Most of our movements serve us well, but – like breathing, an instinctive act until we think about it – we are generally unaware of what we do and how we move, unable to amend our bad habits.
“Most [people] think that if they can get from one corner of the room to the other without falling over they are doing pretty well,” says Mandy Kealy, a Phuket-based teacher in somatic educational system The Feldenkrais Method.
Speaking from her Nai Harn studio, Mandy explains that the Feldenkrais Method is a gentle, neuromuscular education system that teaches the brain to direct the body more efficiently.
“You learn to release patterns that cause tension and pain, and replace them with ones that align the natural design of the body.”
Mandy begins her sessions by observing her ‘students’ and finding out more about them – how they stand, which foot they place their weight on, how they walk – and asks what functional skill or condition they’d like to improve. For example a stiff shoulder blade or a pain in the hip. Then she gets them to lie down.
Throughout an hour-long recent session, Mandy pushes me, pulls me, talks to me, comforts me and makes me feel rather odd – yet perfectly relaxed.
Identifying tenseness in certain areas, she slowly works at ironing them out. The whole process is painless and feels somewhat like a ‘spiritual’ chiropractor session.
“Unlike most varieties of yoga, pilates or therapeutic exercises, all of which require a concerted effort, Feldenkrais is about learning through micro-movements, performed gently, and without strain,” says Mandy.
“It’s about training the brain to understand optimal action, for permanent learning,” says Mandy.
The emphasis is on the way your brain interprets the instructions to perform the movement, rather than getting into a pose or doing a movement ‘correctly’.
“I make people realise what they can do and allow the nervous system to carry on doing what it has been doing well for millennia.”
Unlike a massage, where the benefits are largely physical, a session of the The Feldenkrais Method, much like yoga, also brings psychological benefits. As well as a deep and inner encompassing warmth that envelopes the body, there is also a clearing of the mind and peace that comes through an intellectual and physical awareness of an unblocking of a link between the mind and the body.
Mandy says that everyone could benefit from an awareness of their own musculoskeletal system and how potentially negative and unhealthy physical habits can be reversed.
Mandy Kealy will be presenting an introductory Awareness Through Movement lesson at this year’s Phuket Health & Fitness Festival 2013 on Saturday, May 18, 12pm-1.30 pm.
For more information, call 084 306 8338 or visit feldenkraisthailand.com