About the Amherst Training
The Amherst Training was the last Professional Training that Dr. Feldenkrais conducted during his lifetime. This was the final Training that Dr. Feldenkrais taught and, true to his nature, he set about it in a manner completely different from the previous ones. The material found in these pages was to become the basis for the curriculum in many of the Trainings that followed.
Lesson transcripts and DVDs (1980-1981), including a discounted Subscription option selected Lessons and Talks are available for purchase. Select images from the training may be viewed in the Archive Images Collection.
1980 (Year 1)
Here you will find the essential ingredients of his Method and the primary ideas that were stressed as the necessary background for learning his work.
Beginning with life’s first movements of the mouth and breath, and following with lessons that mostly follow a developmental progression. Interwoven throughout this sequence were also lessons which Dr. Feldenkrais said were more structural than developmental.
The lessons in the first weeks are dynamic and inclusive. The ability to use the eyes smoothly is woven into larger movements through space, as is the emphasis on the importance of improving the clarity of orientation in action. Several lessons or series are also devoted to the importance of the teleceptors for improving the quality of self-direction. The connection between the head and pelvis in several different positions or situations is also a central motif. Unlike the stand-alone lessons which appear in the Alexander Yanai, Esalen and London notes, the lessons in Amherst were more process oriented. A theme with many variations occurred over several days. This interweaving of lessons which he began to use in the San Francisco Training now become the predominate mode. In addition to the Awareness Through Movement® material, there are also several talks related to each of the central themes. These explorations were the conditions that Dr. Feldenkrais provided in order to lead the group down the road toward choice, self-reliance and autonomy. Finally, in the last week, there is a provocative talk entitled “What is health?”
1981 (Year 2)
The Amherst Training was the third and final group to be trained by Dr. Feldenkrais to carry forward his work. Amherst Year 2 took place in 1981 and was the last year of group teaching that Dr. Feldenkrais gave before his death in 1984.
Dr. Feldenkrais told the group in Amherst that he believed his teaching was then at a higher level than what he had done previously. As he said on June 11, 1981, “Those who have listened to me last year cannot but admit this year my teaching is more mature, more clear… and, easier to understand, and therefore I am growing with you.”
The year opens with the elaboration of the “Bell Hand.” The ensuing quality of lightness is then carried over into the more complex actions of the “Judo Roll” and the “Headstand.” Here the student is challenged to maintain an awareness of the entire self throughout novel and dynamic spatial orientations. The two actions are brought together through the rapid alternation of flexion and extension. In the second half of the segment, Dr. Feldenkrais continues with “Bridging,” introduces several lessons with developmental themes, and ends the summer with unusual lessons with an acrobatic flair.
Interwoven throughout the summer are some of Dr. Feldenkrais’ most stimulating talks. These talks point toward a new way of perceiving and thinking which are to form the necessary foundation for the work in Functional Integration®.