Functional integration (FI) lessons
Feldenkrais Method one-to-one individual lessons are known as Functional integration (FI) lessons. The sessions last 60 minutes and take as a starting point some movement that you are interested in improving or a situation that you are having difficulty with.
You might come with a desire to improve your performance at some particular activity or skill, like playing a musical instrument or competing in a sport, for example. Or you might notice that something that you are doing in you life starts to cause you discomfort or pain, like working at a computer for long hours. Or you might come with some acute or chronic, injury or condition that you would like help dealing with.
No end to improvement
Since the model we work with is learning, and what we aim for is improvement, then it doesn’t matter what your starting point is. Whatever you are doing you can always learn to do it a little better. Feldenkrais stated that his method was intended “to make the impossible possible, to make the difficult easy, and to make the easy graceful.”
The sessions are carried out with you fully clothed, except for your shoes, and like ATM classes they are most often given lying down on the back, side or front, only this time on a special table that is soft but firm. Again there are also classes which can be given in sitting or standing. At times, various props (pillows, rollers, blankets ) are used in an effort to support you or to facilitate certain movements.
How are the one-to-one FI lessons different from the group ATM classes?
The ideas and strategies employed are the same as in ATM classes but here it is generally I as the practitioner who will move you by using gentle non-invasive touch. Feldenkrais himself often likened FI lessons to partner dancing. In an FI, I develop a lesson custom-tailored to you that can relate to a particular desire, intention or need that you have. I will dialogue with you through gently touching and moving you in a process aimed to help you to become aware of both how you move already and possibilities for new ways to sense yourself.
You don’t need to do anything in particular during the class except attend to your sensations. You will find yourself subconsciously self-assembling a new neuromuscular organisation that will become apparent when you stand up at the end. The result is more choice and flexibility in how you move through your life.
Maximising the benefits
To maximise the benefits of Functional integration, I recommend that you have at least three sessions within a relatively short time (two weeks). To deal effectively with a particular movement problem then a course of ten sessions is recommended. Like ATM, to maximise the benefits then you should try to organise yourself so that you have no stressful appointments immediately after a session.
One of the best ways to work with the method is to take both Awareness Through Movement (ATM) classes and Functional Integration (FI) individual lessons. In some ways I have found the learning in ATM classes is more powerful since we truly sense we find it for ourselves. There is a similar power to these kind of discoveries as when a child finds something out on its own. On the other hand, I have also found the FI lessons very valuable since being guided by a skillful practitioner, I can sense possibilities that despite my best intentions, or attentions, have continued to elude me.