The Feldenkrais Method® is a remarkable approach to human movement, learning and change originally developed by Moshe Feldenkrais. The method is based on sound principles of physics, neurology and physiology, and the conditions under which the nervous system learns best. The Feldenkrais Method is recognised for the strategies it employs to improve posture, flexibility, coordination, balance, athletic and artistic ability and to help those with restricted movement, chronic pain and tension (including back pain and other common ailments), as well as neurological, developmental and psychological problems ( including stress).
The Feldenkrais Method of somatic learning uses gentle movement and directed attention to help people learn new and more effective ways of living the life they want. You can increase your ease and range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. Since how you move, is how you move through life, these improvements will often enhance your thinking, emotional regulation, and problem-solving capabilities.
The Feldenkrais Method is based on principles of physics, biomechanics, and an empirical understanding of learning and human development. Moshe Feldenkrais said, “We move according to our perceived self-image.” By expanding your perception and increasing awareness, you will become more aware of your habits and tensions and develop new ways of moving. By increasing sensitivity, the Feldenkrais Method assists you to live your life more fully, efficiently, and comfortably.
Feldenkrais is taught in two complimentary formats:
- Awareness Through Movement.
- Functional Integration.
Awareness Through Movement (ATM)
Feldenkrais group classes are known as Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons.Similar to Tai Chi or gentle yoga, Awareness Through Movement classes use slow, mindful movements to achieve powerful effects in terms of strength, flexibility, and holistic integration of body and mind. Unique to the Feldenkrais Method of somatic learning is that these lessons tie directly into functional movements of daily life, such as walking efficiently, safely lifting objects, and improving one’s posture in sitting or standing.
You can expect a class to last somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes. You might walk, stand, or sit in a chair, although usually, you will lie on the floor in a variety of comfortable positions: either on your back, front, or side. The teacher guides students through a sequence of movements, encouraging them to move with gentle attention within a comfortable range. You may become aware of unexpected and interesting connections within and between the movements. As you attend to the improving quality of movement, unnecessary muscular tensions throughout the body can reorganize and release. Students are often amazed at the quick and clear changes that occur through the neuromuscular repatterning that happens in an Awareness Through Movement lesson!
Functional Integration (FI)
Feldenkrais private sessions are known as Functional Integration (FI) lessons. In Functional Integration, the teacher guides an individual student in movement lessons using gentle, non-invasive touch as the primary means of communication.
In a Functional Integration lesson, the Feldenkrais teacher’s touch reflects to the student how they currently organize their body and actions. They suggest, through gentle touch and movement, expanded possibilities for new movement patterns which are more comfortable, efficient, and useful. Functional Integration lessons are flexible in their approach, determined by the student’s needs. The student may lie comfortably on a table designed specifically for the work, or do some of the lesson sitting or standing. As needed, the teacher may also use various props to support the student’s comfort, to make certain movements easier, or to clarify a movement.
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984)
A short biography
The Feldenkrais Method was developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc.,(1904-1984), who synthesized insights from physics, motor development, biomechanics, psychology, and martial arts to develop a powerful, effective, and practical application, that reconnects learning with human health and function.
Dr. Feldenkrais was a distinguished scientist, physicist and engineer. He earned his Doctorate of Science in physics from the Sorbonne and was a close associate of Nobel Prize Laureate Frederic Joliot-Curie at the Curie Institute in Paris, where they conducted research together. He was also a respected Judo instructor and author of many books on the subject. Living in England in the 1940‚ Feldenkrais found himself unable to walk after suffering a serious injury. He began an intense exploration into the relationship between bodily movement, and healing, feeling, thinking, and learning. As a result, he restored his ability to walk and made revolutionary discoveries, culminating in the development of the method that now bears his name.
His insights contributed to the development of the new field of somatic education and continue to influence disciplines such as the arts, education, psychology, child development, physical and occupational therapy, sports enhancement, and gerontology.