The Complete Guide To Feldenkrais Therapy
Developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, the Feldenkrais Method combines movement and mindfulness to help people think deeply about how they move. Unlike traditional psychotherapy treatments, Feldenkrais is somatic education, meaning that it primarily uses movement to improve mental health. This article will explore what Feldenkrais therapy entails, how you can incorporate it into your life, and the potential benefits it can have on your physical and mental health.
Moshe Feldenkrais’ Feldenkrais Method is a physical therapy that focuses on improving the mind-body connection to improve self-awareness. Classes are designed to facilitate growth in the areas of balance, breathing, coordination, and cognition. The Feldenkrais Method is based on research in neuroscience, biomechanics, and human development. It can be used for remedial purposes such as rehabilitation and pain relief. It can also be utilized as a preventative measure to improve balance and flexibility, thereby helping to avoid physical injuries before they occur.
How Does It Work?
The Feldenkrais Method uses gentle movement to improve participants’ self-awareness and teach them more effective ways to achieve the life they want. During Feldenkrais sessions, people may learn to increase their awareness so that they can perform their daily activities with more graceful and efficient movement.
Who Can Benefit?
Almost anyone can benefit from participating in Feldenkrais Therapy. Still, it may be especially helpful for people with chronic pain or injuries, athletes and performers, people with neurological conditions, those seeking personal growth and self-improvement, and older adults.
How Does It Compare With Other Therapies?
The Feldenkrais Method is vastly different from most other types of therapies. While it is designed to improve the mind-body connection, it’s much more focused on physical growth than mental growth. It is not meant to take the place of psychotherapy treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy, for example, and is not designed to treat mood or behavior disorders.
Types Of Feldenkrais Therapy
The Feldenkrais Method consists of two types of instruction: awareness through movement and functional integration. Awareness through movement takes place in group sessions while the functional integration occurs during personal lessons.
Awareness through movement: Awareness through movement (ATM) have similarities with Tai Chi. In a group setting, individuals participate in slow, mindful movements. The goal is to improve strength, flexibility, and awareness via the mind-body connection. These movements are designed to be incorporated into daily living activities, so that participants can walk more efficiently, safely lift objects, and improve their posture. Each class can last from 30 to 60 minutes. Using this method, you can expect to move into a variety of positions, including sitting, standing, and lying on the floor. The movements taught in an ATM lesson can also help release muscle tension.
Functional integration: Functional integration lessons are one-on-one Feldenkrais sessions. During a lesson, the practitioner uses noninvasive physical contact to teach a student more comfortable and efficient movement patterns. Like in ATM lessons, movement may take place sitting, standing, or lying on a table.
Benefits Of Feldenkrais Therapy
Both research and anecdotal evidence point to several benefits provided by the Feldenkrais Method. These include:
Physical: The focus of the Feldenkrais Method is teaching movement and awareness to help people more effectively perform their daily activities and routines. As a result, participants can experience several physical benefits such as reduced pain, improved balance, improved athletic performance, and healthy aging.
Mental: Since this movement-based therapy offers several physical benefits, the growth that people experience can lead to mental health benefits as well. Specifically, participants may feel empowered by their improved ability and performance.
Emotional: As participants experience ease in their daily movements, they may notice significant changes in their sense of self. For example, older adults who were previously unstable may feel more confident as they reduce their risk of falling and increase their ability to physically engage with others. Athletes might also mentally celebrate as their performance improves.
How To Prepare For A Session
You don’t need to do much to prepare for Feldenkrais therapy except to ensure you’ll be working with a guild-certified Feldenkrais practitioner. However, it can be important to eat before class and come to your session with an open mind. Moreover, you may want to be mindful of what you choose to wear.
What To Wear
Since the Feldenkrais Method focuses on movement, you might want to wear nonrestrictive clothing for each session. Soft, loose-fitting clothing and socks may be recommended. You should feel comfortable enough to sit, stand, and lie down in what you’re wearing. Whether you’re attending a group or individual session, you’ll be in close contact with other people. Consider avoiding heavy perfume or other fragrances that people might be allergic to or sensitive to.
What To Expect
If you’ve ever attended an exercise class, you may have some idea of what to expect of the Feldenkrais Method. Since the classes focus on movement, it may be wise to avoid eating a large meal before you attend. During a group Feldenkrais session, you may participate in a teacher-led sequence of gentle movements punctuated by periods of rest.
In a personal lesson, you’ll work one-on-one with an instructor. They’ll begin by asking about your concerns so that the two of you can set goals for the session. After that, you'll be guided through movements that expand your range of thought, expression, and action. Most personal sessions take place on a low table but can also include other positions relevant to your daily actions. For example, if you enjoy gardening, your practitioner may lead you through kneeling or sitting exercises.
It’s typically recommended that you complete at least six group sessions or three personal sessions. Even so, you may choose to take lessons for months or years if you enjoy the experience.
Each session consists of two main activities: movement and rest. Both are considered vital to the method. Feldenkrais movements are slow and deliberate. During ATM classes, your instructor may give verbal instructions about how to move, but they won’t demonstrate what to do. It may be up to you to interpret what each movement looks like, but you can anticipate that these movements will be gentle and slow.
Remember that you’re encouraged to take what you learn about movement and apply it to your daily actions. This can be the most beneficial outcome of the class, as you will likely develop more subtle and efficient ways of walking, sitting, exercising, and so on. Between periods of movement, you may be asked to rest. This rest can help your brain consolidate what you’re learning more effectively so you can remember and apply it to your life later on.
Possible Sensations And Emotions
After class ends, you may feel more relaxed and in tune with your body, or you may feel no different than you did before. Over time, though, you’re likely to notice changes in your physical performance. For example, you may find it easier to sit with good posture or swing a tennis racket more efficiently. Like many types of therapy, your progress may not always be linear, but your results could compound over time.
How To Find A Qualified Practitioner
The Feldenkrais Guild of North America offers a directory of certified practitioners, so you can find a qualified practitioner to lead your sessions. If there is more than one teacher located in your area, you’re encouraged to communicate with several of them before signing up for a class. This may enable you to select the practitioner you’ll feel most comfortable with.
Online Therapy: Feldenkrais And Other Treatments
You can also participate in online sessions if a certified Feldenkrais instructor isn't available in your area. Some teachers offer live or recorded classes. At openATM.org, you can have many 30 to 60-minute class recordings free of charge.
If you’re interested in participating in Feldenkrais sessions, finding time for both this movement-based therapy and other types of psychotherapy may be difficult. With online therapy platforms, you can efficiently have thousands of therapists who may be able to work with your schedule. This can prevent you from having to choose between different types of therapy. You can connect with an online therapist through a platform like BetterHelp. Here, you can chat through video or phone calls or by using an in-app messaging feature. Just as you can have recordings of Feldenkrais therapy from home, you can also speak to an online therapist from home or anywhere else you have a Wi-Fi connection. This may make it more convenient to get the support you need.
The Efficacy Of Online Therapy
Online therapy can be a useful resource for those facing concerns with their mental health. In a meta-analysis of 11 studies, researchers found that internet-based cognitive behavior therapy was proven to decrease the severity and frequency of depression symptoms and improve symptoms of other mental health conditions such as anxiety, PTSD, and stress. Researchers concluded that internet-based interventions could be “feasible and effective” options for treating common mental health disorders and stress in older adults.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your mind-body connection, Feldenkrais movement therapy may be worth your consideration. For those experiencing mood or behavior disorders, Feldenkrais can help decrease anxiety and increase tranquility. While there are several potential benefits associated with Feldenkrais, it might not be a good substitute for psychotherapy in treating mental health disorders. Online therapy providers like BetterHelp can make it easier to reach multiple avenues of treatment, so you can experience both mental and physical growth. To get started on your therapeutic journey, reach out to Betterhelp today.
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