What Are Feldenkrais Exercises?
Feldenkrais exercises are sequences of subtle, mindful movements designed to enhance your posture, flexibility, balance, coordination, and overall ease of movement. Feldenkrais exercises present you with an opportunity to learn to move better. When we move better, we feel better. We have less pain, more joy, and an increased sense of well-being.
Feldenkrais Exercises Are Learning Experiments
Feldenkrais exercises are not your typical fitness exercises you would do for weight training, Pilates, or yoga. They are learning experiments. In fact, because the focus is on learning, Feldenkrais® exercises are often referred to as lessons.
Feldenkrais lessons value awareness, curiosity, and comfort over strain, effort, and repetition. Your body is not a machine to be pushed to its limits; it’s an intelligent system capable of learning and adapting. As Moshé Feldenkrais, the founder of the method, put it:
- “The aim is to move with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, not through muscular strength, but through increased consciousness of how movement works.”
So, how do we increase our consciousness of how movement works? By bringing curiosity, awareness, and presence to your movements. As you move with heightened awareness, you can identify which of your movements are strained, inefficient, or irritating. Then, you can locate those strains and pinpoint when the strain begins. Once you’ve identified these points, you can explore more efficient movement alternatives.
Feldenkrais exercises differ from traditional exercises in mindset, focus, and goals:
- Mindset: Mindful Curiosity
Feldenkrais Exercises emphasize mindful curiosity over repetitive strain or maximal effort. Feldenkrais lessons stand in stark contrast to the “no pain, no gain” mindset prevalent in traditional exercise.
- Focus: Integrated Movement
Feldenkrais integrates whole-body movement rather than focusing on specific muscles.
- Goals: Coordination and Fluidity
Feldenkrais aims for precise, fluid movement rather than brute strength.
A Feldenkrais Exercise Example: Experimenting With Lifting Your Arm
A Feldenkrais Exercise: Experimenting With Lifting Your Arm
Imagine you are lying on your side with both your arms straight in front of you. Now lift your top arm toward the ceiling and then behind you. In a gym or yoga studio, this movement is done as a stretch that aims to twist your spine and open your chest as much as possible.
But let’s approach this differently—through the lens of Feldenkrais. As a Feldenkrais practitioner, I’m not interested in how far your arm moves or what end position you can reach. Instead, my goal is to use this movement to help you learn to lift your arm easily and lightly—with the same perceived effort you need to lift your pinky finger.
How can we improve the way you lift your arm? By exploring how you currently do it and considering what other options exist. For example, we might delve into what happens at the very beginning—when the top hand first lifts and loses contact with the lower hand. We might explore questions like:
- Did you glue your shoulder blade to your ribcage or did your shoulder blade counterbalance the weight of the arm?
- Did you hold your chest still or did you allow your sternum to turn toward the ceiling?
- Was your breathing regular or did you hold your breath?
- Did your lower leg engage with the floor or was it uninvolved in the movement?
Each question reveals new options. As you discover more options, you have more choice. And with more choice comes more freedom.
Feldenkrais Exercises Result in Profound Learning: Client Success Stories
While you developed your basic movement skills in childhood, Feldenkrais exercises offers you the chance to continue improving your motor abilities and finding more graceful ways of moving. For example, Jeanie described her experience with Feldenkrais exercises by saying:
– I learned to allow my skeleton (my bones) to support my weight and movement, instead of my exhausted, tense muscles — as it was designed to do. I was able to attain significant changes in my sitting and walking posture, affording me noticeable relief from back pain.
Kate explains how she learned to walk without pain:
– I learned how to employ the larger muscles in my torso so that the smaller muscles in my legs and ankles are not strained. When my hips, spine, sternum, and shoulders are all involved in walking, the pain goes away.
Getting Started With Feldenkrais Exercises
Feldenkrais exercises can be done at home using recordings available online. However, working one-on-one with a certified practitioner is recommended when starting out. A practitioner can identify the specific movement patterns causing you trouble and then bring to your attention subtle, important details that occur when you do that movement.
The easiest way to begin is to schedule a free, introductory consultation. During the consultation, we will discuss your goals, and identify your challenges. You will discover how to improve your movement to put less stress, wear, and tear on your body.
Book A Free Consultation
In your free 60-minute Feldenkrais consultation, we will look at your goals and your challenges, and identify specific movement patterns that are causing you problems. You will discover how we can work together to improve your movement so that you put less stress, wear and tear on your body