Feldenkrais and Menopause
Abbe Harris is a professionally trained teacher of the Feldenkrais Method. After a teaching career in the world of Classical Ballet and Pilates, Abbe came to Feldenkrais in 2001 after a course of lessons helped her to make an excellent recovery from a back injury. I have attended Abbe's classes for many years to help with back and pelvic problems. The exercises are very gentle but the impact is powerful, and I find it has far reaching benefits for the mind and body.In this article Abbe Harris introduces Feldenkrais and outlines how it may be helpful in dealing with symptoms of menopause.
How does Feldenkrais work?
The Feldenkrais Method is an innovative mind-body approach that uses gentle movement and body awareness to promote improved physical and mental functioning.
Feldenkrais classes and individual hands-on lessons use directed, mindful attention and specific sequences of movements to help improve body awareness, reduce stressful, habitual patterns of body use, and develop more comfortable and effective ways of moving and being in our bodies.
The emphasis on self-education focuses on developing practical awareness skills and self-care resources that can be easily integrated into daily life. Regular practice enables immediate and long lasting changes in ease and quality of movement, and enhanced mental and emotional well-being.
What are the benefits for women going through menopause/post menopause?
By the time we have reached our menopause, it is likely that we have developped some unhelpful physical habits. These habits often result in pain and stiffness in areas such as our backs,necks, shoulders, hips and legs. Feldenkrais with its gentle mindful approach can help us to notice these habits, allow our body find new ways of performing daily physical tasks and as a result find more physical ease in our daily lives.
Feldenkrais can offer a particularly appropriate approach during stages of life that involve significant physical changes, such as pregnancy and menopause, as it works specifically to reduce unneccessary pressure on the nervous system and support its self-regulating, balancing functions.
Classes and individual hands-on lessons are designed to help you tune in and re-connect with your body, and improve its ability to adapt effectively and easily to changing conditions.
Gentle, supportive movements are used to improve body awareness, calm and relieve physical and mental tension, promoting a state of deep relaxation throughout the body, fuller, easier breathing and improved circulation, and helping to balance mood–regulating chemicals in the brain.
Through accessing new experiences of physical and mental ease, the brain can create and update neuro-muscular connections and pathways that support optimal functioning.
Feldenkrais is widely used for helping with back pain, stress reduction and improving quality of movement, and early research has shown its effectiveness in helping with anxiety, muscular tension, flexibility, co-ordination and balance : http://feldenkrais-method.org/en/biblio
Feldenkrais may also be effective in addressing other common symptoms of menopause such as fatigue, lack of confidence, insomnia and PMS.
Post-menopause, Feldenkrais can also be particularly useful in helping with conditions such as osteoporosis, with movement lessons designed to prevent stressful impact on joints and improve weight-bearing ability, flexibility, balance and co-ordination.
What clients say:
“Starting Feldenkrais classes has been and continues to be, a wonderfully life-changing experience. Everything I am learning is helping to make me more aware of how I move. Feldenkrais encourages you to look at movement in a completely different way, which incorporates the whole body. In both classes and individual sessions I have improved my general flexibility and leaned how to avoid making inappropriate movements in the future.” J.McColgan
“I come to Feldenkrais classes to help me to use my body in a good and real way rather than speedy repetitive exercises. I find the classes relaxing, gentle, surprising, and lightly empowering. I am often surprised at how impossible movements seem possible through gentle awareness of how different parts of the body are interconnected and relate to eachother. The class is very relaxing and goes at a lovely pace – the quiet moments seem to work as well as the movement to relax and integrate in a very light way. I am moving differently, and more aware of my posture in a more integrated way – e.g. I’m not just standing up straight, but feeling how I stand, or how I do certain actions.” J. Robinson
“Feldenkrais classes are a gentle and relaxing way to mind my back. After the classes I find a more powerful and gentle way to cycle and swim – I now tend to ‘invite’ my whole body and back to help my arms and legs when moving. It’s like magic to do something so gentle and notice the difference it makes after the class - I feel like a well-oiled machine. I have found the benefits of Feldenkrais to be very far reaching both physically and mentally.” AG
“I come to classes to improve my posture – it’s a class I really look forward to, a wonderfully relaxing hour. I am able to use everything I learn in the lessons in my other activities.” A.O’Shea
“Movement is life.
Life is a process.
Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself”.
CDS: Pelvic Health & Awareness http://www.learningforhealth.com/pelvichealthcds.cfm
Association of Feldenkrais practitioners in Ireland:
Feldenkrais Ireland: www.feldenkrais.ie