What is the Feldenkrais Method?
The Feldenkrais Method is fundamentally about our ability to
learn. It offers a unique and comprehensive way to examine and
change habitual patterns. The ways in which we usually think,
sense, feel and move are often self-limiting or damaging. They
no longer meet our current needs. You may have noticed this
For example, do you:
- Injure yourself in the same areas over and over?
- Always get a stiff neck or shoulder on the same side?
- Have soreness from sitting or getting up from sitting?
- Have your tennis or golf ball go awry in the same
direction every time?
- Have a repetitive tension pattern?
Based on the work of Israeli physicist, engineer and martial
arts master Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), the Feldenkrais
Method is grounded in anatomy, physiology and physics. It is
also informed by the latest research into movement and human
Feldenkrais brings these disciplines together to help us
learn how to learn. Ordinarily, we learn just enough to get
by. In the Feldenkrais Method you learn from your own unique
ways of moving. As you become more aware of how you actually
do all that you do, how you sense, act, think and feel, you
gain a greater range of ease and skill. With Feldenkrais you
empower yourself by asking and learning how to answer a simple
question: Is there an better way to do this?
As you learn to expand and refine your range of movement, you
move through your daily life with greater efficiency, ease and
co-ordination and much less effort. You also remove major
sources of chronic tension and pain.
The Feldenkrais Method® is taught through two approaches...
1. Awareness Through Movement (ATM)
In Awareness Through Movement, the Feldenkrais teacher gives
instructions verbally, generally to a group of people lying or
sitting on the floor. Each lesson consists of precisely
structured movement sequences that enable students to create
new movement skills or improve existing ones. Students start
with comfortable, easy movements, often based on simple
activities like standing, sitting and reaching. From there you
go on to gradually explore increasingly complex movements and
skills. There are hundreds of Awareness Through Movement
lessons, of varying difficulty and complexity, for people at
all levels of movement ability.
Over time you will discover an increasing ease in forming
intentions and acting upon them - what once seemed impossible
often becomes routine. The process is gradual and supportive
to ensure successful learning. Eventually, the lessons can be
done alone, gradually building self-sufficiency and
independence. ATM lessons are fun to do, instill a feeling of
well-being and are always new.
In Awareness Through Movement you learn in several ways:
- You use slow gentle movements, avoiding pain and strain.
- You focus on the process of learning and doing, rather
than on reaching a goal.
- You direct awareness toward perceiving inter-connected
patterns in how you move.
- You find your own way, at your own pace, with each lesson.
2. Functional Integration (FI)
In Functional Integration the Feldenkrais teacher creates a
movement lesson custom-tailored to the unique needs of each
person. Each lesson relates to a desire, intention or need you
bring to that moment.
As in Awareness Through Movement, teachers give you verbal
cues and instructions. In a Functional Integration lesson the
teacher also guides you through movement sequences with
gentle, non-invasive touch. This communication enables you to
experience and learn new sensory configurations and motor
organization. You then learn to recreate these new sensory and
motor patterns for yourself, gaining more freedom of choice
Functional Integration is performed with the student fully
clothed, usually lying on a low Feldenkrais table or in
standing or sitting positions. The lesson is carried out
without the use of any invasive or forceful procedure.
Unlike, for example, massage or chiropractic, Functional
Integration is not a curative process. Touch is used to
communicate movement so that after the lesson you learn to do
a new movement or an old one with more ease and greater
awareness. Functional Integration lessons are an intimate, and
often delightful, process of self-discovery.
Application of the Feldenkrais Method
Anyone young or old, physically challenged or physically fit
can benefit from the Feldenkrais Method's gentle lessons.
Feldenkrais can help you recover your full range of movement
after an injury or trauma. It can help you with chronic or
acute pain of the back, neck, shoulder, hip, legs or knee. The
Method can also help people dealing with central nervous
system conditions like multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and
The benefits of the Feldenkrais Method are not limited to
repairing or mending our bodies. If you're already reasonably
healthy, you can learn how to move with even greater ease,
relax more deeply and increase your overall sense of vitality.
If you're a musician, actor, artist or athlete, the
Feldenkrais Method can help you extend and refine your
abilities and enhance creativity. It's helped many run, sing
or dance with more ease, grace and flexibility. Many Seniors
enjoy using Feldenkrais to keep or regain their ability to
move without strain or discomfort.
If you want to be more comfortable at work, whether that's
sitting at a computer or hammering at a construction site, the
Feldenkrais Method can help you.
If you've given up a favourite activity you used to enjoy
whether it's running or gardening, tennis or golf the
Feldenkrais Method can help you learn an easier, pain-free way
to do it.
Once you've learned to move with less effort, you'll notice
every aspect of daily life becoming easier, more centered and
more deeply balanced.
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, D.SC (1904-1984)...
the creative force and inspiration for the method, was born
in what is now Ukraine. At 13 he left and traveled alone to
Palestine. In his mid twenties he went to France where he
earned degrees in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from
the Ecole Polytechnic and later his Doctor of Science in
physics from the Sorbonne. In Paris he assisted Nobel Prize
winner Joliot-Curie in early nuclear research. Here he also
met Jigaro Kano the creator of modern judo and became one of
Europe's first black belts (1936). He continued to develop
expertise in judo , was co-founder of the Judo Society of
France and taught and wrote books on the subject.
He escaped from Paris to Great Britain in 1940 and worked for
the British Admiralty in anti-submarine warfare. During this
time he continued his studies in psychology, anatomy and the
burgeoning field of neurophysiology.
Dr Feldenkrais applied his knowledge and understanding from
these disciplines to himself to address his severe knee
injuries from athletic injuries and recovered his ability to
walk and function without pain.
In 1949 he returned to Israel where he continued his in depth
explorations in these areas and his work with himself and
others, eventually refining and integrated them. And so the
Feldenkrais Method® was born. He began teaching his system to
others in Israel in the late 1960s and then in San Francisco
in 1975. Today there are over 6000 Feldenkrais Practitioners
around the world.
His insights continue to contribute to the fields of
education, the arts, athletics, psychology and child
development as well as rehabilitation. Among his writings are:
Judo; Higher Judo; Body and Mature Behavior; Awareness Through
Movement; The Elusive Obvious; The Master Moves; Adventures in
the Jungle of the Brain (The Case of Nora); and The Potent