Our healthy state of well-being is constantly being challenged by different aspects of and experiences in our lives. The key to health is to understand ourselves, so we enhance our strengths while minimising our weaknesses.
Through relaxation a person feels more at ease, secure, and can become open to positive change and better equipped to deal with life’s challenges.
It was while dealing with one of my own challenges in life, that I discovered the Feldenkrais method.
My father suffered a stroke just 5 years ago and as a daughter, healer and therapist I went into fixing mode. I felt he needed more than regular physio and rehab, something that would support him through this life changing experience. I was on a mission!
The Feldenkrais Method was originally developed by Moshe Feldenkrais. I read his book The Case of Nora, which documents his study of a woman called Nora, who suffered a stroke. She lost her neuromuscular coordination including her ability to read and write. Moshe details his trial and error process, that led him to recognise the ingredients that was required to help Nora reform her attention, perception, imagination and her understanding.
The Feldenkrais Method is based on firm beliefs and principles of physics, neurology and physiology. Feldenkrais uses rational and intuitive approaches to help his students relearn basic motor skills. It is taught in two formats: Awareness through movement and functional integration.
Awareness through movement, uses gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and enhance human functioning. Through this format, you can increase your ease and range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. The emphasis is on learning which movements work better functionally and noticing the quality of positive changes in your body. Many of these movements are based on ordinary functional activities, that occur during normal human development (reaching, standing, lying and sitting). These improvements will often generalize to enhance functioning in other aspects of your life.
Functional Integration (FI) is “hands-on” Feldenkrais. The practitioner uses skilful, supportive, gentle hands to create a sense of safety, maintain supportive contact, and gain the cooperation of the unconscious, while introducing new movement possibilities in small, easily available increments. Using highly sensitive touch and gentle, exploratory movements, the practitioner helps you find freedom from restrictive movement patterns. Those with limiting conditions such as stroke or cerebral palsy may find their limitations reduced, as they learn to function more efficiently in spite of those conditions.
My search for a Feldenkrais practitioner resulted in my discovery of Bernadette, who lived in Clare, just 10 miles from my home in Galway. Bernadette invited me to take part in an awareness throw movement class while explaining in a gentle manner that this may not be something my dad wants at this moment. I was to respect where he is at right now. However, she did suggest that perhaps it was something that would be very beneficial to me during this challenging time.
My first class awakened something inside me. By the end of the lesson, I felt that I was not the same person I was when I had first entered the room. The process has been subtle and powerful and also mysterious. My mind and body felt liberated from unwanted limitations. I felt very grounded, rejuvenated, happy, conscious and at ease for the first time in months. When I look back now, I connected with the grief which I was holding in my physical body. I allowed it to move that day! That evening when I went home, I cried a river of tears. I cried for my dad, my family and most importantly, for myself.
True to Bernadettes words, my dad was not ready until a few months later. We found a practitioner nearer to him in Dublin, and he attended a series of Feldenkrais sessions the FI method. I firmly believe that my faith in the Feldenkrais Method played a huge part in making my Dad well again. It was all such a big impact on his life. It affected our whole family in many different ways.
The integration of changes I personally experienced from the Feldenkrais Method, led me to train in the method. I believe that it greatly enhances my massage practice by helping my clients to improve mobility, reduce pain, and most importantly to take an active role in the improvement and maintenance of their health. It provides me with the essential tools to help the body to reconnect to the self.
I’m now at the end of year two with two more years to go. I travel back and forth to England. it is a huge commitment! Trainees participate in ATM and FI lessons, lectures, discussions, group process and videos of Dr. Feldenkrais’ teaching. Eventually the students teach these classes under direct supervision. Graduation is based on completion of coursework, full attendance and participation in all training sessions and successful faculty evaluations. Upon completion of requirements, graduates are authorized to teach ATM classes and offer Functional Integration as a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioners and Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher.®
Originally drawn to the training to learn new skills, I began as a massage therapist interested in helping my clients to reduce pain and increase mobility, reduce tension and live calmer and more relaxed lives. But I had no idea how beneficial the training would be to my personal life. The process has been, and continues to be, the most exciting and rewarding learning I have ever experienced. I have become a healthier person physically and emotionally, leading to enhanced flexibility in all areas of my life.
Mary is based in South Galway and she also teaches workshops and ITEC courses in aromatherapy and reflexology. Visit Mary’s website HERE for more details.
Until Mary has completed her last year of training, she is not yet qualified to practice professionally. But do contact her if you are available to be one of her case studies. For a qualified Feldenkrais practioner visit feldenkrais.ie
Mary, thank you very much for being a guest on We are Holistic. I enjoyed your story and I wish your dad and your family the best of all that is good. 💙