Blog Post

A Bad Combination: The New Age and FlexAware

I was speaking at a conference in Maryland a few weeks ago and someone asked me to look into a program known as FlexAware to determine if it is New Age.

It did not take me long to find an answer to this question. While FlexAware is not New Age in itself, it is very much connected to the New Age through its practitioners.

Let me explain.

The inventor of FlexAware is Steven Shafarman, a former yoga instructor who studied philosophy and psychology in college. Shafarman, served as an assistant to Dr. Moshe Feldenrais, an Israeli engineer and neuroscientist, who created the Feldenkrais Method.

The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic exercise system that is based on the premise that body pain and restricted movement aren’t caused by aging but by learned habits and poor use of the body. It employs gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and “enhance human functioning” as a popular website explains.

Shafarman became a Feldenkrais practitioner and eventually designed an intensive Feldenkrais Method program for a group of long-term chronic pain patients associated with the Santa Barbara County Regional Health Authority.

"The program was evaluated by the American Academy of Pain Management, using pre- and post-program participant questionnaires, plus phone interviews one year later," his website states. "The Academy’s National Pain Data Bank compared it with chronic pain treatment programs that utilized physical therapy, yoga, acupuncture, biofeedback, and psychological counseling. Steven’s program had significantly better results, at about one-tenth the cost. In the year following the program, participant medical expenses fell by 40 percent."

Together with David Bearman, M.D., the medical director of the Health Authority, Shafarman published these results in the American Journal of Pain Management - so his work definitely has been peer-reviewed and found to be effective.

At about the same time, Shafarman was writing Awareness Heals, which was published in 1997, and he enrolled in a doctoral program in human development. This led him to look more closely at the way young children learn how to crawl and walk. He noticed how very flexible and strong they were and began to look into how adults may have "forgotten" these abilities.

His aim became the creation of a fitness practice that helps adults "reawaken" or rediscover these childhood abilities and FlexAware was the result.

While Flex Aware and the Feldenkrais Method are not New Age, the problem is that it's practitioners have a propensity to be involved in other New Age healing modalities.

For instance, in this article “Yoga and the Feldenkrais Method” by Diane Valentine GCFP, she claims that “While informed by science, Moshe Feldenkrais’ work parallels the Eastern path of acknowledging the oneness of mind and body, intention and action.”

Practitioners that have these beliefs are naturally going to include them in their practice. This could be a problem for a Christian if he or she is encouraged to embrace other healing modalities that are based in philosophies that are not compatible with Christianity.

It's also important to note that the Pontifical document, Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life, also associates Feldenkrais with the New Age. In Section 2.2.3, we read: “Advertising connected with New Age covers a wide range of practices as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractics, kinesiology, homeopathy, iridology, massage and various kinds of ‘bodywork’ (such as orgonomy, Feldenkrais, reflexology, Rolfing, polarity massage, therapeutic touch, etc.), meditation and visualization, nutritional therapies, psychic healing, various kinds of herbal medicine, healing by crystals, metals, music or colors, reincarnation therapies and, finally, twelve-step programs and self-help groups. The source of healing is said to be within ourselves, something we reach when we are in touch with our inner energy or cosmic energy.”

FlexAware is not New Age, but be very careful about choosing the right teacher.

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