About The Feldenkrais Method®
The Feldenkrais Method takes full advantage of the learning potential of our astonishing nervous system – we were working with our human capacity for neuroplasticity long before it arrived at its current level of scientific recognition and public awareness; indeed, Dr Moshe Feldenkrais is now an acknowledged pioneer in the field. Throughout his lifetime he not only help hundreds increase their mobility and decrease their pain, but with his hands-on work he enabled many children and adults suffering from various forms of brain injury to improve their ability to function in many areas of life.
The Feldenkrais Method teaches via playful motion, carefully designed to enhance our lifelong capacity for self-exploration and self-discovery – which are the most effective learning tools for life. Your sensory-motor nervous system is already “set up” to learn this way; from birth you were already an expert learner as you set about the task of discovering your abilities for the first time.
As adults we can become more locked into limiting movement habits of which we are only dimly aware. As we get better at recognising the way these chronic holding patterns are preventing us from moving with freedom and spontaneity, we can re-awaken our innate ability to learn continuously, lessening pain and muscular tension, and moving in a new more effortless way as we do so.
Re-organising the body-mind…
Unless we have been given a specific reason, we don’t tend to pay a lot of attention to how we organise ourselves to move. You have probably been instructed to lift heavy things with bent knees and a straight back, and most of us have discovered for ourselves how ineffective it is to be told to “sit up straight!” but that is probably the extent of the functional advice the majority of us non-athletes have been given with regard to improving our “posture” and preventing injury.
There are many alternative movement possibilities available that can help us to improve how we go about our everyday actions – by which I mean sitting, standing, walking, reaching, leaning, bending, rolling over in bed, the list is, of course, endless. Feldenkrais enables those who study it to increase their sensory-motor awareness, and better integrate the complex system of specialised tissues that make up our physique. In Feldenkrais we talk a lot about sensing the connectivity of the skeleton; it is an ideal metaphor for sensing yourself as a whole-structure-in-motion in Earth’s gravitational field. In actuality Moshe was always clear that we are a indivisible being – that every part of our physical structure is always in communication with every other part, and that there is no reality to the idea that there is any separation between that which we term our “body” and that we think of as our “mind” – there is no “machine”, and no “ghost”, only a creature with the most complex neurofascial design anywhere in the universe – as far as we know anyway!
We are formed of a vast, intelligent system of “connective” tissue – the fascial webbing that keeps every element of our “self” in communication with ever other element of our “self”. As our kinaesthetic and proprioceptive awareness grows, all the different elements of our self begin naturally to work together in a way that is both more efficient and much more enjoyable.
My own taching has widened to include a greater emphasis on improving our awareness of our interoceptive sensory feedback – the part of us that is managing our feelings and our emotions, via our organs, and which is just as amenable to new learning, and just as vital to our wellbeing.
Gentle and effective learning-by-doing
This learning process helps us to release ourselves from long-term, chronic muscle tensions that distort our posture and make it difficult to do the things we used to do with ease as children, and it also shows us how to maintain those improvements by incorporating what has been learnt into our daily lives.
For those who are injured the most wonderful aspect of the Feldenkrais Method is that although the potential for change is great, the movements employed for the purpose are slow and subtle, avoiding extremes, and are therefore suitable for anyone who is for any reason unable to handle more strenuous somatic methods. Awareness Through Movement group classes are so gentle that they are popular with those experiencing Chronic Fatigue.
How Can Feldenkrais Help Me?
As the functioning of our neuro-musculo-skeletal system improves, so does our posture, our way of moving, and our internal self-awareness, and this is so fundamental to our health that the potential benefits are manifold, including:
Relief from chronic muscle tension and spasms
Increased flexibility, agility and grace
Improved sexual functioning
Access to innate creativity
The Method is for you:
* If you suffer from restricted movement or pain
* If you suffer from respiratory problems, fatigue or anxiety
* If you want to increase your vitality and well-being
* If you want to become more graceful and agile
* If you are a performer wishing to refine your art and improve your skills
* If an injury has disturbed the way your body functions
* If you are involved in sports or movement teaching
* If you wish to enhance your personal process of self-discovery and self-awareness
* If you have suffered brain injury, or a disturbance of the nervous system
About Dr Moshe Feldenkrais
Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc., (1904-1984), a Russian-born Israeli, was a distinguished scientist and engineer. He was a close associate of Nobel Prize Laureate Frederic Joliet-Curie, and he worked at the Curie Institute in Paris in the 1930s. He was also a respected Judo instructor, was a founder of the Ju Jitsu Club in Paris, and was the author of two books on the subject. However, it was in the relationship between bodily movement and the ways we think, feel and learn that Dr. Feldenkrais achieved his greatest successes, and today there are nearly 3000 certified Feldenkrais Teachers around the globe, with new training programmes springing up every year as awareness of the work grows. Feldenkrais’ insights contributed to the development of the new field of somatic education and continue to influence disciplines such as physical medicine, gerontology, the arts, education and psychology
It was an old soccer injury in his youth that damaged his knee and led to the threat of severe disability in middle age. Given little hope of ever walking normally, Moshe refused surgery because he found the 50/50 chance of improvement an unacceptable gamble. Instead, he applied his extensive knowledge of anatomy, physiology, psychology and engineering, as well as his mastery of martial arts, to healing his own knee. It was during this healing process that he realised the vital importance of working with the whole body in order to achieve persistent change. Realising how significant his discoveries were, he began to teach this work to his colleagues at the British Admiralty during the war, and then went on to fully develop his method on his return to Israel.
“The human posture is not simple nor is it easy to achieve. It necessitates a long and demanding apprenticeship. The learning that each human being has to go through to achieve the best quality of functioning his structure permits is as remarkable as anything in nature.”
The Elusive Obvious, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1981)
Quotes about Feldenkrais and his method from some of the people he worked with in his life:
“Feldenkrais has studied the body in movement with a precision that I have found nowhere else. He perfected hundreds of exercises of exceptional value.”
Peter Brooks, Film and Stage Director, Author
“the exercises are so ingenious and so simple.”
“Feldenkrais is the most sophisticated and effective method I have seen for the prevention and reversal of deterioration of function. We’re condemning millions of people to a deteriorated old age that’s not necessary”.
Margaret Mead, Ph.D. in Human Health, Anthropologist
“Feldenkrais has found a way to free people to be more flexible and flowing physically. The exercises are ingenious and startling in their effectiveness. It is certainly one of the most exciting and penetrating of the body-mind methods.”
William Schutz. Ph.D in Psychology, Author, Encounter Group Pioneer
Awareness Through Movement–An Overview:
Would you like to get more done with less effort?
Would you like to achieve athletic grace without dull, repetitive exercise?
Would you like to improve your core functioning in a way that benefits your mobility, your strength, your balance, your breathing, your emotional ease, and your posture, in a way that is easy to maintain with gentle, playful, joyful regular practice?
Feldenkrais has something special to offer––something more global, more whole-self, more “organic” than simply offering you looser shoulders, better posture, more mobile hips, a freer neck––although these are all potential benefits, they are just side effects. Many people are familiar with the idea of moving more “ergonomically” but I am pretty confident that most of those people would not associate that word with having any fun. Fun is fundamental to Feldenkrais, because we humans learn best when we are having fun at the same time––you only have to spend time in a room full of happy toddlers to see this in action.
The Potent Self is my favourite of Feldenkrais’ books about his Method. His writings tend to offer a dense mix of human development and neuroscience––his sense of fun is more recognisable when he is interacting with a room full of people rolling about on the floor. The Potent Self––subtitled A Study Of Spontaneity And Compulsion––is the book that helped me understand why my Feldenkrais training was improving not just my physical health, but also my emotional health, and my ability to feel at ease in social situations. Moshe’s understanding of the relationship between health and our inner sense of “safety” prefigures the work of Dr. Stephen Porges, and as my hyper-vigilance began to recede my enjoyment of life increased exponentially, and that process continues to this day.
By making the connection between personal potency and the vast field of human potential that continuing self development is central to, I am hoping to get some of you Feldenkrais virgins curious enough to come along and try it out. An immersive afternoon is an excellent way to discover what this work has to offer, and those in the know––my regulars––come along whenever they can, whatever the theme of the day, because they know they will leave feeling taller, livelier, lighter on their feet, more coordinated, breathing more fully, and even––surprisingly––stronger. They also know that these changes will last for a while, and some of them even do their “homework” and maintain these improvements for longer still.
For many of us the joy of watching a skilled athlete, dancer, or martial artist is seeing human movement at its most vibrant and graceful. Athletic movement is beautiful precisely because of its economy, efficiency, natural elegance and its distinct humanity. We look at the fluid grace of these masters of movement and imagine that this level of ease is beyond us, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, athletic power takes work, but when we do not waste our energy in inefficient self-use and poorly coordinated action then grace, fluidity and intrinsic strength emerge spontaneously. Of course it takes attention and practice to change the way we do what we do, what it doesn’t take is more hard work; in fact just the opposite, as soon as you start to bring Awareness Through Movement into your life you will begin achieving more with less effort on a daily basis.