The Feldenkrais Method was developed by Dr Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), a physicist, engineer and martial artist. Primarily, it is an educational method for somatic learning but because of its benefitial effects on health and healing, it is also used in the therapeutic field.
Some of the ways we learn to move and act in our life tend to turn into habits that most of the time serve us well but that at other times can be detrimental to our health by becoming repetitive mindless movements that we exercise without awareness. For example, we can become very good at drawing after years of practice. So good that we dont even pay attention anymore to the way we are using our body because it has become a habitual pattern. Maybe we tend to hold the pen with excessive force or maybe we like to hunch the shoulder up to the ear without even realizing. After a while, a chronic shoulder contracture might start to show up, or maybe some sort of repetitive strain syndrome. The Feldenkrais Method aims at bringing awareness to our actions in order to have the freedom to choose how to do something, instead of doing it just mechanically. Thus, the premise: "If you know what you are doing, you can do what you want".
The Feldenkrais Method is a process of somatic exploration. Through this exploration the nervous system is given a new information input, different choices for movement, different possibilities. As a consequence the brain can develop new ways that serve us better, i.e. re-patterning and re-organising our neuromuscular pathways for optimal function: "To make the impossible possible, the difficult easy and the easy elegant"
Another important aspect of the method is its holistic approach. Even the most minute of movements you can make say, with your hand, is never just made with your hand. There is a participation of the whole of yourself in every single action you take, even if it is so tiny that it is imperceptible. In the same way, if a part of you is dysfunctional or painful, it is not just that part that needs consideration. It is really the whole of yourself that is involved in that dysfunction. Thus the way to return to healthy function is by working with the entire self, looking at the relationships within you and the relationships between you and the world around you.
There are two ways to embark in the Feldenkrais process: Group classes and individual hands-on work. The group classes are also called Awareness Through Movement (ATM) classes. They take place mostly lying on a mat on the floor although there are classes sitting down, standing, etc. ATM classes consist of slow and gentle sequences of movements guided by a Feldenkrais teacher. These sequences are orchestrated in a very particular and sophisticated way to invite changes into the neuromuscular system. The individual hands-on sessions, also called Functional Integration sessions (FI) consist on gentle and precise touch by the Feldenkrais teacher. The contact is mainly skeletal while the client is lying or sitting on a massage couch fully clothed. It is very powerful and effective work.