Which Movement Method is Best?
I’ve just finished up a great workshop weekend with the founder of a particular somatic method, who touted that it’s the best method for learning about the body. Conversely, i’ve heard many teachers of different disciplines claim to give the best results in strength or weight loss, or a whole host of other results. I similarly get asked by friends and clients, "what should I do," and then list two different disciplines and ask me to pick which one will be more beneficial for them to study. This may be comparing yoga and pilates, Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais, weight lifting and cross fit, and so forth. There are so many mediums and methods that it can be overwhelming as both a student and a teacher.
Although I teach yoga, music, and pilates, its impossible for me to say which one will "be the best" because I generally don’t know someone’s desired outcome. All methods have value in exploring movement in the body. Methods are just different lenses of exploring the body, from the perspective of one or more people. Your body doesn't know Feldenkrais from Hanna somatic from a Franklin Method twist from a supine twist in yoga, your body interprets movement. There are many movements that exist in multiple methods- they are not often proprietary. That's not to say that there isn't value in knowing a yoga sun salutation, classical pilates mat work, or other organized sequences, but your body wants the movement, regardless of the source.
Your body Thrives on a variety of input, especially if it’s less intuitive or natural to you. As a yoga and pilates teacher, I'd love for people to try those things, but if it's not for them, that's fine. Each method of exploring movement has value, but also has drawbacks and limitations, and at the heart of it all is finding a good teacher. There are amazing yoga teachers, and there are less amazing yoga teachers. There are deeply insightful physical therapists, and those who will give you a handout and send you to the PT assistant. As with any discipline, the teacher quality does not necessarily dictate the quality of the discipline, and so my suggestion is to find a good teacher of whatever modality you want. It may be a teacher who has practice in many disciplines or just one, but it's someone who sees and understands the body, who aspires to move better in their own body, and who is a perpetual student. This is doubly true when looking for continuing education as a teacher: is your teacher supporting critical thinking, promoting questions and reflection, and interested in a discussion? Or is this teacher convinced that one method is right, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong?
Regardless of the modality, a great teacher will help you the most to understand and inhabit your body more fully.