Section: Recovery
Movement & Emotions
Recently, a student approached me at the end of class and asked if experiencing strong emotions while doing Awareness Through Movement® lessons was normal. My answer: “Yes.” Emotions don’t surface all of the time, but it does happen and the intensity of the experience can vary.

When I first started reading Moshe Feldenkrais’ books nearly 20 years ago, I was completely obsessed with the mind-body connections—specifically how I could shift my emotional base and perspectives by working with my body. I consumed his writings along with those of Ida Rolf, Alexander Lowen, and books like EMOTIONAL ANATOMY.

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Anxiety, Chronic Stress and the Feldenkrais Method®
While we think of anxiety and stress as mental or emotional states, it is important to remember that they are part of a very complex story that encompasses a cascade of physiological events throughout our whole selves. This story involves a delicate flux and balance held in the (autonomic) nervous system between arousal and relaxation, triggering changes throughout our systems (vascular, pulmonary, muscular, digestive, immune) that ideally enable us to meet periods of challenge effectively and, just as importantly, come back to a quieter, easier place when circumstances allow.

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What is Trauma?
Explore this ATM® lesson to learn about how you might be holding trauma in your body.

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Competitive Running
Sharon Starika is a runner and triathlete with over twenty years of competitive racing experience. Her involvement with the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education began in 1984 when she had a debilitating cycling accident resulting in nine surgeries. Her doctors said she would never compete again and probably would not be able to run. Using the Feldenkrais Method, she not only recovered and returned to competition, she improved her marathon time by an astonishing twenty minutes. As a result Sharon became a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and Assistant Trainer and developed her own theory and ideas about optimizing fitness using the Feldenkrais Method.

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The Impossible Became Easy
"Oh, I can do this!" professional artist Theresa Ganley remembers an inner voice exclaiming as she experienced her first Awareness Through Movement lesson with Feldenkrais practitioner Bob Hunter. Moving her eyes in an easy pain-free way was a revelation and a delight.

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Feeling Whole Again, and Again
Five years ago, John Pollard, at age 46 had always felt himself to be strong and capable. He had been running his own successful but physically demanding business, Pollard Shelving, in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, for over fifteen years. Then he had a truck accident. He was left with troublesome back pain that threatened his ability to carry on with his work. His doctor, who was aware of the Feldenkrais Method and knew that it could produce remarkable results, suggested John try Functional Integration lessons and referred him to me. At the time, I was newly established as a practitioner and John was one of my first students. He came to his lessons with an open mind and an eagerness to learn. He made exceptional progress during a series of only five lessons and, pain free, returned to work.

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Taking Steps to Recovery
"I was leading a very active life style when I developed a neuroma (a mass growing from a nerve) on my right foot," said Jeri Ann Smith. "When I couldn't walk 15 minutes to the grocery store, I knew I needed to do something about it." Fearing that surgery would limit her future options, and finding physical therapy only partly helpful, Jeri Ann began Feldenkrais lessons. "Feldenkrais certainly took longer than surgery would have," she says, "but I'm still noticing continual improvement in my use of my feet and how they connect through my pelvis and spine - even influence my head position. I'm not afraid of reinjury because I'm very aware of my foot and all the different ways to use it." Jeri Ann has fully returned to her active lifestyle - in fact, she has learned to surf in addition to resuming her skiing and bicycling. She has also completed walking her first half-marathon.

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Why Limit Yourself?
As a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner for almost 20 years, I have worked with many people in my practice who have been active, even athletic, all their lives. People who, at some point, discovered that activities they always took for granted had become difficult or impossible, sometimes seemingly overnight: playing sports, getting up and down from the floor easily, walking on uneven surfaces, going up and down stairs, etc. How does this happen? How do we go from 7 year olds who can gracefully cartwheel across the lawn, to 70 year olds who cannot comfortably sit on the floor? I have always been intrigued by this, and then I had an accident that gave me first-hand experience. My accident happened on a boogie board in high surf in Hawaii (but it could have been anything- a car accident, a fall, etc.) A few months after my accident, I thought that I was totally recovered and back to normal. I was working, exercising, walking--my usual routine. One day, as I was doing a familiar Awareness Through Movement lesson, I discovered I was not able to do some of the movements that I had always been able to do before. I was shocked.

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Maintaining Mobility
Maintaining mobility is a concern for everyone, especially as we age, but for people with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) concerns about mobility may unfortunately come much earlier in life. MS is known as "the greatest disabler of young adults." It is estimated to affect 400,000 in the US and 2.5 million in the prime of their lives worldwide. I was diagnosed with MS in 1994 and when I couldn't walk the 200 yards to work without having to sit down and rest, I was crushed. I loved hiking in the mountains and the thought of never seeing the world from the top of a mountain was a sad thought.

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Poster Child for the Feldenkrais Method
I've been a Feldenkrais practitioner since 1996 and have worked with all kinds of injuries, neurological damage, head injuries, and disabilities. With this experience, I know and appreciate how life can change drastically in a moment's time.

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Regaining Balance
She couldn't run. She couldn't keep her balance. Even walking became difficult. For the last 33 years, Holly S. has suffered from a disease that attacks the nervous system, causing extreme incoordination of the limbs.

"At first I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but then my doctors discovered I had Friedreich's Ataxia," says 78 year old Holly. Not wanting to rely on a wheelchair, as do most with this disease, Holly decided to try the Feldenkrais Method.

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From RSI to Ease and Freedom
By the time I received the letter from the State of Oregon saying that I had been labeled "permanently partially disabled," I'd been struggling with chronic lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, for two years. I was 25 when the injury started. I'd been working as a package handler at Fed Ex, moving boxes in the morning and sorting envelopes in the evening. Grabbing a handful of envelopes at a time and tossing them Frisbee-like into the appropriate zip code labeled bin had caused the problem. My movements were akin to only using my backhand while playing tennis for a couple of hours per day, five days a week. After a few months, the movements caught up with me.

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RSI: Recovery is Possible
The way we take action in the world affects our lives in significant and profound ways. Our habits can include the ability to move with great ease and comfort. Unfortunately, our habitual patterns of movement and perception can also lead to injury and pain. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) can be viewed from this perspective: as the result of accumulated injury and pain arising from the kinds of movements required of us in our lives -- along with the way we make those movements. Thinking in this way about these kinds of injuries also offers hope for successful prevention and rehabilitation.

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How the Feldenkrais Method can Help People with RSI
Cliff Smyth talks about how the Feldenkrais Method can help people with RSI in this engaging interview.

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Prevention for Repetitive Strain
What's better than recovering from RSI injuries? Preventing them all together! Watch this short video to learn more.

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The Feldenkrais Method and Osteoarthritis
Six years ago I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. At first I had severe pain in my right groin. Soon after, walking became an agonizing experience and sitting also became torturous. An x-ray revealed I had no cartilage on my right hip and very little on my left one. The orthopedist told me to take Advil, go have fun and come back for hip replacement surgery when I couldn't stand the pain any more.

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Uncoiling
Four years ago, after thirty years as a student of the Feldenkrais Method and other somatic disciplines, I became my own case study. The body/mind/spirit trainings, so engrained in my cells, prepared me for a rapid recovery from a brain aneurysm.

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The Feldenkrais Method & Parkinson's Disease
For a person with Parkinson's Disease (PD), the natural rhythm and flow of perception, feeling, and movement is disrupted. There is a disconnection between the intention to move and the ability to start or complete an action. Routine automatic behaviors, such as those involved in walking, speaking, breathing, swallowing, and facial expression, become difficult or unavailable.
Heart-Mind and Axon: Reflections on MS
I touch my student's foot as she is lying on the table, and suddenly her big toe pops up. Momentarily startled, I take my hands away and ask her if it hurts. It doesn't. I already know that the toe twitching is called the Babinski sign, that it is an indication of demyelination of patches along the length of a person's nerves, and that it is associated with difficulties in muscle control. What I don't really know is how it feels to her.

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Changing Course: How diet and Feldenkrais Movement improved my Primary Progressive MS
In case you missed this, enjoy the film that won the grand prize at this year's Feldenkrais Film Competition. Congratulations, Brad! Thank you for sharing this story of hope and possibility.

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Working with people with Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has left its indelible mark on my family. My paternal uncle, Benjamin (for whom I am named) was diagnosed and died of it in the 1930's. In the 50s, the disease took my father two weeks after my fourth birthday. In 1986, it claimed the life of my sister, Susan.

My family has been involved with the MS society for as long as I can remember. As a small boy, my brother Eli walked house to house with the little box collecting for the MS "hope chest."

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Concussion From Inside Out
It seems you can't pick up a health-related magazine these days without someone talking about concussions. They're everywhere: on the playing field, in nursing homes, at amusement parks. You might get the impression that every thing you do is putting your noggin at undo risk. That's hardly the case as your brain has a very sturdy piece of luggage--your skull--keeping it safe and sound from most unfortunate events. But as anyone who travels knows--contents inside your luggage may shift. That's what happened to me as the result of a car accident.

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Visualization, Play, and "Doing it Wrong"
By the time I began to train with Dr. Feldenkrais in San Francisco in the late 1970's I was already involved in the design and application of three funded pilot projects for brain injured adults and youth. Inspired by the brain plasticity research available then, we were on the quest to show that people who had been deemed by their physicians to be permanently paralyzed could learn to move again. My task was to explore any and all alternative approaches and ideas that might help move them forward.

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Recovery is Possible
Phineas Gage, one of history's most famous neuroscience patients, was a 25 year old foreman leading a railroad crew near Cavendish, Vermont. They used explosives to clear the path, with Gage utilizing a 43 inch long and 1.25 inch diameter tamping iron to pack explosive powder. At a critical point, the powder was to have been covered with a damping cloth by his assistants, but one afternoon both men were momentarily distracted, resulting in an explosion that sent the iron bar through Gage's left cheek and exiting the top of his head; it landed eighty yards away. It was reported that he never lost consciousness.

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A Dance of Awareness
I lie comfortably on a low table. Using her hands, Julie guides my right leg through a gentle reality check asking with each subsequent movement one more piece -- hip, pelvis, vertebra -- to participate. Free of the need to activate on my own, my nervous system relearns the possibility of easy motion. Julie and I continue our exploration searching for the place where movement originates freely, absent of the Parkinsonian tremors, seeking the quiet within.
Choice and Freedom
Vivacious, and unfailingly upbeat, even in the face of her work with some of the most neurologically challenged, Elinor Silverstein talks candidly about how her experience growing up in two households where Feldenkrais thinking prevailed formed a major influence to her entire approach to living...Both of her parents studied with Moshe in the 1950's, and at one point her mother was raised by his parents. She finished the Amherst Training in 1983 and has had an on-going practice ever since.
Unimaginable Change
I often say that in the course of my training, I fell apart and came back together again.

Like many people, I came to the Feldenkrais Method through injury. Since 2003, I was irritated by spasms in my upper back. I tried everything: physical therapy, Rolfing, massage, holistic chiropractors and not so holistic chiropractors. Finally after four years of hit-and-miss treatments, a dance teacher suggested I try the Feldenkrais Method.
The Feldenkrais Method in Eating Disorder Recovery
"The domain of core self seems to be where psychology crosses paths with brains and bodies."
-Roger Russell, 2004

The concept of unifying mind and body to foster healing dates back 2500 years as a cornerstone of Buddhist practice. By the 1970's, Moshe Feldenkrais had envisioned and created a method designed to facilitate healing, self-regulation, and the emergence of self by inducing neurological change and reintegrating the central nervous system through sensory input to brain, body and the embodied mind, achieved through movement with attention. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, neuropsychological research and brain imaging technologies had provided conclusive evidence that integrative brain development occurs throughout our lives, the result of integrative and mindful cognitive, behavioral, and sensory connections made within, and between brain and body, and through integrative connections sustained between brains in human relationship.
Actions & Emotions: Deepening Our Somatic Dialogue
My introduction to the Feldenkrais Method began as it often does with many of my Feldenkrais clients: an injury, unsatisfactory attempts at recovery, followed by a fortunate introduction to a Feldenkrais practitioner who had another perspective on my situation and healing.
A Remarkable Recovery from Torn Knee Ligaments
It's horrifying to think of someone being dragged by a frightened horse, tearing four knee ligaments completely in half and breaking her lower leg in three places. But rather than resigning herself to an inactive life with a "bad leg," Nicki Branch amazed her orthopedic physician by hiking up a mountain less than ten months after her accident. And her remarkable recovery did not involve surgery.
Find the Feldenkrais Method & Play Forever
After forty years of surfing, it now feels like a dance with the ocean each and every time I go out into the waves. In 1994, I was learning to do a drop knee cut back, a seemingly easy enough trick to learn,on a longer board, and I felt a pop in my left knee. It swelled up and hurt for a few weeks, but ostensibly healed. That is unless I tried to run, golf or play basketball, in which case it would swell up and hurt all over again. I tried everything to make my knee better: physical therapy, massage, energy healing, rolfing, yoga, acupuncture, pilates, and finally surgery for a torn medial meniscus.
A First Approximation: Effects of Feldenkrais lessons on Women with Breast Cancer
It was a calm spring afternoon when Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner Paulette Dolin, called me to share an inspired idea. From her experience working with clients, Paulette found that the Feldenkrais Method was a helpful recovery tool for breast cancer patients. She wanted quantify what she was seeing. Being a Feldenkrais practitioner myself, I was confident that Paulette was right, and as a physical therapist, I knew of measurement tools that could help us obtain data in the language and framework of the medical profession.
Rising Again: Gerard Rubaud bakes his famous bread with the help of the Feldenkrais Method
In the past week, during his twelve to fourteen hour days of making bread, Gerard Rubaud has noticed himself bending forward. It's not much of a surprise that his body isn't doing exactly what he'd like. In 2004, the seventy year old Westford baker suffered a stroke that left him clinging to life for two weeks, then wheelchair bound.
Improve to Move Yourself
For the past few years, it has been my great pleasure to teach weekly Awareness Through Movement lessons at The League for People With Disabilities, located in Baltimore Maryland. Classes runs for an hour on Monday afternoons. Students are mostly clients of the adult day program. There has been, on rare occasions (rarely, as in an Elvis sighting), a member of the staff joining the class.
Reclaiming Mobility
Three and a half years ago, Rona Stanton had the shock of her life. What doctors diagnosed as brain stem bleeding caused her automatic functioning to shut down, making her incapable of doing anything. For 2 1/2 weeks she was in intensive care with seven different tubes keeping her alive. Doctors advised her husband to send Rona to a nursing home, explaining that recovery from brain stem hemorrhage was unlikely.
Gaining Control
Eating disorders - anorexia and bulimia - are addictions by which one has gratification through control by denial. This denial is of one's own hunger, one's own body. Recovery, then, has unique challenge. Recovery means letting go of starvation and self-denial, a path which involves eating and caring for your body again. This path is not a matter of leaving a substance behind, such as recovering from alcoholism, it is a matter of a returning to healthful eating and care for your body. But the very substance you ingest - food - is also the source of your addiction. It is a highly complicated and difficult journey.
A Sense of Separation
Surviving health difficulties while living as an expatriate for many years saps the system. This story touches on how a sense of separation from home roots, culture, self, and almost from life itself in Near Death Experiences, has been overcome by one Australian woman. Zoe's "lifeline" and source of survival from multiple collapses has been the Feldenkrais Method, along with her own indomitable life force.
Healing the Heart: the Feldenkrais Part
Kenn Chase has been on the leading edge of treatment programs for people with heart disease for almost 20 years. In the early '80's, he was part of an innovative team that integrated eastern approaches and western mind/body methods.
Moving in Spite of Post-Polio Syndrome
Being a polio survivor and self-propelling a wheelchair for 40-plus years can leave one with lots of shoulder problems. Add to that a job in a library requiring lifting and carrying books and we get a recipe for over-worked and painful arms.

Carole contracted polio when she was 6 years old. The doctors diagnosed bulbar and spinal infantile paralysis. Her respiratory system returned with some weakness but she was paralyzed from the waist down.