International Feldenkrais Awareness Week 2023

To mark International Feldenkrais Awareness Week and the anniversary of the birthday of Moshe Feldenkrais, the UK Guild celebrated with a series of free Awareness Through Movement lessons. A lesson was released each day from 6 – 13 May, with the theme ‘learning with curiosity’. These lessons invite us to ask questions of ourselves, make new discoveries, and find new ways of being in our daily lives.

Below is some information about the lessons.

Day 8 – ‘A Fresh Look at Standing’ with Scott Clark

Feldenkrais lessons are conversations that we have with a part of ourselves we don’t know very well. A part that is usually deeply buried below consciousness. We think we control our movement and action by conscious means, and it’s certainly true that we can interfere that way. But most of the time, much of our action is controlled and choreographed by part of our thinking that is far from conscious. 

To reach such parts, in the Feldenkrais Method® we move pretty slowly, with little effort, emphasising sensation. That’s often easiest while lying on the floor. But standing can be a very useful way to hold such conversations, as long as we move with enough sensitivity. That’s the particular challenge of standing lessons. 

Try this short Awareness Through Movement lesson, and find out what kind of difference it can make to your standing & walking!

Scott Clark is a Feldenkrais Practioner based in London.

Day 7 – ‘Comfortable with the Unknown’ with Ana Stojadinovic

Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons facilitate learning by exploring movement variations, while paying attention to our sensations, followed by frequent rests and noticing any changes in these sensations. There are hundreds of different accessible lessons exploring various themes and connections and promoting an exploratory attitude.

Utilising our inherent neuroplasticity, new possibilities emerge from this process of enquiry, allowing for healthier and better organised ways of being.

In this lesson we are exploring the foot and its movements in space. You might say this is a familiar movement – we move our feet all the time, while walking for example. But in this lesson, we explore the movements of the foot that is behind our back, while lying on the front. 

We explore the movement from a different, less known perspective. So, let’s begin and see what emerges from your experience of this lesson…

Ana Stojadinovic is a Feldenkrais Practitioner based in London

Day 6 – ‘Drawing Circles in the Cosmos’ with Alan Caig Wilson

My name is Alan Caig Wilson. I trained under Dr Mark Reese in Berlin, graduating in 2001. I came to practising the Feldenkrais Method® after studying Psychology at St Andrews University. This was before training as an actor in Cardiff and with Jacques Lecoq in Paris, where I first encountered the work of Dr Moshe Feldenkrais.

I taught Feldenkrais® between 2001 and 2012 at London Contemporary Dance School. As well as extensively at the Polish Institute for Choreotherapy in Poznan during the same period. I established my practice first in Ipswich and Manningtree in the East of England, and then in Edinburgh. For the past five years I have been teaching regular classes at Dancebase in Edinburgh, as well as online to groups in the UK and India.

In 2020 I was diagnosed with an invisible disability – Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. I’m convinced that a professional lifetime of contact with The Feldenkrais Method® has kept the disease from progressing as far as it might have done. I selected this lesson – which I am calling Drawing Circles in Cosmos with the help of the hip joints – because of my ongoing exploration of how the periods of uncertainty in balance affect my emotional and digestive state. I am also convinced that it is always worth finding ways of lifting our awareness away from a dogged focus on what is holding us back, towards a place where, we can all recognise and develop our in-built potential for lightness and solution finding. This lesson can be done seated in a wheelchair, on a sturdy dining chair, or, if you can get there easily, on the floor. 

Thank you for taking the time to try out my lesson.

Alan Caig Wilson

Day 5 – ‘Curiosity and the Hands’ with Emma Alter

a baby looking at paint on their hands

In this lesson Emma explores the movement of the hands from babyhood to now. Emma has written an article, ‘Curiosity and the Hands’, to accompany this lesson.

Emma Alter is a Feldenkrais Practioner based in London.

Day 4 – ‘In Bed – Pressing the Heels to Soften the Chest’ with Niall O’Riordan

Everybody can benefit from the Feldenkrais Method® and many lessons can be adapted to make them more accessible. I recorded this lesson especially for people who find themselves confined to bed.

I would often find myself doing movements similar to this during nights where I found it difficult to sleep. It seemed that my curiosity was endless. As I observed how my whole structure responded to moving on the soft surface of the mattress, which is a very different experience to lying on the floor. I would notice my breathing changed. I could feel my limbs more clearly and I often would fall asleep before I finished the lesson. 

Niall O’Riordan is a Feldenkrais Practitioner based in London.

Day 3 – ‘Transitions Matter’ with Nikhila Em Ludlow

This simple and early-learned transition movement of rolling from back to side. 

Nikhila has written an article, ‘Engaging Curiosity and ‘Living in the Questions” to accompany this lesson

Nikhila Em Ludlow is a Feldenkrais Practitioner based in the Totnes, Devon area.

Day 2 – ‘B-b-baby B-b-babble’ with Anita Fenoughty

From the moment a baby takes its first breath, innate survival mechanisms such as breathing, crying, coughing and sucking, shape the infant’s first relationship with its own sound. As the infant engages with its environment, experimenting with playful curiosity, these physical experiences form the building blocks for communication. It learns by experimentation and repetition which leads to the formation of habitual patterns of movement. Sometimes unhelpful habits are formed and embedded which can obstruct the progress to more refined usage.

After cooing the first sounds that a baby develops are the bilabial ones, those that use both lips; P, B and M. It’s no accident that Mama is one of the first words a baby discovers. Closely followed by the other plosives which require more agility with the tongue; T, D and N using the tongue tip on the alveolar ridge (Dada and Nana). Usually followed by K, G using the back of the tongue on the palate (Gaga leading to grandma and grandpa which use all of these movements). 

In this rather silly and fun lesson we shall turn back our personal clocks to infancy and through a series of playful movement experiments, inspired by The Feldenkrais Method, re-engage with the first steps on our vocal journey. Re-examining our habits and identifying new options and possibilities to aid clearer and more expressive communication.

We will focus solely on the bilabial consonants. Allow yourself to giggle and smile, fully employing your sense of fun and curiosity.   

With spring here now I thought this was an appropriate text to use as a reference in the lesson and it feels rather lovely to say. “Beautiful babbling brooks bubble between blossoming banks”

Anita Fenoughty is a Feldenkrais Practitioner based in Hemel Hempstead and London

Day 1 – ‘Rediscovering the Natural Length of the Spine’ with Philippa Castell

This lesson aims to help you find new options and freedom for moving, in a direction which we generally spend less time exploring once we are adults. 

The aim is not to strengthen the extensor muscles but to make more skilful use of them, and to explore how the whole back can be responsive to our intention to look around the room while we’re lying on the belly.  When one part lifts another part presses – so a useful enquiry to keep returning to in this, as in any Awareness Through Movement® lesson, is how can I find the support from the floor?

Even if it isn’t your favourite position, it’s well worth taking the time to learn how to explore lying on your front. 

Extension is fundamental to all human movement and is vital in retaining a healthy spine. Efficient upright posture allows the rib cage to be flexible and uncompressed, creating conditions for improved breathing and vocal functioning. With time and patience, you can gradually rediscover your potential for a more adaptable spine, with your head lightly poised, free to look in any direction with ease. 

As you do this lesson, start gently, move slowly, and rest as often as you need.  Emphasise curiosity over ambition; curiosity about new sensations, about how your intention to look around your environment can help you discover a more integrated, less effortful way of moving. Focus less on achievement and more on discovering ease, comfort and enjoyment.

Philippa Castell is a Feldenkrais Practitioner based in Swansea.