I had my first Feldenkrais class.
I signed up for my first Feldenkrais class after reading about the practice in The Body Keeps the Score. It took place inside the dance studio beside our local library. I've passed by the building a thousand times but never went inside until today. Huge plate glass windows flooded the room with evening light. The instructor, a small woman with short hair, gestured me to a side closet.
"Take a yoga mat and a blanket," she said, "then find a spot on the floor."
I expected the class to be similar to yoga. In some ways it was.
We did small, mindful movements with lots of rests in between. But the goal, the instructor stressed, wasn't to stretch. It was simply to notice how our brain and body "organized the movements."
Within the first five minutes of class I felt a new appreciation for the complexity of my body. Even the slightest lift of an arm demands a complex synchrony of muscles and skeletal structures. Tuning into that synchrony was like walking in on an symphony orchestra playing at full volume. The cacophony was jarring. Forget picking out the instruments -- I couldn't even pick out a tune. But I slowed down, and paid attention, and by the end of the class my movements felt much more fluid.
I still don't fully understand how Feldenkrais works, or what studies support its efficacy. According to Feldenkrais.com, lessons "attempt to make one aware of his/her habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities and to expand options for new ways of moving while increasing sensitivity and improving efficiency."
I must confess; I don't find that a compelling sales pitch. But I find Feldenkrais compelling, and I'm excited to take another class.