The Feldenkrais Method

The Feldenkrais Method can be experienced in two ways: in group classes known as Awareness Through Movement Classes or in an individual session called Functional Integration.

feldymaria

A typical Awareness Through Movement class will last for about an hour and the Feldenkrais Practitioner will lead participants through a sequence of slow and gentle movements.  Most classes take place on a mat on the floor but occasionally may be sitting on the floor or a chair.  The movements are designed to encourage students to explore their own movement in details to increase awareness and explore new possibilities. There are no specific goals to aim for and every student is encouraged to go at their own pace a to keep within their comfortable range of movement for an enjoyable experience.

lifting-head

Functional Integration sessions use similar movement sequences but the Practitioner will make the movements for the student – usually lying or sitting, fully clothed, on a low padded table.  The student is encouraged to notice the sensations of movement they feel and this is related to real life functions such as sitting, standing and walking with improved ease.

Who can benefit?

Everyone can benefit from Feldenkrais lessons through increased awareness of ourselves and the way we move, the habits we have acquired and the potential for improvement.

The method can be particularly helpful for people with:

  • general stiffness
  • aching hips, knees, feet and backs
  • stiff shoulders/’text neck’
  • sciatica
  • tension headaches
  • arthritis

and for those:

  • recovering from injuries
  • noticing postural effects from aging
  • recovering from joint surgery such as hip replacement
  • following pregnancy and childbirth

and for those engaged in the performing arts – many musicians, dancers, actors and singers have benefited in their professional and personal lives from The Feldenkrais Method.

Moshe Feldenkrais m11904-1984       

Moshe Feldenkrais developed his unique system of somatic education over many years following his own traumatic knee injury.  He worked in France, UK, Israel and USA creating and teaching his approach.  An exceptionally gifted individual, Moshe drew on his background in martial arts (a judo black belt), engineering and physics to ‘deconstruct’ the way we humans use our mind and body in movement and then to ‘construct’ countless lessons made up of sequences of movement to enable everyone to re-discover easy, efficient and enjoyable movement.  The movements he taught are designed to improve everyday functioning – in sitting, standing, lying and walking.

Moshe’s great insight was to see mind and body as inseparable – he recognised that movement begins in the brain and that the brain can be changed through feedback from movement.  The key to this change he saw as awareness:  he saw that tiny babies teach themselves to lift their heads, sit, crawl, stand and walk through trial and error and that as adults we can continue to learn by paying attention to the movements we make and exercising choice.  “If you know what you are doing, you can do what you want”.

 During the 1970’s and 80’s in the USA and Israel, Moshe ran training courses to become practitioners of his method and these first students have passed on their knowledge through professional training programmes across the globe.  In the UK, the number of practitioners is increasing rapidly and more is being understood through the developments in neuroscience which support many of Moshe’s understandings about the capacity of the brain to change and for us to effect change through movement. The literature is growing, for example, see:

 Norman Doidge: The Brain’s Way of Healing. Allen Lane, 2015.  Chap 5: Moshe Feldenkrais: Physicist, Black Belt and Healer.


David Zemach Bersin_Forward_to_Embodied_Wisdom

click for a link

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Embodied Wisdom
, Richard Schecter’s Story

I remember Moshe—and perhaps this memory is faulty—it is (I believe) from 1965, during my first trip to Israel. I remember Moshe as a “roly-poly” man, physically speaking: round and not tall, smiling and fast-talking, with an ebullience, confidence, and infectious optimism—about himself, about life. 

He seemed to know everyone in Israel. I met Feldenkrais because I had long suffered from a “bad back,” pains in my lower back that sometimes made it hard for me to walk. While in Israel, I had an attack. I was pretty much immobilized. Someone suggested I see Moshe Feldenkrais. “He can help you,” I was told. “He knows everything about what is troubling you.”

 

So I was taken to see him. We talked. He watched me walk. Then he suggested that I go down on my hands and feet, not my hands and knees, but my hands and feet, with my butt way up in the air. He told me to walk around on the floor that way, the way animals walk. “This will help you,” he said.

 

…I walked around the room for a few minutes as Moshe instructed. And—miraculously, it seemed to me—my pain was lessened, almost gone entirely. “You do this every morning when you get up,” he said. And I did, and I have never had such a pain in my back again in my whole life. From time to time, I walk on my hands and feet the way animals do… My back does not trouble me at all.

 

After meeting Moshe and him “fixing” my back, we began talking. …I remember Moshe telling me, or asking me, if I wanted to go to Jerusalem with him… And of course I said yes, I would love to go with him, or him with me: both of us together. I believe I had to go to Jerusalem for the meetings that brought me to Israel in the first place. I think it was a meeting of the International Theatre Institute (ITI).

 

When I asked Moshe how we would get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he replied, “Let’s walk.” But, I said to him, “It’s a long way.” “Don’t worry,” he told me with happy confidence, giving me a big smile. So we went into the street and started to walk.

 

I will never forget what happened next. Every few minutes a car would pull over to the side of the road and someone would speak to Moshe. They knew him. I believe they were asking him if he wanted a lift somewhere. It seemed he was famous all over Israel, or at least in Tel Aviv, and he was also well known for his long walks. We walked and talked for a long time, maybe thirty or forty-five minutes or maybe even longer. Every so often a car would simply pull over and ask Moshe if he wanted a ride. Finally, he accepted a ride and we both got into the car and we were driven to Jerusalem. I was very impressed by how many people knew Moshe. And also by the sense of community, even family, I felt in Israel at that time.

 

I will say in some kind of conclusion that, somehow, at a very deep level, he and I hit it off. I was a young man of thirty-one years; I do not know how old he was at the time. But he seemed old and wise to me. And he helped me. And I felt a really strong connection with him. I still feel that forty-five years later … he was sixty-one years old when we met … about twice my age.