What is the Feldenkrais Method?

FeldenkraisThe two most common questions I get are, “What is Feldenkrais?” and “What will Feldenkrais do for me?”

The Feldenkrais Method helps people improve the quality of their life and become more self-reliant. The Feldenkrais Method does this by improving people’s quality of movement, their overall physical function, and their general wellbeing.

At the heart of the method are five simple tenants:

  1. Movement is essential for life.
  2. We learned to move (e.g. we did not come out of the womb knowing how to walk).
  3. Anything we learn, we can improve.
  4. The Feldenkrais Method teaches us to move better – with more ease, grace, and efficiency.
  5. When we move better, we feel better and are more capable.

Movement is essential for life

Movement is the way we interact with the world.  Speaking is movement of the tongue and mouth.  Looking Is a movement of the eyes at a minimum and usually movement of the head and neck.  Reaching is a movement.  Walking is a movement.  Not to mention cooking, eating, driving, typing, and all the thousands of other activities we do in the course of a day.

We learned to move

The interesting thing about movement is that we, humans, have a long slow apprenticeship with movement.  We are not like horses that walk 30 minutes after birth.  It takes a typical baby 3-4 months to learn to roll over, 4-7 months to sit up, and 9-12 months to walk, and 2-3 years before she can jump off of low surfaces.  As adults, we don’t remember this process, so we take our movement for granted, but it was learned.

Anything we learn, we can improve

It is a funny thing in our culture.  We spend billions of dollars helping people improve their golf game.  There is no question that a good golf coach is worth the investment. We understand the need for music teachers. We know that becoming a ballerina requires dance lessons.

However, our culture does not have the same understanding when it comes to the fundamental, basic movements we learned as babies – rolling, sitting, standing, reaching, and walking.  As babies, we did not master these movements.  We got “good enough” and then we moved on.  There was so much to learn, we didn’t have the time to master these movements.

Unfortunately, what was good enough as babies often is no longer good enough as adults.  Over the course of our life, our bodies have changed, aged, and often encountered trauma and injuries.  Typically, our body tells us that the bio-mechanics of our motion is no longer good enough through pain.  It hurts to move.

The good news, though, is that because our pattern of movement was learned, it can be improved.

The Feldenkrais Method teaches us how to move better

Feldenkrais improves our movements by brining our awareness to how we actually move, helping us sense differences, and teaching us alternatives.  The process of learning to walk better is not that different than the process of learning to play golf better, play the trumpet better, or dance better.

When we move better, we feel better.

Because movement is so essential to how we interact with the world, even small improvements make a big difference.  As Moshe Feldenkrais said:

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

When we move better, we have more vitality. When we move better, we can interact with the world with more ease and comfort. When we move better, we are safer (we can get away from the proverbial tiger) and when we are safer, we have less anxiety. When we move better, there is less sheering forces across our joints and less need for pain. When we move better, we have more options in how to respond and thus more freedom.

Even more profoundly: When we move better, we are better.  Though we often speak as if the mind and body were separate, they are inseparably intertwined.  An improvement in one, is an improvement of the whole.

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