Olivia Cheever

Flexible Principles

A Feldenkrais mindset is decidedly different from many of the thoughts programmed into us Westerners pretty much from birth. The fitness aim is not an athlete’s muscle but a baby’s flexibility, instinct, and energy. Struggle and strain are not accepted as attractive ways to achieve goals. My students are perpetually surprised at the simplicity of some of Feldenkrais’ many movement sequences; they find that they can relax, have fun, and still get a lot done. Here are a few key conceptual shifts:

>> ‘No pain, no gain’ vs. ‘Do no harm’
Feldenkrais practice does not take you to the edge of your physical endurance, but it does stretch your consciousness beyond whatever movement habits are boxing you in. Most people who are in “do ‘til you drop” mode have stopped paying attention to how they feel in daily functioning and don’t even know they have habits that may be harming them, or that there’s any other way to be. If you’re thinking outside that box, you’ll notice early warning signs of discomfort and stop before anything hurts.

>> ‘Try harder’ vs. ‘Move smarter’
I’m always coaching my students to stop “efforting” so much. Energy conservation, or the path of least resistance, does not slow down progress. Actually, many of the stresses and strains we carry in our bodies got put there from muscles and joints working overtime when our skeletons weren’t aligned for optimal efficiency. Imagine, for instance, the static load that your wrist is forced to carry if you’re clicking a computer mouse hundreds of times with your arm overextended.

>> ‘Control’ vs. ‘Connect
The corrective for “overefforting” is not the opposite extreme — either fearful control or avoiding effort entirely — but rather moving consciously, with more holistic awareness of yourself as an integrated whole. A student dealing with vasculitis described “trying to move as little as possible, creeping in a stiff way to the kitchen, thinking that was least likely to disturb my joints,” until she discovered that gentle movement in the joints actually loosens them up, like oiling a wheel.




> Flexible Principles
> Safe Space
> Creative Imagery
> Kind Words






Feldenkrais and Feldenkrais Method are registered service marks of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America.
Bones For Life is a registered service mark of Ruthy Alon, its originator.

Serving the Boston, MA area with classes in Westwood.
Private coaching also in Needham Heights, MA.
Call 617-413-5680, or email ocheever@comcast.net.

© Copyright 2017 Olivia Cheever. All rights reserved.