Marcia Giudice, MS, OTR has a master's degree in Occupational Therapy and over 25 years of experience as a therapist and educator. She is certified as a SomaSoul Somatic Therapist, Feldenkrais® Practitioner, Bones for Life® Trainer, Core Integration Teacher, and Kripalu Yoga Instructor. Marcia currently has a private practice in Wayland, MA.


Felden-WHAT?  How One Feldenkrais® Class Changed My Life

About twenty years ago, I asked a podiatrist why I had a slight limp in my walk.  He said, “I can’t help you, but, I can tell you who can.”   He referred me to a Feldenkrais Practitioner who offered group classes called Awareness Through Movement®.  The experience of my first class forever changed concepts I held about myself, stretching, and movement.  And, I immediately found myself on a journey to learn more… a journey that continues to this day.  Exploring the Feldenkrais Method® not only helped me improve my walking, but continues to help me cultivate body-mind awareness, improve my posture, reduce my aches and pains, move better, and feel younger.

 I can still recall my first Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class.  The Feldenkrais practitioner began by verbally guiding the class participants to sense how we felt sitting in a chair, to sense how we turned to look over our shoulders, and to notice how far we could see behind us without strain.  Being a yoga teacher at the time, I found myself turning in a way that is similar to a ‘spinal twist’ and enjoying the delicious stretch.  Next, we were guided to lie on our mats and explore a series of gentle and unfamiliar movements.  The instructions were to do all of the movements within a comfortable, easy range and not to strain or even stretch.
 
It was challenging for me to avoid stretching and to do less than I could.  But, I went along with the process and became very relaxed.  I remember thinking that I am not really DOING much.  After a half an hour or so, we were asked to return to sitting in a chair and to notice our experience of sitting and turning.
 
WOW, was I surprised!  I was sitting tall with no effort and in a somewhat unfamiliar easy alignment.  I turned to look over my shoulder and twisted easier and farther than I had ever experienced.  I felt places move in my spine that didn’t usually move and I felt places in my spine that usually moved were now moving less.  My whole body instinctively turned in a smoother, more coordinated way.  I was confused.  I couldn’t believe that I had improved my range of movement without stretching and that the quality of my movement was not only effortless, but pleasant.

What happened in that class?  I experienced one of hundreds of ATM lessons created by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984).  Dr. Feldenkrais was an engineer and judo master who, after devoting years to healing his injured knee and studying how we move, developed the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education (www.feldenkrais.com).   Instead of working directly with muscles, the Method works with the patterns of movement created by our brains. The movement lessons provide a structure to mindfully explore a variety of movements that are different from our everyday habits. And, the lessons create conditions for the nervous system to release unhelpful tension and habits, and to facilitate easier, more coordinated and aligned posture and movement. 
 
Soon after my first class, I sought out a Feldenkrais training program, became a certified instructor, and have been teaching ATM classes since.  I love body-centered learning and continually unraveling more details of how to move and feel better in my body.  And, I love verbally guiding students to tune into their body sensations, explore movements, and make discoveries at their own pace and in a way that is comfortable for them.
 
So when I hear people respond with, “Felden-what?” when I mention Feldenkrais, I smile.  There is no simple way to describe it, but hopefully this brief article gives you a sense of my experience and rouses enough curiosity for you to consider trying a class!