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The Feldenkrais Method®

The Feldenkrais Method® is a unique and practical approach to the ongoing development of human awareness, movement and learning. It mindfully engages each person in a thinking, feeling, sensing and moving process, enabling them to better enact their intentions.

Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), the founder of the method, had a broad appreciation of the fields of physics, mechanics, anatomy, physiology, motor development and martial arts. He also had a personal need, as he sustained a knee injury for which he could find no treatment.

Out these diverse studies came his method which uses movement as the means for exploration of the patterns of behaviour, which are the way we live our lives.

Recent research in neuroscience, behavioural science, systems theory and learning has made it clear that many of the strategies employed in Feldenkrais lessons have a sound foundation.

Ideas that underpin Feldenkrais

Neuroplasticity is a concept that is mentioned frequently nowadays. It was of interest to William James (1890) and has become mainstream with modern writers Norman Doidge (2007) and John Ratey (2001). We have evidence of the way that every time we think and imagine, every time we sense and perceive, every time we move and act in the world, neuronal loops are activated in the brain. In this way we are constantly creating new neuronal connections or strengthening familiar pathways. Movement, memory and learning are closely interrelated.

Pain is a strong and useful call for attention! If a bone is broken, there will be pain which will send you to hospital and limit movement of that limb for healing. However, pain is not always an accurate damage report. In emergency situations pain is sometimes not felt until the emergency is over. This may be lifesaving in a situation where you need to escape a burning building.

Our understanding of chronic pain is changing with the knowledge of how the brain interprets and makes sense of signals from the body. Scientists continue to clarify the way experience coupled with attention leads to physical changes in the structure and future functioning of the nervous system. How and to what we pay attention is linked with our ability to regulate our lives.

Use it or lose it applies to the brain too!

These processes in the brain and the mind underpin our capacity for learning and development. Feldenkrais gives us a greenhouse for the exploration of movement and an insight into our biological heritage as human beings. Suppleness and rigidity are qualities of movement, of attitude and of belief.

The complex and interesting movement lessons create circumstances in which we can observe our habitual ways of moving and thinking. By sensing, perceiving and exploring many variations, we are able to find other ways. This may lead to ways to better enact our intentions in the world.

Applications of Feldenkrais include health, learning, performance, relationships; indeed all vital aspects of human life.

References and suggested reading

Berthoz A 2000, The Brain's Sense of Movement, HUP USA
Butler D & Moseley L 2003, Explain Pain, Noigroup Publications, Australia
Damasio AR 1999, The Feeling of What Happens, Harcourt Brace, New York
Doidge N 2007, The brain that changes itself, Viking Penguin
Feldenkrais M 1972, Awareness through Movement, Harper Row NY
Feldenkrais M 1949, Body and Mature Behaviour, IUP Inc
Feldenkrais M 1981, The Elusive Obvious, Meta Publications USA
Feldenkrais M 1985, The Potent Self, HarperCollins New York
Latash M & Turvey M (Eds) 1996, Dexterity and its Development, Lawrence Erbaum
Llinas RR 2000, I of the Vortex, MIT Press
Ratey J 2001, A User's Guide to the Brain, Abacus UK
Reed E 1996, Encountering the World, Oxford University Press
Schwartz J 2003, The Mind and the Brain, Harper Collins

Links to Feldenkrais websites

Feldenkrais Sydney articles

Feldenkrais & Horse Riding
Sensational Sitting
Work, Rest and Play

Other articles

Bodily Expressions by Moshe Feldenkrais
The Feldenkrais Method by Alan Questel
Felden-what? by Lawrence Wm. Goldfarb
New Hope for Aching Bodies
by Dr Norman Doidge
Neuroplasticity and The Feldenkrais Method
by Eileen Bach-y-Rita

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