Section: Healthy Aging
Feldenkrais Method® with Anna
In 2011, a woman contacted me whose 97-year-old mother lived in the dementia unit of a large medical and residential complex in Toronto. Anna, the mother, had moderately advanced dementia along with Parkinsonian rigidity. Her movement and speech were limited, and she needed caregivers around the clock. The nursing staff had recently informed Anna's daughter that it was often too difficult for even two people to help her transfer from sitting to standing, and that they would have to start using a lifting apparatus.

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Sitting Comfortably
Many people have the idea that the pelvis should be "vertical" to have proper posture for sitting. This means that the sacrum, or the back of the pelvis, is at roughly a ninety-degree angle to a flat chair seat, with the "bowl" of the pelvis neither tipping forward nor backward. There are ways to use our pelvis more effectively when sitting, so that we can stay comfortable for longer periods of time, and for moving while sitting, in activities such as computing, driving, visiting with friends, reading, writing, and eating, to name just a few. The short lesson in this article will begin with a vertical pelvis and then explore another alternative. This experiment should take about ten minutes or less. If you start to get tired or sore, of course, stop and rest immediately.

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Openness to Options
Many, many times during the 27 years of my Feldenkrais practice, I’ve seen how people shred years while gaining comfort—when they learn it’s in their best interest to not constantly contract their abdominal muscles.

Shortly after starting my Feldenkrais practice in 1991, a retired eighty-year-old oncologist became my student because of his debilitating back pain and balance issues. For the first two sessions he would become markedly more comfortable while lying on my Feldenkrais table, but as soon as he stood up, he would return to his habit of contracting his abs to the max. His posture was curved forward, his back pain was present, and when he walked his balance was compromised.

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Images of Aging The Feldenkrais Way
Article Originally published in Prime Magazine.

We have all been told that aging brings with it aches, pains and loss of function. Many of us have even accepted the fact that joint pain is inevitable and that we will someday have to give up doing those things that bring us the most joy.

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Awareness Through Movement Classes at a Nursing Home
Over a year ago, a colleague informed me that a local nursing home was interested in weekly Feldenkrais classes. Because both of my parents are in a skilled nursing facility, I was reluctant to teach at a nursing home, afraid it would make me too sad for myself, my parents and the residents that I would be teaching. I decided to meet with the Activities Director with an open mind. The minute I walked in the door, I knew that I was in a place of healing and life. Her enthusiasm, compassion and excitement for the learning offered to the residents inspired me.

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The Outstanding Student
Alice looked like the proverbial little old lady with her white hair, twinkling blue eyes, and cane. She sought Feldenkrais Method lessons to address the peripheral neuropathy that had made the cane a necessary addition. Then 79, Alice smiled gently and seemed very proper as she inquired how Feldenkrais Method lessons might benefit her current condition.

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Seniors in the Sunshine State
It’s been said that it’s not important how old you are, but how you are old. Of the more than 80 students taking class and private lessons at The Feldenkrais Studio in Sarasota, Florida, nearly 2/3 of them are over age 65. They attend consistently, as their schedules permit, and speak enthusiastically of their experience with the Feldenkrais Method.
Figuring it out
Dr. Feldenkrais talked about how learning isn't something we do, but is a biological necessity. The Feldenkrais Method suggests that we can still apply learning to improve our physical abilities at any age. Too often people feel their aches and pains and limitations and yet haven't been taught that they still can feel differences in how they move, and that they have the power to change these movements to be more comfortable or to move beyond their limitations.