What is the Feldenkrais method?
This revolutionary method accesses the brain’s innate capacity for learning – and for increasing human potential at any age. Developed over 40 years of research by Israeli scientist Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, it uses movement to improve the functioning of the body, mind and brain.
Feldenkrais Method seeks to improve the quality with which we live our lives and act in the world: whether it is to overcome injury, learn new abilities, refine skills, be they artistic or athletic, or simply live more comfortably in your body as you age.
This approach to learning and development can be applied to everyone, from those living with profound disability to high performance athletes.
How does it work?
The wide ranging potential of Feldenkrais Method lies in its understanding and application of principles of neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to change. Neuroplasticity means that we have the potential to learn new things (create new neural connections) at all ages and stages of life.
In the case of atypical development, or neurological damage or disorder, neuroplasticity means that the brain can still have the potential to change, adapt itself to new ways of functioning, and create or restore new neural connections.
Feldenkrais Method does this by using movement and sensation to send new information to the brain (the central nervous system) via the nerves – the peripheral nervous system. This allows the brain to improve how it does its job as our ‘central control system’.
Through this process Feldenkrais Method improves our motor-sensory functioning – the way the brain, nervous system, muscles, connective tissue and skeleton work together to create our movements and actions. No matter what our current abilities or challenges are, we all share this common potential to improve.
Working with the whole person
However we are of course much more than a series of body systems! We are thinking, feeling, sensing, moving human beings. We move in relation to gravity, and act and react, in relation to the environments in which we are formed and live. We learn by experience and as human beings we have a long apprenticeship for learning how to move and be in the world. Unlike other animals that are born with their basic movement patterns in place at birth, we must acquire these skills as we learn to live in the world.
As we move through life, certain physical, emotional and psychological patterns become habitual: or we may be born with or develop atypical ways of functioning due to accidents or disorders that affect our motor-sensory abilities. Our brain and nervous system seek to create order in how we organise ourselves to move and act, and do this very efficiently by creating habitual ways of functioning. These habits become problematic or limiting when they come to override or inhibit easier, more comfortable and effective ways of functioning.
By exploring and learning new and varied ways of moving, this process wakes up your brain, muscles and nervous system to easier options and helps you learn new ones. By learning to create more choice for yourself in how you move you can literally learn to move beyond your limitations.
In the case of atypical development or neurological damage or disorder a similar process applies. We begin by working with whatever movement possibilities are available, not matter how subtle or disorganised they may seem. By beginning with what is possible, we use movement and sensation to create the neurological connections needed for movement that the brain cannot currently create on its own.
Thinking bodies, moving minds
In Feldenkrais Method we understand movement as a component of action and that action is comprised of our movements, thoughts, feelings and sensations. All these components of action will be present to varying degrees depending on the action involved.
With Feldenkrais Method we can develop greater awareness of how our body and movement habits influence everything we do, and vice versa: that our body-image includes thoughts and feelings and together they form an integrated whole, a self-image. As a result, many people find that learning to improve how they move facilitates improvement in everything they do, including their ability to think, respond, sense, and act in the world.