New Feldenkrais Trainings: What Comes Next?

A few minutes ago I found a new Feldenkrais Method video online. It was promoting a Feldenkrais Training. I watched it, took some mental notes, and then prepared a blog post about it. But as I looked at the website of the training institute, I saw some of the same old names – Denis Leri, Aryln Zones – And I thought to myself, “Do I really want to support these people?” The answer is no. In a split second, I deleted the post.

It seems to be me that if the work of Moshe Feldenkrais is going to get better known, and if it is going to be a tool for meaningful societal change, someone will have to come up with and implement a model that respects the rights of practitioners to use and benefit from the work. The Guild system does not do that.

Do people realize that when they take a Guild training they are supporting a trainer monopoly? Do they realize that prices are artificially inflated by limits placed on the number of people who can become trainers? Do they know that the “trainings” have no demonstrated efficacy and the current training model is little more than a mimicking of the training Moshe did before he died? Do they know, that as Guild-Certified Feldenkrais Practitioners they are – by definition – becoming second class citizens of the system they are joining? There is no path to independent trainings, there is no path to new training models. A Guild-Certified Feldenkrais practitioner has no political control over his own work. And if one wants to do what Moshe Feldenkrais did and begin a process of learning and teaching one’s work according to one’s inclinations and interests (God forbid!), one is immediately branded a traiter…

What do we create next?

There is lots of good stuff going on in the Feldenkrais community right now. People are taking tentative (and not so tentative) steps toward creating their own trainings and training models. I suppose the question at this point is how can we support that process and support those people? What type of new organization can arise bottom-up from this process?

If you are looking for answers from me, you might want to stop. My life as a self-identified Feldenkrais person is nearly at an end. I’m living in Mexico, studying spanish and moving strongly into other areas. But the need is there.

The growth of The Feldenkrais Method depends on creating a system that is focused on the needs of practitioners and the work itself. A growth model is needed. To me that means, at minimum, not supporting the old guard and not promoting their trainings and workshops. Why put money in the hands of people who are actively working against your success? But that does not answer the question of what to create now. And how to start.

What comes next in the evolution of a dynamic system? What do you need?

4 thoughts on “New Feldenkrais Trainings: What Comes Next?

  1. Istvan

    Ryan, as usual, I appreciate your comment and agree with many of your points. Hope you WILL continue to check up with further development in the Feldenkrais work! I would argue with you though about the efficacy of the Training. True one has to work on their own afterwords, it is not ‘ready-made’, but isn’t it true in all professions? Isn’t it great in a way that you should find/discover the ‘work’ yourself? Did not Moshe say when was asked why he did not go to Medical School, that he wanted to discover it himself and not just had it poured into his head ‘ready-made’? Quite a few people just do it (the Training) for their own benefit but for the dedicated ones it proves to be quite effective if effectiveness is measured on how they (practitioners) are able to help people (pains and aches disappear, their movement and posture improve etc.) and they (the clients) appreciate the work, queue up for FIs and attend classes regularly. And in a way many practitioners also practice some other modalities (Martial Arts of some form or yoga or they are physical therapists/philosophers/dancers/teachers etc. to begin with) and incorporate those in their teaching. Doesn’t everyone have their own handwriting?
    Cheers, Istvan
    (Dennis by the way writes his name with double nn.)

  2. Angela Alston

    I’ve found the training, first in NYC and now in Houston, to be essential to my becoming a Feldenkrais practitioner.

    Do I think the trainers have all the answers? No.

    Do I think the Feldenkrais Method will continue to grow, expand, morph beyond the boundaries of the “brand?” Oh yes.

    Eg., Anat Baniel, Russell Delman.

    Do I feel anyone trying to control my growth as a teacher? Absolutely not. In fact, in my training with Paul Rubin he’s encouraged improvisation and empowerment.

    I’m strongly in favor of a guild because we need brand recognition and enhanced public appreciation of what the Method can offer.

    I agree that the process of becoming a trainer needs to be simplified. For example, I know of one aspiring assistant trainer–a gifted teacher–who’s been put off by the paperwork required. She’s the kind of future we need.

    So let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water: let’s help him find his feet.

  3. nagster Post author

    Hi Itsvan – Thanks for your comments. I agree with much of what you wrote (perhaps all). My greatest experience with this work was to stop giving FI and to spending the better part of a year working directly with the Alexander Yanai and then later the Esalen workshop.

    What I am not understanding is how it relates to my blog post above. Forgive me if am being a bit “daft.” I have been reading in Spanish all day and did a couple of ATM’s in Spanish by Lea Kaufmann so I may be missing something.

    Finding one’s own handwriting also applies to training others to do the work and to become a trainer in one’s own right. Something, I believe, the current Guild system simply cannot support.

    – Ryan

  4. nagster Post author

    Hi Angela – Thanks for your comments. Ultimately, where we put our effort is a personal choice. And I’m not interested in working within the Guild. At least not yet. The Guild, like any other organization, wants to survive. As more and more people leave the Guild and it’s finances become ever more precarious, I believe it will adapt and change for the better. But I see no way of improving it “from the outside in” so to speak and don’t have any interest in doing so.

    I would rather support people who are working on their own to create the best learning experiences they can for themselves and their students. And doing so following the work of Moshe Feldenkrais and not the training ideology created by a few of his american students.

    cheers – Ryan

Comments are closed.