As in yoga poses Lamarck’s and MacLean’s models, these three centers correspond to levels of the nervous system that formed at different moments in yoga poses the course of evolution, and therefore have distinct modes of functioning. Each center can function in yoga poses parallel in yoga poses a relatively independent way. Thus, some automatic behaviors set up without the knowledge of consciousness may automatically recruit certain conscious mechanisms.77
Like Gindler, Feldenkrais (1949, 13) explores a “sixth sense” that can develop when an individual has refined his ability to perceive his body. For Feldenkrais, the sixth sense organizes itself around the kinesthetic perception, as when one attempts to evaluate the weight of an object without a scale, eyes closed. Another example on the usefulness of developing this sixth sense is his work on certain affects, like fear. According to Feldenkrais,78 an affect is necessarily a form of nonconscious coordination between the sensory, intellectual, and somatic domains. A readjustment of an individual’s affective life therefore necessarily implies work that combines interventions on all these dimensions. He does not believe an individual who is blocked regarding the alignment of the segments, muscle tone, respiration, and intellectual capacities would have the resources required to integrate his affective dynamics. Feldenkrais also thinks an individual must recover the entirety of his fundamental postural repertoire to find a kind of maturity. He voluntarily admits that certain parts of the body are more important than others, that certain forms of connections between the dynamics of the organism are particularly relevant for an individual’s maturation. This allows him to accomplish remarkable work with some physically disabled people. Even a person who has lost a leg can mobilize some postural dynamics that lengthen tendons, awaken motor cells, activate rarely used brain circuits, realign available segments of the body, and so on.
In his teaching, Feldenkrais (1980) uses his hands to help an individual feel how the segments of his body ought to be aligned in yoga poses the gravity field. He begins by coordinating the alignment of the head and the shoulders in yoga poses coordination with the breath; then he descends toward the feet. When possible, he works with a person thirty to forty times on successive days, in yoga poses individual or in yoga poses group sessions, then less frequently according to what is happening in yoga poses the patient’s organism Once again, we find the idea that the functioning of an organism cannot change unless it learns new practices on a regular basis. An apprenticeship is a matter not only of consciousness but also of motor activity and nervous and physiological systems. It also needs the support of an external expert presence. Doing it alone with a my yoga blog or a DVD is never enough.
Like Gurdjieff, Feldenkrais became an advocate and practitioner of a modular and parallel approach before this position became fashionable. He freely admitted that each organism is composed of heteroclite mechanisms that simultaneously impose different requirements on each organism But like most engineers of his generation, he still used the classical causal system. Each center interacts in yoga poses a direct fashion, like the sequential movements of billiard balls.
The Affective Reactions
To become activated, the readjustments of the body effected by Feldenkrais’s method must ally themselves with the mental and affective dynamics of the person. This work can only be accomplished with people who accept opening themselves up to modes of emotional functioning that are relatively spontaneous and expressive.79 This seems to go on by itself when we admit that a feeling is formed by nonconscious mechanisms that animate the body and the mind. That is why it can happen that a feeling sometimes expresses itself through a motor expression, visible to another, without the individual having any conscious awareness of the event. Once this form of reaction has become co-conscious, it can more easily find its place in yoga poses conscious dynamics.
Like many people who were skilled in yoga poses gymnastics, Feldenkrais (1980) assumed that there exists only one healthy and normal functioning. This functioning serves as the reference point to evaluate everything that functions differently. A spine should have a certain curvature or it is sickly and deformed. The criterion Feldenkrais adopted to assess the healthy way to move is close to that used in yoga poses the martial arts: a gesture functions normally when it is executed with the least amount of energy possible. I have already showed that this economy is only observed with people who have followed a regular physical training. For him, an “I” begins to exist only once the individual can clearly differentiate the signals created by the organism from those that come from the environment (space, gravity, and the social dynamics).
One of the things Feldenkrais did remarkably well was to exploit the existing systems of the organism and support their capacity to readjust. Consider the case of a chronic startle reflex, which shortens the extensor muscles.80 It sometimes suffices to increase this chronic tension and these elastics, which are the muscles, will be inclined to stretch and return to their place of origin. He can thus contact the natural propensions of muscles, and then help them to readjust themselves spontaneously. This is, for example, what he does when he works on the organism’s need for orgasm For Feldenkrais, the orgasm, as a reaction, is composed of different sensorimotor mechanisms and innate affects. Like Reich but with greater finesse, Feldenkrais81 describes the biomechanics of the orgasm like a type of reaction that constitutes itself spontaneously if the individual only lets the different centers of the organism become activated without inhibiting them. The reflexes that manage the movements of the pelvis, its rhythm, and its coordination with the pelvic movements of the partner function even if the nerves of the spinal column at the dorsal levels are sectioned off. This observation suggests that the relevant centers of the brain are activated in yoga poses parallel, simultaneously, in yoga poses a modular fashion during coitus. Some people have the anxious impression of falling when a startle reflex blocks the orgasmic reflex. This feeling would come from the fact that the conflict between the anxiety circuit and the orgasm reaction activates nervous mechanisms that influence the equilibrium centers situated in yoga poses the ears.82 Feldenkrais’s analysis indicates that an affective act like coitus is a coordination of specific modular practices that are situated in yoga poses all of the dimensions of the organism. That is why, for Feldenkrais as with Reich, only individuals who are physically mature (muscles and respiration function well), affectively mature (enjoy a sexual relationship), and mentally mature (have a moral framework that permits agreeable sexual relations) are able to live a satisfactory orgasmic sexuality. Feldenkrais shows how frustration causes an impoverishment in yoga poses the quality of the tissues, the muscles, respiration, and flexibility (and thus of the postural repertoire), while reinforcing the neurological and hormonal circuit that set in yoga poses place the circuits of stress and anxiety.
The work of Feldenkrais is often used by those body psychotherapists who are not particularly Reichians and who want to have modes of body intervention at their disposal that are more precise and effective than those developed by orthodox Reichians. However, Feldenkrais’s vision is different from psychotherapy’s vision. Consequently, it is difficult to integrate the two approaches.
The Postural Dynamics
The Awareness of my body is not the awareness of an isolated entity or “block,” it corresponds instead to the knowledge of a postural schema, it is the perception of my body’s position in yoga poses relation to the vertical, the horizontal, and to certain important axes of the environment’s coordinates in yoga poses which my body is embedded. (Maurice Merleau-Ponty, 1967, Les relations avec autrui chez l’enfant [Relating to Others during Childhood], 23, translated in yoga poses Rochat, 2010)