The Feldenkrais Method is a system of learning how to learn to improve yourself, through sensory-oriented movement experiences.
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, the founder of the Feldenkrais Method®, was a Renaissance man with a passion for learning, a scientist, a martial artist, an avid soccer player and man of varied areas of expertise.
He chose movement as the pathway for self-improvement because he viewed movement as the most effective way to “restore each person to their human dignity.”
Not commonly known in the United States, the Feldenkrais Method is popular in other countries like Israel, the Netherlands, and Germany.
One way to understand the Feldenkrais Method is to contemplate these questions:
Do I enjoy learning?
Can I let curiousity guide me?
What do I like to do? What do I enjoy?
Am I able to do what I like and enjoy with ease?
Do I believe that I can live differently?
How can I help myself to live a more fulfilling life?
Learning is a gift of life, and a special kind of learning is that of knowing yourself from within. Not just knowing what makes you unique and how you move through daily action, but undeniably believing in your dignity and self-worth.
When you let what the Feldenkrais Method can offer into your life, learning and self-improvement using sensory awareness become part of the fabric of your existence.
On a physical level, the aim is to be organized to move with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, not through muscular strength but through increased consciousness of how movement works. Since moving, sensing, thinking, and feeling are four inseparable aspects of human experience, some combination of all four pervades each action in our life. Improving one aspect (moving, thinking, feeling, or sensing) leads to changes in the other three, so you as a whole person are changed.
“Movement is life and without movement life is unthinkable.
Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself. ….
It is not about flexible bodies, but flexible minds.
Until you know what you are doing, you cannot do what you want.
When you know what you are doing, you can do what you want.”
(Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais)
We each speak, move, think, and feel in different ways, in accordance with the internal image we have constructed over the years of our lives. In order to change, we must change the image of ourselves that we carry within. Imagine the change in viewpoint if you stand on your head, as did Ben-Gurion, the first President of Israel after working with Dr. Feldenkrais. (A well known story in the Feldenkrais world and also now a sculpture on the very beach where the event transpired.)
In Feldenkrais® work you simultaneously become student and teacher as you pay attention to and monitor how you move. Awareness of how you move illuminates your habits, where harmonious movement conversation takes place and where harmony breaks confusion and disharmony. Confusion points out where you less know yourself. Disharmony signals where you are disorganized within. On a physical plane confusion and disharmony can contribute to excess wear and stress in joints. Disharmony might also relate to feelings of limited self-confidence and self-efficacy, and reduced enjoyment in life.
Awareness building using the Feldenkrais Method emphasizes sensing for differences. Why sense for differences? Differences show you that learning (and change) is taking place. Curiousity and careful attention help you to examine if and how your default ways of being might be self-limiting.
“The core question throughout life is, How can you live differently?” said Mia Segal in an Advanced Training Katherine attended. Mia was Dr. Feldenkrais’ first assistant, collaborator and associate for 16 years, and is a master trainer with more than 50 years of experience (photo, 1970s in San Francisco, Mia and Moshe Feldenkrais),
The self-caring way of the Feldenkrais Method leads to the possibility of more optimal functional movement. Shifts in movement patterns often are accompanied by shifts in patterns in thinking, sensing, feeling, and social interaction. Be not surprised if changes appear in aspects of your life other than physical movement, if you begin working with the Feldenkrais Method.
Professor Dorit Aharonov, a Professor of Computer Science, reminds us that we have incredible potential, and asks us to consider how we might most effectively enact this potential and evolve as we move through life. She talks about 4 body-mind principles in the Feldenkrais Method that can be useful in living and in doing what she does, scientific and mathematical research. (17:58 minute TEDxJaffa video)
Introduces the viewer to Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais and the origins of this system of somatic education and learning how to learn, and personal wellness development. (30:08 minute video)
Permit me to share a few personal experiences about using the Feldenkrais Method. I enjoy dancing Argentinean tango. Sometimes I sense that I’m dancing with ease and lightness (desired qualities); other times I’m off-balance and heavy (interferences). I know that dancing with grace and ease all the time is a possibility. I crave these sensations because the connectedness with my partner is ecstatic. From the start of learning Argentinean tango I knew that if I clearly knew what I was doing, I could transform awkwardness and imbalance into grace and connection. When just starting to learn to dance tango, in a tango workshop I discovered the Feldenkrais Method. Ever since, it has been a key for dissolving restriction, not just in dancing but in other aspects of life.
Another example is related to pain; pain often brings people to find the Feldenkrais Method. I often experience tension headaches. Using simple movements from Awareness Through Movement® lessons I am able to rid myself of these headaches. I haven’t taken a tylenol or ibuprofen in years now.
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais explains Awareness Through Movement® and Functional Integration®, the two learning options of the Feldenkrais Method. [3:51 minute video, audio credit: San Francisco evening classes for the general public Summer 1975, Volume 1, lesson 1.]
What is the Feldenkrais Method? (9:50 minute video describing the method and benefits experienced by individuals attending Feldenkrais classes)
Feldenkrais Moments (1:43 minute video of a contemporary images project from the International Feldenkrais Federation)
Feldenkrais Class 1 by Baby Liv: Rolling (3:30 minute video showing some foundations and key principles of Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement)
Feldenkrais Class 2 by Baby Liv: Crawling (2:40 minute video sequel to class 1)
The Brain’s Way of Healing. Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontriers of Neuroplasticity. Chapters 5 and 6. (by Dr. Norman Doidge, 2015)
Body and Mature Behavior: A Study of Anxiety, Sex, Gravitation and Learning (by Moshe Feldenkrais, 1949)
Awareness Through Movement (by Moshe Feldenkrais, 1972)
The Case of Nora: Body Awareness as Healing Therapy (by Moshe Feldenkrais, 1977)
The Elusive Obvious (by Moshe Feldenkrais, 1981)
The Master Moves (by Moshe Feldenkrais, 1984)
The Potent Self (by Moshe Feldenkrais, 1985)
Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers of Moshé Feldenkrais (2010)
Explainer: The Feldenkrais Method by Susan Hillier, Associate Professor, Neuroscience and Rehabilitation at University of South Australia. December 29, 2014.
Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc. by Carl Ginsburg, Ph.D.
Listen to Your Body in a New Way with Feldenkrais by Nicole Tsong in the Seattle Times. Pacific NW Magazine.
The Feldenkrais Method® of Somatic Educationby Dr. Patricia Buchanan in A Compendium of Essays on Alternative Therapy, Dr. Arup Bhattacharyan (Editor). [for PDF download ]
International Feldenkrais Federation dedicated to organizing, preserving and making accessible the rich legacy of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais.
The Feldenkrais Guild of North America website for the general public, with information, resources, and search practitioner function
Awareness Through Movement class description on the Feldenkrais Guild website.
Functional Integration session description on the Feldenkrais Guild website.