For information about how to set up this extraordinarily adaptable support-system see Resources: Constructing your own versatile Air-Table. In Functional Integration an Air-Table can serve as a valuable alternative to the regular Feldenkrais table, providing clients with highly sensitive and secure support, constant global feedback, and such interesting experiences as feeling the supporting surface respond when their shoulder, head, or hip go backwards.
The practitioner will find it very easy to get one or both hands behind – even the heaviest - pelvis,back, or shoulder girdle without disturbance to the person. All you have to do is gently lean into the yielding surface and slide your hand wherever you want it to be.
While working ‘with themselves’ (for instance trying to clarify internal connections – proprioceptively, kinesthetically, and mentally – when preparing an ATM), practitioners may find the air-table invaluable. Its responsive surface has the capacity of enhancing clarity of perception much beyond what is normally possible.
Two things should be pointed out:
a) The air-table consists of segments - supporting head and shoulders, back, pelvis, and legs separately and yet in a unified way – and therefore allows extremely subtle and precise Functional Integration work. This easily constructed device is not to be compared to a waterbed or an air-mattress.
b) The whole secret of effective use of an air-table lies in the following:
1. The correct amount of air or pressure – not too firm (full), not too floppy (insufficiently inflated), but just right to match the human nervous system’s acute sense for appropriate overall muscle tonus in rest and activity.
2. Complete confidence on the part of the practitioner. This can only be acquired through practice and experience – especially with regard to skilfully using one’s own body in the gravitational field. This also means organising oneself always in relation to the floor as main reference, using it as a secure foundation and one’s own skeleton for occasional extra support (for instance placing an elbow on a knee) while working with somebody lying on the somewhat mobile air-table.
With sufficient practice in gently mobilising this mobile structure with one’s own body in order to assist whatever one’s hands are doing becomes second nature.
The practitioner acquires new skills and agility in using her/his own body in relation to the person lying on a highly responsive, mobile surface, while learning to rely totally on the floor as the ultimate provider of stability.
With the entire body gently, yet firmly and securely, supported, the learner’s nervous system almost instantly becomes calm and attentive to the smallest movements - subtly transmitted from foot to head and vice versa, no matter where they are initiated. Speed and quality of learning can be phenomenal when the learner’s system is no longer shocked or inhibited by the sense of harsh resistance created by an unyielding surface. With the entire body at least subliminally participating all the time, integration of surprisingly quickly emergent, more highly functional, movement-patterns happens spontaneously. Once the person is back on her/his feet this can then be confirmed in simple everyday movements according to needs.
An air-table as alternative to the regular Feldenkrais table