The Feldenkrais Method is a gentle approach that guides and supports growth and change with sensitivity.
Young developing brains, bodies and souls are extremely open to new experiences. Supporting where they are at, creates trust and a willingness to feel and accept change. As a Feldenkrais Practitioner, I will teach your child or baby (or adult) to sense themselves more fully. Sometimes through brain injury, difficulties in attention or physical disabilities, the child does not have a clear image of themselves, sometimes they cannot find the pathway to move easily or even how to be comfortable.
The Feldenkrais Method uses a gentle approach to develop these aspects. The child is taught to feel what they are doing through very gentle handling and manipulation. There is never any force imposed just guidance and offering new ways of moving that are less stressful, more efficient and productive.
The foundations of movement are developed. They are guided through movements but never forced to do something that is painful or stressful. Specific components of the action are worked with outside of the actual movement. This is more effective and ultimately ensures more refined understanding of the whole movement.
Many aspects are addressed: body image, movement organization, balance at many levels, rhythm and timing (important for the ability to learn and to move smoothly), connection of head, spine, pelvis, limbs and how everything works together in harmony, knowing how to create safety and stability and learning to make changes in oneself. Progression is at the child’s pace. We move through the developmental stages, as it is important for the maturation of a strong and well functioning nervous system. We make sure the foundations for healthy movement are getting established before we progress onto the more complex stages in movement. Every person/child/baby will follow a slightly different path. Feldenkrais is not structured on specific sequential templates. We progress at the client’s pace making each change comfortable, easy (although it can be challenging), and tailored to the individual needs of the learner. These needs are not always physical and supporting the emotional needs first will aid the physical progress in the long term.
At the beginning of the first session (or few), the baby or child is often in their parent’s arms gradually moving away as they feel comfortable. Most children are happy to leave their parent after 10 or 15 minutes however each move is based on making sure that the child feels secure. Anxiety is a huge inhibitor to learning. The setting is relaxed and playful to maximize learning. The client is the focus of the session.
I request that the parent is quietly engaged in the session by watching and interacting when guided to. It is important that I as the therapist engage directly with the child. Sometimes it may seem that the child is not following instructions but he/she could be experimenting with the new feeling of the movement so a certain amount of latitude may be tolerated. Over time most children can be left with me.
I have had experience working with disabled children working as a physiotherapist with the ‘Department for Intellectually Handicapped’ in Perth in the 1980s.
Now as a Feldenkrais Practitioner, I see many young children in my practice from the age of 4 weeks old to toddlers and school-aged children including teenagers. Their needs are varied from needing to learn to roll and lift their heads, how to move more easily by letting go of muscle tension and spasm, learning how to integrate reflexes through games and exercises, learning greater control and accuracy in movement to make it easier to balance, move and play.
I see children who have suffered birth trauma, with brain injury, cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, clumsiness, poor coordination, pain due to muscle use imbalances, recurrent injury due to habits in movement, scoliosis, talipes equino varus (club foot), hip dysplasia. The list is endless. The Feldenkrais Method can be utilized to improve co-ordination, organization and comfort in anybody.
In addition to my Physiotherapy and professional Feldenkrais training, I have studied under various practitioner trainers from Israel, Australia and the US, including a course on Working with Children with Challenges under an Anat Baniel Method (ABM) and Feldenkrais Trainer Maralee Platt, from USA. The Anat Baniel Method has its roots in the Feldenkrais Method and so the principals of the work are the same: Learning requires awareness, involves a series of small changes and a strong sense of self. Movements are gentle, slow, smooth, easy, reversible and pleasurable. The focus is on acceptance and developing ability in a safe and comfortable setting.