**Support** is from the Latin word meaning "to carry from below". In our work, support describes the equal and opposite forces we generate from the surfaces we're on (external support, i.e. the ground, the chair, etc) and through our joints (internal support) to create efficient and flexible behavior in gravity. Failures of support, whether in traumatic single events or continuous, erosive habits, lie at the root of most problems we find in our movement: soft-tissue tears, tendinitis, poor posture, stiffness, chronic aches and pains, and the like. To study support and refine it is to sharpen your means for continuous improvement in every activity of your life.
Below are Dr. Feldenkrais' principles.
They can be applied in every orientation, direction, pattern and activity that humans engage in on earth.
- Good posture is the ability to move in any direction without hesitation or preparation, and it's based on the specific contact we find with the surfaces we’re on.* (Jeff Haller's addendum in italics).
- Clear Skeletal Support: the bones below move to support the bones above.
- Evenly distributed muscular effort/tone (proportional work: the big muscles do the big work, small muscles small work)
- Every movement is generated through an equal and opposite force delivered to/received from the ground.
- Force must travel up and through the skeleton (longitudinally), not across it. Avoid shearing forces.
- Head and eyes are free in the activity.
- Breathing is free in the activity.
- Reversibility: the ability to organize for the action and it's suspension or reversal at any moment.
A few words about Principles:
Here was my moment:
When I met Jeff Haller in 2007, he began his workshop for practitioners with a question:
"What are the principles of the Feldenkrais Method?"
A room full of practitioners looking around at each other.
Then at Jeff.
"Do you mean going slowly?" one of us said.
"Going slowly is a strategy, it's not a principle," Jeff said.
"Resting...between the movements?"
"Resting is a strategy, not a principle."
"Working with patterns of movement?"
More looking around.
Jeff: "What did Feldenkrais say? Did he say anything specific? Did he write them down anywhere?"
The mark of a highly skilled Feldenkrais® practitioner
is her ability to see function clearly and organize it in herself and another person.
The people we work with don't know the difference between moving well and how they move.
They have no basis for improvement but their own experience.
That's why they've come to us.
To get some idea of how to improve.
To learn some principles.
To find better support and make it last.
Our job as practitioners is to see function
To engage with function
To organize function.
In teaching our clients how to take over the work of organizing their own function,
sometimes we show and explain function.
Often we test function.
Sometimes we help by showing dysfunction.
Being effective means you not only know how to look, but what to look for.
The principles of the Feldenkrais Method® are how we see and measure function.
They are our high standard for self-organization, right action, flexible behavior, good posture:
all the benefits we offer.
Without these principles, the Feldenkrais Method gets fuzzy fast.
FI is reduced to just another type of "body work",
ATMs become movement lessons and recipes for FI.
It is the principles that make our work special
That make us effective
That keep us on the path to efficiency
That will ultimately help the next generation of practitioners grow to execute this work
at a higher level than their teachers.
Most practitioners don't need "advanced" training.
Advanced material is meaningless without a sound foundation.
In mentoring with Jeff, I found a trainer who made the principles of the Feldenkrais Method the centerpiece of our study.
Jeff not only teaches from these principles, he embodies them.
This is more important than you might think.
Jeff's adherence to the fundamentals exposed huge holes in my understanding of the method.
It also taught me how to patch those holes and to become stronger in the broken places.
It fostered a safety, specificity and creativity with myself and my clients I had always wanted
but didn't know how to find.
I'm looking for practitioners/trainees who want to find the principles of the Feldenkrais Method.
We are going to go back,
Back over the material we have all studied.
Back over ATMs you've done before (and some you haven't).
We're going to approach the material differently.
We'll study in a more rigorous way.
Everything will flow from these principles.
We're going to get to the roots of our work.
We will work, and look, and talk, and test, and test, and test, until something comes up clearer than before.
We may even try to break some of these principles.
We will study some of the major landmarks of the skeleton in action to understand support.
We'll study the foot and ankle in detail.
26 bones in the foot.
A basis for standing.
Something to do with upright posture, or poise, or "acture".
I will tell you to buy a leg (this one will do).
You should break this leg.
You'll take it apart because the leg you get in the mail doesn't function well.
It needs help.
Like your clients need help (or will).
They don't just need your hands.
They need your understanding and your expertise to come through your hands.
You will drill holes in this leg.
You will thread bungee cord.
We will touch and explore the slopes and angles along which the bones in the foot move.
They have surfaces that glide and lock and push each other.
We'll do this because you haven't done it before.
And because it's fun.
And because a few of the principles can be found down there.
And because "the shape of the bones indicate their potential for function."
Then we'll study our ATMs with this cleaner lens.
This will sharpen your ability to see function in ways that are measurable, specific and useful.
I look forward to working with you,
Andrew Gibbons, MM, GCFP