Moshe Feldenkrais portrait Freiburg 1981 © International Feldenkrais® Federation Archive

About Dr Moshe Feldenkrais

Dr Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-84) was born in the Ukraine and emigrated to Palestine at the age of 13. After receiving degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering, he earned his D.Sc. in Physics at the Sorbonne in Paris. He subsequently worked for a number of years in the French nuclear research program with Joliet Curie.

A talented athlete, Feldenkrais played soccer and practiced the martial arts to a high level. He studied with Jigoro Kano, the originator of Judo, and in 1936 became one of the first Europeans to earn a black belt in that discipline.

A chronic knee injury prompted him to apply his knowledge of physics, body mechanics, neurology, learning theory and psychology to a new understanding of human function and maturation. His investigations resulted in the formulation of a unique synthesis of science and aesthetics, known as the Feldenkrais Method. Dr. Feldenkrais wrote five books about the method as well as four books on Judo.

He conducted three professional trainings during his life, one in Tel Aviv, Israel (1969-1971), one in San Francisco, CA, USA (1975-1978) and one in Amherst, MA, USA (1980-1983), training approximately 300 Feldenkrais® practitioners in total.  Today, professional training programmes occur around the world and there is a thriving community of over 10,000 Feldenkrais practitioners worldwide.

Feldenkrais and his lineage

Like many masters of a method or practice Dr Moshe Feldenkrais profoundly influenced many of his original students.  As he pointed out, what makes humans unique among animals is our variability, and he encouraged his students to develop their own handwriting in their practice of the method. It makes sense then that we as Feldenkrais practitioners are all different.

A number of Feldenkrais’ original students have gone on to teach his work under their own names and trademarks. These include Mia Segal’s Mind Body Studies Academy (MBS), Anat Baniel Method Neuro Movement (ABMNM), and the three-year Jeremy Krauss Approach (JKA) training.

These trainings teach the same principles and practice of the Feldenkrais Method for individual one on one sessions and group classes. Graduates of these and Feldenkrais trainings around the world share a common fundamental training in these theories and practices. What unites us as practitioners is a way of thinking about learning rooted in an awareness of what we now call neuroplasticity.

Specialising in working with children

Many of Dr Feldenkrais’ students have gone on to specialise in working with children. What is clear is that we all share the same lineage.

Some of them renamed their work such as the Anat Baniel Method Neuromovement for Children (ABMNM), the one-year Jeremy Krauss Approach for Child Development (JKA) training, and Chava Chelav’s Child’Space Method.

Others like Nancy Aberle and Working with Children and Cheryl Field at the Field Centre of Children’s Integrated Development, choose simply to call our work with children the Feldenkrais Method. There are also groups such as Feldenkrais without Borders where Feldenkrais, Anat Baniel Method (ABM), Jeremy Krauss Approach (JKA) and Child’Space Method practitioners work together.

Moshe teaching in San Franciso

Images from  Moshe’s first training in the USA © International Feldenkrais® Federation Archive, Bob Knighton

What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible minds

Moshe Feldenkrais

What do people say about Feldenkrais method?

Moshe and child – Amherst 1981 © International Feldenkrais® Federation Archive

“Feldenkrais represents a revolution in human health.”
Smithsonian Magazine 

“Feldenkrais is not about pushing muscles around, but changing things in the brain itself.”
Karl Pibram MD, Stanford University

“Feldenkrais has studied the body in movement with a precision that I have found nowhere else. He perfected hundreds of exercises of exceptional value.”
Peter Brooks, Film and Stage Director, Author 

“Feldenkrais work is the most sophisticated and effective method I have ever seen for the prevention and reversal of deterioration of function.”
Margaret Mead, PhD, anthropologist

“The Feldenkrais Method has had remarkable success in complaints ranging from the debilitating to the merely nagging.”
Science Digest
 

“The exercises are so ingenious and so simple.”
Yehudi Menuhin, virtuoso violinist

“Feldenkrais has found a way to free people to be more flexible and flowing physically. The exercises are ingenious and startling in their effectiveness. It is certainly one of the most exciting and penetrating of the body-mind methods.”
William Schutz. Ph.D in Psychology, Author, Encounter Group Pioneer 

                                                                                                         

Words from Feldenkrais himself

“The aim [of the Feldenkrais Method] is a person that is organized to move with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, not through muscular strength, but through increased consciousness of how movement works.”

“To make the impossible possible, the possible easy, and the easy elegant.”

“Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself.”

“Through awareness, we can learn to move with astonishing lightness and freedom at almost any age.”

“We do not achieve … by repetition, muscle exercising, or by increasing speed and force, but by widening and refining the cerebral control of the muscle range.”

“What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains.”

“No matter how closely we look, it is difficult to find a mental act that can take place without the support of some physical function.”

“I believe that the unity of mind and body is an objective reality. They are not just parts somehow related to each other, but an inseparable whole while functioning. A brain without a body could not think.”

“The only thing permanent about our behaviour patterns is our belief that they are so.”

“Find your true weakness and surrender to it. Therein lies the path to genius. Most people spend their lives using their strengths to overcome or cover up their weaknesses. Those few who use their strengths to incorporate their weaknesses, who don’t divide themselves, those people are very rare. In any generation there are a few and they lead their generation.” 

“What I understand by maturity, is the capacity of the individual to break up total situations of previous experience into parts, to reform them into a pattern most suitable to the present circumstance, i.e., the conscious control effectively becomes the overriding servo-mechanism of the nervous system”

“Recognising our insignificance, the unimportance of what we think, do, or cannot do, we find ourselves in full mastery of ourselves to the potential limit of our ability. That sort of unstable equilibrium that is abandoned in each action and recovered for the next is the essence of human maturity.”