The Feldenkrais Method® approaches your physiotherapy in ways that are both similar and different from other healing traditions. Often, students we work with have already seen a chiropractor, or sought physical therapy, acupuncture, or massage therapy. Some are already practicing yoga or meditation. Here’s how our practice relates to these other physiotherapy approaches.
Chiropractor and Feldenkrais are complementary, yet different. With Feldenkrais, the body movements are always gentle, painless, and designed to stay within your comfortable, easy range of motion. The key ingredient of any Feldenkrais class or private session is the learning component. You are not adjusted, as with a some forms of chiropractic. Instead, you are taught.
This empowering approach provides you with multiple, sustainable ways to function, think, and feel. This tends to replace old, limiting, painful habits with new, more efficient ones.
Feldenkrais® addresses the nervous system and the brain, in addition to muscle, fascia, and bone. This allows the practitioner to use gentle, painless movement to “rewire” the habit at its core.
Feldenkrais® private sessions involve some hands-on direction of your movements. This works to rewire your brain and nervous system for more efficient and pain-free living. The sessions and classes are about 50-55 minutes long. You may also be assigned some short, mindful movements to practice at home in between visits.
Physical Therapy and Feldenkrais are complementary methods. They have a similar goal: restoring function and increasing range of movement, while developing a home practice that can prevent repetitive injury and maintain health. It can be beneficial to combine both methods to deepen and speed up your rehabilitation.
Feldenkrais integrates precise biomechanical movements into a holistic understanding of your body’s central nervous system. Your body and mind work simultaneously to rewire the neural pathways that have been triggering your pain and restriction. This allows you to move more freely, without discomfort.
Feldenkrais movements (both during a private session, or as part of a group class) are intended to be painless and comfortable. With the Feldenkrais Method®, you learn through joy and pleasure. As you take the exercises/movements home and practice, you will find yourself wanting to do them because they feel good, unlike some physical therapy.
Feldenkrais® and acupuncture are complementary, since both are painless, and work with the major meridians of the body (nervous system channels). Like acupuncture, there is an energy balancing component to Feldenkrais sessions.
However, the Feldenkrais Method® is completely non-invasive. It doesn’t use any needles like acupuncture, or rely on any external source for its effectiveness. On the contrary, it activates the inner healing of homeostasis mechanisms in the individual, which can be tapped into anytime, anywhere. As you learn how to access these movement/thinking/feeling patterns on your own, you become your own healer.
Massage therapy involves soft tissue manipulation. Massage therapists work with muscles and soft tissue. The Feldenkrais Method® is an approach that seeks to affect change by working with your nervous system. Your brain directs the nervous system and is in charge of your movement patterns. So if you want to change your movements you must literally change your mind. As new neural pathways are formed in your brain, you can safely regulate and coordinate your movements to take more efficient actions.
Like massage therapy, private Feldenkrais sessions can involve some hands-on work from your practitioner. This involves guiding your movements rather than manipulating your muscles or soft tissue.
Also like massage therapy, Feldenkrais sessions and group classes are deeply relaxing. The work activates and engages your parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of resting and digesting. As such, the sessions and classes induce a state of profound rest and recovery. However, this rested state is not sleepy or loose like after massage therapy. Clients often feel more active and in a “ready” state, primed for optimal performance.
Many students explore the Feldenkrais Method® as a way to achieve postures that previously eluded them or that caused discomfort. In a similar way as Yoga, the Feldenkrais Method® develops your flexibility, and the unity of your mind and body.
Beginning yogis may find that the somatic education that Feldenkrais offers allows them to be aware of their movement as they flow between poses, or as they hold a certain asana. This awareness can increase the benefit of their yoga practice, as well as avoid injury or pain.
For advanced students, practicing the powerful integration of breathing, movement and awareness that Feldenkrais allows can facilitate or strengthen Yoga’s goal of union, moment to moment.
Meditation and Feldenkrais are similar in the sense that both use breathing and awareness as their main vehicle for learning. While some forms of meditation look for stillness, some include walking and sitting. Long term meditators may find challenging sitting or walking for long periods of time. Feldenkrais, as it brings deep awareness of the body and its movement, can make sitting, walking or standing easier and more comfortable. At the same time, Feldenkrais cultivates the observer, that one which notices and choses, with refined attention. In this sense, both Meditation and Feldenkrais inform one another.
You may come to think of Feldenkrais as a moving meditation, since many of the mental and physical benefits of meditation come to you in your sessions.