The Feldenkrais Method®
Disclaimer: please read. Feldenkrais Toronto West has provided resource information, through website links, on the Feldenkrais Method®. The information contained within this website, includes summaries and abstracts and is not to replace medical advice and medical treatment. The information is for educational purposes only. The resource links, summary/abstract descriptions and information listed on this website, uses wording obtained directly from the publication, and may not necessarily be comprehensive. As such, any information acquired from this website and resource links should be used in conjunction with other available resources and with the advice of healthcare professionals. This website and its content are provided on an “as is” basis. Feldenkrais Toronto West makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, up-to-date information, or timeliness of any of the resource links listed nor of their summary descriptions. These resource links to websites/articles/documents are provided as a resource for your own personal educational purposes only. These resource links do not necessarily represent the opinions of the owner of this website - Feldenkrais Toronto West. The names of research/document authors, and Feldenkrais® trainers and practitioners and their studios, are provided solely as a database of available resources. Their inclusion on this website should not, in any way, be construed as a referral or confirmation of professional credentials. For articles/documents in a different language Google Translate offers translation. As with all internet connections, one should be protected by an effective antivirus program. As websites are constantly undergoing revisions, this website and Feldenkrais Toronto West accepts no responsibility for these website links and cannot provide any assurance that future website changes may include some issues or problems. Please ensure that your computer is always protected with an effective antivirus program.
New York city declared May 2004 as "Feldenkrais Month" to celebrate the date of his 100th birthday
The Feldenkrais Method®
A Brief Summary
Founder, Moshe Feldenkrais
Moshe Feldenkrais was born in 1904 in what is now Slavuta, Ukraine ... Feldenkrais left for Palestine in 1918. He also developed skills in self-defense and shared those survival techniques with his peers. In 1930, Feldenkrais moved to Paris, France to study engineering. During that time, he met Kano, the originator of Judo, and became one of the first Europeans to earn a black belt. He continued his studies at the Sorbonne and worked in the laboratories of the Joliot-Curies. When the Nazis came to Paris in 1940, Feldenkrais escaped to Great Britain and worked on anti-submarine defense through the remainder of World War II. During this time, Feldenkrais was functionally impaired by his knees that were first injured during a football (soccer) match in Palestine, and further damaged by escaping France and moving about submarines.
Medical options for relief were limited and not very promising. Instead, Feldenkrais began a process of self-exploration that helped him restore his function and developed into his method. He delved into the literature of many disciplines, from mechanics to psychology. Feldenkrais compiled a series of lectures that were well-received by the scientists with him in Scotland. After Feldenkrais moved to London at the end of the war, he published those lectures as his first book about his method, Body and Mature Behavior (Feldenkrais, 1996).
The Feldenkrais Method
Feldenkrais returned to Israel in 1951; he was soon fully occupied with teaching his method. As the popularity of his work grew, he developed hundreds of lessons that could be delivered verbally to groups of students. Late in life, he taught others to teach his method, beginning in Israel and ending in the United States. He died in 1984. It is remarkable, while also understandable given his background, that Feldenkrais “would choose learning as the most useful path for serving the wholeness of both individual and society”. Thus, the Feldenkrais Method is first and foremost a learning method, albeit one with reported therapeutic effects. It is an embodied process of self inquiry that typically occurs in two formats: individual lessons called Functional Integration, and group lessons known as Awareness Through Movement.
The Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education is an integrative approach to learning and improving function among people of varying abilities across the lifespan. With an emphasis on increasing self-awareness through lessons that stimulate sensing, moving, feeling, and thinking, certified practitioners or teachers of the method propose to take advantage of the human capacity to self-organize behavior. People have used the Feldenkrais Method to enhance their function in many aspects of life, including performance at work, in sports, or in the performing arts. However, estimates are that many more have used it to recover from injury, manage pain, reduce stress, or improve other health-related conditions, either as complementary or alternative approaches to traditional Western medicine.
Patricia A. Buchanan, January 2012
Essentially, the Feldenkrais Method is a program of exercises that suggest mind over matter, with the body programming the brain so that the whole system works in a new way. Feldenkrais concedes there are no simple explanations for his approach (he even scoffs at such attempts), but it is akin to the “patterning” technique widely used to treat retarded children. Patterning involves repeated manipulation of the limbs, and the feedback from these motions stimulates the brain to accept the movements as normal. “I am not interested in the movements themselves,” explains Feldenkrais, “but rather in how you do them. Any movement which is difficult and done over and over again can actually reorganize molecules in the brain and the way they send impulses.”
People Magazine, September 1981 Jon Keller, Bonnie Freer
Who Benefits from the Feldenkrais Method?
Anyone—young or old, physically challenged or physically fit—can benefit from the Method. Feldenkrais is beneficial for those experiencing chronic or acute pain of the back, neck, shoulder, hip, legs or knee, as well as for healthy individuals who wish to enhance their self-image. The Method has been very helpful in dealing with central nervous system conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and stroke. Musicians, actors and artists can extend their abilities and enhance creativity. Many Seniors enjoy using it to retain or regain their ability to move without strain or discomfort.
Through lessons in this method you can enjoy greater ease of movement, an increased sense of vitality, and feelings of peaceful relaxation. After a session you often feel taller and lighter, breathe more freely and find that your discomforts have eased. You experience relaxation, and feel more centered and balanced.
Surviving Dance magazine
In order to change our
mode of action, we must change the image of
we carry with us.
Our breathing reflects
every emotional or
physical effort and every disturbance.
The only thing permanent about our behavior patterns is our
belief that they are so.
People Magazine.com, September 1981
JON KELLER and BONNIE FREER
Essentially, Feldenkrais Method is a program of exercises that suggest mind over matter, with the body programming the brain so that the whole system works in a new way. Feldenkrais concedes there are no simple explanations for his approach (he even scoffs at such attempts), but it is akin to the “patterning” technique widely used to treat retarded children. Patterning involves repeated manipulation of the limbs, and the feedback from these motions stimulates the brain to accept the movements as normal. “I am not interested in the movements themselves,” explains Feldenkrais, “but rather in how you do them. Any movement which is difficult and done over and over again can actually reorganize molecules in the brain and the way they send impulses.
Available in Academia.edu, 2016
Kersti Stromblad, MD
The Feldenkrais Method is about education and development. And it deals with movements. It differs from conventional training programmes and therapies in the sense that it takes into account to that the brain and the skeleton play at least as big a role in movements as the muscles do, more than we usually think of when it comes to movement programmes. It takes a clear and creative and sharp mind as that of Moshe Feldenkrais to develop a method like this and it takes a lot of courage to think outside of the box when you challenge the medical sciences ,as he did. But it was important for him to stress the fact that there is a difference between development and education on the one hand to treat diseases and give therapy on the other hand. ... You learn to learn in this method. From habitual, compulsive and mindless movements you develop mindful, effortless and sometimes elegant movements. You are getting aware of what is limiting and hurtful. To be able to change that you use new movements as a tool to widen your repertoire and to open up for new perspectives, which might even change your self image to a more mature person in control of your life. And to a person who develops during your whole lifetime.
A Compendium of Essays on Alternative Therapy
Patricia A. Buchanan, Des Moines University, USA, January 2012
In this chapter, I address four purposes. First, I provide an overview of the Feldenkrais Method including background on its originator, descriptions of the two main approaches to delivering lessons (Functional Integration® and Awareness Through Movement®), and a theoretical foundation grounded in dynamic systems theory. Second, I describe what is known about Feldenkrais practitioners (teachers) including the certification process, standards of practice, and the practice profiles of United States practitioners. Third, I place the Feldenkrais Method in context with other complementary and alternative medicine approaches. Finally, I review the English language peer-reviewed research regarding the Feldenkrais Method and summarize the available evidence regarding its efficacy and safety.
A short video clip on TEDxAsheville, Dec 12, 2019
There's a lot I could say about this process. I gained a lot from it. I'd even recommend it, but with some cautionary insights. We are in a time when power is shifting - we all have more access to information than ever before. Overall I think that is good.
by Moshe Feldenkrais
In the book: Explorers of Humankind, 1979
edited, with Introduction and Biographical Notes by Thomas Hanna
For “In Touch” – an online publication of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America. Published November 2017
Interview by Ira Feinstein with Paul Rubin, founder of Institute for the Study of Somatic Education
An interview with Paul Rubin, ISSE founder, on how he came to meet and study with Dr. Feldenkrais over 40 years ago. Paul recounts an experience that firmed his commitment to pursue his education in the Feldenkrais Method.
The Jewish News of Northern California
BY J. CORRESPONDENT | AUGUST 18, 2000
"Feldenkrais' methods were ahead of their time," said Moti Nativ, head of the National Association of Qualified Teachers in Israel. The method is geared to help those experiencing chronic or acute pain of the back, neck, shoulder, hip, legs or knee caused by stress, misuse, accident or illness. The method also has been used to deal with central nervous system conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and stroke.
"We work a lot with disabled kids, especially with cerebral palsy and Down's syndrome, and with adolescent scoliosis," said Dr. Eilat Almagor, a neurophysiologist. ... The idea is that opening up different ways of moving will also free up new ways of thinking and feeling. By using gentle movement and directed attention, musicians, actors and artists hope to extend their abilities and enhance creativity
Most of the exercises are done lying on a mat. "The body is less affected by the pull of gravity," says a trainer at the Feldenkrais Institute in Tel Aviv. Plus, lying on the floor gives information about the body, and makes it easier to break bad habits."
HAARTZ Newspaper, Israel, Updated 10.06.2004
Aviva Lori, HAARTZ Contributor
In addition to drawing on his personal experience, Feldenkrais also put his knowledge of martial arts and his scientific knowledge into the development of his method. Its basic tenet is that human movement is an amalgam of its various components. "Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you'll improve the quality of life," Feldenkrais said. To that, he added other metaphysical ideas. In order to improve movement, he maintained, one needs understanding and awareness; the mind and body must be connected and complement each other. In the first stage of the process, the ultimate goal is not important - the path and the process itself are more important. If people keep improving along that path, they'll reach the goal in the end.
Feldenkrais Studiengesellschaft Wien
The Feldenkrais Method is a method of physical and mental training designed to help us to improve our innate human abilities.
It is named for its creator, Moshé Feldenkrais (1904-1984), a distinguished scientist, physicist, engineer, and master of Judo. Feldenkrais
made fundamental and far-reaching discoveries that revolutionized how we understand the relationship between how we move and how we think, feel, sense, and learn. ... Movement is organically linked with life so that we grow practically unaware of the long and thorough apprenticeship we have gone through to be able to move as clumsily and as efficiently as so many of us do. As regards the visual form of our movement the position is even less satisfactory. Efficient movement is pleasant to the eye, but more movements are possible than we need use to satisfy our needs. The movements that are not essential to the maintenance of life per se are, however, essential to our harmonious functioning. We need them not only for expressing ourselves but for the equilibrium of our phsychic-somatic functioning.
by Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc.
Available on the website: Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais - His Life and Work www.feldenkraismethod.com
To begin with, the lessons take place in the lying position, prone or supine, to facilitate the breaking down of muscular patterns. The habitual pressures on the soles of the feet and the ensuing configuration of the skeletal joints are suppressed. The nervous system does not receive the habitual afferent stimuli due to gravitation, and the efferent impulses are not linked into the habitual patterns. After the lessons, on receiving again the habitual stimuli, one is surprised to discover a changed response to them. The lessons are done as slowly and pleasantly as possible, with no strain or pain whatsoever; the main object is not to receive training in what one knows, but to discover unknown reactions in oneself and thereby learn a better, more congenial way of acting. The movements are light, so that after fifteen or twenty repetitions the initial effort drops to practically nothing more than a thought.
Huffington Post, November 2011
By Michael Sigman
Rather, by encouraging mindfulness of our body movements at a granular level, Feldenkrais claims we can weed out harmful physical patterns and replace them with healthful ones, like the way daily mindfulness meditation can enlarge those areas of the brain that produce healthier mental states.
Feldenkrais, the strange, relatively obscure science-based theory put forward 55 years ago by physicist-turned-healer Moshe Feldenkrais, turns many of our cherished ideas about fitness and healing on their heads. In Part 1, we saw that rather than treat an injury at its location, it’s often most effective to pay attention to remote parts of the body which may seem unconnected. Here, per the Gospel according to Feldenkrais, are five other common misconceptions.
New Vistas Journal, University of West London, UK Volume 3, Issue 1
Robert Sholl, Professor of Music at the University of West London
I have chosen to define Feldenkrais as a somatic educationalist. The reasons for this are manifold. Firstly, all of Feldenkrais’s other activities culminate in one profound activity, the creation of what has come to be known as The Feldenkrais Method. Secondly, Feldenkrais’s work with ordinary people as well as those with profound disabilities such as cerebral palsy (Feldenkrais, 2007) or stroke victims (Feldenkrais, 1993) addresses their human potential and their neuroplastic ability to change and heal themselves through their body. Thirdly, the method that he created seeks to provide the ideal learning conditions through which the motor cortex of the individual can be re-wired. It is ‘not’ a set of ‘exercises’ or ‘something you repeat until you get tired’ as Feldenkrais opined. This is why Feldenkrais always said that he was not a teacher but someone who provided conditions for learning.
Somatics, Autumn/Winter 1984-85
The Feldenkrais heritage is enormous. ... Functional Integration and Awareness Through Movement, as ways of transforming physiological functioning in individual and group context, is revolutionary in contrast to anything we now associate with holism - the term itself being a misnomer inasmuch as no one in the holistic health movement has any theory as to what the whole is. ... the emerging realisation is that the mind-body axis is a unit with equal potentiality for mutual interaction. The system developed by Moshé Feldenkrais, to which he gave the apt and pithy title, Functional Integration, has as much potential for understanding the mind-body relationship as Einstein's general theory of relativity had for physics. ... The thinking and practice of Moshé Feldenkrais was far in advance of his time.
Relias Media, January 2002
By Alan D. Forker, MD, FACC
When Moshe Feldenkrais, DSc, was asked to compare his technique with physical therapy, chiropractic, yoga, Shiatsu acupressure, Rolfing, Alexander technique, spiritual practices, and psychotherapies, he replied, "My work is more fundamental."
The goal of the Feldenkrais method is to rebalance muscles with minimal muscle tone to maintain the erect posture.
For willing, interested patients with low back pain or other forms of muscular soreness and pain; movement disorders associated with cerebral palsy, Parkinsonism, or multiple sclerosis; or post-stroke disability, consider the Feldenkrais method and massage. Similarly, for entertainers and competitive athletes, the Feldenkrais method is an approach that may relieve stress and improve performance.
Available on: Feldenkrais method - Expanding the limits of what is possible
Interview conducted by Dennis Leri and classmates Charles Alston, Mia Segal, Robert Volberg, Frank Wildman, Anna Jonson and Jerry Karzen, during the first course for future professionals of the Feldenkrais method in San Francisco in 1977.
Martial arts, especially the Judo, was for Moshe Feldenkrais an inexhaustible source for the development of his method. The exercises of awareness through movement are largely inspired by Judo, the martial art of what was the first European black belt with the highest graduation and considered more as art than martial art. He founded the first Judo club in Europe, Paris, still active.
Not only is Judo talked about, and that is what makes the article interesting for those of us who are curious about the life and the environment in which Feldenkrais lived, and the origin of the method. It is a story full of humor, irony and, sometimes, sarcasm, a mood that characterized the founder of the method and resources he used with skill to awaken interest and attract the attention of the audience, in this case before a group of students from which he was his first course.
Western Sydney University
Available from: IFF Feldenkrais Research Journal, Volume 3; and Academia.edu
Anna Yeatman, 2007
Revised version: https://www.academia.edu/10237985/Freedom_and_the_Feldenkrais_Method
When a Feldenkrais practitioner facilitates an individual’s capacity to move more easily and functionally, to have a more
complete self image, to engage more fully in living her life, to learn and become more resilient, and, above all to release
herself from being locked into habitual patterns of action, surely this person’s freedom is enhanced. There is a case to be
made for thinking about this relationship of the Feldenkrais method to freedom. Perhaps Moshe Feldenkrais is best understood as a practical philosopher of freedom. In this respect he is not unlike other practical philosophers of freedom. In this he shares common ground with the political philosopher, Hannah Arendt. Feldenkrais’s intention is to open up a process whereby people are invited to explore their individual possibilities of being in the world in such a way as to enable them to live more freely. Freedom denotes a highly developed quality of functioning on the part of the individual in how she works with her ever-changing environment & she is able to move easily and fluently' she is able to open up options for how she may move' and she is able to develop awareness of herself as an individual who acts / moves so that she learns how to fit her action to her intention.
Feldenkrais Research Journal, Volume 2
Guimond, O., 2005
Didn’t Moshe Feldenkrais say that the greatest discovery of Freud was his use of the couch? In somatic education, the quality of the contact with the ground and the capacity to subtly change this relationship at every stage of movement, that is, of life itself with every breath, are a means of revealing the person and, for Moshe Feldenkrais, the quality of the function of the nervous system. Imprints on the ground, so revealing for police or scientists interested in the past of living species, are at the heart of somatic education. But rather than discover only traces of a spent past, hidden or disclaimed, somatic education unlocks in this relationship to gravity the manifestation of the present moment, simultaneously revealing traces of a memory and the means by which a person manages, or doesn’t manage, to transform his intentions into actions, to organize himself in space and time.
Available from Academia.edu, July 2013
Anyone who came into contact with the Feldenkrais Method has received a priceless gift. ... For all the people learning to see and relate to themselves and to their own body in the language of movement encoded by Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) means retracing their developmental stages and go to the roots of their own individuality, ... and here we enter the immense and unexplored continent of relations between the Method and the unconscious, between the Method and metapsychology, between the method and psychotherapies. It means learning to feel what you can ask yourself and what you cannot, if you don’t want to meet pain and unhappiness. Moshe Feldenkrais ... initiating a school that while on the one hand claims to re-establish psychology and metapsychology on the body, on the other teaches its practitioners not to hesitate to send their patients to psychologists, psychoanalysts and psychiatrists in the case where the method proves to be inadequate. ... and I start - in which Psychoanalysis and Feldenkrais Method will work together at the same time.
The Jerusalem Post, 9 Oct 2017
A STATUE OF David Ben-Gurion shows Israel’s first prime minister doing a headstand on Frishman Beach in Tel Aviv.
One of Tel Aviv’s most popular photo spots is a statue on Frishman Beach of Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion standing on his head, which he began to do in the 1950s as part of his daily Feldenkrais Method exercises. The Tel Aviv Municipality put up the funny statue in 2015, and it’s likely that few of the people taking selfies with “the old man” realize that right behind it is the site of one of the seminal events of Israel’s early history.
A statue on Frishman Beach in Tel Aviv shows David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, doing a headstand after receiving lessons from Moshe Feldenkrais.
Published in Senseability, Issue 13
Feldenkrais Educational Foundation of North America
Alan S. Questel
The Feldenkrais Method is an approach for improving both physical and mental functioning through the exploration of body movement patterns and the use of attention. It is based on the brain’s innate capacity for learning and the potential for lifelong development and growth. Movement is used as the medium toward understanding our habits and identifying, learning and acquiring alternatives that promote ease and well being. The applications of the Feldenkrais Method range from reducing pain, improving neurologically based difficulties and learning disabilities, and increasing mobility - to enhancing performance of professional athletes, dancers, musicians, and actors.
Dr Weil Online Health And Wellness Website
Andrew Weil, M.D.
The Feldenkrais Method claims to be successful in training the nervous system to find new pathways around areas of damage. While frequently used to help ease stress and tension, the Feldenkrais Method has demonstrated success in the rehabilitation of stroke victims and others suffering from neurological injuries (brain tumors, head trauma, multiple sclerosis and ataxia) that cause disordered movement or a lack of coordination.
Patients with orthopedic problems in bones and joints can use the Feldenkrais Method to assist in correcting poor posture or habits of movement that may cause pain. Movement therapies like Feldenkrais can also benefit people who suffer from distorted body images that contribute to eating disorders and other psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety. The exercises can re-educate the brain and nervous system to develop new ways of moving and perceiving the body, as well as elevating mood and increasing overall feelings of well-being.
Available on the web journal 'Salon' at www.salon.com by Salon Media Group
Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015 by Norman Doidge.
Excerpted from “The Brain's Way of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity” by Norman Doidge, M.D.
Feldenkrais’s approach can radically change the life even of people who were born missing huge parts of the brain, by facilitating differentiation in the remaining brain areas. Elizabeth, whom I interviewed, was born missing a third of her cerebellum, a part of the brain that helps to coordinate and control the timing of movement, thought, balance, and attention. ... According to Feldenkrais, these attempts to leapfrog through development are a huge error because no one ever learned to walk by walking. Other skills have to be in place for a child to walk—skills adults don’t think about or remember learning, such as the ability to arch the back and lift the head. Only when all these pieces are in place will a child learn to walk, spontaneously.
US News and World Report, November 14, 2016
Anna Medaris Miller, Senior Health Editor at U.S. News
ONE OF THE MOST difficult aspects of dining out for Maria Lee wasn't deciding what to order or calculating whether she could spare the expense. It was getting up from her chair. ... Lee, 62, a retired computer scientist in Houston who has scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that can cause the skin and other connective tissues to harden. "There was a point where I was literally hanging on to the table and, of course, this doesn't make you inconspicuous at a restaurant." ... Today, Lee's restaurant exits are more graceful. ... What changed? In addition to medical treatments ... Lee credits the Feldenkrais Method, a sort of movement education practice, with enhancing her quality of life. "[Feldenkrais] is a different modality; you have to be patient, but over time, a little bit at a time, I saw vast improvements," Lee says. "It's really been a miracle for me."
Healthy Place - For Your Mental Health, February 2016
An online journal
Professional staff writers, reviewed by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School with final editing approved by Natural Standard.
Learn about the Feldenkrais Method and how the Feldenkrais Method can help treat depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions. ... Recently, the Feldenkrais Method has been studied as a means to improve muscle and joint pain, to improve quality of life in chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, and to reduce anxiety levels. ... The Feldenkrais Method is based on the concept that improving patterns of movement may enhance overall physical and psychological performance or recovery from disabling conditions. ... The goals of Awareness Through Movement are to increase awareness of what types of movements work best for a participant, to find sequences of movement to replace uncomfortable or habitual patterns and to improve flexibility and coordination.