Felden What!? Feldenkrais!
The Feldenkrais Method®: An Introduction
By The Feldenkrais Method: An Introduction
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. People who come to do Feldenkrais®
are referred to as students, rather than patients, because
learning underlines the basis of the Method.
Origins and Development of the Feldenkrais Method
The Feldenkrais Method was developed
by Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais. Born in Russia, Feldenkrais emigrated
to Israel at the age of thirteen. 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. Physically active, Feldenkrais played soccer and
practiced the martial arts. He studied with Kano Jigoro,
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 the body and mind. His investigations resulted in the
formulation of a unique synthesis of science and aesthetics,
known as the Feldenkrais Method.
is for every one who wants to feel better.
The Process of Movement
A lesson could begin with a practitioner saying, “As
you’re sitting, what are you aware of about your sitting?
Perhaps it’s your back against the chair, or your
feet on the floor, or your buttocks on the seat. Now bring
your attention to what the back of the neck is doing; to
what your chest is doing; to what your shins are doing.”
A students reply might be, “It is doing this.”
Yet most often, it is “I have no idea what those parts
are doing.” The answer indicates that we give little
or no attention to certain parts of ourselves or we tend
to notice the same parts habitually. The fact is our whole
self is involved in everything we do, but we sense only
certain parts of ourselves in our actions and it generally
tends to be the same parts. Through a more even distribution
of effort and force throughout our whole self, an overall
enhancement of movement, action, and thought results.
The practitioner might continue. “While seated, without
changing the placement of your feet, notice where you have
placed your feet. Slowly come to standing. (You may find
that it is impossible to get up without changing where your
feet are placed.) Sit again, move your feet an inch closer
together and come to standing. Move your feet back to where
you started and then move them an inch further apart and
come to standing. Can you observe that a different placement
of your feet influences your ability to come to standing?
You may notice the effects of this in your breathing, your
jaw, your neck, your balance, or in the amount of effort
required in each action. Slowly get up to standing as you
look down. As you slowly get up, look up. Then get up looking
right. Next, get up looking left. Can you sense that the
different placement of your eyes affects how you come to
standing?” This process would continue with more variations
in order to help the student clarify, inform, and understand
how one goes from sitting to standing.
The foundation of this kind of exploration is not the kind
of learning based solely on information, rather it involves
learning that can lead to a change in action, a change in
thinking and feeling. The introduction of new variations
awakens curiosity and teaches adaptation for continually
altering circumstances. Rather than attempting to learn
the “right way” of doing something, or “correcting”
or “fixing,” a student can explore choices,
options, and different ways of using himself. Thus, he can
act more effectively and efficiently depending on the context
and the intention in that moment.
The Feldenkrais Method utilizes attention in a
learning environment that is safe, easy, and geared toward
an appropriate degree of challenge. In this context, he
can discover and shift habitual patterns that interfere
with functioning. He becomes his own laboratory for developing
understanding and awareness of his daily actions.
The Two Modalities of the Feldenkrais Method
There are two main modalities of learning in the Feldenkrais
Method: Awareness Through Movement® and
Awareness Through Movement lessons are group sessions.
Participants are verbally led through a series of structured
movement sequences that utilize attention, perception, and
imagination. Designed to evoke a more synergistic use of
oneself, the lessons establish new patterns of movement.
As lessons progress, participants become more aware of their
movement habits, affording new patterns of behavior. There
are more than a thousand different lessons with movement
ranging from developmentally based patterns to innovative
configurations. The movements are usually done lying down
or sitting, and in a manner that recognizes each participant’s
own pace and range of motion. Comfort, ease, and the quality
of movement are the main criteria used as one is developing
more inner authority.
The other modality, Functional Integration, is
a one-to-one, hands-on interaction specifically designed
to meet the needs of an individual. Practitioners primarily
through the use of their hands, guide students to a new
and more varied use of themselves. The quality of touch
is noninvasive, and interactive in nature. Students usually
lie or sit and are comfortably dressed. As with Awareness
Through Movement group lessons, these individualized
sessions use movement as the means to promote changes in
patterns of thinking, sensing, feeling, and interacting
Benefits of the Feldenkrais Method
The Feldenkrais Method aims to improve physical
and mental functioning. It is applicable to anyone wanting
to enhance the quality of his or her everyday life and activities.
People from many different walks of life do Feldenkrais.
They report results of increased vitality, enhancement
of self-image, better breathing and posture, greater flexibility
and range of motion, and reduction of pain. By bringing
attention to the process of movement, students usually feel
lighter and more graceful, and have greater ease and effectiveness
in turning their intentions into actions.
Please Reference the Feldenkrais
Guild Website for more information.
Feldenkrais® is for Athletes
Feldenkrais has remarkable success
in a wide range of complaints ranging from the debilitating
to the merely nagging. Science
Feldenkrais represents a revolution
in human health. Smithsonian
These classes have helped me with my posture;
I feel more aligned. Feldenkrais has made it simple
and easy. Anna
Feldenkrais® is for Children.
Hi Katherine I would like to thank you for the Feldenkrais
treatments and share my experiences with others. I had Polio
at age 10 resulting in paralysis of my right foot and leg
weakness. This weakness got much worse 4 years ago. I had
several healings in Peru and the U.S. following which the
Post Polio syndrome of extreme fatigue and increasing weakness
improved. My foot paralysis did not. A friend suggested
that I see Katherine. I did. After a few treatments I noticed
I could move my foot up and down! After a few more I could
move my toes and put my heel on the ground. I can NEVER
remember being able to do this! I have had 3 surgeries on
my right heel and knee, I have had years of Physical Therapy-on
and off. This is a MIRACLE! I am a Medical Doctor board
certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery.
Thank You Katherine! Arthur Cushman M.D.
I have learned many simple, easy, pain-free ways to ease
fibromyalgia pain through the use of Feldenkrais. Katherine
is a wonderful teacher. She is very clear in her explanations
and is always able to talk me through and adjust movements.
Feldenkrais is such a great way for me to help myself on
a daily basis.
After having breast cancer surgery my body became very
imbalanced and I fell many times, so I did Rolfing, PT,
chiropractic, massage, etc.
Since I found Katherine, I look forward to each Feldenkrais/Bones
class because I feel so much better afterward, more balanced,
flexible, energized and relaxed. Learning and practicing
these movements is most empowering for me with my body issues.