Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was a mathematician, cartographer, nuclear physicist, judo teacher – a polymath who spoke eight languages and lived an extraordinary life. Combining exquisite kinesthetic awareness with a rich knowledge of science, martial arts, and psychology, he self-rehabilitated a severe knee injury and in so doing developed a practice to help others improve, hence the “Feldenkrais Method.”
In my view, in the simplest terms, “Feldenkrais” helps people to:
- Increase their sensory and behavioral awareness;
- Reduce parasitic efforts (actions on any scale that waste energy, or are counterproductive);
- Improve the fundamentals of their movement behavior; and therefore
- Cease unknowingly limiting their potential.
The initial training to become a Feldenkrais Practitioner® takes 800 hours, and training programs vary considerably. It’s up to each working practitioner to define and embody the Feldenkrais Method according to their own path of self-realization, and according to the standards set forth by the overseeing Guild. Annual continuing education and practice hours are required to maintain guild certification.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE:
In general, Feldenkrais is a slow-moving, exploratory somatic practice of bringing attention to how you organize for and complete movements. Students typically lie or sit on padded mats on the floor or on a semi-firm table the height of a chair seat so that habitual muscular patterns used for standing and “being upright” can soften. This creates an environment for new awareness and encourages the discovery of more efficient and pleasurable patterns of coordination.
The movements explored in Feldenkrais practice are often drawn from early developmental activities like rolling, creeping, crawling, flexing, extending, reaching, etc. As we age and no longer play on the floor or enjoy a well-rounded organic movement repertory, these fundamental movement patterns deteriorate, becoming less accessible. Through slow exploration, we can restore youthful, graceful movement and improve all actions. The goal is freedom from unconscious and compulsive patterns of behavior, and an ever-broadening horizon for learning and growth.
Feldenkrais is taught via two modalities, which can co-occur in any lesson:
- Awareness Through Movement® (taught in groups or privately): You carry out the instructor’s precise verbal instructions at your own pace in order to solve a movement “puzzle,” learning to complete each movement with the least amount of effort and increased ease and sustainability.
- Functional Integration® (taught privately): A one-on-one lesson using gentle, specific touch to soften your habitual patterns and introduce novel organization. You lie or sit fully clothed on a low, soft table (or on a padded blanket on the floor), with supports like foam rollers and cushions to increase comfort so that tissues can soften, joints can articulate, the analytical mind can rest, your sensed experience of yourself can shift, and movements can come together in new ways.
Photo: Cristobal Vivar – Vivarphoto.com