Section: Athletes
The Significance of a Strong Neutral
A person lies quietly on the floor. Slowly, gently, the person moves a little – and rests. Moves a little – and rests.

Horse and rider walk in a circle. Gently, imperceptibly, the rider shifts her balance. The horse turns. The rider shifts back to neutral. The horse straightens. Neutral-shift-turn – return to neutral. Neutral-shift-turn – return to neutral.

The pause, the rest, the home-base neutrality is the frame within which balance-shifts and action spring to life.

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Born to Run (but still needing to learn how)
Jonathan came to me after completing his first marathon. He wanted to run another but didn't wanted to feel "that" again; the race had been tough on his knees. He believed it was possible to run faster during a marathon and feel better afterwards.

Like many of my clients, Jonathan was inspired by Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run, which tells the story of the Tarahumara Indians, ultra-distance runners living in Mexico. He'd also read articles by scientists that suggested conventional running shoes were more of a problem than a solution and that running problems could be fixed by improving your running technique -- a distinctly new idea for the sport of distance running.

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The Feldenkrais Method for Effortless Riding
How many times have you gotten on your horse and thought, "I am so stiff!" Or, maybe you have noticed your horse is stiff, has trouble bending, or taking a particular canter lead. You have recognized that you are part of the problem, but what do you do about it? Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were a way to solve these problems without hours of stretching, or years and years of riding? There is. The Feldenkrais Method offers riders a unique way to solve riding problems through pain-free, gentle, small movements that teach you how to move in new ways, in just minutes.

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Positive Changes for Horse and Rider
I am a fifty-five year old equestrian. When I decided to get back into riding several years ago, I quickly realized that abilities I took for granted in my twenties were no longer there. My balance, posture, and fitness level were not what they had been. I wasn't nearly as flexible in my movements and had slipped into certain physical habits that interfered with my ability to perform well on horseback.

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Competitive Running
Sharon Starika is a runner and triathlete with over 20 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 20 minutes.

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Leaping from Cookie Cutting to Natural Function
The fitness industry is big business and a mainstream reality that is here to stay. Individuals seek fitness guidance for a number of reasons. Such guidance is a perfectly valid step towards improving general health and well-being. Let's face it, exercise is essential. Our voluntary muscles need to be stimulated and our cardio-respiratory function thrives on intense forms of aerobic activity -- without doing so, it has been proven time and time again that morbidities and illnesses such as heart disease, depression, certain cancers and obesity, to only name a few, prevail. The Feldenkrais Method can compliment such fitness endeavors.

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Injury Prevention, Healing, and Alignment for Runners
Over the past thirty years, I've found the following tools to be helpful for preventing and healing injuries affecting runners. As a college athlete and hurdler, I wish I had known of these tools for improving my form, recovery, and performance. Running can be an elegant and light experience. I've included a few of my favorite practices to improve alignment and ease, and also prevent injury. Let's get started!

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Pins and Needles
What do heads and bowling balls have in common? They're both round and heavy and can offer a wonderful opportunity to learn how to organize body, mind and spirit. When friends visiting recently from Germany asked us to take them bowling, I never imagined that I would take up bowling. In fact, I thought I wouldn't be able to participate. Five years ago, I fell on my head while I was skiing and gradually lost significant function in my right arm. I suffered from chronic pain and took three and a half years to relearn how to write. In spite of my disability, I knew I would have a full recovery someday.

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When Working Out
If you train for competition or for your own general fitness, the Feldenkrais Method includes some familiar principles. Bruce Richmond, Certified Athletic Trainer and Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, offers these helpful pointers on how to improve faster and get better results from your workout:

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Bicycling and the Pleasure Principle
Michael Wolk is a practitioner in Portland, Oregon, who enjoys combining his love of bicycling with teaching the Feldenkrais Method. He graduated from the Vancouver, Canada training in 1997, and has been a Physical Therapist for over 20 years.

JK: When did you first hear about Feldenkrais and what was your first experience with the Feldenkrais Method?

MW: I knew nothing about it! (laughs) I was working as a PT in rehab settings -- strokes, spinal chord injuries, amputations, etc. I was hungry and restless because I felt like what I was doing wasn't enough, that there was something I was missing.
The Feldenkrais Method as an Extreme Sport
My friend and mentor, Moti Nativ, has often said, "The Feldenkrais Method is a martial art." l'll go one step further and say, "The Feldenkrais Method is an extreme sport."

I admit this observation might not sound very logical at first. What could the careful, attentive practice of the Feldenkrais Method have to do with extreme sports? How can one reconcile "do less" and "go slow" with the kinds of movement we expect from extreme sports?

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The Human Slingshot
OK, let's get it over with. Click to watch (link available by clicking on title link above) this short video to establish the context for what is to follow. As a disclaimer, DON'T try this at home; and we don't endorse the website or any of the other content on it.

So, on some level, I get it. He's having a blast. The sheer novelty, the shock, the speed--sort of like those extreme amusement park rides, except this guy did it out in his back yard. However, I also related to the image in a different way, that led me to consider once again our culture's attraction to all things extreme, and how that affects each of us on a personal level.

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Unicycling: An Extreme Sport, Really?
Thanks to YouTube, you can now learn almost anything. There are even how-to-lessons for extreme sports. That's how I got started learning to ride a unicycle. When I tell people what I do, there's an almost universal response of dismay. First, there is the incredulous look, as if I am pulling their leg, followed by a stuttering bewilderment, "re...really?" At sixty-three, I realize I'm in the minority age bracket of people learning to navigate around on one wheel. When I first considered the idea, I assumed it would be impossible. Once I was able to ride, even a few feet, I was shocked by how exhausting it was. It only took ten or fifteen minutes of pedaling and I was a huffing, puffing, almost passing-out ball of sweat.

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The Feldenkrais Method and its Application to Horseback Riding
Did you know that working with the Feldenkrais Method can make you a better rider? In this article, I will explain how.

In our day-to-day life and when we ride, we move all the time. However, we are unaware of much of our movement and we do not think when we move. We are busy with what we are doing, not with how we are doing the movement.

When you are aware of the "how" of a movement you can experience an easier, more supple way of movement. This is the idea behind the Feldenkrais Method.

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Finding your Step
Recently, there has been focused research about gait analysis and how people step as they run. You can go to almost any running store or see a running coach and have them observe you running determine if your running, or foot strike, is inward, outward, or unstable (are you pronating, supinating, or lacking motion control?). Most running stores are incredibly helpful now in helping you to find the best shoe for your foot strike.

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Breathing through Movement
Knowing when to inhale and exhale can be confusing, whether your doing an Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lesson or running. While you are in the process of discovering your breath where it should be, you could be tensing up your chest, holding your breath, or clenching your jaw.

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Horseback Riding
Horseback riding, like other sports, demands coordination, timing and direction. The Feldenkrais Method lends itself beautifully to improving equestrian skills for many reasons. Bill Hutchinson, a Feldenkrais practitioner in Massachusetts, has been working with riders, helping them to learn how to ride better.

He says, "Many riders get caught in the trap of struggling with their horse, showing him 'who is boss' -- which is counter productive." Feldenkrais lessons show the rider how to be with the horse, as a single, intelligent unit.
Becoming an Athlete
Eileen was struggling with her training for a 10K race she'd run annually with a group of friends for many years. Her left leg was stiff and achy, running felt difficult and unpleasant. She was worried that she wouldn't be able to complete the race, and she wondered whether she was getting too old for running. Her goal was to be able to finish without getting hurt and enjoy her group's tradition of post race carrot cake and champagne. Curious about the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education and hearing that I specialize in helping runners and folks over sixty, she sought me out for help.
Fitness, Exercise, and the Feldenkrais Method
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais had strong opinions about exercise, and would surely condemn current conventional practices.

Moshe's final visit to the United States was in 1981. I was his assistant that summer, and with him at his last public workshop, Labor Day weekend in Washington, DC. Jogging was very popular at the time, and as we drove through Rock Creek Park each morning we saw hundreds of joggers. "They think they're doing themselves some good," Moshe remarked. With his nose pressed against the car window, he described the harms of jogging, the damage to feet, knees, hip joints, backs, and overall. His unforgettable final phrase, "cardiovascular masturbation."
Practitioner Spotlight with Jeff Haller: A New Definition of Strength
In this month's spotlight of those who trained directly with Moshe Feldenkrais, I spoke with Practitioner and Trainer Jeff Haller. Since 1993, the primary focus of Jeff's work has been on teaching Professional Trainings in the Feldenkrais Method. Jeff's background includes an MA in Intercultural Education, a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology, and over 20 years of study in Aikido. He was a university level basketball player at Oregon State University when he first encountered the Method. As a Trainer, he has worked around the world, been the educational director of eight graduating classes, and has plans to initiate several other trainings in the future.
Tennis Everyone!
How would you like to become incredibly coordinated in all movement essential to playing winning tennis? What if you never tightened up on your strokes or felt it hard to bend your knees for those low shots? How about being able to consistently get the power of your whole body into every shot?
The Feldenkrais Method for "Silent Sports"
I doubt if I'm alone in my frustration as I read about involved, time consuming training programs on how to succeed in citizen ski racing, ultramarathon, bicycling, paddling, sailboat racing, etc. For those of us who are passionate about a different recreational pursuit for each season, those time, money and energy consuming approaches leave us wondering how we can hope to improve in anything when we love it all!