The Feldenkrais Method® was one of the early forms of somatic education and has influenced the development of other somatic practices. Feldenkrais is an educational system that helps you become aware of how you use your body and then helps you change patterns that cause you pain or negatively affect your physical abilities.
Throughout your life, you develop physical and psychological behavior patterns to deal with all types of situations. These patterns can become deeply ingrained in your nervous system and remain even when you no longer need them. These outdated or dysfunctional patterns then cause pain or other problems.
In Mindful Spontaneity, Ruthy Alon writes that the Method teaches you how not to give up freedom. Motion can challenge non-supportive habits that live in your subconscious and awaken innate wisdom that enables the nervous system to correct its own actions, reeducating your neuromotor functioning to restore grace, efficiency, and ease. Updating habits is inherently rejuvenating. When you are aware of expanded options, a psychological barrier loses its hold on you and you are able to choose your desired way of life.
Feldenkrais lessons work with the nervous system's innate processes to free you from unwanted habitual patterns, often helping to relieve muscle tension and pain. Then new thinking, feeling, and moving patterns can emerge, along with improved posture, coordination, flexibility, and self-image.
Creating new patterns can benefit anyone who wants to move, sit, and lie more comfortably. It's especially useful for people with restricted movement, chronic pain, and psychological and neurological problems. Performing artists and athletes also use this somatic practice to improve performance.
The Feldenkrais Method has two parts: Awareness Through Movement® and Functional Integration®.
ATM lessons are group classes where the Feldenkrais teacher verbally gives instructions to lead you through a series of movements. You may do movements while lying or sitting on the floor, sitting in a chair, or standing.
ATM taps into your brain's sensory motor processes. You discover how you do the movements and notice the quality of changes in your body. You learn to relax and to abandon habitual patterns. ATM reeducates your body and makes you aware of new movement potential. Hundreds of available lessons can address every joint, muscle group, and function of your body.
In a Functional Integration session, the Feldenkrais practitioner works with you one-on-one and guides you, using slow, gentle touch, through precise movements designed to change your habitual patterns and provide new learning directly to your neuromuscular system. You remain comfortably clothed, and this work may be done with you lying or sitting on a low padded table, or you may sit in a chair or be standing or walking.
Physicist and engineer Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc., (1904-1984) also taught judo. He developed the Method to heal his own knee problems, and then taught hundreds of students around the world. He was an early pioneer in the somatic education field, and his work continues to influence fields such as the arts, physical medicine, education, and psychology.
In his book Awareness Through Movement, Feldenkrais wrote that each person speaks, moves, thinks, and feels in a different way, according to a self-image developed over the years. This self-image includes four components that are involved in every action: movement, sensation, feeling, and thought. "To change our mode of action we must change the image of ourselves that we carry within us."
More books by Moshe Feldenkrais:
Body and Mature Behavior: A Study of Anxiety, Sex, Gravitation and Learning explores topics such as neurology, child development, gravity, reflexive versus learned behavior, the effects of emotion on posture, and the inseparability of body and mind.
Body Awareness as Healing Therapy: The Case of Nora is a case study of his work helping a woman who had a stroke relearn basic motor skills.
Embodied Wisdom is a collection of articles by and interviews with Feldenkrais that explains the basic principles underlying his techniques.
The Elusive Obvious presents a thorough and accessible explanation of the Feldenkrais Method.