What is Somatic Awareness?
The Feldenkrais Method is a form of body awareness training using gentle movement and directed awareness to improve flexibility, range of motion and coordination. Through non-strenuous exploration of the way one part of the body moves in relation to another, students learn new neuromuscular patterns similar to the way babies learn to navigate their environment. The method was developed by Israeli Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, who believed that humans are designed to learn movement in a logical progression. If part of this sequence is missed or impeded through injury, it must be relearned.
Sensing the Subtle Differences
According to local practitioner Dale Jensen, the Feldenkrais Method “is appropriate for infants, children and adults; for various neurological, orthopedic and chronic and stress related conditions; for finding more comfort performing everyday activities at work or home, and for developing and refining one’s skill in athletic or artistic pursuits.” Practitioners use gentle touch and tiny movements to help children learn subtle differences between one sensation and another.
After a session, Feldenkrais students of all ages frequently report increased confidence in their movement, reduced fear of falling, and even problem solving approaches that reap benefits in other areas of their lives. Parents and practitioners have found that Feldenkrais training can help their autistic children with sensory processing disorders, meltdowns and tantrums, and repetitive behaviors.
Movement is Learning
Feldenkrais lessons involve a process of active learning: the child is a full participant, gradually becoming more aware of the functional use of their own bodies. Unlike more traditional therapeutic approaches, where movement is patterned for the passive student, with Feldenkrais the child is a full participant in the quiet, process-oriented learning. Instead of training the body in ‘typical’ movement patterns, a Feldenkrais practitioner encourages the client to participate in the discovery process, to be fully engaged while learning.
Finding out More
To become guild certified, a practitioner must complete a series of classes and test that take place over a four year span. Jensen, who has also completed specialized Feldenkrais training for working with children, has worked with “a variety of clients including infants and children with special needs; adults with stroke, MS, scoliosis and chronic pain from back and joint injuries, and athletes and musicians seeking to recover from injury and improve their performance.”
To learn more, go to michiganfeldenkrais.com.