Capturing a moment

There is some discussion of non-human images! Can a stuffed monkey do Feldenkrais?

I like the way that the angle of the monkey’s head suggests a curiosity about something –just over her shoulder? And the perspective of the photo, right down on her level, makes that expression somewhat infectious for me. I want to know too.

What's this cat thinking?On an Amherst tape Moshe plays with his wooden doll (Year 2, Tape 33, AM #1). He gets a remarkable expressiveness out of it. The attitude of the whole body in the simple sense of its configuration and balance in gravity already says so much. We think it’s the details of facial expression that tell us about a person’s mental state. Not true!

Now the cat has joined the monkey, and we all know the line about cats and curiosity. But does that communicate subconsciously a feeling that what we do is dangerous?

This cat’s just about to do a very popular “Feldenkrais” move, i.e. rolling over. (How did this guy get his name attached to so many primitive human patterns?)

Cat and monkeyNow this is the luxurious lengthening stretch we all know so well. Have we still got the curiosity?

The monkey hasn’t moved.

What is the image, the feel, the thought, the action we want to capture?

My teacher Stephen Rosenholtz would say all the time, “You’re not in church! This is life! Teach ATM like you’re having a conversation.”

I was puzzled. Like a conversation about what? The Iraq war? Family gossip? It took me quite some time to figure this one out. But that’s a story for another day. It has something to do with the title of one of Moshe’s books.

I think at the beginning I taught more like it was a relaxation/awareness process.

Yochanan Rywerant has a section called “Modes of Control: Sedate, Aroused” (no. 13) in his book Aquiring the Feldenkrais Profession.

A tentative classification of the modes of control, not really exhaustive but pertinent to our subject, could yield the following: the sedate (or calm) mode, subdivided into apathetic (not interested) and inquisitive (curious, interested); then the aroused (or stimulated) mode, subdivided into euphoric (well being), alarmed (sensing some immanent danger) and distressed (sorrowful). For the purposes of Feldenkrais, you might prefer the inquisitive mode of control. (p. 12)

My favorite phrase from Feldenkrais for the mood of a lesson is where he admonishes people to do the lesson like they’re wasting time. Wasting time with a point, but wasting time.

I’ve got my eye out for somewhere in an AY lesson where he says more about this. I can’t put a finger on it right now, but when I do I’ll post it.

How do produce pictures that capture that feeling of wasting time? But with focus? And with the “inquisitive mode of control” as Rywerant puts it? It isn’t the same as relaxation; it isn’t the same as a spiritual awareness exercise.

Some photos around the web

One big question about photographing Feldenkrais is: to pose or not to pose?

The PR Kit photos are posed; the Swedish Guild recently re-did their website and posed the photos. This is a very understandable step. It would be challenging to create an image that’s attractive and that communicates something where there’s the typical Feldenkrais “chaos” in the room.

The typical Feldenkrais chaos I’m referring to comes from the fact that everyone is following their own pace and engaging in their own exploration. Yes, there are lessons where we all coordinate in the end, but these are rare.


I really like the website of Feldenkrais Teachers in Seattle for its sense of spontaneity and variety.

Feldenkrais Teachers in Seatttle Website: from

Of course, this is only one person, so that’s another way of controlling the chaos. While using only one person in the photo is in a sense inaccurate, because the lessons are group lessons, it does capture the feeling I have of being alone (in a deep and pleasant sense) in my own exploration in an Awareness Through Movement lesson.

Photographing Feldenkrais

The FGNA Council of Regional Representatives did a lot for Feldenkrais practitioners in the last couple of years in getting a PR Kit produced for practitioners. (You can purchase it at the FEFNA bookstore or download it for free at the members site (off-line at the moment).)

Photos by dance photographer Rosalie O’Connor are among the gems of the kit.

I was recently using some of them to make cards publicizing our Wednesday evening class at the Yoga Loft.

Robert, the owner of the Loft, offered some advice that really made me think about what a good image for Feldenkrais would be.

You want to be able to take the whole poster in in a second or two. Assume that whoever sees it will be walking past it and may not stop unless something about the posters makes them. I keep coming back to this but in that moment they need to see the solution to some problem they have. That makes them stop and take a look. From there poster inspires them with the idea that Feldenkrais has the solution. But you never offer an idea of what that solution is. This part stays entirely within their mind. If you offer a solution they will start to question it. Its basic human nature and a lot of psychology…

457F.inpostReaching for something new: by photographer Rosalie O’Connor.How interesting it would be to explore what it is we’d want to give as a first impression of Feldenkrais, something that resonates for a person, even at a level below awareness, as speaking to their needs!

An interesting challenge in making Feldenkrais images is the cultural vocabulary available to us. There’s a basic cultural vocabulary around yoga at this point (as there might not have been thirty years ago). One can resonate with a sense of spiritual peace, or the sense of a quest that tests the limits, or connection with a community of conscious living, or the sense of taking time to come into touch with oneself, or relaxation, or challenge…. What vocabulary do we want for Feldenkrais?

242F.inpostA new angle: by photographer Rosalie O’Connor.

I particularly like the sense in this image of looking at things from a different perspective; maybe this gives people the sense of that characteristic Feldenkrais feeling of delighted but relaxed discovery of a possibility that never even occurred to one before.

I’m thinking now about exploring this topic in various modes, as a kind of “marketing research” in the best sense. A contribution to our on-going process of self-definition and development of our understanding of what our work is about. We talk and write about that a lot, but how about connecting those words with images? What experience, sense, thought, feeling, mood, possibility that you connect with through Feldenkrais would you like to communicate?

You can leave comments below, or on the images in the gallery here. The comment form lets you submit your own images of Feldenkrais or the “sense of” Feldenkrais!