The Feldenkrais Training Program Format
A variety of teaching approaches are utilized in the Feldenkrais Training Program of Baltimore, making each day a unique learning experience. Students have an in-depth experience of group and one on one Feldenkrais lessons. With hands-on practice, they gradually develop the technical skills to be able to give Feldenkrais lessons to others. Students sometimes work in small groups, with close interaction with teachers, and collaboration with peers. Students watch demonstrations of Feldenkrais lessons and have many opportunities for supervised practice in both ATM and FI. The training program also includes discussions, lectures, written materials and study groups.
If you would like to speak with graduates working in particular fields, Feldenkrais practitioners we have trained, or students in one of our current programs, we are happy to give you references.
Functional Integration is a hands-on approach used when people need personal attention. The reasons for this approach are many – a person might have too much pain in moving on their own, they might have referred nerve pain or partial paralysis due to Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis or Cerebral Palsy, for example. Some performers, especially when they have performance related injuries, benefit from movement tailored to their particular art or instrument – musicians, painters, dancers and athletes, for instance.
The practitioner guides the student with his/her hands, skillfully finding the areas which are the most neglected in the student’s movement patterns. These areas are often missing from the student’s internal image of herself and the movements she makes. Through touch, these areas can “wake up” and become available to the student. For example: a muscle is tense in the shoulder area and causes pain. One could just tell the student to release it… but the student has no idea that she is contracting the muscle in the first place. Therefore she doesn’t know how to release it. The practitioner is carefully trained to be sensitive to the smallest gradations in muscle tone and to detect what movement is needed for the brain to take note and control the action of this muscle.
These lessons are mainly done in lying or sitting. They are very pleasant, informative and educational. People report:
- Feelings of ease and lightness
- Being taller
- Reduced pain
- New ways of coping with pain
- Increased range of movement
- Enhanced athletic and artistic performance
- Quicker recovery of abilities following trauma
- Increased mental clarity
- Overall vitality
Awareness Through Movement
Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons are done on the floor, in sitting or standing. The movements are gentle, allowing the students to feel how much unnecessary effort they use, where in their body they apply this effort, and what other options they might have to make movement easier. The movements are based on the feedback loop mechanism of the brain – having an intention, carrying it out, sensing the quality of the action, evaluating the results and changing the action accordingly.
The lesson might start with a movement most students would find awkward to do and end with a quick, graceful execution of the same movement! No muscles have been strengthened, no imitation has been encouraged. The Trainer does not demonstrate the movements but rather dictates a few well-researched hints to help the person figure it out themselves. Just like a child would learn, given the right conditions.
The theory and skills involved in Functional Integration will be practiced gradually, in a “hands-on” context, with the guidance of the training program’s excellent teachers. Through hands-on practice, students will learn to understand functional patterns, develop the ability to make vital sensory distinctions, and create effective therapeutic learning situations for helping people with a variety of challenges. Each day, students will have opportunities to develop their hands-on skills in a constructive and encouraging atmosphere.
Lectures and Class Discussions
During the Training Program, Trainers, Assistant Trainers, Feldenkrais Practitioners, and Guest Speakers will share their fields of special interest and expertise in order to help us to understand the Feldenkrais Method, and also the ways in which current science relates to our work. Guest speakers will help us to make clear connections between reading materials and class experience, and illustrate the ways in which relevant theories are put into action.
Special Lectures May Include:
- Anatomy & Kinesiology
- Infant Motor Development
- Dynamic Systems Theory
- Learning Theory
- Embodied Cognition
- Communication Skills
- Dance & Martial Arts
- Movement Analysis
Small Group Work
The Feldenkrais training program is a rich environment for cooperative learning. We occasionally work in small groups in order to provide each student with an opportunity to study with teachers in a more intimate and personalized context, and also to facilitate collaboration with fellow students.
Students practice teaching Feldenkrais exercises, and giving Feldenkrais treatments in supportive, supervised situations. This will allow students to receive immediate feed-back and hands-on assistance, and to develop self-confidence, skill, and clarity. The Feldenkrais Training Program of Baltimore will provide substantial supervision before students are certified to teach Feldenkrais exercises, and before they are certified as Feldenkrais Practitioners.
Students may be asked to read selected texts, in order to deepen their understanding of the Feldenkrais Method. We will also recommend additional optional reading for those who are interested, in related fields such as embodied cognition, neurobiology, neuroplasticity, anatomy and kinesiology, infant motor development, and movement analysis.
Study Groups & Assignments
In order to facilitate each student’s on-going learning, we encourage the formation of study groups for between-session study and support. While not required, these groups can be an enriching part of the learning process, and a dynamic aspect of the training.