By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 13 2020 11:31AM
Feldenkrais teacher Jenny shares the first in her exploration of the Feldenkrais method using three case studies to illustrate how the method works and what you might experience in a session.
To explain a bit more about what the Feldenkrais Method is, I’m going to talk about 3 clients that I currently see, Steve, Hannah and Sara. (not their real names)
I’m not doing it, he is discovering himself
Steve is 46 and works in the city. He’s married with a child. He came to see me because of what he called general stiffness, with niggling pains now and then in his back, neck and left knee. He’s fairly fit, running regularly and goes to the gym. These kinds of concerns are common with people I see. Only the details and size of the problem vary. First of all: my job isn’t to wave a therapist’s magic wand and make Steve feel better!
My job is to help him see what he’s doing - that he doesn’t know that he’s doing that is causing him to feel stiff and in pain. It goes without saying he’s stressed and anxious a lot of the time.
So I observe how is he holding himself, how he sits and walks. How does he respond when I gently do certain movements? Are his joints having a conversation with each other, or are there habitual unnecessary muscular tensions stopping the flow of this conversation ?
This might sound a bit strange, but let’s look at it this way; there are several hundred joints in the body, and they’re all connected both anatomically and bio mechanically. In Steve’s case, the pain in his neck is related to how he holds his shoulders, how he has discomfort turning and looking to one side and over one shoulder, how he uses his eyes, what’s happening below in the rest of his spine, rib cage, pelvis and 2 feet!
Yes! our skeleton is like a dynamically connected pearl necklace or a wonderful machine, each part having a knock on effect with every other part.
So I bring attention to different parts in Steve, getting him to sense how the parts do or don’t connect, where he is preventing movement, where he’s restricted and how we might lessen the load. This is done through gentle touch and often with talking also. This sounds like a lot of work, but it is in fact very relaxing! And it’s like waking something up in him.
So each week Steve comes to my practice and sits for 5 or 10 minutes and then lies down on a table for 40 minutes or so, and we explore all of these possibilities within him. I’m not doing it, he is discovering himself.
Gradually his stiffness is going, his gym workouts are improving, he has more time for his son, he feels less anxious with his work load, he feels taller walking down the corridor. These are things he has reported to me over the last 10 weeks.
And this is the beauty of the Feldenkrais method. Steve’s nervous system which is built for learning - is learning through gentle exploration, and through developing his attention to his own internal sensations, in the same way that a new born baby learns to roll, crawl, stand up, walk and run, all without a teacher!
I’m not imposing anything on him in the lessons. I’m helping him find an inner quality, which becomes a resource for the rest of who he is, and his life. And, helps his neck pain!