The Feldenkrais Method (sometimes referred to as Feldenkrais therapy) is an increasingly popular form of therapy. Developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc., this approach draws insights from physics, motor development, biomechanics, psychology, and martial arts. The goal is to effectively reconnect learning with human health, function, and mobility. The Feldenkrais Method demonstrates an influence to the arts, education, psychology, child development, PT and OT, sports enhancement, and gerontology.
What is the Feldenkrais Method?
The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic technique that can help people reconnect with their bodies and learn how to move more efficiently. It is known to help increase energy, coordination, ease pain and stiffness, and overcome physical and mental limitations that result from accidents. It also has demonstrated success in rehabilitating stroke victims, multiple sclerosis patients, and people suffering from neurological injuries.
This method focuses on everyday physical activities with slow movements. Sitting, standing, reaching, and other relatively simple movements are practiced. The Feldenkrais Method helps individuals understand how the whole body participates in the healing and recovery process.
How does it Work?
While physical therapy has a similar methodology, Feldenkrais practitioners work to enhance an individual’s awareness to address dormant areas of the body and promote greater motion. The process aims to have the nervous system and other body parts work together in order to discover constricting habits and movements. Once discovered, people can learn new ways to expand their range of movement.
Becoming self-aware can help people involve more of their body into their movement, which will lead to an enriched sense of physical and mental functioning. In the Feldenkrais Method, refined movements and focused attention help activate the brain’s neuroplasticity and improve overall performance.
The Feldenkrais Method is practiced in two different formats: Functional Integration and Awareness Through Movement.
Through Functional Integration (FI), an individual is one-on-one with a practitioner. A unique treatment plan is developed and the practitioner will be hands-on in guiding movements. FI can use props such as pillows and rollers to support posture and facilitate movements.
Awareness Through Movement
Awareness Through Movement (ATM) involves facilitation in a group setting with verbal instruction from a Feldenkrais practitioner. Movements can include sitting, lying on the floor, standing, and other functional activities. The goal of ATM is learning which movements work better and noticing the positive changes in the body. There are different levels of complexity to suit varying needs.
How can Feldenkrais help?
The Feldenkrais Method can be appropriate for people of any age and has many benefits. The techniques are specifically designed to treat restriction, pain, and other motion limitations caused by injuries, chronic pain, or other physical or neurological complications.
Increases in flexibility and coordination, as well as decreases in pain and muscle tension, have resulted from Feldenkrais. With these benefits, a person may experience a greater ease of movement and higher energy, which can reduce stress. The Feldenkrais Method is also used to relieve feelings of anxiety.
Benefits of the Feldenkrais Method:
- Improved posture, movement, coordination, and balance
- Integrated movement with thoughts, feelings, and senses
- Better sleep
- Safe and gentle practices
- Enhanced overall well-being
- Appropriate for all ages
Who Oversees Credentials/Training?
The coordinating organization covering most Associations worldwide is the International Feldenkrais Federation (IFF). The Feldenkrais Guild of North America (FGNA) certifies training programs in America. Training usually lasts 3-4 years in which practitioners must complete 750-800 hours of instruction and practice. Participation in ATM and FI lessons, lectures, discussions, and attendance are all requirements for graduation.