The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic technique created by Moshe Feldenkrais in the 1950s. The method has two parts: hands-on sessions with a Feldenkrais teacher (Functional Integration) or group classes comprised of verbal cues (Awareness Through Movement).
Mary Armentrout, a dance teacher, choreographer and Feldenkrais practitioner, shares three ways that this somatic practice can bolster your students’ training.
It can help repattern inefficient movement habits (and decrease pain as a result).
“This is a technique that supports my dancing by helping me to understand my skeleton, alignment and how I’m using my muscles. You work with your own nervous system, and the nervous system is able to repattern. Opening the car door, bringing the coffee cup to your mouth or doing a tendu are all body patterns. In Feldenkrais, you can change them.”
It can create a sense of agency.
“In the class setting, everyone lies on their own mat and listens to what the teacher is suggesting. The teacher doesn’t demonstrate, and generally you have your eyes closed. You hear the instruction, ‘Take your left hand, put it on your forehead and slowly roll your head side to side.’ If I were to say that, how much are you going to roll? A lot? A little? It’s up to you. You go at your pace and do it in a way that’s comfortable for you. In that way it can be empowering.”
It can spark creativity.
“One of the things I do with it is use it as a creative process tool. We’re creatures of habit all over the place. I have habitual ways I create a dance. If I do Feldenkrais and then make a dance, my mind is a little more open. There are a lot more possibilities that I feel good about trying.”
To see the man behind the method, check out this historical footage from a 1980 Feldenkrais workshop.