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Supporting Methods

By Marcia Giudice

With 14 years of experience as a Certified Kripalu Yoga teacher and 7 years as a Feldenkrais® practitioner, I have had a great deal of fun experimenting with how yoga and the Feldenkrais Method are similar and different, and when and how it makes sense to integrate them. I have discovered that it doesn’t have to be an “either/or” situation, nor a blending together into an unrecognizable hybrid. Below are some examples of how I bring yoga into my Feldenkrais teaching/learning and how I bring the Feldenkrais Method into my yoga teaching/practice. I do this with the intention of being clear about when I am doing Feldenkrais and when I am doing yoga.

In a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement or ATM Class:
When I took my very first ATM class, the instructor asked us to “sit and turn to see something behind us,” a movement that reminded me of the yoga spinal twist. Then, lying on the floor, we spent nearly an hour doing an ATM lesson, exploring small movements that were new, interesting, and different than yoga. At the end of the class, we returned to sitting and turning.. I was amazed at the changes I felt. Instead of the familiar feel of turning easily where I am most flexible and the feel of stretch in the tighter places, the motion was smooth, more distributed along my whole spine, and more pleasurable. I could breathe easier and turn farther without strain. I later learned that there are hundreds of ATM lessons which can be used to improve almost any movement (breathing, your golf swing, walking, or ANY yoga posture). So now, when I teach ATM to improve yoga, I use a similar structure to the one I experienced in my first class:

1. Guide students to sense how they do one specific yoga posture.
2. Teach an ATM lesson designed to clarify an aspect of the posture.


In a Yoga Class:
When I bring the Feldenkrais Method into a yoga class, I insert a “mini ATM” to improve or clarify one aspect of a posture. For example, when I am teaching the cobra pose, I may use the following “mini ATM” to deepen or clarify the use of the eyes.

Feldenkrais “mini ATM” for the Cobra Pose

Do the cobra pose and notice how much ease you bring to the posture and how far toward the ceiling you can see without straining.

Now pause and rest your forehead on the floor. Gently and slowly, move your eyes (head remains still) to look down toward your feet and up toward overhead a few times.

Pause.

Now explore lifting and lowering in and out of the beginning of the cobra pose in a comfortable, easy range, softly gazing down as your head lifts up and gazing up as you lower your head back to the floor. You are exploring having your eyes and head smoothly moving in opposite directions.

Do this four or five times and then rest briefly.

Now return to the cobra pose and notice anything different about how you experience the posture (comfort, ease, the use of your eyes, how far you see, how you breathe, or any other aspect of the posture).

I hope this has given you a sense of how these two wonderful methods of self-discovery can be used in support of one another.

Enjoy your exploration!

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