Movement in Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement classes differs from movement in traditional fitness and exercise. Yet these Feldenkrais classes are considered a mild form of exercise and they foster biological fitness*. The movements may feel familiar at times, and at other times feel foreign or nonsensical. Regardless, each has potential to influence positively the quality of daily functioning. By seeking ease, efficiency in physical movement, and internal strength through mindful self-observation and exploratory action, you undertake your journey of self-improvement and self-knowing.
In a Awareness Through Movement class you are invited to pay attention to the process and quality of your movement — how you move – and put the spotlight on learning how to learn. In traditional fitness you likely focus on performance levels and targets, and perhaps unknowingly expend unnecessary effort to reach your targets.
Movement sequences in Awareness Through Movement classes are crafted to nurture a feeling of safety. When you feel safe, you are more open to learning and spontaneous change (or self-correction from within), and are less likely to shift into patterns of self-protection.
In class you are orally guided through movement sequences and variations to (1) provide insight into your routine, automatic ways of moving (your habits in other words) which may be less functionally effective than what is possible, and (2) illuminate different options for more functional movement.
Over a thousand Awareness Through Movement lessons varying in complexity and difficulty exist. They are designed for all levels of movement ability. Anyone can benefit. You need only be curious and want to learn. Are you hoping to restore function due to some neurological challenge or injury? Undertaking new life adventures and activities? Wanting to improve and perfect capacity and performance?
Biological fitness is directly relevant to survival. To survive well and enjoy life you need to be ready to move in any direction without hesitation or unnecessary preparation. Biological fitness differs from the fitness typically associated with workouts, training and exercise.
Moshe Feldenkrais believed strongly in the importance of biological fitness. Our modern-day, sedentary lifestyle contributes to de-emphasis of and decline in biological fitness.
Do you ever experience discomfort or challenges in your everyday functions – actions such as turning around yourself, reaching for items, lifting objects, bending over to pick something up, transitioning from standing to sitting to floor work (and vice versa), manuevering on stairs, walking, maintaining balance, orienting yourself in your surroundings, struggling to see or listen, fighting with lack of dexterity in using your hands? These discomforts or challenges compromise your biological fitness.
Would being as biologically fit as possible be a desire of yours? Do you yearn for simple joy, adaptability to meet the challenges of life, self-confidence, internal strength, and a clearer sense of self?
Come to an Awareness Through Movement class to fulfill your desire and satiate your yearning.
As movement is involved, you will want to wear clothing that allows you to move easily. Shoes aren’t typically worn during class; this provides you more sensory feedback from the surface you are on. It is advisable to wear (or bring) socks, in case your feet get cold.
As lessons are often done lying on the floor, you will want to bring a mat or blanket on which to lie, and some form of padding to cushion your head. Contact with the floor offers more sensory feedback for greater learning than would be possible in standing. This also reduces distractions that can interfere with your self-observations – do you move in well-coordinated harmony, in confusion, with internal restriction or constraint? Observing yourself in movement and at rest contributes to sensory self-awareness, and opens the door to change and self-improvement.
You will spend the majority of class time in actual movement. However, pauses and rests are strategically distributed throughout class time. These provide you time to integrate and process your experience, as well as to sense to changes taking place (all important parts of learning).
At the end of class I invite students to share experiences and ask questions. I also offer ideas for what can be done at home to remind yourself of the lesson experience and guide you to relate your experience to everyday life.
Moving slowly and expending less effort to move rewards you with more sensitivity and clearer awareness of what you are doing.
Doing less, especially when you notice pain, provides more opportunity for self-observation and reduces shifting into self-protection. (Pain is your body’s way of telling you it will shift into self-protection if you ignore the message.)
Being curious nurtures discovery, which is a key aspect of learning and transformation.
Practicing self-care (resting when you need to regardless what others are doing) prevents fatigue and provides opportunity for integrating what you are learning about yourself.
Monitoring your breathing so it’s free, unencumbered and uninterrupted informs you if you are using just the effort needed and moving with clear intention.
Imagining when you can’t physically do fires the neural pathways involved in the action.
Witnessing differences from start to end of class and across sides of yourself illuminates the power of learning.
Focusing on the journey rather than on achievement (and endpoints) is what learning is about.
“When you know what you are doing, you can do what you want” (Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais)