Thursday, February 24, 2005

FAQ on the FM: Frequenty Asked Questions on the Feldenkrais Method

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Photo by Nancy Wozny

What is the central idea of the work?
The Feldenkrais Method proposes that our nervous system is a self-correcting system and that movement is the most direct path to change habits towards more easeful human functioning.

Why is it called The Feldenkrais Method?
The Method was named after its founder, Moshe Feldenkrais. He was an engineer, a nuclear physicist, and the first European Black Belt in Judo.

You say that The Feldenkrais Method is a method of somatic education. What does “Somatic” mean?
Somatic derives from the Greek word, “Soma,” which means the “body as a lived experience.” More directly, Somatics is the study of awareness.

How do I know which class is for me?
All the classes and workshops have something to offer you. Choose the class that is convenient for you. It doesn’t make sense to stress yourself out going to your stress reducing class.

Why do I feel so relaxed after class?
We calm down the parasitic noise in our nervous system. We recognize this state as relaxation, but it’s really just a smoother running operating system.

What is an ATM?
ATM stands for “Awareness Through Movement,” not automated teller machine. ATM is the group modality of the Feldenkrais Method. Feldenkrais created thousands of ATM lessons for you to improve your life and was invented way before bank machines.

If I am recovering from an injury can I come to a class too?
Feldenkrais will be perfect for you. We go slow, we pay attention, and we move at our own pace.

Where do you teach in Houston?
Ongoing: The Jung Center & HBU Wellness Center. Workshops: Nia Moves, Unity Church, The Dharma Center, Synchronized Kneads

What kinds of people take Feldenkrais classes?
Smart, curious, and interesting people like you are attracted to the work. There are two kinds of people that are interested in Feldenkrais work, those with problems and those that have no intention of getting problems. Those with problems use the work as a form of rehabilitation, while those without problems use the work has a form of prevention.

What is the difference between “Bones for Life” and traditional Feldenkrais classes?
Ruthy Alon, one of the world’s most renowned Feldenkrais teachers, developed Bones for Life. There is always pressure through the feet or hands against a wall. Bones for Life is a bit more active and is not appropriate for people in chronic or acute pain. You can find out more at

If a class is about the shoulders and my shoulders are fine, is there any benefit to taking this class?
Absolutely! Just because you have no shoulder pain doesn’t mean your shoulders are functioning optimally. We improve the condition we describe as “fine” to “excellent.” If you do have shoulder problems you will be reminded to do very little.

Do you recommend using Feldenkrais tapes?
Yes, but it’s best to have some experiences with a live teacher first. Tapes are available at classes.

How do I join the e-Feldenkrais list?
Send a hello message to

Why do you use audio tapes and not videos?
We activate a different and deeper part of the brain when we listen to instructions and move from audio instructions. In most classes your eyes are closed.

I am strapped for cash, is there a way to still take classes?
Yes, the Jung Center offers scholarships but you have to apply to get one. Find out more by calling the Jung Center at 713-524-8253. I also usually teach free classes once a semester at the Jung Center. I teach free classes for cancer patients and survivors at MD Anderson.

What should I wear to class?
Comfortable street clothes are fine. There is no need to wear workout clothes. Shorts are not a good idea. Cover your limbs and bring a sweater.

Why do we sometimes get cold in a Feldenkrais class?
We get very relaxed in a Feldenkrais class so our metabolic rate slows down during the class. It’s always wise to have a sweatshirt with you.

Do I need to purchase a special mat?
No, a blanket will do. If you are in the market for a mat, you want a soft one with a slippery surface. Sticky yoga mats are not ideal.

Can I do Feldenkrais, Yoga, and Pilates all at the same time?
Well, if you have the time, go for it. Feldenkrais classes will improve your performance in these classes. Feldenkrais is not a substitute for exercise. You still need to get your heart rate up and do some weight training. I find Yoga and Pilates students really take to the work and notice significant improvements.

Do you recommend reading a particular book?
I wish I could recommend that you read my book. There is only one problem—I haven’t written it yet. I recommend reading Dr. Feldenkrais’s book, Awareness Through Movement. Books and tapes can be purchased at North American Feldenkrais Guild, 1-800-775-2118 or visit., or Feldenkrais Resources: 510-540-7600,

What if I notice a new ache or pain after class?
We activate muscles we sometimes haven’t used in decades. The aches are not unlike the ones you get when you start a new movement program. If you consistently notice this you are working too hard in class and I will remind you to do less and feel more.

How much Feldenkrais should I do?
It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. For prevention and relaxation, once a week should meet your needs.

When is it time to try a private Functional Integration lesson?
The one-on-one, hands-on work is appropriate when you have a very specific issue you are working on. Some people simply prefer to work one-on-one and are not able to make it to classes.

What if I can get to class only once a month, will I still benefit?
Of course you will. Each lesson refreshes your nervous system with new patterns of movement.

Is Feldenkrais appropriate for all ailments?
Feldenkrais can significantly improve symptoms of Arthritis, Parkinson’s, Stroke, MS, balance disorders and neuromuscular issues. I have not found the work to significantly improve migraine headaches. Remember to always visit your doctor when symptoms persist.

How do I find out about becoming a practitioner, find a practitioner in Des Moines for my Aunt Louise, check out books, and read up more on the Method?
Visit Visit the Motion Potion Reading Room for all kinds of somatic information.

Are there other Somatic Disciplines that are compatible with the Feldenkrais Method?
You bet! The Alexander Technique, Body/Mind Centering, Aston Patterning, Continuum, Nia, Rolfing, Cranio Sacral Therapy, and Yamuna Body Rolling, all resonate with the Method.

How long have you been doing Feldenkrais work?
I started in 1981. I was in my 20s, but I felt 60. I’m not 60 yet, but I imagine when I get there, I will feel like I am in my 20s. I am in my 12th year as a practitioner.

Is it important to have long and hard to pronounce name to teach Feldenkrais?
No, but it helps. When you teach something that no one can pronounce, it’s good to have a name that no one can also pronounce. So if you are thinking about becoming a Feldenkrais Practitioner you might want to add some vowels and hyphens to your name.

Will Feldenkrais protect me from injury?
No, but if you do get injured you will recover faster. Also, if you fall, you will fall with grace.

Nancy Galeota-Wozny, MA, GCPT
13318 Oddom CT, Cypress, TX 77429