The Sandorian Grove: Feldenkrais in the Valley & Topanga    
 Feldenkrais in the Valley & Topanga0 comments
8 Jul 2003 @ 00:04, by Max Sandor

Joelle is back from New Mexico, at least for a while. She is a master (or, should I be politically correct and say mistress?) of the Feldenkrais Method.

The first time I heard of this was through my friend Bruce (see the previous article!) who is an expert in the Alexander Technique and knows countless other methods to get the body into shape (literally, I mean, no hopping around aerobixing).

Joelle offers classes and individual sessions, see below.

Here is a summary of what the Feldenkrais Method is about:

(see Joelle's Weekly Classes and her Workshop in Topanga )

The followins was sent to me by Joelle:

“If you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want.”


Feldenkrais is a gentle and non-invasive method that gives you the opportunity to discover and improve the way you move in life. Feldenkrais uses Movement to create Awareness and Awareness to improve Movement. It is an educational system that teaches you how to shift from habitual behavior to more self-confidence, joy and creativity. It shows you how to release tensions, stress and limitations for the long term. Do you know that 75% or more of your energy is use by the nervous system to deal with gravity? That’s why, when we work with this method, we are, most of the time, lying down. The exploration of movements uses your nervous system to help you discover your patterns, find new options in how to move and open yourself to new spaces.

Moshe Feldenkrais, the creator of this amazing method, was born in Eastern Europe in 1904. At a very young age he decided to leave his home and after spending some time in what was at that time Palestine, he went to Paris to study and became an engineer. He worked with Nobel Prize winner Frederic Joliot-Curie in nuclear physics. In Paris, he also met Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo and became one of the first Europeans black belts in this art. He was involved in science, psychology, and politics and met all kinds of fascinating people. Having injured his knees, his scientific mind became very interested in exploring movements to find ways to walk more comfortably and avoid surgery. He started studying human development, the relation between physical and mental patterns and our potential to learn. He then started to work with people using hands-on and developed the two aspects of his work: Awareness Through Movement, which is a verbally guided exploration of a specific movement; it can be a functional one or a movement that belongs to our developmental repertoire or even one related to our evolutionary process! It completely nourishes the curiosity of our inner child. It is a whole pedagogical system in itself, a way “ to learn how to learn.” Awareness Trough Movement involves sensing, feeling, thinking and imagining. These are lessons for all levels of movement ability and all ages. An ATM lesson lasts approximately one hour and you can do it every day if you wish to. During an ATM you discover your patterns and explore new options to do the same movement and, in the process, you release the tensions and improve your flexibility and range of movement. At the end of the lesson we take time to integrate the teachings, to translate the experience in sitting, standing and walking, which is a key to keep the improvement in long term and every day life.

The second aspect of his work is called Functional Integration. This is a hands-on process where the practitioner gently moves with the client, creating a subtle conversation between the two nervous systems, giving the client a sense of how he moves and suggesting different options. It is such a deep and powerful process where we learn how to let go tensions, how to differentiate and to connect different parts of ourselves, how to open up and breathe with the whole of ourselves in the movement.

What do you get? You can: - In crease the quality of your movement, your flexibility and muscle tone, in a harmonious and balanced way, - Free your breathing. - Find more range and options of movement. - Get rid of tensions and pain (like the typical lower-back pain) due to stress. - Enhance perception and sensitivity. - Feel more grounded and centered. - Be able to slow down the thinking rate and become more focused. - Increase and expand awareness in all the aspects of your daily life: awareness of yourself, of your needs, of your feelings, of how you relate to your environment. - See situations from new, different perspectives. - Find a way to deeply explore the self. - Give yourself time and space to take care, reconnect and enjoy! - Improve your self-image and self-esteem. - Live your Life with more Joy, Creativity and Choice.

Dancers, martial-art people, yoga students and teachers, sports people learn how to move in an easier and more effective way, improving elasticity and strength without creating muscle-stress. Shift from the “pushing and pulling to achieve” habit to an inner exploration, using your innate knowledge and intelligence to rediscover your natural balance, stability and ability to move. Use sensation as a guide and imagination as an adviser in preparation for action. In Feldenkrais there is no right and wrong, only the right side and the left side, the two polarities learning to dance together.

Actors find a way to get in touch with the self. They become more aware of the body language. Since we explore the walking process in very many ways, as well as the use of eyes and their relation to movements, the actor finds here a wonderful tool to improve the expression of feelings, emotions and thoughts. Singers, speakers and actors learn to explore the voice and to improve the breathing. Musicians learn how to interact with their instruments, avoiding injuries related to postural habits. Plastic Artists and Creators in general discover how to explore and express their potentiality. By freeing the movement in the body, Feldenkrais encourages the expression of the individuality and liberates creative energy. The use of imagination and learning to observe the process that brings an intention into action will also serve artists purpose. “You will revive your inherent knowledge and unfold your creative skills.”

. Feldenkrais brings you back inside and in the core of the self you find creative inspiration to unfold your intention into action at the rhythm of your breathing.

For pregnant couples and people working in the field of natural birth, this is a wonderful way to prepare the Self, body-mind-spirit, to birth, parenting and after-birth recovery. It will help you get in contact with yourself by learning to listen and feel yourself and your needs. It will help you deal with gravity and find easy and comfortable ways to stand, sit, and lie down, among other habitual movements, during pregnancy. It is an effective way to calm down mental and emotional stress and it helps both the mother and the father to become more sensitive and connected with the baby. During labor, it will help you know how to let go and open yourself, find more comfortable postures, breathe more effectively and recognize your own rhythm. After birth, it is a gentle, respectful, pleasant and very effective way to get back in shape. It also helps you find comfortable positions for breast-feeding as well as for carrying the baby.

For students and educators, Feldenkrais is basically an educational system. “Learning to Move and Moving to Learn” This Method’s purpose is “To Learn how to Learn”. It stimulates our natural sense of curiosity, which is the basic skill to be a good student. By exploring the movements, we learn how to move in life. We also develop our capacity of perception, our ability to think properly, our creativity, our sense of discernment to be able to make the best choices, our communication skills (“relations are another joint!”). To grow is to become more response-able! “Education is a balance between challenge and support.”

There are also a lot of P.T.s and chiropractors actually using Feldenkrais, as a very gentle method to help people increase their range of movement. You discover how to use yourself in a more effective way, the relation between skeleton and muscles, how to move with the whole of yourself, spreading the effort along the body and therefore avoiding tensions. In the field of psychology, Feldenkrais helps release old memories and progressively change old patterns that where creating limitations in our lives. I have also seen amazing progress with autism as well as children with mental or affective disabilities.

My personal experience. I guess I was in love with movement before being born. My mother used to say that she would go dancing every night when she was pregnant. So I started Ballet at 5 in Venezuela with an old couple of Russian Dancers, and would spend a lot of weekends creating choreographies with my friends. At fifteen I discovered modern dance and Jazz and my favorite that was “Expression corporelle” (expressing feelings, ideas through movement.) I was also studying Gurdjieff movements, which I found fascinating and a great tool to develop concentration and coordination. At that time I also discovered Yoga and fell in love with the essence of it. A few years ago, back in Venezuela, I decided to work as a Doula and developed a workshop called: “From Pregnancy to ecstasy.” While working with the pregnant girls I felt the need to explore much deeper the movements and be able to give them a tool to find for themselves more comfort and ease in lying, sitting, standing and walking; to be able to be more in contact with themselves and their needs, find the optimal postures in the process of Labor and be able to listen and take care of themselves in the post-partum period. And because life is magic, I started hearing about Feldenkrais, took a 10 days workshop, fell in Love with the method and since 1999, never stopped practicing! I began my 4 years training in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the year 2000. Right now, I’m an authorized Feldenkrais Teacher and give lessons and workshops in LA. In October, I’ll graduate as a Felenkrais practitioner and will be able to give private sessions hands-on. I could talk for hours since Fledenkrais has influenced my life in so many different ways! The most dramatic is for sure the story of my car accident. Nearly two years ago now, I broke my neck (The dens, in the second cervical vertebrae.) in a car accident and miraculously didn’t die or become paralyze! But for months I could not move my head in relation to my shoulders and it was very difficult to sleep or to do many of the common movements of everyday life. I would, therefore, spend a lot of time lying down and explore very subtle movements, which helped me maintain movement skills and avoid calcification. At that time I had already started my training in Sta. Fe, New Mexico and was able to go back there a few months later to pursue my studies and catch-up with the two segments I had not been able to attend. It was the best rehabilitation I could have dreamed of! What an amazing, wonderful and effective experience! A year later I find myself able to move better than ever! And the most interesting part for me is how I was able, using the Feldenkrais method in a mental level, to progressively remember what exactly happened during the accident and how and what I did to hurt myself. I’m very grateful to the method and to the very supportive trainers we have.

You can find information on the Internet at: If you are interested in trying Feldenkrais, you can call me at: 1-323-937-9741. Or: 1-818-430-3556. I will give information on addresses and schedule for workshops and weekly lessons. For Miami, please call Gabriel at: 1-786-348-4648.

“Feldenkrais makes the impossible possible, the possible easy and the easy, elegant.”

What people say about their experience with Feldenkrais.

“Feldenkrais deepens one’s inner gaze, allowing movements to originate and express more authentically from a trace core (Anandamaya Kacha). Aya, Yoga Teacher and Educator.

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