The Feldenkrais Method

For everyone who wants to function and feel better.

Listen to Dr. Paul Christo, leading pain expert from The Johns Hopkins Hospital, interview Paris Kern about the Feldenkrais Method on National Public Radio.

The Feldenkrais Method is a powerful resource for everyone who wants to feel and function better.

A brilliantly practical synthesis of biology, physics, neuro-science and motor development, the Feldenkrais Method, founded by Moshe Feldenkrais engages the brain’s natural plasticity, in order to improve life. It is safe, enjoyable, broadly effective and helpful for people of all ages and abilities.

The Feldenkrais Method is available in two complimentary forms: hands-on Functional Integration® individual sessions and Awareness Through Movement® group classes. Both forms give the brain an immediate opportunity to benefit the body’s comfort and function. Feldenkrais movements and touch can improve our comfort, posture, flexibility, mobility, co-ordination and underlying muscular-skeletal organization. It can help us heal and regain function after injury, and improve our sense of wellbeing. It also improves the clarity of thinking and enhances creativity. In the course of the training program, it becomes clear to everyone how well organized and efficient movement is connected with thought and creativity. The Feldenkrais Method allows our nervous system to interrupt old habits of posture and movement and gives us access to new options and sense of wellbeing.

 

TWO MODALITIES

Functional Integration

Functional Integration is a hands-on approach used when people need personal attention. The reasons for this approach are many–a person might have too much pain in moving on their own, they might have referred nerve pain or partial paralysis due to Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis or Cerebral Palsy, for example. Some performers, especially when they have performance related injuries, benefit from movement tailored to their particular art or instrument–musicians, painters, dancers and athletes, for instance.

The practitioner guides the student with his/her hands, skillfully finding the areas which are the most neglected in the student’s movement patterns. These areas are often missing from the student’s internal image of herself and the movements she makes. Through touch, these areas can “wake up” and become available to the student. For example: a muscle is tense in the shoulder area and causes pain. One could just tell the student to release it… but the student has no idea that she is contracting the muscle in the first place. Therefore she doesn’t know how to release it. The practitioner is carefully trained to be sensitive to the smallest gradations in muscle tone and to detect what movement is needed for the brain to take note and control the action of this muscle.

“The lessons are designed to improve ability, to expand the boundaries of the possible, to turn the impossible into the possible, the difficult into the easy and the easy into the pleasant.”

–Moshe Feldenkrais

Awareness Through Movement

Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons are done on the floor, in sitting or standing. The movements are gentle, allowing the students to feel how much unnecessary effort they use, where in their body they apply this effort, and what other options they might have to make movement easier. The movements are based on the feedback loop mechanism of the brain – having an intention, carrying it out, sensing the quality of the action, evaluating the results and changing the action accordingly.

The lesson might start with a movement most students would find awkward to do and end with a quick, graceful execution of the same movement! No muscles have been strengthened, no imitation has been encouraged. The Trainer does not demonstrate the movements but rather dictates a few well-researched hints to help the person figure it out themselves. Just like a child would learn, given the right conditions.

“Hours of repetitive practice is hard work, whereas hours of practicing awareness in movement or action are the most absorbing and interesting times in our lives.”

–Moshe Feldenkrais

BENEFITS OF THE FELDENKRAIS METHOD

The Feldenkrais Method is a general approach to human improvement. Safe, non-strenuous and effective, the Feldenkrais Method improves the body’s comfort and function by engaging the power of the brain. The Feldenkrais Method has a profound and general effect, and can make everything we do, easier and more comfortable. The Feldenkrais Method is broadly beneficial and appropriate for people of all ages and abilities.

The Feldenkrais Method provides…

  • Relief from muscular-skeletal and joint pain, including; discomfort in your back, neck, head, shoulders, hips, knees, feet, hands, pelvis, and jaw.
  • Improved flexibility and quality of movement.
  • Improved standing and sitting posture.
  • Quick recovery from injury and surgery.
  • Improved health of your joints and mobility.
  • Better stability and balance.
  • Reduced muscular tension, stress and anxiety.
  • Gain renewed vitality, health and emotional well-being.
  • Greater ease and pleasure and all your physical activities.
  • Improved comfort and performance in all performing arts and athletic activities.
  • Reduced muscular effort and improved muscular efficiency.
  • Restore lost function with neurological issues such as multiple sclerosis and stroke.
  • Improved ease of movement and co-ordination.
  • Improved mood and energy levels.
  • Reduced inflammation and improved circulation.
  • Improved breathing.
  • Improved self-image and sense of well-being.
  • Healthy aging and brain fitness.
  • Improved ability to relax and sleep.
  • Encourage development of new neural pathways.

The Feldenkrais Method is the most extraordinary way of enhancing human abilities I have encountered…Skilled practitioners of the Feldenkrais Method are able to effect remarkable improvement in a wide range of neuromuscular conditions from cerebral palsy, brain injury, and stroke to back, neck and shoulder pain.

–Walter Witryol, M.D., Faculty
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Related Links

Listen to a sample lesson and watch videos about the Feldenkrais Method on our Resources page.

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