The Feldenkrais Method
Q & A with practitioner Alan Caig Wilson
As you know, I love finding out about all sorts of techniques and treatment practices that I have previously been unfamiliar with.
I first met Alan when he was using the Feldenkrais method to help a friend of mine
deal with the effects of serious accident
She had been talking about this technique that she was undergoing in glowing terms, which of course piqued my interest, as I had never heard of it before!
So I persuaded him to do a Q and A with me to which he very kindly agreed.
- What exactly is The Feldenkrais Method?
It is a series of techniques and a way of thinking that introduce participants to a smoother, more effective way of moving. Whatever you do with your body can always be done better, more satisfyingly and with more ease.
- How would you best describe it?
It is a learning process, as opposed to a medical intervention. During a Feldenkrais lesson, you get into deeper contact with who you are through your movement. You spend time discovering things about your movement and your most private thinking. The practitioner’s job is to introduce your nervous system to alternatives that it may not have considered.
- Who and when was it started?
Moshe Feldenkrais started devising his ideas in the 1920s in Palestine, eventually moving to Scotland in the late 1930s where he began teaching Ministry of Defence colleagues. After the war he moved back to Israel and began his teaching there. He toured the world teaching until his death in 1984.
- How did it come about?
He was always an athlete. He was a mechanic and an engineer in his early days, later working with the Joliot-Curie Laboratory in Paris – giving him a taste for working things out, finding innovative ways of thinking through problems.
An early knee injury playing football got him thinking that if he wanted to avoid surgery that would limit his sports, he could find the work-around if he treated his body as a physics question. His study of martial arts introduced him the importance of balance and focus in movement. Later on he studied Child Development to follow a question about how we begin to move.
- When did you first become involved with it?
As an actor, during my training in Paris, the method was our everyday way of preparing our minds to be innovative and fearless.
- What made you want to train in it?
I had been told that a scoliosis would prevent me doing any kind of performance. My ambition was to be an actor/dancer/mime artist. When I encountered Feldenkrais at theatre school, I discovered that in spite of a scoliosis I could do exactly what I wanted to do. I learned that a medical diagnosis is not necessarily a limitation – in fact it can be the thing that makes you live better. You have to become more resourceful and more respectful of your body and your thinking. As a result of Feldenkrais, I actually felt myself to be limitless in terms of doing what I wanted to do.
- How long is the Feldenkrais training?
Initially 4 years, but it takes a further 5 years for the method to ‘bed down’ in your brain and body. As members of the Feldenkrais Guild of the UK, we commit ourselves to regular advanced training, constantly upgrading our thinking and practice as we encounter more and more people.
- What sort of patients/types of ailments/injuries do you /can you work with/ treat?
I have worked with stroke, Parkinsons, serious spinal injury, Cerebral Palsy (in adults and children), specific injuries as a result of work or sports. I also work with people who demand much from their bodies, such as dancers, runners, swimmers. And I work with people in ordinary walks of life who simply feel that they could be doing ‘more’, better and more comfortably.
It has a particular application to re-developing confidence in balance and general mobility amongst older people. Our view is that aging, though specific in certain effects on the body, is not “wear & tear”, it is all too often the entrenchment of useless habits. These habits can be changed in the blink of an eye sometimes.
- How long is a treatment session generally?
I teach hour-long classes (called Awareness through Movement) and one-to-one sessions (called Functional Integration) which also last an hour.
- How many treatments do you generally think help/necessary?
I usually say that an initial programme of one-to-one sessions should be of five visits. After this is it a question of deciding with the practitioner whether a continuation would be of benefit.
My classes are on a drop-in basis – some of my colleagues operate different systems.
The more time you give to the Method, the more you begin to get benefit from the special atmosphere in which you get more access to yourself.
- What is the usual cost of a session?
Functional Integration costs around £50 per session
Awareness Through Movement classes cost around £10 per session
- How/where can one learn more about it?
Also by Googling “Feldenkrais and……(and adding the issue or situation you find yourself in (eg Parkinsons, balance problems…. and so on)
- Where and how do you find a practitioner?
In the East of England there are also FGUK members in Southend, Cambridge, Lowestoft and Gt Yarmouth
- What qualifications do you look out for or what is the name of the register or governing body?
Look for CFP (certified Feldenkrais practitioner) or FGUK (Feldenkrais Guild of the UK). This ensures that the Practitioner has acquired an extensive and detailed training and is involved in continuously upgrading their skills.
- Can a patient/client practice the things they have learnt at home?
Yes. A practitioner will often give ‘homework’ after Functional Integration. There are a number of online resources too – we often ‘prescribe’ online lessons from respected teachers. The movements in an Awareness Through Movement class can be copied and developed by you as you become more confident in applying the ways of thinking you learn during class. The ultimate of aim of it all is that YOU become more in charge of your movement, wellbeing and physical adaptability.
- Do you need special equipment to practice/treat with?
- Can you have treatment alongside other therapies?
Yes, but this should be talked over with your Practitioner.
- Are there any contraindications to having a treatment?
If you are currently undergoing a medical procedure, it is best to allow this to run its course before approaching a Feldenkrais practitioner. However, in general the movements and manipulations of The Feldenkrais Method are gentle, slow and non-invasive, and as such should cause no conflict with any other issues you are dealing with. Always consult your Practitioner about any questions you might have.
- Where /how can people contact you?
or via the contact form at www.alancaigwilson.net
A big thank you to Alan!