DisPatches, Summer 2000
A Student's-Eye View of Feldenkrais
by George Barker
Marion Kregeloh works with
Nicole Follin, who has had
a massive cerebral hemorrhage.
Some students in the Adaptive P.E. Program have been receiving Feldenkrais lessons during their stretching and body movement time, and I've been one of the lucky recipients.
It is a gentle technique -- somewhere between a laying on of the hands and an easy massage. For me, whose body has been a mess of tense muscles for sixty-two years, Feldenkrais lessons have given me the best relaxation I have encountered thus far.
As explained to me by instructor Kay Pepitone, Feldenkrais is a method of accessing the central nervous system by manipulating the muscles and helping to bring about changes in the brain's way of handling its neuromuscular responses.
The Feldenkrais Method was developed by Moshe Feldenkrais in the 1940s as a result of his searching for a method to relieve incapacitating pain in his own knee.
Practitioners of the art do not give treatments; they give lessons.
When I am receiving a Feldenkrais lesson, my teacher places me on a low massage table, fully clothed, and makes me comfortable with pillows and styrofoam pads and rolls so I almost feel like I'm floating on air. My teacher sits beside me on a low stool and leans toward me. Sometimes, if I am resting on my side, he will clasp his hands underneath my side and gently lift it up an inch or two. I am told to just relax and let teacher do all the work. Sometime he rolls my muscles loose on their bones, sometimes he grasps an arm or a leg that is contracted and presses it so it is fully contracted.
Soon, I start to drift away on a cloud, almost like having an out of body experience, and I feel extremely relaxed, which is rare for me. I do not begin to understand how it works.
To become a practitioner requires 800 hours of practice. Each Tuesday, the Yoga Room is filled with Feldenkrais graduates from several schools in the area, getting their hours in on lucky Adaptive P.E. students. Kay Pepitone, who introduced the teaching to our program, has been a staff member with the Adaptive P.E. class for several years.
Moshe Feldenkrais was a man of great intelligence and many interests. He was born in Russia and as a young man walked to Israel, where he received his education. He had degrees in engineering and mathematics and, from the Sorbonne, a doctorate in physics. During World War II, he was evacuated from Dunkirk.
According to Kay, he was a curmudgeon and avoided the limelight when he could, although not everyone agrees on that point. He is said to have been the first Westerner to earn a black belt in judo.
Anne Roberti gives Sergio
Pardini a Feldenkrais
"writing lesson," to help
restore the use of his right
arm following a stroke.
DisPatches table of contents
Disabled Students home page