Feldenkrais and Empatharian- Compare and Contrast

My best friend Jody many years ago shared with me about Feldenkrais and the miracles it had done for her.  She had become a Feldenkrais practitioner recently, and was excited to share the work. She had been doing Alexander Technique for several years to help her scoliosis in the spine, but she was finally getting somewhere wonderful with Feldenkrais, she claimed.

Feldenkrais was invented by an Israeli engineer and judo practitioner named Moshe Feldenkrais in the 1950’s, for healing his own knee injury.  It was a series of specialized exercises, and claimed to reorganize connections between the brain and body and so improve body movement and psychological state.  

Now proponents claim that it helps conditions from Autism to Multiple Sclerosis, but research doesn’t seem to back this up.

In a session, a Feldenkrais practitioner directs attention to habitual movement patterns that are inefficient or strained, and attempts to teach new patterns using gentle, slow, repetitive movements.  Slow repetition is believed to be necessary to impart a new habit and allow it to begin to feel normal.[9] These movements may be passive (performed by the practitioner on the recipient’s body) or active (performed by the recipient). The recipient is fully clothed.[8]

The Feldenkrais.com website states, “The Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education uses gentle movement and directed attention to help people learn new and more effective ways of living the life they want. You can increase your ease and range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. Since how you move is how you move through life, these improvements will often enhance your thinking, emotional regulation, and problem-solving capabilities.”

Body-Mind Connections

Scientific studies increasingly show that movement-based embodied practices like the Feldenkrais Method increase grey-matter density, decrease stress, and boost quality of life.

Margaret Rinaldi, a practitioner from Colorado, says, “Somatic education makes explicit that we are all inherently whole with wishes for self acceptance, agency, and belonging. It values our limitations as gateways to our potential, encourages the possibility for healthy relationships with others, and aspires to make this world a better place for all beings.”

Empatharian Movement for Peace, and the Peace Arts Training from Empatharian are mind-body-spirit practices, so we not only promote the neurological connections to our body and its function, we also promote the neurological connections to our mind and spirit.

Unlike Feldenkrais, Empatharian trainers and facilitators only do verbal coaching, and don’t touch or manipulate the body in any way.  The structure of the movements is set, but the practitioner moves as they do, without technical input.  The movement itself will bring the body into balance and improve range of motion, flexibility, as the practitioner gently moves.

We do not do floor work, or mat work.  The Empatharian movements are generally on two feet, or seated if need be.  We make no claims of healing specific disorders, but we do expect to improve healing outcomes, to promote natural healing.

Empatharian can be useful in healing morning back pain, increasing libido and energy, stamina, and creating a positive outlook on life.  As you move, you grow with Empatharian, your heart muscle strengthens, high blood pressure can be healed.    We learn from somatic practices like Feldenkrais that slow, sustained movement is the healing movement for posture and alignment, and this is what Empatharian is about.

As Moshe Feldenkrais said,

“Health is the ability to realize our avowed and unavowed dreams.”

In Empatharian work, we embody and communicate our dreams, our intentions, and our ideals.  It’s non-verbal, but also verbal, in talking circle practice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *