Hello, I’m Maggy Burrowes, welcome to my website.
I am steadily expanding this website to provide both an information hub for all aspects of The Feldenkrais Method® and an expanding resource for anyone interested in exploring continuing personal development and self-evolution.
Learning To Learn
Feldenkrais (fell-den-cry-s) is all about increasing our awareness of self, expanding our capabilities, taking charge of our own continuing development as an adult, and realising our full potential. When we fully embrace our capacity for both Neuro- and Bio-Plasticity – i.e. our uniquely human capability for life-long learning and self-modification, the day-to-day living of life gets better and better as we get older and our self-awareness, self-knowledge, and self-mastery grow. As a teacher of this Method my goal is to enable as many people as I can to experience the benefits of “learning to learn” in this way.
Feldenkrais® comes in two formats: Functional Integration® & Awareness Through Movement®
In our hands-on teaching – Functional Integration – the experience can seem similar to having a ‘treatment’ of some sort, such as osteopathy, chiropractic, or one of the more gentle forms of massage. After a few sessions it becomes more natural to learn directly through your sensory experience again, just as you did as a young child. People often choose private tuition when they have severe movement issues or neurological conditions. Private sessions are also more appropriate for younger people with motor and/or learning difficulties.
In the group classes – known as Awareness Through Movement – it can take a while to realise that what you are learning is very different from other movement classes you have taken in the past. Unlike classic Hatha Yoga and similar techniques, we do not encourage active stretching, and the improvements come as you learn to move with an expanded consciousness of your own sensory-motor awareness; unlike Pilates we continually encourage releasing the abdomen throughout our movement sequences. The process is closer to a more generalised version of a martial art, and if you have trained in Tai Chi, Aikido, or Judo you will recognise many similarities.
We have access to hundreds of Awareness Through Movement lessons, and we are always devising more – and when teaching all these distinct movement sequences, we constantly emphasise that there are very many ways to perform any natural movement, so there is no need to strive to maintain a “correct” version of self-use, an idea that is often associated with the concept of having good “posture”. Instead we encourage the ongoing practice of self-observation-in-motion, preferably on a daily basis, with the intention of steadily improving our self-organisation through the expansion of our self-knowledge.
What we share with more traditional therapists is the intention to release those we are teaching from their self-limitations; from undetected and unrecognised areas of blockage and “stuck-ness”. The goal is to enable anyone who wishes to rewrite the unconscious rules that are governing their lives. The group lessons may be more general in focus, but they share this same goal, and are an ideal way to work with and benefit from Feldenkrais strategies in the longer term.
Because of the natural confusion with hands-on therapy, many people only consider exploring Functional Integration® once they are in pain, which is a pity, as it is usually the case that issues with mobility come first (our sense of balance can begin to deteriorate in our 20s, long before we notice the effect this loss is having on our capabilities).
Movement issues are a useful early indicator that we would benefit from less habit and more choice in the way we are going about our day-to-day lives. Moreover, as the long-term goal of Functional Integration is to heighten our sensitivity and refine our ability to sense our selves in action, in order to develop the natural human capacity for learning and self-maturation, there really is no need to wait until you feel there is anything “wrong” – Feldenkrais is useful when you are learning a new skill, or mastering an art, or just looking for ways to enjoy your life even more.
Awareness Through Movement classes are a very affordable way to find out if the Method is for you; please note that you will usually need to be able to lie on the floor for a minimum of 50 minutes, and, as each lesson is unique and engages the whole physical self, it can be a challenge for the teacher to find a lesson that you are able to perform if your movements are seriously limited due to pain.
If that is your situation I have two effective options.
First, I offer discounts for regular hands-on lessons booked in batches, to make them as affordable as possible. Obviously hands-on support is not currently available, however 1-2-1 training is still very effective for anyone with severe movement issues, and working on Zoom has the benefit of the lesson being recorded so you can build your own archive of Feldenkrais practises. I also have a special lockdown pricing scheme in place that means you can learn how to “Feldenkrais” with me in any format for whatever you can comfortably afford. Private lessons always include mini movement sequences to practise at home, to help you maintain and continue your improvement between our sessions.
Secondly, I have refined the aspects of Feldenkrais that have helped me to reverse all my chronic pain, and have developed a course that focusses on transferring this aspect of my teaching as efficiently and effectively as possible to the learner. I have written several articles on the background to these processes, which overlap with classic Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement, my Embodied Voice work, and my Quintessensual Consciousness course for honing and refining five sensory systems. I have now gathered these specific elements together under the heading Learning To Listen Within. I have created a tag so you can locate all the relevant articles more easily, within my current website constraints. I will make sure they are all included in the Bodymindfulness strand, because the tags are a little hard to read!
As for the moment our movements are so restricted I have opened up my practice online. I have a regular class at noon on Tuesdays which you can join at any time (the online equivalent of a drop-in class), workshops on various themes, and a wide array of possibilities for exploring individual Functional Self-Integration online. I am particularly enjoying how working on Zoom enables me to record and share lessons with all my students.
Regarding online session fees I am still figuring it out as I go along, but generally I am offering you all a “suggested fee or donation” system, so please get in touch if you would like to work with me but have financial concerns; and do not let income issues prevent you from experiencing this Method. There are a great many free lessons up online, including the excellent selection of mini-lessons on the Feldenkrais Guild UK website, and the brand new archive of 8 lessons on the Feldenkrais Resources For Musicians website, aimed at musicians and performers, but highly suitable for anyone with hands, feet, and a voice!
Online Class: Tuesdays @ Noon
I decided to begin my new online weekly class with a series of Introductory Taster sessions exploring several of my favourite themes. Now this series is over please note that, if you are new to Feldenkrais and unsure about joining the class then you can try out a sample lesson with me here.
12 pm – 1 pm
£10 per class, £30 for 4 classes*
Bookings by email, or using this contact form.
This is an ongoing class, so the idea is for you to commit – only when you are ready, of course – to joining on a weekly basis. Feldenkrais is about learning to learn, that takes time, and the benefits are cumulative. At some point in the process people decide to come regularly because they have begun to experience those benefits. Most people tend to dip in and out for a while before knowing for sure that the Method is for them.
The Feldenkrais Method is unique in design, and of all the versions of personal training that include a physical element, Feldenkrais is most like Tai Chi, where regular practise is good, and the more time you give to the process the more you get back. At some point you become someone who practises Feldenkrais, and at that point the benefits and the pleasures begin to accrue.
Much of what I write about in my blog is intended to make these pleasures and possibilities more apparent earlier in the process, as, at only an hour a week, it can take a while to recognise the subtle changes in your experience that may be happening.
I am using Zoom, and you will need to book with me in advance by email. When I hear from you I will send you a secure link to access the broadcast.
*Suggested-fee-or-donation rate applies.
The Potent Voice
I am also organising my voice and performance teaching under the banner of The Potent Voice. There are many overlaps with my Feldenkrais meditation work, as the benefits to the health of the nervous system generated by sustaining and attending to the vocal sounds we make has been recognised by science, thanks to the pioneering work of Dr Stephen Porges. Of course those of us who love to sing don’t need extra evidence to encourage us, but the science behind this valuable self-healing tool is fascinating, and the ramifications are huge, so I will be writing more about it, as and when time allows.
If you are not aware of Porges Polyvagal Theory this film is a useful introduction––he details the relevance of breathing, the importance of our hearing, and the healing qualities of music beginning around 23 minutes in, but watching the whole film will make all this this clearer still.
Questions, and feedback, are welcome––this is a work in progress, as indeed we all are!
Sounding Out & Tuning In
Regular monthly workshops, on Sundays Online, On Zoom, Recordings Included
Feldenkrais is perfectly designed to help you unlearn any vocal habits that are interfering with the freedom and spontaneity of your natural voice, and these workshops will focus on enabling these whole-self shifts.
This is the right place to come if you want to open out your voice, expand your resonant frequencies, and discover more of your own potential and vocal individuality. We may well sing the odd song or two, but mainly the music-making will be focussed on improvisation and discovery, through sounding, toning, and noise-making. These practises do not just enhance our vocal abilities, they also have the potential for switching us into our parasympathetic rest-recuperate-&-repair self-healing mode, so you will come away with practises with multiple benefits for your continuing self-expansion.
The Potent Breath
Sunday August 2nd, 2 – 4.30 pm
Details to follow shortly…
…and will continue our Vagal Toning theme!
Many self-development systems have a meditative process at their core – sitting in contemplation, and communing with an inner sense of ‘oneness’ with ‘the universe’ is pretty universal. Prayer, and affirmations are both standard tools for promoting emotional health the world over.
Dr Stephen Porges PolyVagal Theory provides an explanation for the efficacy of these practises at a neurological and evolutionary level. Our nervous system is focussed on our safety, and our sense of safety is fundamental to our sense of wellness. The vagus nerve manages both our older reptilian stress management circuits and our newer mammalian circuits, and we can use the management of our to soothe ourselves, increase our sense of safety, and shift our nervous system into our rest-and-recuperation mode – the neurological state that switches on our self-healing mechanisms, and helps to promote our physical and mental resilience.
This is I am sure why so many of the systems designed to integrate mind, body, and soul involved a chanting element – mantras and formal prayers such as saying rosaries all encourage the extension of the exhalation which enables the switch from stimulating-sympathetic to palliative-parasympathetic functioning.
Every time we inhale we briefly stimulate our sympathetic state-of-readiness (known as our fight-or-flight mode), and then, as we exhale again we shift back into our rest-and-recuperate mode – so all we need to do to soothe our nervous system is to exhale for a little longer than we inhale – it is that simple. This is I am sure the reason why there is so much evidence that singing is proven to be good for the health. When you examine the evidence you quickly discover that it is all based on research into communal singing, but once you understand Porges theories then you can easily see how to use these practices in a way that is effective even when you are singing while home alone.
Is is exciting to understand that this is the mechanism that allows us to synchronise our heartbeats via our breathing, whenever we are singing, or chanting, or praying together, and that it also works when we are playing games or performing dances that allow for movements to synchronise our rhythms. Many cultures that rely on physical labour use rhythmic sounds and work songs to both coordinate their movements and generate a heightened sense of community spirit and ‘togetherness’. This research enables us to understand how this sort of activity bonds us as communities and generates communal health benefits.
This workshop will be beneficial for:
Singers, presenters, performers, and anyone interested in the voice.
Anyone dealing with chronic stress issues
Anyone interested in meditation and chanting
Anyone interested in the potential for improving their vocal tuning in particular, or their hearing in general
THE NEXT SUNDAY WORKSHOP IS ON AUGUST 2nd, Details to follow shortly!
You will need to book with me directly to get the Zoom link, and unless there are any issues of privacy a recorded version of the lesson is included in the fee.
Bookings are by email, or using this contact form.
Power Up Your Inner Voice:
Self-Hypnosis for Self-Healing
Wednesday July 29th, 4 – 6 pm
Online on Zoom, recording included
£20* (suggested fee or donation)
This short workshop will be an introduction to my self-healing work, and will be recorded so you can continue to practise easily at home. One seldom-discussed aspect of the potency of the voice is the influential presence of an internal voice, constantly commentating on our lives. The voice inside our own heads can be an ally or an enemy; for a while now I have been discovering how to train my inner voice to be a better ally in my on-going project of self-healing. Here is an introduction to the process, from an article on my website: “Self-Hypnosis – also known as Autogenic Training – has been around for a long time. I first came across it back in the Eighties, in a book called SuperLearning. This was at right at the beginning of my interest in meditation, and practising the autogenic sequences from the book were the closest I came to achieving the deeper states of inner calm that are reportedly the most effective brain wave frequencies for healing chronic conditions.
Thus, when a bout of chronic fatigue left me with fibromyalgic pain that did not easily respond to the mindful movements that had helped me free myself of sciatica in the past, my investigations brought me full circle, and this time I made a connection I had somehow failed to make before. I remembered that Moshe Feldenkrais was also interested in self-hypnosis at a similar age, except that – being the over-achiever he was – he translated a significant book on the subject into Hebrew, and boldly added his own thoughts in a 26 page commentary. The book was The Practice Of Autosuggestion by the Method of Émile Coué (1929), and Moshe’s original contribution has recently been published as Thinking and Doing, A monograph by Moshe Feldenkrais. He retained his enthusiasm for these concepts throughout his life, attempting to republish his translation in 1977, and using the techniques he still valued to speed his recovery after his stroke.
This workshop will be ideal for anyone seeking to improve their own health and wellbeing and the health and wellbeing of others.
The Potent Inner Voice work is an introduction to my…
‘Developing Your Quintessensual Consciousness’
Using the Feldenkrais Method to enhance our awareness of all our wonderful human senses…
…the original five exteroceptive senses, plus the kinaesthetic, proprioceptive, interoceptive, and neuroceptive*…
Feldenkrais is a form of self-development, as is Meditation, and many aspects of these two practises overlap and enhance each other.
For those of us with chronic pains, muscular tensions, stresses, anxieties, sleep problems, chronic respiratory issues, or who are simply feel blocked by their own habits of thought and behaviour, the more meditative aspects of The Feldenkrais Method can be the most effective way to create long lasting changes that steadily improve our sense of physical and mental well-being. Anyone keeping up with the science will be aware that relying on medication is not the best answer in the long term.
Learn to expand your focus of attention – both externally and internally
Meditative movement – Feldenkrais as “mindfulness centred on the body”
Self-quieting – using the nervous system to calm the nervous system – drawing on breath, toning and enhancing our listening abilities
Sitting With Ease – many forms emphasise the importance of sitting upright to increase the benefits of regular meditation practice. Learning to sit with lightness, balance and poise, so that you can meditate in comfort for longer, will be a key part of this class
Becoming your own neuro-feedback device – the current emphasis on expensive gadgets for enhancing our nervous system’s ability to self-monitor and self-regulate is outsourcing abilities we all have the potential to access naturally and directly through our own senses. The advantage of
learning to enhance your natural sense-abilities in this way is that you begin to feel better straight away, long before you have actually mastered the skills you are practising.
*Neuroception overlaps with interoception and could easily be defined as one aspect of it. Porges intends to highlight this aspect of our internal self-sensing abilities to improve our understanding of the role of social engagement in the healthy functioning of the mammalian nervous system.
This training is designed to develop this process into an effective practice, with the advantage of being performable anywhere, in any position, for any available length of time. You will be learning to enhance:
your sensory awareness
your muscular awareness
your skeletal awareness
your interoceptive awareness, and…
your ability to focus your attention simultaneously on both your internal and external awareness.
You will learn to enhance the aspects of Feldenkrais that overlap with self-hypnosis / auto-suggestion, with meditation, and with the internal alignment necessary for chi and chakra work – it will also be good fun!
I have a lot of material to share, and unlike a classic Feldenkrais class we will be developing themes for a daily practice, however one with all the flexibilities of the Feldenkrais process built in – ideal if you find meditating difficult; nourishing and stimulating if you find meditating easy.
I have a lot more to say, but am attempting brevity!
I have been gathering the material for this course for a long time, and there’s a lot of science and overlaps with other teachers out there included in my thinking. I will be sharing all of this as part of the class, but I am also posting a lot of links––mainly articles and YouTube lectures, but also book recommendations––up on my FaceBook page. Do go and have a look if you are curious about the course, it will give you an idea of the kind of material I will be covering.
Sitting & Squatting:
Embrace The Floor & [Maybe] Extend Your Life
Sunday August 9th – Online + Recording
2 – 5 pm
£35 (suggested fee or donation)
Every so often a new report comes along that supports my ongoing campaign to get more people to spend more time sitting on the floor. I even wrote a manifesto. Sometimes the report is more focussed on the benefits of getting up and down from the floor, as there is some evidence that being able to do so without leaning on too many of your available limbs correlates with living longer – I have written about that here. A new report in New Scientist just out supports my suggestion more specifically, by revealing how beneficial it is to be able to sit comfortably on the floor in all the different positions you can think of, including kneeling, squatting, sitting cross-legged, and in the position we Feldenfolk call “side-saddle”.Which is all very well, but I am all too aware that for many people sitting on the floor is just too difficult to begin with.
If you would like to be better able to sit on the floor for longer periods of time the ideal solution is Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement, and the way to improve more quickly is to do more than just the one class a week. This workshop is going to be somewhat more demanding than usual. The aim will be to improve our sitting ability via explorations on hands and knees, with the ultimate goal of being better able to squat, and to come up to standing from the floor. If you are not able to manage explorations on hands and knees then think about having some individual lessons, or joining one of my online weekly classes. I am hoping that everyone who joins this class will finish it with several more floor-sitting positions in their repertoire and some useful strategies for getting up and down from the floor with ease.
Regular Feldenkrais Classes
Awareness Through Movement in the Crow’s Nest
…Currently running online, let me know if you are interested in joining this class when the Centre reopens…
We meet weekly on Thursday evenings at The Telegraph Hill Centre
Studio 3 – The Hub,
Kitto Road, SE14 5TY
Class Times – 7pm to 8pm:
We meet at 6.50pm in the Centre foyer, and ascend the stairs as a group – the room is at the very top of the building, so there are 45 stairs to climb – the view is amazing!
UPDATE – the centre is organising a system that will enable any latecomers to buzz in at the back door – I propose that once it is installed we continue to meet at 6.50pm and that anyone running late lets me know, so we know to expect you and can leave the buzzer on.
Fee per class £12 – to be paid in advance.
Payment will be in advance at the beginning of each month.
You will need to book a minimum of two classes, on the understanding that priority will be given to attendees prepared to commit to coming every week.
The benefits of this learning process are cumulative, so committed attendance is the best way to produce consistent improvement. Nevertheless I do understand that committing to pay for a class even if you then cannot attend can feel like a big step, so…
All committed members of the class are entitled to individual Feldenkrais sessions at £35, plus an extra £5 off–per session–to compensate for any class you have to miss. I am also starting up a local Feldenkrais meditation class, and once this is established you may be able to swap to one of these classes, if there is space available. Regular class members also qualify for concession rates for my workshops at The Sunflower Centre.
I now have enough mats and head rests that you do not need to bring your own unless you want to, however do bring anything else you need to make sure you are comfortable on the floor – the head rests are rather firm, so some people like to bring a softer pillow and/or a blanket (which can be folded) with them. It is useful to know if you would like to reserve a mat, so do let me know. The room is well supplied with radiators – so far we have not had any heating issues.
The Sunflower Centre
Hilly Fields, SE4
The likely season for these workshops to return is the Autumn – more information as soon as I have it.
Liberating Your Potent Self
Sundays, 2-6pm, £60/£50
Would you like to get more done with less effort?
Would you like to achieve athletic grace without dull, repetitive exercise?
Would you like to improve your core functioning in a way that benefits your mobility, your strength, your balance, your breathing, your emotional ease, and your posture, in a way that is easy to maintain with gentle, playful, joyful regular practice?
Feldenkrais has something special to offer––something more global, more whole-self, more “organic” than simply offering you looser shoulders, better posture, more mobile hips, a freer neck––although these are all potential benefits, they are just side effects. Many people are familiar with the idea of moving more “ergonomically” but I am pretty confident that most of those people would not associate that word with having any fun. Fun is fundamental to Feldenkrais, because we humans learn best when we are having fun at the same time––you only have to spend time in a room full of happy toddlers to see this in action.
The Potent Self is my favourite of Feldenkrais’ books about his Method. His writings tend to offer a dense mix of human development and neuroscience––his sense of fun is more recognisable when he is interacting with a room full of people rolling about on the floor. The Potent Self––subtitled A Study Of Spontaneity And Compulsion––is the book that helped me understand why my Feldenkrais training was improving not just my physical health, but also my emotional health, and my ability to feel at ease in social situations. Moshe’s understanding of the relationship between health and our inner sense of “safety” prefigures the work of Dr. Stephen Porges, and as my hyper-vigilance began to recede my enjoyment of life increased exponentially, and that process continues to this day.
By making the connection between personal potency and the vast field of human potential that continuing self development is central to, I am hoping to get some of you Feldenkrais virgins curious enough to come along and try it out. An immersive afternoon is an excellent way to discover what this work has to offer, and those in the know––my regulars––come along whenever they can, whatever the theme of the day, because they know they will leave feeling taller, livelier, lighter on their feet, more coordinated, breathing more fully, and even––surprisingly––stronger. They also know that these changes will last for a while, and some of them even do their “homework” and maintain these improvements for longer still.
For many of us the joy of watching a skilled athlete, dancer, or martial artist is seeing human movement at its most vibrant and graceful. Athletic movement is beautiful precisely because of its economy, efficiency, natural elegance and its distinct humanity. We look at the fluid grace of these masters of movement and imagine that this level of ease is beyond us, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, athletic power takes work, but when we do not waste our energy in inefficient self-use and poorly coordinated action then grace, fluidity and intrinsic strength emerge spontaneously. Of course it takes attention and practice to change the way we do what we do, what it doesn’t take is more hard work; in fact just the opposite, as soon as you start to bring Awareness Through Movement into your life you will begin achieving more with less effort on a daily basis.
These workshops will features a huge variety of Awareness Through Movement lessons, and notes will be provided with practical suggestions for ways to continue to build on the improvement you will experience in all your daily activities.
Customised Workshops for Companies & Organisations
I am always happy to design a workshop for a specific purpose – good ergonomic self-use for office workers, good vocal self-use for performance communities, good performance skills for everyone – contact me to discuss what you would like.
The International Feldenkrais community have been producing some attractive films to promote what is still a not very well known process with enormous benefits to offer. If you would like see the whole series in English click here. If you would like to see the full International Feldenkrais Federation film collection, which is available in multiple languages, click here view the YouTube Channel.