Here at Hudson Healing Arts, we’re thrilled to welcome Noreen Haren as the newest member of our team. Noreen is a Certified Practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education, a powerful yet gentle approach to improving students’ lives through mindful movement.
The Feldenkreis method can help you to increase your ease and range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. Noreen emphasizes that the Feldenkrais Method isn’t about finding one “perfect” way to move; rather, the goal is to create awareness and options, which can guide you toward positive changes.
What Is The Feldenkrais Method?
Noreen, who was born with mild cerebral palsy, has experienced the transformative effects of the Feldenkrais method firsthand. Minor problems with her gait first led to Feldenkrais, and she found it to be incredibly helpful...so much so that she wanted to share it with others.
The New Jersey native became a Feldenkrais Guild Certified Practitioner in 1994, and had the honor of studying with an experienced group of teachers who were in Moshe Feldenkrais’ original training programs in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Noreen recently retired after 4o years as a registered nurse, allowing her to take on more Feldenkrais students at HHA.
“The premise is that we all have habits of movement that we’re unaware of that can cause us pain and restriction,” she explains. “We work on that through gentle movements and mindfulness, which is essentially directed attention. Feldenkrais helps us become aware of the ways that we move that may not serve us well, and offers up better options.”
Anyone can benefit from the method, which is wonderful for stress relief and simply learning ways to find more pleasure and ease in movement. One example of the way we hold tension in our bodies can be seen in the tendency to hold our shoulders way up by our ears, Noreen shares. Doing an exaggerated movement—lifting your shoulders all the way up to your neck, and then dropping them—directs your awareness and brings them to a more relaxed resting state.
Feldenkrais is especially popular for musicians, athletes, dancers, and older folks, since normal aging is a reason that we all stop moving freely. It’s also particularly helpful for people who have experienced an injury, stroke, or chronic illness. With the exception of children, Noreen works with people of all ages and abilities—including “regular people who just want to feel more comfortable in their movement, or want to shake the effects of stress.”
According to Noreen, movement is more than just the physical act itself; it’s really about how you move through life. “The improvements learned in a session often enhance students’ thinking, emotional regulation, and problem-solving capabilities, too” she says.
What is a Session With Noreen Like?
Noreen emphasizes that Feldenkrais isn’t exercise: it’s education. And it’s also the opposite of a “no pain, no gain” mentality.
“The goal isn’t to work hard, it’s about slow, gentle movements, which allows the brain to pay better attention,” she says. “We’re learning different options in playful, curious atmosphere, not judging anything as right or wrong. It can take a while for us to learn to be gentle and accepting with ourselves, but that’s a wonderful byproduct of the process.”
Before a session, Noreen will have a phone call with you to discuss your goal/s with Feldenkrais, and also for a brief overview of your medical history, if it is relevant. The experience will then be tailored depending on your needs. You may be verbally guided through a series of movement sequences while sitting, standing, or lying down on a comfortable table. These slow, gentle movements are designed to help you become more aware of your habitual movement patterns and learn alternate, easier and more effective ways of moving. Noreen will use gentle touch to guide the movements as needed. At other times, gentle touch will be the primary mode of communication with verbal cues used as needed. All lessons are done with the student fully clothed.
“Feldenkrais has been described as a dance where you instruct students not to resist; together, you explore together how the person wants to move, or moves more easily or habitually, and then try to gently introduce new patterns,” she says. “A big part of Feldenkrais is checking in to see if students feel a difference from their original movement.”
And regardless of the reasons that lead students to Feldenkrais, Noreen says there’s almost always “a relaxation response.”
“Students find that their breathing is fuller, they’re more relaxed, and they often feel more connected to the ground. Some even feel like they could go to sleep,” she says.
When Noreen’s not working with her students, the Hoboken resident can be found taking long walks, reading, cooking, swimming, or enjoying quality time with her family and friends. She wants everyone to know that Feldenkrais is “fun, accepting, positive, and entirely non-judgmental.”
Interested in learning more or booking a session with Noreen? She can be reached at (201) 798-1632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hannah Chenoweth is a Hoboken-based conference producer and freelance writer who enjoys covering all aspects of health and wellness.