Karen Jensen is using her hand and fingers to call attention to the relative movement of her patient's sternum in front and her ribs and spine in back as she moves. 'I feel which directions she moves easily and indicate new ways for her to move through subtle changes in pressure and direction with my touch,' says Jensen, a practitioner of Feldenkrais. (Photograph courtesy of Karen Jensen.)
Karen Jensen was teaching at the Chicago Waldorf School when she began suffering from headaches when she wore her bifocals.
“I kept getting headaches from the prescription,” recalls Jensen who lives in Miller. “My optometrist told me I needed to work on my balance and referred me to a Feldenkrais practitioner.”
A system of mind-body awareness, the Feldenkrais Method is a self-help approach that aims to improve movement and enhance human functioning. According to feldenkrais.com, the technique is named after Moshe Feldenkrais, a Russian-born physicist, judo expert, mechanical engineer and educator who founded it.
Jensen has arthritis as well, so her Feldenkrais practitioner recommended a workshop given by Anat Baniel, founder of the offshoot Anat Baniel Method. Not touted as a cure-all, this alternative physical therapy is said to ease pain and increase physical mobility. In attendance was a woman whose infant was diagnosed with torticollis, a medical condition caused by cramped conditions in the womb. The result can be muscle damage.
Despite six weeks of traditional therapy, Jensen says, the baby was only able to turn his head to one side and his hand remained clenched in a fist. “Anat began touching the child’s shoulder, ribs and neck,” recalls Jensen. “In minutes, we saw his hand began to unclench. Within 20 minutes, the child’s hand looked totally relaxed and he began looking side to side around the room.”
Impressed by what she saw, Jensen decided to learn Baniel’s method so she could help people with similar problems. A series of studies led her to become certified both as a Feldenkrais and Anat Baniel practitioner. Using what she’s learned, she works with children with disorders like cerebral palsy to help increase their range of motion. She also works with adults.