Awareness Through Movement class

Why movement?

Dr. Feldenkrais used to say: “movement is life. Without it, life is inconceivable.” Even sucking, the first action a baby takes to ensure its survival, is a movement pattern involving the muscles of the face. Like all human activity, it has to be learned.
Movement is the first object of our brain’s remarkable capacity for learning.

As babies, we all went through this learning process – moving and learning, developing our brain through the process, and achieving constantly new levels of mastery over our environment – and the success or failure of the process determined the quality of our life. We had no teachers and no verbal instruction. Sensing, feeling and moving were but one action that had one biological purpose – becoming a functional, healthy and fulfilled human.

This magnificent kind of learning - involving feeling, thinking and moving - is available to us throughout our life. But the introduction of language and schooling into a child’s life creates, along with the benefits it brings, an interference in this organic process. If teachers and parents are not careful, it can sometimes stop it altogether. By using movement instead of words, the Feldenkrais Method makes the model of learning we developed in the beginning of our life available to us again.

How does it work?

With each new movement we learn as infants, the connections in our brain multiply to create a map of ourselves, literally a self-image, which in turn is used by our brain to send signals to our muscles when we want to do something. Our nervous system constantly solves new problems and evolves to meet the world we live in. Muscles don’t think, bones don’t think, human brains do. If we have pain – back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, etc. – we need to learn to move differently so as not to put the same pressure on the same joints all the time. If we want to hone a performance skill – playing an instrument, acting, dancing, swimming, playing baseball – we need to learn how to better use ourselves. If we don’t find a way to change the map in our brain so that the orders given to our muscles are more efficient, every other solution will be temporary and will not enhance our life. Solutions that do not engage our basic self-image will not bring lasting improvement.

The Feldenkrais Method is unique in its approach to solving these problems of self-use. Through carefully developed movement lessons based on developmental stages it accesses the brain’s innate capacity for plasticity, learning and adaptation. It uses the language the brain understands best – the language of movement. While the results may seem miraculous to us, they are no more miraculous than the learning a baby does in its first years of life. Improved self-use and better adaptation to the demands of a given task are natural outcomes of returning to an organic way of learning.

Copyright © 2007 Aliza Stewart, New-York City and Baltimore, Maryland.