Feldenkrais: The Method
“Remember we had to sit on those plastic chairs as kids at school?” says Kate Schiftan, currently an assistant at the Australian Feldenkrais Centre in Prahran, “… our feet couldn’t touch the ground and we held our bodies rigidly flexed to hold our balance? There we were trying to be ‘good’ for teacher or our parents. That’s one of many examples of the way in which social limitations are placed on the body. The method aims to re-educate in these areas but the impact is broader because of the obvious connection between posture and state of mind. When you’re tense and twisted you can’t possibly be a happy functioning human being. The Feldenkrais mantra if you like is, ‘let it go’. Tension, holding…all of that crap we’ve been taught.”
According to the method, the body is designed to move in six directions with ease. “We are made to move,” says Schiftan, “the idea that posture is a straight post is ludicrous’. According to this method, posture is only ‘good’ if it helps you move through life easily.
Sit in on a Feldenkrais class and it may seem that nothing much is happening at all. This is because Feldenkrais is a gentle learning method. The student lying on the carpet is being re-educated as he or she tries out new and often tiny manoeuvres that the body may not ever have tried before, or not since childhood. In this way the nervous system, both body and mind, is given more options for movement.