improving coordination, balance, flexibility and core strength,
as well as building brain plasticity.
It was called "organic movement" years before
"organic" became a popular label or lifestyle.
Developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc. (1904 - 1984), the Feldenkrais Method uses a series of gentle, organized movements that improve coordination and awareness in the way you move as a whole person. Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons address conflicts, restrictions, and weaknesses between muscle groups at the neurological level, so changes are deeply sensed. As a result, skeletal alignment and muscular support are improved, allowing the body to move more efficiently and effectively. Restrictive or painful habituated patterns can be replaced with efficient, coordinated and effective ways of moving.
Learning to move with less strain, discomfort or effort makes daily life easier. Because the Feldenkrais Method focuses on the relationship between movement and thought, increased mental awareness and creativity accompany physical improvements. Everyone, from athletes and artists to administrators and attorneys; from computerites to sales clerks, and from seniors to the younger generation can benefit from the Feldenkrais Method.
I have been teaching the Feldenkrais Method at the West Side YMCA of Greater New York since 2002. I teach three classes a week: Monday @ 1:30, Wednesday @ 10:45 a.m. and Saturday @ 3 o'clock. Here are but a few letters from a few students, past and present, that show what the Feldenkrais Method is to them. I wish I could have included everybody who has written, but space is limited. Thank you all for sharing your feelings and understanding. For more information on the Method, scroll down or click to the Feldenkrais Method page. – dg
Dear Donna: "Your method of instructing, and directions 'into self' has been tremendous to my experience in class. It is difficult for me to articulate the inner benefit of the Feldenkrais Method – but it is profound. As an instructor, you are fluent and possess the skill and the enthusiasm to make the practice doable. Your minute 'adjustments' to the position of my body as you instruct, are greatly appreciated and allows me the opportunity to realize the maximum benefit of the practice. I have incorporated many of the Feldenkrais moves in my daily life. ... The moves are so subtle, it is my secret.
" Thank you." – Helen Whaley
"Donna Gianell is an extraordinary teacher. Her classes are inventive, enthusiastic, and caring. [It's like] giving a voice to the body. I always look forward to my next class." – Manolo Rivera (International premier Flamenco dancer/choreographer)
Dear Donna: "Thank you for the way in which you run the Feldenkrais class at the Y. It's been an amazing journey for me. I never realized how such intricate, small movements can make such an impression on the body, and the improvement and healing that's taking place is quite extraordinary. ... What a relief it's been to find someone so professional who runs a class that not only heals, but also exudes feelings of peace, tranquility and that very important ingredient – humor. You put so much of your self into each class, it's obvious that you have studied the body intensely, and treat each person with great courtesy and care." – Frances Salter
"At my first Feldenkrais class with Donna I walked in with a cane and in pain. I walked out without the cain and without the pain." – Lee L.
(Update 2 years later after annual follow-up with physical therapist): "She said, 'You walk better than some of my twenty-year-old clients.' "
"Donna – I love your class. It always makes me feel so good." – Patty S.
“I used to see myself as a head on a pole. That’s all. After a year of taking the Feldenkrais classes with Donna, I’m happy to say that I feel I have a body that loves me. Donna’s classes are miraculous. The Feldenkrais Awareness Thru Movement classes are one of the most beneficial types of classes I have taken.” – Pat Hartley
“I have taken Donna’s Feldenkrais classes for years and have found them very helpful. In particular, after taking a lesson Donna gave on freeing up the jaw and tongue, I was able to sit comfortably in a cross-legged position. I have not been able to do that in years.” – Dave Barbor
"Donna Gianell is a truly gifted teacher. Her clarity, sensitivity, and years of studying the Feldenkrais Method have enabled her to help me in both my work as an actress as well as in my daily physical activities. Her class is comprised of a wide range of people with varying physical and emotional needs and it is remarkable to watch Donna gently and skillfully deal with each individual while still effectively communicating to the group. I wish I had discovered Donna and this work years ago." – Rebecca Street
(Rebecca Street is best known of a woman with AIDS on "The Young & Restless." She has extensive stage experience and has guest starred in numerous TV series, including "ER," "Felicity," "Promised Land," "Murder She Wrote," and "LA Law". She co-starred with Eric Roberts in "Lonely Hearts," and has been a principal in over 50 national commercials. )
"I arrived in Donna's Feldenkrais class in 2004 with a diagnosed frozen shoulder. I had gone the usual medical route: chiropractor ... cortizone shots, physical therapy – the whole gambit. I still had much restriction and limitation in my left shoulder, not to mention pain. A friend nagged me for about three months to come to a Feldenkrais class. It took me that long but I finally did come.
"Living in a stressful city like NY, we can be irritated just walking down the street. I frequently hear Donna say 'pause', which allows healing energy to replace my angst. Today I am totally free of my frozen shoulder and stay with the class for the physical, emotional and mental restructuring that takes place in my soul – truly a meditation on the body. ... We are all very grateful and blessed." – Jeanne Brennan
"I decided to try the Feldenkrais Method. But owing to reasons I still don’t know, I tried, on and off taking classes, but still couldn’t get it. Until one day, I took Donna’s class at YMCA West Side. Finally I got it. Since then, I take as many classes as I can. They have helped my knee, my shoulders, and many other areas. But most of all, they help my well-being.
"There are many facets of Donna’s classes which helped me grasp the unique qualities of the Feldenkrais Method. I often heard the famous lines such as'Less is more,' 'Learning takes place in the rest,' and 'Quality is more important than quantity'. However, these suggestions only come alive when I took her classes. Donna designs each class like an exciting discovery trip where I can truly explore, [and] experiment [with] the often ignored or obscured areas of my body. At the end of her class, I always have a sense of joy, of curiosity about self."
– Liwen Lee (International Filmmaker)
Donna: "Your Feldenkrais work is helping me feel much better. For the first time yesterday I was able to walk seven blocks and climb up and down four flights of stairs without pain. I haven’t been able to do that for a long time. Thank you so much." – Rita Rodin
The West Side YMCA Connection to the
'Organics' and 'Plasticity' of the Feldenkrais Method
Common statements heard in class:
"Easy is hard." – Reuven Klein
"I must be doing something wrong because it is so easy."
"I must be doing something wrong because it feels so good."