Dr Feelgood: Can you benefit from a lie down?

Your weekly health and beauty check-up

Sunday 22 February 2009 01:00

Under the microscope: The Feldenkrais Method (£50 for one-hour’s individual tuition) www.feldenkrais london.com

In theory: The Feldenkrais Method uses a sequence of repeated movements to make you more aware of your physicality so you can release chronic patterns of tension. Benefits are said to include relief from muscular pain, improved breathing and better performance in everything from everyday movement to sport and dance.

In practice: Despite Dr F’s very British fear that she would be asked to dance around as someone scrutinised her movements, the session seemed pretty undemanding. Scott Clark, who leads the sessions, asked her to perform a few basic movements (bending a limb, for example) while he examined the action through sight and touch. For a large part of the session, Dr F’s participation was as simple as lying sideways on a couch while Clark “weighed” different parts of her spine with his hands.

Observations: Although the movements seemed easy enough, Dr F was surprised by how much they revealed, physically and psychologically. The contrast in difficulty between performing the same gesture on either side of the body, and the trouble she had in pinpointing where actions came from, suggested that not only was she a bundle of bad physical habits, but that she was too out of touch with her body to be conscious of them. By the end of the session, Dr F’s feet felt bizarrely grounded, as if her weight was going through all the correct points on her body straight into the floor.

Analysis: Such apparently tiny movements were very instructive and made Dr F realise that her awareness of her physical self was limited. It’s the revelation of the potential to change things usually taken for granted that has won Feldenkrais such a devoted following. In a short space of time, one’s relationship with one’s body may be completely transformed.

Prescription: If you suffer from any chronic pains associated with posture, then this is for you; if you don’t, it will still give you a new perspective on every move you make.

Further experiments: For classes in your area, visit www.feldenkrais.co.uk.

Scores: 1 star placebo, 2 stars sticking plaster, 3 stars over-the-counter remedy, 4 stars should be available on the NHS, 5 stars miracle cure

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