Schedule Page for times of classes and also workshops.
2) FUNCTIONAL INTEGRATION® (FI)
This is “hands-on” Feldenkrais. Practitioners are trained to detect minute resistances in your movement patterns which often represent emotional, psychological or physical limitations. They use highly sensitive touch and gentle exploratory movements to help you find freedom from compulsive, imprisoning patterns. It’s a big relief! This is a more intensive aspect of the work in which the practitioner communicates opportunities for change in another person's organization through gentle touch and specific guided movements. This kind of subtle, supportive touch is rarely felt, and feels deeply nourishing and relaxing. FI’s feel great! The lessons are particularly suitable for people with specific problems such as back, neck, shoulder or other chronic pain, movement limitations or a need to improve any type of function.
The human organism has the potential to experience peak awareness, not just during moments of heightened danger or demand, but at every moment. By developing this ability, you will learn to move more efficiently, listen more carefully, make fewer mistakes, limit injuries, and enrich your life as well as the life of others around you.