Fourteen people gathered recently at the Okanagan Feldenkrais centre in downtown Vernon to explore how to feel more alive and confident in their bodies.
Co-facilitated by certified Feldenkrais practitioners Rob Black from Calgary and Brent Kisilevich from Vernon, the three-day Somatic Awakening workshop provided group sessions of Awareness Through Movement classes along with personalized sessions in Functional Integration for individuals to address their specific physical goals.
“Somatics refers to a field of self-education that focuses on getting to know oneself more through sensing and feeling one’s own body rather than focusing on thinking about how to do things,” said Kisilevich. “The Feldenkrais Method for somatic learning really offers the best possible way for people to take control of how they learn with their bodies.”
Black said people discover they can awaken themselves to a better quality of life by discovering how it feels to move in new and gentler ways.
“It’s about feeling more alive and being ready to meet the world in your body,” he said.
Vernon resident Bernadette O’Donnell was astonished by the differences she discovered for herself.
“I realized that I didn’t need to think about the movements so much, but just feel them,” she said. “I found that without even trying I was standing taller. My eyes now look up more toward the horizon rather than down at the floor.
“I feel lighter and more confident on my feet. I can reach far higher, without straining.”
Yves Langlois, a professional stuntman in Vancouver, was looking for strategies to overcome the chronic pain he suffers.
“I can’t believe the difference,” he said. “I have found I can create pain-free movements for myself just by learning to gently move in new ways. It is amazing.”
People came from throughout the Okanagan, Calgary, Vancouver and one participant, 82-year-old Joan Ellis-Hill, came all the way from Annapolis Valley, N.S. for the retreat.
“I used to tell people that the reason I have arthritis in the neck is because I kept a stiff upper lip all my life,” she said, adding that her neck now moves more freely. “This workshop was about more than just the movement — it was about opening my heart.”
Yoga instructor Amanda Ulmer was searching online for a weekend wellness retreat to attend over the Easter break.
“My experience was revolutionary,” she said. “I will definitely be using this method as a personal activity and with the people that I teach.
“I recommend it for anyone who wants to further their mind-body connection.”
Black and Kisilevich will be joined by colleague Sandra Bradshaw of Kelowna to offer a five-day retreat, Wake Up Your Body and Brain: Move Better, Feel Younger at the Naramata Centre in July. For more information, visit http://somaticjourneys.com/classes/workshops