The Feldenkrais Method® of Self-Improvement: An explanation

Moshe Feldenkrais suffered injuries to his knees and was given a 50/50 chance of being in a wheelchair if he had operations that attempted to fix his knees. As a highly trained nuclear physicist and black belt in Judo he decided to use his academic knowledge and practical experience to fix himself without the risk of the operation. In the process of ‘curing’ himself he developed the Feldenkrais® Method.

There are two parts to the Method’s practice. The first facilitates self-improvement in body functioning by Awareness Through Movement® lessons taught by a practitioner in group classes. The second is a more direct way of learning by one-one sessions with a practitioner called Functional Integration® using a table.

The Method works by making ourselves aware of our habits in movement. It directs our internal sensing mechanism (kinesthetic sense) towards an awareness of our patterns of movement in daily life, for example, how we walk, run, sit etc. This internal awareness of ourselves allows our flexible brain (motor-sensory cortex) to change our habits towards more beneficial and efficient ways of moving and functioning in general.

Features of the Method

Most of the group lessons are done lying on the floor. This is a way of putting our sensing nervous system into the best state for the most efficient and effective and enjoyable learning. It allows us to become more sharply aware of our bony structure (skeleton) through which we move and function in daily life. We learn how to gain improved control over the way we organise our muscles to move ourselves through our skeleton. By becoming aware of our body habits we can learn to discard bad habits, improve helpful ones, and acquire new more beneficial habits. In this learning process we discover an almost limitless potential in ourselves for self-improvement, not only in physical movement, but in emotional health, thinking ability, and other human abilities and activities.

Examples

As a brain-based approach the Method can be used in many different contexts and for many purposes, including therapeutic purposes. Sports participants, for example, can learn to minimise risk of injury or its recurrence, improve their skills, and even acquire new skills within their particular sport or discipline. Feldenkrais himself, and many present day practitioners, work with people having brain-injuries or brain-based disabilities such as cerebral palsy, stroke, and various forms of movement, speech and other dysfunctions. Some practitioners specialise in working with babies and young children, others with the aged. The method is excellent for people suffering from OOS (occupational overuse syndrome) or RIS (repetitive strain injuries) sometimes called gradual process injuries. But it is also very effective for keeping the effects of aging at bay to allow people to continue in their favourite pastimes, whether sporting or generally recreational  activities such as gardening, tramping etc.

–  Alan Cameron ©