If you have been listening to the media’s predictions concerning health care in the next decade, it probably sounds something like this:
“North Americans are quickly becoming a society of aging baby boomers. The pressure is mounting as our rapidly aging population puts increased demands on an already strained medical system. As the nightmare grows to epidemic proportions politicians and bureaucrats are reeling as they try to cope with mounting medical costs on already stretched tax dollars.”
Maintaining a Quality Life Using the Feldenkrais® Method
Many of us baby boomers are not willing to buy into this scenario and are taking personal responsibility for maintaining a quality life and are actively searching out ways to enhance our senior years. The Feldenkrais Method is one means to regain, maintain, or improve the quality of your life through gentle, pain free, effective movement.
Joe & Martha’s Functional Integration® Lessons
It is never too late to start as two octogenarians have discovered. Joe and Martha (not their real names) have been receiving weekly one-on-one, hands-on Feldenkrais sessions known as Functional Integration® lessons for a period of six months. Martha has a condition which causes tremors in her hands and feet, has impaired her ability to walk, sit, turn, etc. and has impacted on her ability to retrieve words and talk coherently.
Joe has had a chronic knee problem for several years that had begun to make walking (his favorite form of exercise) painful and has caused him to worry about his continued ability to take care of Martha. Since the sessions began, Martha’s tremors have decreased, her ability to walk has improved and she is able to once again carry on a simple conversation without the frustration of missing words.
Joe is overcoming his knee problem and he is able to go for long walks without pain or discomfort. Both are now more able to enjoy their relationship and have increased their quality of living for their remaining years.
Awareness Through Movement® Classes
You don’t have to be a senior to take advantage of the benefits of Feldenkrais work. Many people of all ages, who simply want to maintain or improve their ability to golf, swim, play tennis, etc., are participating in Awareness Through Movement® classes.
An Awareness Through Movement® Advertisement shares:
The Feldenkrais Method class, which looks much like any exercise or yoga class, the instructor will verbally put the students through a series of 15 or 20 movements that are thematically related to a particular function such as turning, rolling, sitting, etc. During the lesson, your body becomes your personal laboratory and in an atmosphere of total acceptance where there is no “right way” and no striving or competition, you are free to explore the movement sequence within the parameters of the lesson constraints.
The culmination of the lesson is often a complex movement that would have been completely impossible at the start but through the reorganization of the nervous system it now becomes not only possible but easy.
Awareness Through Movement Lesson
The following Awareness Through Movement lesson will give you a small taste of the Method and what is in store if you should choose to attend a class. Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor and back comfortable but not slouched. As you do each numbered sequence, do it slowly with a meditative quality and pay attention to different parts of yourself (particularly what is happening in your ribs, hips/pelvis and spine).
Repeat each movement a few times pausing before each repetition to give your nervous system time to absorb the new information that you are giving it.
1. Gently turn your head to the left. Only go as far as is completely comfortable. Return to the center and then do the same movement to the right and back. Notice how far you went on each side.
2. Cradle your chin with the palms of your hands so that the heels of your hands are joined at your jaw line, and the fingers of each hand will rest near your ears. Notice that your elbows rest on or near your chest.
3. Keeping your elbows together as much as possible, turn to the left so that the whole upper body will turn at little but not as much as it did when your hands were down. Return to center and then go to the other side and back. You will notice that the positioning of your arms makes it necessary to do a smaller movement than before.
4. Repeat step #1. Feel the changes from the beginning of the lesson. For many people there is a difference in the quality and range of the movement that seems almost magical.
Feldenkrais®, Awareness Through Movement® and The Feldenkrais Method® are registered service marks of the Feldenkrais Guild