Here are some frequently asked questions on the Feldenkrais Method®
What is the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education?
The Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education is a practice, a process, and a system for self-improvement. It is a form of Somatic Education which means you are using your own body to learn.
The Feldenkrais Method® is based on decades of research in physics, neuroscience, biomechanics, learning theory, and human development to give you the means to help yourself.
What can the Feldenkrais Method® do for me?
The Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education offers a wide range of benefits for people who are seeking pain relief or are dealing with conditions of the central nervous system (multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, stroke). Musicians, actors, sports people will find that when moving in the Feldenkrais Method® they can extend their abilities and improve their skills. Many older people enjoy using it to retain or retrain their abilities to move without strain or discomfort.
How does the Feldenkrais Method® work?
Your own body awareness and attention stimulates the brain to create new neural pathways that enable optimal movement patterns and function. This brain activity is called “neuroplasticity.” Neuroplasticity means that we can keep building our brain and learning can take place throughout life. As you learn better ways to move, you experience improvements in balance, breathing, coordination, flexibility, cognition, and quality of life.
Where did the name come from?
The Feldenkrais Method® was developed over 40 years of research by Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais. He was a scientist and an athlete, as well as one of the first Europeans to earn a black belt in Judo. He applied his rigorous scientific approach to the study of movement in order to explore how we learn and how to improve throughout our lives.
What does the Feldenkrais Method® have to do with neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is the capacity of the brain and nervous system to renew themselves and grow new connections. This ability is greatest in children but science has shown that we learn throughout our life. Best-selling author Dr. Norman Doidge has written about this in his books ‘The Brain that changes itself’ and ‘The Brain’s Way of Healing, Stories of Remarkable Recoveries and Discoveries’. Note also Dr. Michael Merzenich’s research published in ‘Soft-Wired, How Brain Plasticity can change your life’. We know that neuroplasticity is stimulated through precise, directed attention to a variety of gentle and unusual, novel movement possibilities done slowly.
Is it strenuous?
No. Both Awareness Through Movement® classes, which are taught in a group setting or the Functional Integration® lessons, which are taught one-on-one, are slow, gentle explorations of movement that can be done by anyone, at any level. The effort is in the paying attention and becoming aware of HOW you do a movement.
I have a lot of pain, and severe movement limitations. Can I still study the Feldenkrais Method®?
Absolutely. The wonderful thing about the Feldenkrais Method® is that it is about exploring learning strategies. If you have difficulty with one side, you can work with the other side. If you can’t lie down, you can sit. And even if nothing moves, you can work with your imagination, creating new neural links that can improve your quality of life.
I feel great and perform at my peak. What can the Feldenkrais Method® offer me?
There is always room for improvement. You can learn to do what you already do well, more easily, with less effort, so there is energy left over to go even further. Many of Feldenkrais’ biggest adherents are professionals who strive to be their best — Yehudi Menuhin, Martina Navratilova, Dame Judi Dench, to name a few. Weight lifters find the weights seem lighter, tennis players and golfers find their swing more effortless, runners go farther, and performing artists feel they can dance or play the night away.
How is the Feldenkrais Method® different from Massage and Chiropractic?
A massage therapist works with muscles and soft tissue, a chiropractor works with bones. These are approaches that seek changes in the structure of your body (muscles or spine). The Feldenkrais Method® looks for your ability to regulate and coordinate your movement, which means it’s working with your nervous system. If you want to change your movements you must change your brain. New neural pathways are formed with the Feldenkrais Method® as you are learning through precise, directed attention to a variety of gentle and unusual, unique, novel movements done slowly.
How is the Feldenkrais Method® different from yoga?
The Feldenkrais Method® looks for improving a movement sequence which is functional (has a function, a purpose). Feldenkrais movements explore gentle and innovative movements with awareness so that you become familiar with your habits and may learn easier ways to move. Feldenkrais does not involve perfecting positions by stretching or holding demonstrated poses. Many yoga devotees find the Feldenkrais Method useful as a way to improve their postures and appreciate that in Feldenkrais it’s about ‘HOW’ you do a movement and guidance is given as to how you find different ways to approach improvement.
How is the Feldenkrais Method® different from Tai Chi?
Tai Chi shares movements sequences done slowly and with attention. It differs in that the form of what movement sequences should look like are prescribed and demonstrated. Benefits in Feldenkrais are immediate.
How are Feldenkrais practitioners trained?
All Feldenkrais Practitioners must complete 800 hours of training spread over 3-4 years to become eligible to become certified by the International Feldenkrais Training Board. Trainees participate in Awareness-Through-Movement® and Functional Integration® lessons, lectures, discussions of Feldenkrais literature, group learning processes and videos of Dr. Feldenkrais teaching. Trainees gradually acquire knowledge and experience how movement and function are formed and organized.