Why does Feldenkrais make you sleepy?

After my recent workshop, someone asked me this question – I thought it might be useful to post my reply here as it is something that often puzzles people. After all, most movements in Feldenkrais class are gentle and rarely aerobic! It’s very common to feel tired after a Feldenkrais class, even though you have been working gently. This is mainly because Feldenkrais is a somatic practice – that is, the mind and body are working together to create new patterns not only for movement but also in the brain itself. Think about a baby’s way of learning: s/he plays with moving an arm for a while, then sleeps. During the sleep, the brain is busy processing what it’s learnt about moving an arm then, when the baby wakes up, s/he might try moving further. It’s all interconnected but there’s a lot of brain activity going on! The patterning we do in Feldenkrais is pretty much the same idea – we experiment with easier movement patterns in order to get out of the adult patterns of stress and effort and rediscover a more natural way of moving. The brain is re-learning and having to discard previous habits and needs to process all this, so sends you a “sleep” message (a bit like the egg timer on your computer). Hopefully, you felt refreshed the following day! You are also right in that if life has been stressful lately, these sessions do give you permission to slow down and maybe realise how much energy you have been expending.