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  • #16
    Ban84 wrote:
    I think there are a lot of good things in this approach but I think I leaves a lot of us scratching our heads and scrambling for a coherent narrative. Very often that narrative is filled by some odd things indeed.
    This is a lot of what comes up in class and is left unanswered. I'm finishing up my first year and it seems as though many things are left a mystery on purpose. In one class we were informed that we would be "made aware" of things later down the road. This was told to us by a guest instructor.

    As with any great thing, I think it's normal progression to build upon and change it in light of what is becoming known. But it can be held back and really restricted by the stifling behavior of the followers. Take Rolfing for example- some mt's are still using exactly what Ida Rolf taught and are militant in the way they dole out certifications to keep everything as she would have wanted it- or, how they think she would have still wanted it. And that stuff is so old hat now, they'll never catch up. From hearing Feldenkrais in his lectures, I would hope that he wanted to see his work continue to develop. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what I would want to see if it was my work.

    I think Feldenkrais has some good things to give, but I don't want to keep it stuffy and cobwebby by regaling it to a fenced in idea of what "Feldenkrais wanted". It seems there are purists in the Feldenkrais community who don't fully understand the work and how it happens- they just know something happens but I have an inquiring mind so will continue to question what we are doing even if that means I need to go elsewhere for answers.
    Last edited by rkathryn; 22-05-2013, 07:58 AM.
    "The danger is not that the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but that, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry" (Simone Weil)


    • #17
      Originally posted by rkathryn View Post
      I think Feldenkrais has some good things to give, but I don't want to keep it stuffy and cobwebby by regaling it to a fenced in idea of what "Feldenkrais wanted".
      Feldenkrais is dead (in the bad way); we can't ever really know what he wanted. I think he wanted his method propagated and developed, else he would have kept it to the original training format (small group hanging out with Feldenkrais).

      It seems there are purists in the Feldenkrais community who don't fully understand the work and how it happens- they just know something happens but I have an inquiring mind so will continue to question what we are doing even if that means I need to go elsewhere for answers.

      I suspect of all the HPSG, Feldenkrais is among the most simpatico with current neuroscience - it's no great oddity that Feldy's keep washing up in this virtual Mos Eisley. :thumbs_up. Why so few stay either says something about the denizens here or our inability to hold our liquor.

      rkathryn: as a trainee, it may help you/me/all of us here (silent and vocal) if you posted *your* questions and observations of the training as you go along. As far as I can tell (and despite my Mos Eisley crack) this is pretty much neutral ground...and there are some pretty buff brains here.
      Last edited by Dan84; 22-05-2013, 12:20 PM.
      Tactile Raconteur


      • #18
        I've invited a few Feldy's here. Maybe some will show up. I don't want this to be a one man show.

        IMHO Feldenkrais is the Sumatran orangutan of HPSG: wonderful but critically endangered. I'm proposing SS as a kind of wild life preserve.
        Tactile Raconteur


        • #19
          Glad to see some discussion on Feldenkrais work, I've been doing a lot of practice on and off over the past few years, with some friends who are practitioners but also a lot of sessions from, after doing a lesson or two a day for a couple of weeks, you start to get a pretty good idea of how it works, and infinite possibilities begin to spontaneously present themselves. It's all very pleasant.


          • #20
            Not a single person I've invited has shown up. Or they came, looked and left.

            Last edited by Dan84; 24-05-2013, 08:21 PM.
            Tactile Raconteur


            • #21

              After making some comments on a Feldenkrais mailing list, I was invited to take a look at this thread. My response has gotten pretty long, and I'm a little emotionally exhausted from rehashing all this in my mind. But I think there is some benefit to me in articulating my thoughts on the topic. I plan on posting this in phases.
              My Background (included here)
              The Training Framework (included here)
              The Culture of the Feldenkrais Community
              The Method Itself
              Warnings and Suggestions for People Considering Additional Study

              I'm not sure if anything I have to say on the topic of Feldenkrais trainings will break new ground relative to what has been said before, but in case it's helpful, here goes:

              My Background

              I went through a Feldenkrais training in NYC while working a totally unrelated job in actuarial consulting. After getting certified, I spent a year trying to apply what I'd learned with other people--with rather mixed results. I eventually stumbled into a physical therapy clinic and realized I should become a PT. After moving cross country and spending a year getting in my pre-req's, here I am: a week and a half from starting PT school.

              I went into my training with wide eyed enthusiasm for the Feldenkrais Method due to really powerful lessons I'd gotten when I was a bright-eyed 20 year-old with horrible posture (that was 12 years ago). At this point, I have conflicted feelings about the usefulness of the approach as it is commonly taught and negative feelings about the training framework operated by the Feldenkrais Guild.

              The Training Framework

              In general, Feldenkrais Method trainings are pretty bad. Unfortunately, because they are 4 years long (and because much of it is spent quietly rolling around on the floor), it becomes very easy for this badness to get concealed. You'll likely hear comments like "We'll cover those things (i.e. things you think are important) later, but for now we need to address this" or "You're really confused now, but at the end of the training all these ideas will start to come together".

              More often than not, those are lies. But because you have so much time in a training, you think "yeah, well, I'm sure we'll cover that in year 2...or 3...or 4". Odds are you won't. But something insidious can happen along the way. The social experience starts to become an enjoyable vacation from daily life. And since you've invested time and money, cognitive dissonance starts to rear its ugly head: "This can't be a waste of resources, I must be getting something out of it!"

              But if you feel like the training is wasting a lot of time and not preparing you to teach this work, I assure you, you aren't the first person to feel that way.

              It begs the question: How could a training framework so bad get developed?

              History of MF's Trainings

              It's important to understand the historical origins of the training framework. Without this context, it's hard to believe that something so dysfunctional could exist.

              Warning: this is my best recollection of these things after obsessing over it some time ago...I don't care enough about it now to research this again. Please take it for what it is. If you want details, check out Ryan Nagy's Utah Feldenkrais blog and Feldenkrais Podcasts.

              Moshe Feldenkrais taught several trainings throughout his life:

              1. Mia Segal (who I think had previous training in the Alexander Technique) apprenticed with MF for a number of years in very close quarters on a daily basis in the 50s and 60s.
              2. In Israel in the 1960s, MF trained a group of ~12 students. I believe they met at least weekly for a few years after having been in his group classes for some time.
              3. In San Francisco in the mid 1970s, a group of ~60 people were trained during four consecutive summers. This was a "Professional Training Program" in the sense that it was meant for professionals in other domains to be exposed to Feldenkrais's approach so that it could inform their pre-existing professional practice.
              4. In Amherst in the early 1980s, ~200 people started a training that was going to follow the summer format of San Francisco. By this time, Feldenkrais had started thinking that "Feldenkrais Practitioner" could be a profession all its own. This training was videotaped, but MF only taught two summers before a stroke forced him to stop.

              Other than these, I think there was one he started in the Netherlands that Mia Segal finished, and one at a place called Lonely Mountain that got rolled into Amherst….

              Ok. Why does this matter? For starters, MF didn't know how to train people to do what he did. He was just experimenting. He went from 1 student, to 12, to 60, to 200. He may have been able to affect tremendous change in people, but he didn't have a track record of being able to prepare people to do what he did (though he did seem most successful with smaller groups and more time).

              His last training, with 200 students, was the most dicey of all. Imagine, for a moment, teaching a room of 200 people to all stand on their heads. If you're a genius you can pull it off, but I don't know if that prepares those 200 people to help others...though they certainly can stand on their heads.

              After MF's stroke, some of his senior (from Israel) and junior (from San Francisco) students took over Amherst. The Guild (run by his junior American students) had MF sign over the service marks to it*. Another legal entity owned the rights to the videotapes of the Amherst training.

              After MF died, the Guild promoted some of these junior students to Trainers (conveniently, the guild was created by these junior students...). The Guild then used the service marks to block people like Mia Segal and some of the other Israeli trainers from running independent trainings in North America. So they generally stayed in Europe and Israel.

              These newly minted Trainers then began running trainings that basically consisted of playing videos of Amherst. After some years of this (maybe into the late 80s?), the legal entity that owned the rights to the Amherst tapes was charging too much in licensing fees, so the trainers decided it was time to do their own thing. But the trainings still largely followed the template of Amherst, which was just an experiment by MF that he didn't even get to finish.

              Summary: The original guild trainers here in North America were junior students who used legal obstacles to carve out a market for themselves. They were not appointed my Moshe because of their competence. They based their original trainings on a format that was untested in its ability to produce competent practitioners.

              *this precipitated a lawsuit in the late 90s when Anat Baniel alleged that the guild had committed fraud when registering the marks...this case was settled out of court with Baniel getting everything she wanted and the Guild nearly going bankrupt

              Current Standards in Trainings

              Basically, there are none. It's based around hours spent in a room with a certain ratio of Trainers and Assistant Trainers to students. Trainers and Assistant Trainers are not selected based on a displayed ability to train people to do the work. Instead it is largely based on "time served" sitting in on other people's trainings and getting a board of trainers to agree to promote you.

              There are two brief practicums required, but these are really more of a formality.

              There is no required knowledge of anatomy and physiology. In my own training, a detailed knowledge of A&P was discouraged because it would lead to "reductionistic thinking".

              Results are not tracked. Follow up surveys of students are not done to determine if some trainers are more effective than others. Graduation is synonymous with certification, so no post-training mentorship or professional experience is required. Though annual CE requirements push the many hobbyist practitioners into "Advanced Trainings".

              Summary: Show up, pay your Trainer, roll around on the floor, and you too can become a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner.

              Next Time: The Culture of the Feldenkrais Community

              Last edited by mpnyo; 22-08-2013, 07:57 PM.


              • #22
                Sorry for the interruption.

                Thank you for the initial rundown, Mac.

                Could this be a case of a good idea/principle (from Moshe Feldenkrais) taken to far beyond reason/evidence/science?

                To be honest, I had never heard of Feldenkrais before coming to this site. Who and how are they targeting clients? Or, do they mostly target professionals for training?

                P.S. I am a newly minted California physical therapist that went to state schools for the past ~7 years. Give you a little background from me.
                Last edited by nickmPT; 25-05-2013, 12:41 AM. Reason: P.S.
                Nicholas Marki, P.T.


                • #23
                  Hi Nicholas,

                  Thank you for the interruption. I was trying to type through some of my reflections on the Feldenkrais community and have to either reorient my thinking or go buy a handle of Jim Beam. And it's raining outside, so....

                  Originally posted by nickmPT View Post
                  Could this be a case of a good idea/principle (from Moshe Feldenkrais) taken to far beyond reason/evidence/science?
                  MF had a number of great ideas (and some bad ones). I think the problem is that people tried to use an eccentric genius as a role model for a profession.

                  Imagine people coming up with a Don Draper Institute of Creative Design that taught the Don Draper Method of Blowing People's Minds. They could print diplomas for people who drank enough whiskey. That's kinda what the Feldenkrais Guild is.

                  But I think there is definitely some over-reach among Feldenkraisers.

                  MF had vast interests and lofty goals. His objectives could be interpreted as a range of things from "Improving movement" to "restoring a person's human dignity and liberating them from traumatic childhood conditioning while allowing them to learn how to learn and enter into mature sexual relationships."

                  Having met a number of his original students who have studied his work for most of their lives....frankly I'm inclined to believe that he was more successful on the "improving movement" side of the spectrum. That's what I've chosen to focus on and why I'm relieved to be joining the profession of physical therapy where the discussion might have a bit tighter focus.

                  Originally posted by nickmPT View Post
                  To be honest, I had never heard of Feldenkrais before coming to this site. Who and how are they targeting clients? Or, do they mostly target professionals for training?
                  With respect to the training environment, you'll see PTs, dancers, fitness instructors, yoga instructors, runners, social workers, psychologists....the occasional actuary. Moms whose kids have moved on the college. Very few of the people who graduate end up doing anything with it. For most people, it's a hobby and they couldn't really generate a large enough client base to make a living without an established profession like massage or PT.



                  • #24
                    Thanks for showing up, Mac. That

                    I'm sure our conversation here will be seen as 'sour grapes' in certain quarters.

                    Maybe we should break apart an ATM or FI and really watch the fur fly.

                    IMHO: The Feldenkrais method works pretty well....the Feldenkrais teaching model...something isn't quite working there.

                    Like you, I'm *strongly* looking into PT, as it seems to me that the most successful Feldenkraisers are PT's. Reading this board though, I'm walking lightly with that idea, too.
                    Tactile Raconteur


                    • #25
                      Hi Dan,

                      Yeah, certain quarters would get the vapors. But I'm glad I'm not in those quarters..

                      I have a pretty conflicted relationship with "the Feldenkrais Method". Done well, it's helped me so much in how I live in my body and navigate the world. Done poorly, it's been a complete waste of time and money. I've run into more bad Feldenkrais than good Feldenkrais, so I just don't really know what to think at this point...

                      I'm fortunate to have been introduced to Jeff Haller's take on it. (Even now I'm in the midst of going through some of his DVDs...they're great). So I'll continue to learn, but I'm happy to dissociate from the Feldenkrais world and expose myself to alternate frameworks and the foundation of PT school.



                      • #26

                        I can see the Japanese contingent (who don't have a long history in the method) seem to be putting up (on youtube) demos of handling, ATM and actual FI. I cited some here. They seem to be engaging on Twitter and elsewhere, too - though language can be a barrier.

                        It might be good to post a video / unpack an FI and see what light a contemporary neuro approach might shine. The CERN one is one of the few of Feldenkrais that are publically available.

                        Last edited by Dan84; 25-05-2013, 06:50 AM.
                        Tactile Raconteur


                        • #27
                          Hi Dan,

                          This is a good idea. I don't have time to look at it this evening, but hope to tomorrow. Though my thought process will likely be structured around a drive toward minimal tone necessary to support her skeleton relative to the surface she's on, and not really delve too much into neuro.

                          That might not get much traction with the crowd here, but it might be fun...



                          • #28
                            Originally posted by mpnyo View Post
                            Hi Dan,

                            This is a good idea. I don't have time to look at it this evening, but hope to tomorrow. Though my thought process will likely be structured around a drive toward minimal tone necessary to support her skeleton relative to the surface she's on, and not really delve too much into neuro.

                            That might not get much traction with the crowd here, but it might be fun...


                            We're indeed strangers in a strange land! I've been learning some neuo-nese in the past weeks and months (this is a useful model, to my mind. Thanks Diane)

                            Of course the natives speak it better. Maybe one of them will be kind enough to take a look at the CERN clip and weigh in. Between the two of us, we might chip in our understanding, too. It could be productive mash-up.
                            Last edited by Dan84; 25-05-2013, 07:59 AM.
                            Tactile Raconteur


                            • #29
                              NOTE: this is pretty stream of consciousness, so I may be back to edit it, clean it up, and give it some more structure.

                              I still consider myself a neophyte at this for a variety of reasons, but since very few people want to engage in this kind of dialogue (and it would be helpful if more people did), I'll throw something out there at the risk of looking foolish and regretting it later.

                              Before anything else

                              When I write below statements along the lines of "he feels for where her head tilts easily" or "he puts her pelvis in a position where it can better support her", that's where the really interesting stuff is embedded. MF had clear ideas of how a person could be organized for effective action. He was himself incredibly well coordinated and sensitive to the other person's potential for easy movement given their (often self-imposed) constraints. I'm so far from qualified to write about that, that I don' really touch on it here. I'm just trying to describe what might be going on from a more gross pedagogical standpoint.

                              Also, I believe that so much of what transpires in the lesson is facilitated by the rapport that MF can create with this person. It's important, I don't really talk about it below, but I just wanted to acknowledge it.


                              I think this woman was a couple weeks out from a car accident and was still suffering from whiplash. If I remember, she just happened to be in the audience that day and volunteered to take part in a demo. For those who don't know, MF was speaking to people at CERN. I think the topic was "physicists who have made an impact in the world beyond physics" or something like that.

                              Initial Observations

                              He starts by noting the asymmetry in the placement of her legs and that this will be related to how she holds her neck. I would also note how rolled back she is on her pelvis. Basically, she's already falling over if not for all the extra work that she's doing unconsciously to stay up. Compare the placement of her pelvis and the length through her spine here with how it is at the end. For everything that MF has done, he ultimately brings her into a configuration that allows her skeleton to more fully bear her weight into the chair, freeing her musculature from all the work required to hold herself up. That same musculature is now available to freely turn her head instead of being locked in some self-defeating brink-of-falling-over configuration.

                              If you want to get neuro with it, then that's a place to start: how the nervous system organizes the musculature so as to not fall over, and what must be happening behind the scenes for that to change.

                              Exploratory Movements

                              So he starts out feeling where her head tilts, how her pelvis tilts, how she breathes. Maybe at this point he's just getting a lay of the land. Just because someone's skeleton has a certain configuration, it really doesn't tell you the engagement of their musculature (how much co-contraction is there?). So he's just feeling around to get a sense of things.

                              Improving the Function of Looking Down

                              She's already pretty rounded, so MF runs with it. She wants to round, so he helps her round by placing his hands around her belly and pulling back. And this is where I think it's most difficult to see what's going on.

                              This might be an instance of "effort substitution". Feldenkrais supports her in what she's already doing (rounding), so that her nervous system no longer has to engage musculature in order to hold a habitual configuration. So she can begin to relax.

                              Or he's rolling her back while her head stays still. The rounding at the neck might still be happening, it's just that there is an inversion in the normal relationship of what is moving and what is still (this is unfamiliar and doesn't evoke pain).

                              Or something that is a total mystery to me.

                              She can begin to relax. It might be at this point that she starts breathing a little easier.

                              Anyways...he shows that now her head bends down further. How? No idea. It might be that with the reduction in effort, she has a lower tone state that allows her to move her head more easily with less co-contraction. Also, she may better be able to fold her torso to facilitate looking down (distribution of work). Or the previously unfamiliar rounding (head still, back moving) reminded her that she could do this without pain, so she's doing it more easily. Or perhaps he really was a wizard.

                              Tilting her head to the right

                              He starts working with her right arm. He brings her right shoulder up to her neck and moves her head in space with her shoulder. Maybe he's signaling to her nervous system: Look, see, your head can move without pain. And at some level she feels safer knowing that, so the pain doesn't need to be there to warn her against anything.

                              A Movement of Her Head within her torso

                              In moving her head and shoulder, it was really her mid torso that was articulating to make it happen. It looks like that might be more available now. Like it may have woken up. Again, not that the muscle is warmed up, but that the nervous system was reminded that this potential for movement exists.

                              Finding better support through the pelvis's contact with the chair

                              And now that her mid back can move, MF just shoves her pelvis forward. She's finally really on her sitz bones. She's not rounding and falling back. So this improved skeletal support may be allowing her to reduce the tone being used for postural support (which can create a stable foundation for what he does next).

                              Moving the Head without Pain

                              Back to head and shoulder moving together, then head moving with shoulder down. He's put her into an unfamiliar place and introduced unfamiliar movement that crosses the region where she feels the pain. Again, he's letting her have the experience of "No injury here, you don't have to be worried about protecting this all the time". But because it's unfamiliar he's able to slip it in under the radar.

                              He explains this pretty clearly at about 9:00.

                              Back to rounding. He might be going to something familiar that he knows worked before in order to calm her down and buy himself some time.

                              Turning to look to the right

                              He starts to introduce turning to the right. Starts at the hip, ribs, shoulder. Neck. Guiding her trunk to facilitate the turning of the head to the right. Distributing the work. Sensible stuff.

                              Aborted attempt at Left Turning that goes into looking up

                              Now he's working with turning her head to the left. But I don't think that he's getting any traction with it. He's doing a lot of fine grain stuff at her head and neck. Seems like nothings happening. He shoves her upper back forward so that it gets back under her head for support.

                              This might have changed his course of thought. She seemed to respond to that pretty clearly. It looks like now he's going to go for organizing her trunk to help her look upward. He's temporarily abandoned the turning left idea.

                              Looking up seems to have gotten much easier for her, and he's letting her feel it in a bunch of different ways… showing her "see, this is safe". Since looking up has gotten easier, whatever excess muscular activity that was stopping her from looking up might be diminished (again, mediated by the nervous system).

                              Reinvestigating left turning now that things have changed

                              So with that excess effort quiet, he goes back to turning toward the left in case it's easier now things have changed. Looks like things are easier now. He takes her left shoulder back, then turns her head to the left (so a twist through the thorax). Then joins her head to her shoulder again while doing the same old trick "see, in this unfamiliar movement it doesn't hurt, even when you're oriented to the left".

                              So now she's more at ease with looking right, left, up and down. Now MF just runs with it. He's got the cardinal directions, confirms it with a flourish of small movements, then brings her to standing.

                              Expanding experience to other contexts to improve retention

                              Learning is contextual, so he might want to carry over what transpired on the chair to standing so that she can actually take it home with her.

                              He's starts with turning to the left. He's guiding her step-by-step pretty explicitly in swinging back and forth. Her trunk is really supporting her head in the movement of turning, and she feels safe moving her head because of the recent experience of moving her head without pain in sitting.

                              He adds some complexity to it by getting her to move her eyes and head opposite how her trunk is moving, but this seems difficult for her, so he asks her to abandon it.

                              He may be ending with this swinging in standing because it has some relationship with walking, so that she can, again, have an experience of movement without pain during an activity that will fill up much of her day.
                              Last edited by mpnyo; 27-05-2013, 09:30 AM.


                              • #30
                                Fabulous analysis, Mac! I'll try to chip some of my own in tomorrow. TBC.
                                Tactile Raconteur