What is Feldenkrais?
Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was an Israeli physicist who developed the method. He suffered a debilitating knee injury at a young age and at a time when knee surgeries were very risky, so he chose not to have one. He studied himself intently and began to deduce how the brain and nervous system were central to all movement patterns. As a result of his innovative approach, he learned how to move well in spite of his injury, and even went on to obtain a black belt in judo. He continued to develop his method over many years.
There are two approaches in the Feldenkrais Method. The first is a class format called Awareness Through Movement and the other is a one-on-one format called Functional Integration.
In either case, the lessons are designed to improve movement by changing neuromuscular habit patterns. Through the lessons, students begin to recognize existing patterns, and discover unnecessary muscular contractions that inhibit movement. Learning new patterns, without the unnecessary contractions, leads to easier, freer movement. The ideas behind the method have been corroborated with the latest research in neuroscience.
The lessons are appropriate for people of all ages and ability, from athletes to people suffering from chronic disabilities. You could think of these lessons as “mindful movement puzzles.” The gentle, fluid movements are done in a variety of non-habitual and novel ways that engage the brain and nervous system to "relearn" movement habits.
The lessons are process-oriented and exploratory, i.e. everyone learns according to his or her own abilities without a fixed outcome.
Awareness Through Movement lessons are given through verbal instructions and consist of:
- Novel movement patterns and positions
- Easy, slow, fluid movements. (No stretching or holding static positions)
- Utilizing the imagination to enhance change processes and improve self-image
- Increasing the ability to differentiate existing patterns from new, more efficient patterns
With Functional Integration, the practitioner guides you through a set of movements. The practitioner can "communicate" via the movement itself. In either approach the changes can occur relatively quickly when the differences are felt in the more difficult habit, vs. easier options.
If you want to improve movement and increase vitality I highly recommend this approach.