MASTERING THE METHOD (MTM) is for Feldenkrais teachers committed to improving their precision of touch, clarity of intention, and artfulness in execution. Studying the standards and masterpieces is a time-honored path to developing skillful mastery. In the lexicon of Functional Integration lessons, there are those structures and strategies that are so consistently effective, so remarkably reliable, that we can count on them to facilitate learning.
In each module of this advanced training series, Larry Goldfarb, CFT, Ph.D. presents a remarkably clear map of one such archetypal lesson plan. From explaining the overall strategy to patiently coaching each participant in learning every technique, Larry provides the general instruction and personal guidance needed to successfully add this lesson to your repertoire of FI lessons.
MASTERING THE METHOD offers you the opportunity to:
- Become skilled at new hands-on techniques while refining familiar ones.
- Understand the how & why of each step in the lesson choreography.
- Take better care of yourself, improve your self-use, and refine "the touch that teaches."
- Uncover and utilize the integrity of “the movement behind the lesson.”
- Adapt the lesson to the student, not vice-versa.
- Promote the transfer of learning into daily life.
This course goes beyond simply presenting a “formula.” Studying each classic template from the inside out reveals the art and science of Feldenkraisian pedagogy. Examining essential lessons from an advanced perspective provides the means to discover—and come to embody—the methodology that guided Moshe Feldenkrais in developing our work.
This video shows an overview of the lesson Larry teaches in MTM 9
MASTERING THE METHOD begins with a series of Advanced Training modules about developing length and fostering dynamic upright skeletal support. Each module presents what could, in the wide repertoire of existing FI structures and strategies, be considered a standard: an unfailing, landmark lesson.
Modules 1, 2 & 3 - Developing Length And Support:
The first module presents an FI given in a side-lying position that fundamentally re-organizes the trunk and spine. Larry contextualizes the lesson for various situations ranging from rehabilitation to performance enhancement. When he introduces advanced skeletal and muscular techniques, Larry makes the underlying teaching tactics explicit. Most importantly, he guides you in integrating what you learn and applying it in your practice.
The second module introduces an FI that dramatically re-balances flexor-extensor tonus. Not only does Larry teach the necessary techniques—addressing the feet & ankles, hips & lumbar spine and head, neck & chest (with the student supine)—but more importantly, he discloses the logic of the lesson, revealing just how each step contributes to the learning process. Exploring how to take the lesson into life, you discover it's potential for noticeable change: making standing dramatically more comfortable, altering how someone walks and developing better balance.
The third module goes beyond the exploring extension prone, asking “How do we develop length when the student is lying on the belly?” By relying more on strategy than recipe, Larry demonstrates how a clear understanding of optimal action combines with sensory-based guidelines for a creative approach that is remarkably and reliably effective. You learn how to use this lesson to reframe common complaints in terms of habits, possibilities and choices.
Modules 4, 5 & 6 - Developing Dexterity And Strength:
In the fourth module of MASTERING THE METHOD, Larry reveals—experientially through ATMs, and didactically through interactive exercises—how the biomechanical and functional freedom of the hands, arms and shoulders relies up the support of the spine, pelvis, and legs. He outlines the lesson's strategy by teaching the techniques and revealing the tactics of each section of the lesson. The class is designed so you learn each techniques in context of understanding the part your movement plays. As with every module, he demonstrates – and you practice – how to bookend the lesson, using a specific assessment to start and finishing by revisiting the assessment and assigning homework.
The fifth module of MASTERING THE METHOD explores the connection of the hand and arms to the center. Larry explains how this side-lying FI links the arm to the axial skeleton via the clavicle and the ring of the first rib. He reveals how the lesson builds on the biomechanical link between the action of the arm and the supporting, corollary movements of the spine. The accompanying ATM lessons that Larry teaches clarify how the turning of the forearm, arm, and shoulder are linked to the three-dimensional complexity of spine as it twists & arches - or "twarches" - and twists & folds - aka "twolds."
The FI in the sixth MTM module takes the tact of first finding how the trunk and limbs move around the ring of the first rib and then finding out how the trunk, limbs, and head can connect to and through the first rib. To make clear what's going on behind the scenes, Larry's explanations of the techniques bring the connection between biomechanics and perception to the foreground. The analysis of the movement of the hand and arm yields a framework for assessing dexterity, coordination, and strength as well as for delving into the composition this module's ATM lessons. Larry also explores an underlying theme of being comfortable and movable when lying prone.
Not content with illustrating how the hands-on work in every module relates to limitations of the arm, neck, back and how these underlie various complaints and problems, this approach to giving FIs frames each lesson in terms of functional action, in terms of such activities of daily as opening a door, reaching into your back pocket, stirring a pot, playing a musical instrument, and flying a kite.
Modules 7, 8 & 9 - Balance And Coordination:
In the third cycle of MASTERING THE METHOD, Larry teaches three more unique, and incredibly reliable, FI compositions that are designed to improve balance and coordination.
The lessons you will be learning in Modules 7, 8 & 9 will teach you to
- Recognize the habits that limit poise and interfere with equilibrium
- Discover how to activate and refine sensory acuity
- Refine hands-on abilities by learning advanced manual skills such as "conversing with the head and neck as well as the foot, ankle, and leg.
The way Larry sequences the learning makes it possible for each participant to learn—no matter their level.
In each module he starts by setting the pre-lesson framework, moves step-by-step through each hands-on technique and teaching tactic, and finishes with how to facilitate learning after the lesson.
Larry teaches each technique by showing where to place the hands, explains why we put our hands there (in terms of biomechanics and sensory dynamics), and reveals how best to move the rest of yourself. Combined with carefully selected ATM lessons, this approach develops both an uncanny conceptual understanding and a profoundly felt appreciation for how each step contributes to the effectiveness of the lesson.
In all modules of MASTERING THE METHOD, Larry is actively engaged in making it possible for participants to learn from and with each other. For instance, after demonstrating an FI vignette, he might visit each small group to give the teacher on the table a sense of how the technique feels. The person on the table is then able to give more precise and useful feedback. Because he interacts with and tracks everyone in the course, each participant receives Larry's individual attention and personal coaching.
Modules 10, 11 & 12 - Reclaiming Rollers:
To keep Moshe Feldenkrais' innovative use of rollers as tools for learning alive, Modules 10, 11, and 12 of MASTERING THE METHOD are devoted entirely to Reclaiming Rollers. Larry will teach you a total of six essential FIs in these three modules. To complement the hand-on material and create a comprehensive curriculum, all the ATMs he’ll teach during these modules also incorporate rollers.
In this module 10, you learn two FI® structures:
Sitting at a Column, where a roller is placed between the student's back and the chair. The teacher explores the movement of the student's head, arms, and legs, supporting compulsive contractions and helping the student find the skeletal support that underlies effortless sitting. This lesson connects what a student has been learning in other lessons, lying on the table, to being upright. In addition, it is also perfect for a student who can't lie down and also isn't that comfortable in sitting.
We All Have a Cross to Bear, where the student lies on a roller behind the upper back and enough pads under the head to be comfortable. In this unique and unfamiliar situation, the teacher can reach the back of a student who is lying supine. This opens the door to differentiating the trunk and addressing flexor and extensor tonus in otherwise impossible ways. As the lesson progresses, the teacher removes one pad after another from behind the head, helping the student find comfort and movability each time.
In this module 11, you learn two FI® structures:
Lying Lengthwise, where the student lies a roller from head to pelvis. Perhaps the best known of all of Feldenkrais’ roller lessons, it puts the student in a somewhat unstable situation, one that requires staying alert and making small adjustments to stay on the roller. By lifting the head, each leg, and each arm separately, the teacher investigates the connection of the limbs to the trunk. Over the course of the lesson, the teacher engages and then, gently and gradually, challenges the student’s ability to find and maintain equilibrium. After the lesson, the student is left with a profound, almost palpable, sense of the line of vertical support.
The Neck Pillow, where a roller is behind the neck of the student who is lying supine. Throughout this FI, the teacher only touches the roller and the student’s head, neck, and shoulders. The lesson unfolds as the teacher carefully follows and clarifies the transmission of force from the student’s head and neck through the spine and chest to the pelvis. Exploring the precise connections of the cervical spine and head to the trunk reveals and relieves habitual patterns of contraction, uncovering new ways of moving and breathing.
In this module 12, you learn two FI® structures:
Riding the Unicycle, with the student sitting on a roller, explores how the motion of the student’s head and pelvis influence each other – and how this relationship is affected by the placement of the feet. The roller makes for a dynamic base of support, amplifying the effect of even small movements and clarifying how weight shifts. The lesson progresses from highlighting how the student sits habitually to developing the coordination needed for upright ease. The student actively participates in the lesson, making ATM® a key part of this FI, challenging the classic divide between these modalities, and demonstrating how blurring this line can benefit the student’s long lasting learning.
A Sea of Rollers, where the supine student is lying on a table, completely supported by rollers. At the beginning of the lesson, the teacher arranges rollers of different sizes to fit contours, from head to feet, of the student lying on the back. Moving the rollers first individually and then in various combinations, the teacher starts by locating areas of easy motion, subsequently finding ways to connect them until, eventually, an undulating wave through the whole body can be initiated by moving any one of the rollers. At the end, the teacher gradually removes one roller after another, slowly “pouring” the student onto the table.
"This was the most effective Feldenkrais teaching that I've ever experienced. For years I felt sure that it
could all be shown more simply and explained more clearly and you have proved to me that that is so."
Feldenkrais Practitioner, USA
"One question that has plagued me ever since my basic training is WHY am I doing this? WHY could I want this person to bend better, or lengthen his neck? Why does this make more sense than that, or why this order and not that order? The answers to those questions are part "do-lots-of-ATM's-yourself", part "experience" and so on, but wow, it sure does help when someone takes the time to explain one FI in a way that gives you a sense of what's actually going on! Understanding better how one lesson fits together gives you a way to achieve results by design and not by default."