News & Updates

Feldenkrais… Felden-what?!

The following article appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch on January 30, 2011, and features one of our Feldenkrais teachers at the Open University, Cas Overton.  Feldenkrais is taught on Thursdays at the O.U.

Feldenkrais positions help body and brain to allow more mobility
By Maria Howard
Published: January 30, 2011

 Mary Frances Hobbs had hip-replacement surgery in 1998. She started taking Feldenkrais Method lessons a year later. 

“I wanted to be mobile, and arthritis and bad hips were keeping me from doing that,” said Hobbs, a chemistry teacher for the MathScience Innovation Center in Richmond. 

Feldenkrais got her moving more freely again. And so far, she hasn’t had to have the second hip replaced. 

Hobbs was one of the participants at the group Feldenkrais lesson led by Cas Overton at the Shepherd’s Center this month. Feldenkrais lessons, which involve positions that help the body, nervous system and brain to allow for new movement, are most commonly done one-on-one with an instructor. 

That’s where Hobbs started. Now, she’s maintaining her mobility and flexibility with the group lessons. “I really walk out of here feeling taller,” she said with a laugh. “It never hurts.” 

Hobbs said her scientific curiosity makes her wonder how and why the lessons are so helpful. 

“I know that my body is positioned where it needs to be … and I’m not sure how it all works, but I just know it works,” she said. 

Overton, who has taught Feldenkrais since the mid-1990s, had a background in dancing and tai chi. 

“Movement has just been imperative for me,” she said. So when she discovered this method for helping people to regain mobility, she decided to become trained in it. She has worked with all types of limitations, including paralysis and debilitating diseases. More often, she sees people with neck, shoulder and lower-back problems. 

The result is not necessarily full mobility. But Feldenkrais usually helps, she said. “It can open up synapses in the brain that are just dormant.” 

Feldenkrais is also used by athletes looking to increase speed and coordination. Because the positions and instruction stimulate awareness of the body and the brain’s role in controlling it, many athletes get significant results by adding these lessons to their regular workout regimen. 

Overton showed me some basic positions and stretches used in Feldenkrais. Although I didn’t have a particular area of injury or immobility, I did feel that the short lesson helped me feel less stiff and tight. 

The system was designed in the early 1900s by Moshe Feldenkrais, a physicist, engineer and judo master who suffered crippling knee injuries and had to learn to walk again. 

Physical therapists often take an interest in Feldenkrais, Overton said, because the method approaches injury and immobility in a slightly different way. 

“It’s never fast,” Overton said. “It’s never uncomfortable.” 

The goal with Feldenkrais is to link the body and brain with nonpainful movements that will lead to better healing. 

For instance, at the Shepherd’s Center, Overton did a whole class on lower-body awareness, balance and “walking with attention.” Toward the end, she asked participants to roll their ankles one way and then the other, being aware of what the ankles were doing and their role in supporting the body. 

“Awareness is the big word” in Feldenkrais, Overton said. “You need that neurological connection.” 

Maria Howard is a group exercise instructor for the YMCA of Greater Richmond. Her column runs every other week in Sunday Flair. 

Check out http://www.feldenkrais.com for a list of certified practitioners as well as classes and events

Original article: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/lifestyles/2011/jan/30/feldenkrais-positions-help-body-and-brain-allow-mo-ar-806022/

Seniors, Non-Profits, and Social Media, Oh My!

When I set out to redesign our website, the immediate challenge seemed to be how to create a site that would be “senior friendly”.   I had to wonder ~ What exactly does that mean?  I wanted to create a site that was easily navigated by the men and women who make up the extraordinary organization that I am privileged to direct, The Shepherd’s Center of Richmond.  For more than 25 years, TSCOR (The Shepherd’s Center) has been a vital and vibrant part of the Richmond, Virginia community, though surprisingly few people know about it.  TSCOR is all about people who are 50 and better, and there are some stereotypes that persist when it comes to “seniors” and computers, not to mention social media.  There’s a notion that “they aren’t online”.  So why bother with a website at all?

The fact is, that women over 55 are the fastest growing demographic group of Facebook users, and those over 60 are doing far more online than keeping up with the grandchildren.  Take a look at this article from CMS Wire.com, Social Media Minute:  Seniors Embrace the Web or this one from Mashable – Baby Boomers and Seniors are Flocking to Facebook  Our stereotypes may need a drastic overhaul!

My staff and I have been to several conferences in the past year which focused on the need for non-profits to get with the program with respect to web presence and the use of social media.  My task became clearer:  Build a good website – period.  The seniors will do just fine.  There is a wealth of information on the web and in print about how to develop a non-profit site that will be accessible to your members, informative to those seeking to use your services, and clear to your donors.  There is an enormous and ever-growing body of research available to guide non-profits as they begin to understand what motivates and inspires Baby Boomers to volunteer.  Ultimately, the task was to distill some of this information and create what we hope will be a successful website.   I did try to make it easy on the eyes with a black on white format and a font size that was easily readable. 

So today, we’re celebrating the launch of The Shepherd’s Center’s new web home.  There is still a little tweaking to do, but I think we’re ready to be a presence on the web and in the blogosphere.  If you’re curious about what The Shepherd’s Center is and does, you’re warmly invited to take a tour!  For our members, the over-50 crowd, WELCOME!  Don’t hesitate to “share” this blog post on your Facebook page, or post a link in your twitter feed!  I hope you’ll find the new site clear and easy to use. 

Linda