What Is the Feldenkrais Method?
The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education® (pronounced fel-den-krice) uses experiential learning through movement, sensation, and perception to awaken your self-awareness and open up choices about how you move, think, and feel. Instead of "fixing a problem", the Feldenkrais Method looks at how you are moving. By exploring a tiny piece of a movement, you can discover a curious and playful way of approaching the larger question of what is going on in your body.
There are two forms of the Feldenkrais Method: private hands-on sessions called Functional Integration®, and group classes called Awareness Through Movement®. Both use gentle movement to release holding patterns and introduce new, more useful ways of moving.
Everyone has habits that get in their way, in movement or any other part of life. We spend too long at a computer and then walk away not knowing that our shoulders are still up around our ears. We hold our breath at times when taking a deep breath could work wonders. Instead of getting frustrated by difficult situations, the Feldenkrais Method gives us the opportunity to take a step back, become curious, and ask, "What could I change?" You can read about the New York Times Personal Health editor's experience with Feldenkrais and chronic pain here: "Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain".
The Feldenkrais Method is helpful for:
- Body mechanics
- Chronic pain
- Posture and balance
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Headaches and migraines
- Post-surgical recovery
- Compensation from old injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Thrown-out backs, necks, and other cramps
How does the Feldenkrais Method work?
The Feldenkrais Method works through neuroplasticity, the concept that your brain is changeable and that you can actively create new neurological pathways though attention to movement. Your brain carries neurological pathways of your movement, and the strongest pathways are the movements you use the most, while the weakest are movements you rarely use. By intentionally changing the way you do a movement, you create or strengthen a pathway. If you want to learn more about neuroplasticity, books and TED talks by Norman Doidge, MD, Dr. Oliver Sacks, and Dr. V.S. Ramachandran are excellent resources.
History of the Feldenkrais Method
The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education was developed by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984). After seriously damaging one of his knees in is 20s and declining surgery, he gradually combined his extensive studies of Judo, physics, engineering, human development, and psychology to find a path out of pain for himself and others. He is considered one of the earliest pioneers of neuroplasticity. You can read the International Feldenkrais Federation's full biography here.
You can hear me talk about the Feldenkrais Method in the clip below:
Questions? Please contact me.