Disclaimer: I do think that nothing beats actual practical hands on learning and if you are learning to help a loved one, nothing beats getting them to a real Feldenkrais Method practitioner – it will be years before your competence will match – if at all. However, if you are not able to get to one – for whatever reason, I have discovered that it is possible to be persistent and learn by simply seeking knowledge.
Here is a list of resources that helped me. These resources are strictly from a “learning to help someone move better” perspective. Nisarga has Cerebral Palsy so it is possible that I focused on some more than others based on what I found useful. For the purposes of this list, I am including any practice that evolved from the Ferldenkrais method (such as the Anat Baniel Method) as well, since the fundamental method and attitude toward improvement is the same.
Awareness Through Movement lessons
Awareness Through Movement lessons or ATMS as they are called helped me understand my body tremendously and this helped me try and understand. What we use with children is “Functional Integration”. However, the approach toward helping the body learn movement is the same and our understanding helps us offer possibilities to the child better.
The fundamentals of the Feldenkrais Method Approach
Before you begin doing anything with your child (or adult) understand some things that are fundamental to the method. To do this, it is best to pay attention when you are reading, watching videos and so on for the principles that the practitioners think are important. These three things I had to keep coming back to more than others – they could be different for you:
No pain, no forced movement
I cannot stress this enough. With all the best intentions, I have found myself using too much force almost continuously in the beginning (and by beginning I mean first couple o YEARS) though fortunately not to the point of pain. Be warned that it is difficult to let go of the conditioning that makes us put in more effort when something doesn’t work. In such situations what invariably worked was LESS effort. Making the movement smaller, or slower or changing the position from it which was done. As in – no head on collissions with failure. Back off, go around try something similar with another limb and if you find yourself obsessing, just let go and do something else. Pain is a complete NO. This is not a bleeding heart thing, anything that causes pain will be avoided by the child. Your session will be wasted even in the unlikely situation you manage to break new ground.
I found myself eager to do something. And I really mean something, anything. And that did not help. In fact it harmed. I started getting much better results when I did not touch Nisarga unnecessarily and move him without any idea of what I was trying to do. The importance of seeing the movement you are trying to do clearly in terms of how the body moves cannot be overstated. The more random clutter you add to what you are doing, the more you will end up confusing yourself and even if something works, you will have no idea how it worked.
Building a library of movements
Creating detailed mental views of how a movement plays out on the whole body in your mind – for example “what happens to my lower back if look up?” and not just “how does my head move to look up?” I don’t think this is ever complete, but if there was one thing that didn’t let me leverage one success to lead to others in a natural flow, it was this. I had to go back and study movements and see videos and do ATMS to see what possibilities existed in the new thing he had been able to do instead of spontaneously flowing to include the new abililty and working with it.
Books that helped me learn
This is THE book that helped me understand how to do Functional Integration sessions. Any time I have no idea what I want to do in a session this is where I return. To pick up an idea, see how it can progress. The detailed descriptions and meticulous manner of explaining are like a window into the mind of a practitioner with extreme clarity on what and how the body moves. It isn’t a book that will absorb you or one that you can read from cover to cover in a go. More like a reference manual.
This is less a book about therapy or the Feldenkrais Method or as she calls it the Anat Baniel Method alone and more a book that states the fundamentals of the learning process itself in a way that you remember. Specific chapters devoted to how you can expand your child’s potential by focusing specific things are very handy. I found this more of a book of how to create a learning environment rather than specific learning events alone. It is very useful if you want to create an environment that is constantly facilitative to learning. It will involve evolving how you are with your child. The most important thing I got from this book were the importance of taking things slow, reducing effort and providing variations. While the book is written for parents of children with disabilities, it is one that will help absolutely anyone.
This book is actually a case study of the treatment of a woman who suffered a stroke and regressed severely with regard to functioning. This book is a must read because it is an insight into how holistic a view Moshe Feldenkrais took when working on a subject. The methods adopted in many cases are completely different from how we tend to visualize a Feldenkrais Method lesson. From psychology to practical efficiency and from devising methods to address specific things to completely geting into the skin of the subject to communicate in a manner that is most in tune. This is a must read because it is an extreme broadening of what we imagine we can try in order to create insight. In many ways this book was what brought it home for me how the movements while appearing to be the core of the method are merely a tool to communicate with the mind and the whole method is basically a way to get the mind to understand the body’s reality and understand what new ability will need. After reading this book, I found myself for the first time planning sessions that get Nisarga to participate in them as a thinking partner as opposed to someone I was trying to bring change to. He resonated with them better and they were more useful to him.
Ways out of Cerebral Palsy during Infancy and Early Childhood with the Feldenkrais Method: A Study on Cerebral Palsy from the Perspective of Organic Learning in Early Childhood by Paul Doron Doroftei
I have not read this book but I will be, very soon. I did not know this was published till searching for links to publish for this post. The reason I can recommend this without hesitation is that this is the same Paul Doron Doroftei who will also appear in the video references – he has Cerebral Palsy and grew to adulthood requiring a wheelchair till he was set free by Moshe Feldenkrais and his magic touch. Today he specializes in helping children thrive in spite of Cerebral Palsy. He is a practitioner who knows first hand exactly what it is like to live with Cerebral Palsy. I have absolutely no doubt that any book he writes on Cerebral Palsy will be extremely insightful and relevant to parents hoping to help their children. Highly recommended to anyone seeking to learn to work with Cerebral Palsy. Needless to say I will be reading this as soon as I get my hands on it.
Beyond this, there are many many books available. Many of which are beyond my budget and thus I haven’t got around to reading them. The experiential nature of the method practically guarantees that a book by any experienced practitioner will contain distilled learnings from their own learning journey and practice. Here are books on the Feldenkrais Method available on Amazon. If there are books you found useful not mentioned, feel free to add them in the comments.
Feldenkrais Method Videos on Youtube
Youtube has many videos uploaded by practitioners of the Feldenkrais Method and parents of children in some cases. I have found many of them really useful to learn the Feldenkrais Method, because merely reading alone does not convey the quality of the movements. Also seeing the sessions unfold often brings insight into how movements are all interlinked.
This section is going to be very big. At the moment I am trying to organize the videos that helped me the most. Till then, these are the youtube users that often have videos that have resulted in learning for me. I will try to upload a more detailed list of specific videos soon.
This list does not even attempt to begin to be complete. What I have in mind is a list of specific videos to watch and for what – a handy reference for when you need to understand something specific. It takes considerable time to watch the videos, keep track of links, write descriptions and so on, but it is close to completion and I hope to publish it within a day or two.
This list has been a long time coming, and it is nowhere near complete and will be updated and improved with descriptions and more as I am able. I am publishing it in its incomplete form on the insistence of several parents who would like to begin exploring the resources immediately and discover new ones as I add them. I understand that with your child’s well being at stake, whether the post is completed is not as important as whether what is already there helps you. So do mark this page and keep checking on it on and off for additions.