Updated: Jan 20
I heard someone say once that Feldenkrais is “yoga for the brain”, and I have also heard it described as “micro-yoga”! Both statements have something appealing about them. If yoga is “to join” or integrate then Feldenkrais Method is a kind of yoga. It aims to join a person’s disparate parts together; it is a study of connectivity within the human frame. I sometimes describe it as the “forensics” of movement. It is an ongoing investigation at an almost imperceptible level of human behaviour or ability.
I was invited to teach a masterclass at Yogahaven last summer and luckily have been invited back to do four more this year. I have decided to base them on the 4 seasons Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. If you are in or near the capital, it would be great to see you there.
After the summer masterclass I was interviewed by the wonderful passionate yoga teacher Laurent Roure and he has edited it and so forth, to create a podcast which is mainly me talking about the man, Moshe Feldenkrais and the method. It is pretty good! One actor friend, Toby (a super-keen yogaista) listen to all of it and reported back to me that it was very inspiring and so I am hoping that you may well feel then same. Here is the link to my first every podcast appearance: https://www.yogalaurent.com/category/podcast/ and here is a picture of me and Laurent.
The main difference it seems to me between Yoga and Feldenkrais is that Yoga is centered around poses or positions and Feldenkrais Method occupies itself almost exclusively with movement. In yoga, you have as part of the bedrock of the practice a position which ultimately can either be done or it can't. In Feldenkrais, there is only ever the suggestion that you make a movement. You see where it goes. You feel the quality of the movement, and you assess ways of making the movement easier. It's what makes Feldenkrais a bit more elusive, I think than Yoga. In Yoga, at the end of the day, you can SEE what is going on. The positions or poses speak for themselves. In Feldenkrais, the thing that matters more is the journey to and from whatever position the body has found itself in.
On a slightly deeper level, Feldenkrais method has built into its DNA the idea of exploration of movement which should derail any attempt to judge oneself, although inevitably it takes a long time to get there, if you ever do, and in Yoga the positions or poses are there as something to measure yourself by. However kind you are to yourself, in Yoga you are inevitably judging yourself against the pose. Feldenkrais does something very powerful to nurture your innate ability to be at peace with yourself; the more we listen to our limits in Feldenkrais the more those limits seem to melt away. That is perhaps the one great lesson that yoga fiends can take from my method; that listening to one's actual capacity to move is a wonderful way to allow improvement. The more awareness you have of the limits the more the limits seem to melt away.
The best way to see for yourselves what I am talking about is to get to your nearest Feldenkrais class. They can be found here http://www.feldenkrais.co.uk/whatson.php and you can of course book on for my classes if you are in Oxford, Charlbury or London. And you can book your place on the Winter-Feldenkrais Masterclass at Yoga Haven directly from here .
Finally here are some feedbacks from the Summer Yoga Haven masterclass to whet your appetite.
"I felt very grounded and really loved the connection between the mind and movement of the body. And to think about it and not always rushing to do another movement, and to actually understand it and it allows you to do more and not less." Damine.
"You can apply all this to how you live your life, and I can see that you could so that you are not always striving and not feeling like a failure if you don’t reach your goals.' Patience.
"We were encouraged to think about what we were doing and that was an interesting challenge.
At times I was back to my clunky body and at other times I felt like I could take off and fly." Miread.
And Damine again..."The class is to make you aware and the more aware you are the more you realise you can do." I couldn't put any of the above better than they have!
And on a final note, the feedback that I most enjoyed was from Laurent's husband, José, who said that he hated it to start with and wondered whether he was really throwing his afternoon away. But, he explained, as it went on, it got better and better until he finally found it really beautiful. I had gone really slowly to start with and that is a big challenge for some people but as José found out, sometimes you have to go slow to find out what is really going on!