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IMGCA Article - The Mental Game of Mind-Body Disciplines


A Ten-Minute Introduction to the Magic of Feldenkrais

Ed Brucia

Feldenkrais lessons use carefully constructed sequences of unusual movements to focus your awareness on how you organize movement. The lessons are better viewed as mental exercises for the body rather than physical exercises in the usual sense. Improving the quality of your movements is the paramount goal. Pain, effort, and hurrying are all counter-productive, and will reduce or even reverse the benefits of doing the lessons.

The following guidelines are offered to improve both your enjoyment and your safety; please read and follow them!

Health Caution: These lessons demand about the same level of fitness, range of motion, and stamina as a beginning yoga class. Some instructions may be ambiguous despite diligent efforts to the contrary, and be subject to harmful misinterpretation. So use your intelligence! You should experience no pain or discomfort whatsoever when doing the lessons correctly! If you have any medical problem or condition which might be aggravated by movement or exercise, consult a medical professional before doing these lessons!

1. Prepare a comfortable space. Lessons are usually done on a carpet or on one or two folded blankets on the floor. You want a rather firm padded surface that somewhat softens the feeling of your bones against the floor, but which still allows you to feel clearly your contact with the floor. You should have enough room to slide your arms and legs in any direction without hitting anything.

2. Repeat each movement slowly and mindfully. The movements in these lessons are not physical exercises, to be repeated rapidly or unconsciously. Repeat each movement slowly, generally no faster than one cycle of movement per normal cycle of relaxed breath. Feel your movements. Feel how your intention becomes action. If you take a rocket from point A to point B, you can't learn much on the way. But if you walk or crawl, you'll learn to make a wealth of new distinctions. Learning is the key to change.

3. Don't strain. Although the movements in these lessons are not difficult, there will be some movements you cannot do easily at first. You may be tempted to try harder, to substitute strength and effort for skill and subtlety. Gently resist the familiar temptation to work harder. Rather, search mindfully for ways to make the movements easier, lighter, and more enjoyable. This is very important.

4. Look for the pleasant sensations. During and after each lesson, you will notice various pleasant changes as your body reorganizes. These may include feelings of relaxation or of letting go, of lightness, or spaciousness, or connectedness; of feeling warmer, or taller, or more whole in some sense; or any other pleasing sensation. Every new and enjoyable experience becomes an arrow pointing toward a more potent future. Your body wants to feel good! These little distinctions will inevitably and unconsciously lead you to change your life to be more comfortable physically, emotionally, and socially.

5. Observe differences. After each lesson, stand up carefully, bringing any changes in your organization into standing. Then walk around, observing the new feelings. Allow unfamiliar sensations to be present for awhile... Notice how the lesson has changed your familiar experience of yourself. These moments of observation after the lesson are an important part of helping your nervous system to integrate what it has learned.


1) Take a moment to become aware of your body. You are probably sitting down in front of your computer. If you're like most of us, you are probably carrying a lot of extra tension as you sit here. Are you comfortable? How are you holding yourself? Notice what you are doing with your feet...with your back...with your shoulders...with your head and eyes...with your breath...

2) Now stand up and give yourself some room. Stand with your feet parallel to each other, a few inches apart. Again, notice how you feel-- feet, back, shoulders, head and eyes. Now hold your right hand softly at arm's length in front of you, with the palm facing you and the fingers pointing left. Turn to the right, following your hand with your head and eyes, so your right arm reaches to the right and behind you. Don't strain. Repeat a couple of times. Remember how far you turn comfortably. Then let your arm down and rest.

3) Now do the same movement, except this time leave your eyes looking forward. Your hand reaches to the right and toward the back as before, your shoulders and face turn right (but probably not so far as before), while your eyes keep looking forward. Repeat that slowly and gently five or ten times. Exhale as you turn right.

4) Repeat the original movement., turning right and following your hand with your head and eyes. Can you turn farther with the same effort, or the same distance with less effort? Let your arm down and rest.

5) Now do the same movement, but this time keep both your head and your eyes looking forward while your body turns right and your arm reaches back. Repeat five or ten times. Then go back to the original movement. Notice the improvement. Rest.

6) Do the original movement, but this time stop when you are turned to the right as far as is comfortable. Your arm is reaching to the right and back, and you are looking at your right hand. From that position, slowly turn your head and eyes right and left a number of times. Each time you come back to the right, you may notice an improvement....then stop that movement, keep your nose pointing toward your right hand, and slowly move your eyes right and left several times. Then come back to the center, let your arm down and rest.

7) Do the original movement again. Notice how much the movement has improved...

Now, repeat the original movement several times, and this time let your weight shift onto your right foot and let your left heel come off the floor as you turn to the right, and back onto both feet as you come back to center. Repeat that a number of times, slowly. This may allow you to turn quite far.

8) Now repeat the basic original movement, not allowing the left heel to lift. And notice how much farther you can turn than when you started!

9) What about turning the other way? Go ahead and lift your left hand in front of you, and do the movement to the left. Notice how far you turn easily. Then imagine doing the movements to this side that you did to the right. Don't actually do them, only imagine them, or visualize them. Go slowly, just as if you were actually moving. After each instruction, actually do the basic movement once, and notice the improvement. Many people experience more improvement from imaginary movements than from actual ones.

So you can see for yourself how these lessons work. Each one takes you through a carefully designed sequence of movements, gradually integrating your experience in earlier movements into later ones. Each movement builds on previous learning, involving more and more of your body into a smooth, integrated whole.

Ed Brucia is currently working as an Exercise Physiologist at Peak Performance Fitness ( Ed is also a certified Health and Fitness Instructor (ACSM) and certified EMT.

Article Source:

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