How to Weed Without Strain: Effortless Gardening with Feldenkrais Practitioner Cathy Butler (Video)

I don’t know about you, but when I garden for hours at a time (which for me is every day), even though I enjoy myself, I do feel sore and tired. Even a gentle and soothing task like weeding often leaves me stooped and tuckered at the end of the day.

So when I met with Cathy Butler, a local Feldenkrais Practitioner who also gives workshops on Effortless Gardening (video link), I was really hopeful that I’d get a few simple tips that I could put to use right away. I wasn’t disappointed!

After just a week of experimenting with the techniques that Cathy shares in this video, I can absolutely feel the difference. The thing that I like best about the Feldenkrais philosophy is that I’m not learning the “right way” and the “wrong way” so much as learning concepts that help me discover the right ways for my own body. Check it out:

It’s amazing to me that after thirteen years of gardening professionally, in the ten minutes it took for Cathy to show these techniques, I learned things about how to move comfortably that I hadn’t discovered in all that time.

Another tip I loved was straight from the Effortless Gardening handbook by Miriam Levenson, the creator of the Effortless Gardening program.

She says to find at least three ways to do each movement. So if you’re going to lift your arm, for example, you could do so with your palm up, palm down, or palm to the side. Miriam makes the point that each orientation of your hand uses different muscles and a different part of your brain, and that if you practice thinking about your movement options, you’ll be able to naturally choose the most comfortable movement for what you want to do.

I’ve found that really helpful, because when I’m hot and tired, it’s hard to be creative with my movements, but if I have already plotted out a few ideas for how to do things, it comes more naturally to incorporate varying movements into my gardening routine.

Cathy is giving a workshop on Effortless Gardening on June 13th and 14th, 2009 in the afternoons, so if you live in Humboldt County, contact Cathy now to sign up. She’s at, and you can sign up here for her June Humboldt County class. I’ll be there!

Cathy also helps people by doing individual Feldenkrais sessions, so if you want to focus on a particular activity, Cathy can guide you in finding ways to move that feel comfortable and natural to you.

If you want to learn more about Effortless Gardening, go to To buy the program, contact Cathy here.

For more information on Feldenkrais or to find a practitioner near you, go to

Now it’s your turn – do you have any tips or tools that help you move comfortably in the garden? Let us know in the comments below!

3 responses to “How to Weed Without Strain: Effortless Gardening with Feldenkrais Practitioner Cathy Butler (Video)”

  1. Very interesting. I started seeing a chiropractor for the first time a few months ago due to persistent shoulder pain that wouldn’t go away. Took me a long time to come to this decision, as I didn’t realize that one part of your body can hurt because of a problem in another part. All of me feels so much better now; it’s made me appreciate a more holistic approach to health. Sadly, these days it’s more time at the computer than it is in the garden!

  2. It’s so true, Susan. We don’t really think about how interconnected our body parts are until one starts to have pain. I wish I’d learned some of these Effortless Gardening techniques earlier in my career. I might be spending less cash every week at my local chiropractor’s office!

  3. Thanks Genevieve for spreading the word on Effortless Gardening and the Feldenkrais Method!
    Anyone could benefit from modifying HOW they do a task. While attending to breathing and sensations in the body one is more apt to be present, comfortable, and responsive to their environment.
    Even when we develop a physical problem (e.i. pain) severe enough to consult a Physical Therapist or a Chiropractor we would only spend 1-2 hours a week with them and still be looking after ourselves for the rest of the 24 hours a day. Ultimately what we do for ourselves has the most enduring value. Bringing awareness to HOW is a powerful practice.