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Feldenkrais method: becoming aware of our own body

Feldenkrais method: becoming aware of our own body

April 29, 2024

Modern life tends to lead us towards very sedentary habits. If you look like most of the inhabitants of the West, even if you seem to be responding to the demands of everyday life in many battlefields (work, family, community, etc.) the truth is that, the practice, your body is tending to get used to the same movements and the same postures . Let's consider, for example, how many hours a day we sit, and what position our trunk adopts when we do it. The monotony and passivity are constants in the life of most of our muscle groups, and this is something that takes its toll on our quality of life.

Fortunately, there are ways to reactivate our body to be the versatile and reliable machine that for millennia has been shaped by evolution. In the world of fitness as well as in health and medicine, every time it becomes more important to expand the possibilities of movement that sedentary lifestyle has been shortening since our childhood.

The Feldenkrais method It is one of these calls to action.

What is the Feldenkrais method?

The Feldenkrais method proposes a way of learning (or re-learning) the functioning of one's own body based on certain patterns of movement and the generation of certain mental states . In their sessions, an expert will indicate how to perform certain movements at the same time as the practitioner performs them and concentrates their attention on them. The aim of this is for the brain to record well the associations between the movements, the muscles that are activated and the sensations that this produces, so that these movements become part of the habitual repertoire and are performed automatically, without needing to concentrate on it.

The main objectives of the Feldenkrais method are improving posture, range of motion, coordination and flexibility, as well as optimizing the efficiency in the use of muscle groups .

In short, the Feldenkrais method is a system of somatic education that raises the need to make the most of the possibilities of movement and strength of the body, to be able to develop in any situation without unnecessary efforts and tensions.

How it is performed?

There are two basic modalities in which the Feldenkrais method can be followed: group and individually. However, both mark the same objectives and also in the two exercises focused on movement and directed attention are proposed.

The sessions consist of the repetition of series of movements that are easy to execute. The practitioner usually does this while lying on a mat, although some series are done standing up. During the sessions it is necessary to follow some instructions that refer both to the observable movements and to the mental states of the person who practices it, with the basic objective that the attention is totally focused on the movements so that in the future they can be carried out automatically in all kinds of situations that require it. The movements used in the Feldenkrais method do not involve any effort or pain, as the joints and tendons are not forced abruptly.

The fact that the physical aspect (movement) and the psychological aspect (attention) are emphasized is a sample of the philosophy of mind from which the Feldenkrais method departs: it assumes a bodily and a mental component that must work harmoniously so that the whole system (the person) functions as it should. It's a dualistic approach mind-body in which the particularities of each of the two components must be recognized so that both can be well integrated.

Criticisms from science

The Feldenkrais method focuses on interesting objectives from the point of view of fitness and health, bearing in mind that Many times we understand that physical fitness consists of having a lot of strength and little fat and we ignore issues such as flexibility or energy efficiency. a of our movements and postures.

However, and despite the fact that Feldenkrais began his studies on the subject decades ago, it is considered that there is not enough empirical evidence to base its principles with the endorsement of science and that, in any case, it is necessary to carry out more studies to verify its effectiveness. Adding to this the fact that in the Feldenkrais method there is no need to reach externally measurable objectives, but instead situates progress in the patient's subjectivity (since it is a personal process), it often tends to associate it with pseudosciences and the New Age culture.

On the other hand, many of the benefits that the Feldenkrais method is said to have have nothing to do with the functional aspects of force and movement, since they are rather cognitive aspects, such as the ability to look for new solutions, and even subjective, as the improvement of self-esteem. They are assumptions that for the moment are based more on theory than on empirical evidence, and that neither do they come from a consolidated theoretical framework .

That does not mean, however, that the practice of the exercises proposed in the Feldenkrais method does not entail any kind of benefit. On the one hand, it can be understood that beyond improving or not the range of movement and postural habits, following this system can lead to an increase in satisfaction or contribute other positive aspects associated with the Placebo effect. On the other, also it is possible that it also improves something functional and measurable aspects of the human body , and that the lack of independent and well-designed studies on the subject is hiding these advantages. We will only know this as more research is done about the Feldenkrais method.

Feldenkrais for Reducing Noise in the Brain (April 2024).

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