Feldenkrais Trainers Worldwide

32 years after Moshe Feldenkrais passed away, how many Feldenkrais trainers are there world wide? Just 70. (http://www.eurotab.org/AllTrainers.pdf). Some of these are even inactive. No one else in the world has the right to ‘grow’ the pool of new Feldenkrais practitioners.

Of the 70, 10 share an address or a name, in other words they are partners.

Where are they all? There are 27 in the US, 12 in Israel, 12 in Germany, 13 others in Europe, 4 in Australia, 1 in Mexico and 1 in Canada.

Some places have no trainers. Like South America and Russia. Some cities have multiple trainers … San Rafael: 4, Santa Fe, San Francisco and San Diego, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: all  3.

How diverse is their origin? The early trainings in San Francisco (1974) and Amherst (1980), which contained some 350 people, provide 41% of today’s total trainer tally – 12 and 17 trainers respectively (to the best of my knowledge).

There are some questions of interest.

  • How old is this cohort?
  • How many productive years remain to those who were trained in 1974 and 1980?
  • What if they all retire simultaneously?
  • What steps, if any, are they taking to ensure their replacement?
  • Considering the average age of a Feldenkrais graduate is in their 40s or 50s, and it takes as much as 25 years to become a trainer, is it a worthwhile engagement to  attempt to become a trainer?
  • Is a trainer who waited 20 years to become a trainer twice as good as one who waited 10 years, 33% better than one who waited 15 years? Does the extraordinary duration lead to a significant qualitative advantage?
  • Do aspiring assistant trainers struggle to find an appointment allowing them to gain the ‘flying hours’ necessary to become a trainer – except for those who are partners with an existing trainer?
  • There are no trainers in Japan or South America. Other areas of the world are underserved. High profile trainers fly at great expense around the world to do trainings, simultaneously inflating costs and stifling local skills development. Is this an organisational error?
  • If there were more trainers, would there be more courses, more graduates, and more growth?
  • Is there an organisational goal to grow the Feldenkrais profession for the benefit of future practitioners and public benefit? Or is it just fine for those who are benefiting right now?

My perspective from the trenches is that the trainer process is in crisis. Is that so?

50 Shades of Moshe (17).Suzanne.

This somatic (mind/body) educational method uses gentle movement and nuanced touch to re-educate your nervous system so that you can move and function at your highest level. It magnifies your body awareness by teaching you to pay attention to how you habitually move. This triggers your brain to create new neural pathways and improve how you sit, stand, bend, twist, reach and walk.

Suzanne, on her website, www.move2livenow.com

Very poetic, very descriptive.

How to photograph Feldenkrais treatments

I came across some very nice photos on the following website www.sonjajohansson.com

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They do a lot of things very nicely, and a few things not so well.  The practitioner is well lit and attractively dressed.  The lighting on the floor is atmospheric, and the brightness of the windows adds dramatic impact. The room looks calm and the treatment positions show the viewing public that the place and the practitioner are professional, comfortable, and inviting.

On the other hand, the background is visually cluttered: the radiator, plant and screen should be out of sight, to keep the focus in the foreground. The fifth photo would look very nice with the crown of the practitioner’s head in shot.  Perhaps also the lying man would look better with his head less tightly cropped in the fourth photo, but in any case his foot needs to be either fully in, or fully out, of the shot.

On balance, I would be very happy if I had produced photos as attractive as these are.  With a little reframing and attention to the background, they could be even better.

50 Shades of Moshe (16). Thomas Hanna

“The Feldenkrais system is a way of handling the body by communicating specific sensations to the central nervous system in order to improve the functions of the motor system.”

… is what Thomas Hanna wrote in the foreword to Yochanan Rywerant’s classic practical guide to Feldenkrais Method Functional Integration, ‘The Feldenkrais Method: Teaching by Handling’.img_2509

This is an accurate description of the essence of a Feldenkrais treatment. It depends rather heavily on technical jargon and is not suited to a wider public. In this way it shows clearly   the difficulties in self-description and even marketing that continue to face the profession to this day.

For example, a member of the public would recognise a common word like ‘massage’ more than they would ‘handling the body‘. ‘Communicating specific sensations‘ could be ‘teaching the brain’. ‘To improve the functions of the motor system‘ could be ‘to improve how one moves’.

Hanna and Rywerant were two heavyweights, and were extremely influential in the Feldenkrais world until their deaths.

Hanna authored a number of books on Somatics and was an early adopter of Feldenkrais in the 1970s in America. Rywerant himself was one of the 13 students in Moshe Feldenkrais’ first professional training course between 1969 and 1971 in Tel Aviv.

Yoga vs Feldenkrais? Yoga wins.

“Feldenkrais Method is an educational system that allows the body to move and function more efficiently and comfortably. Its goal is to re-educate the nervous system and improve motor ability.” (Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, COPYRIGHT 2005 The Gale Group, Inc.)

Feldenkrais is a powerful and effective health and movement technique.  But it’s terrible  at marketing.

Compare the clarity and attractiveness of  images in an internet search for ‘Yoga’….

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… and for Feldenkrais.

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The yoga images are attractively lit, and well posed and framed. The backgrounds are mostly clean and free of distractions.

The Feldenkrais photos are documentary style, showing something happening or a situation.  Framing, posing and lighting are often poor.  The backgrounds in the photos are cluttered and distracting.

It would be wonderful if the Feldenkrais guilds and associations, as well as the individual practitioners began to produce clean, clear, inspirational photos that clearly convey the purpose of Feldenkrais Method to the public.

Not Magic Hands, But Human Hands

Jeremy  Krauss is an experienced Feldenkrais trainer based in Germany who specialises in working with children.

He has a non-nonsense approach to teaching which helps him to present facts and techniques with clarity and simplicity.  You really feel in the presence of someone with loads of experience and a very clear idea of what it all means.

photo 7 photo source: http://jeremy-krauss.com/en/photo-gallery/children

Watching the fluid gestures of an experienced professional may be perplexing and confusing if you just don’t understand what they are doing. It also helps to have experience – but that rules out the students, parents and professionals in other fields who might want to watch such a video or demonstration.

This video showing him working in Japan reveals two interesting elements of his work.

Firstly, there is no commentary. As a viewer, you are left to draw – or miss – your own conclusions.  This mirrors how Feldenkrais Method was originally taught, where the students would sit in a circle watching the master at work, but not allowed to ask questions.

I prefer learning from a teacher who explains what they are doing.  I think it transfers knowledge more quickly when observing.  A great practitioner of this technique is Nancy Aberle.

The second element is how soft his hands are.  Watch any section of the video and you will see how his hands move and press without force.  The hands touch, push and pull in a way as close as possible to how the person themselves would move themselves, their limbs, their bones.

You can see at 9′ 50 how extraordinarily soft his pressure is, whilst remaining firm and decisive. This allows the receiver to accept the stimulus, without her nervous system treating it as an intrusion or aggression.  It’s an empathetic physical gesture.

Finally, there is one extra element on view in the video, one that that separates Feldenkrais method from certain other therapeutic (!) approaches. Going with the moment.  Around 9’01, the girl pulls the towel over her own head.  Krauss lets this continue. Why? Because she is giving herself a new sensory experience.  He goes on to repeat the gesture two or three times for her – but then leaves it: another element of Feldenkrais: don’t get stuck in one movement.

Someone once said that Moshe Feldenkrais had magic hands.  He responded that he had human hands.  Krauss has wonderful, human hands too.

The Brain That Changes Itself documentary

I have written before about the books by Norman Doidge.  They are fascinating because they hold a camera up to real lives and real people who show medical change and progress, in a way that our medical and scientific experience and expectations do not prepare us for.

Brain's-Way-of-Healing_248w_new

They reveal how the brain is plastic – able to change and adapt on a continual basis. This is the essence of learning – getting to know something that it did not know before.

Doidge tells this information through stories and theory intertwined.  Classical science sometimes dismisses cases studies that focus on the person with the condition, preferring to concentrate on the condition.  Oliver Sacks went some way to rehabilitating person-centred medical thinking. Norman Doidge continues this work.

Check out the documentary about his book on Youtube.