An Overview of the Feldenkrais Method®
When you consider all the years you've spent moving—sitting, standing, walking, at work or in the activities you love—ask yourself: are you moving better or worse than 10 years ago?
Your movement is something you understandably take for granted. Though your body came without instructions, your abilities seemed to unfold "naturally" as you grew. You may have accepted the "good enough" level of flexibility and coordination you acquired in childhood. But as you age you confront a hard fact—you are downstream of a lifetime of unconscious habits: habits of movement, thought, sensation and emotion. Left unexamined, some of these habits can become truly erosive to our health, function and joy in life. The underlying problem is that you may have abandoned the learning process altogether.
The Feldenkrais Method® offers you the unique opportunity to create a daily practice that teaches you to move better as you age and to acquire and refine these behaviors more efficiently. It offers an essential perspective on human behavior: how our movement works, how we acquire habits and how we can choose to consciously refine, improve or replace them.
While it is sought out primarily by people wanting to improve their movement (for reasons of performance, injury, pain or balance, etc), the Feldenkrais Method® offers a comprehensive practice to develop more flexible, functional behavior.
The work is taught in two complimentary formats that help you develop a clearer self image from which to act.
Awareness Through Movement®
Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) is a context for self-directed learning. ATM lessons can be done in a class lead by a teacher or on your own from a book or audio recording. There are a wide variety of lessons–everything from explorations of rolling, walking and crawling, to investigations into breathing and balance, and everything in between. ATM lessons contain a special mix of both the 'what' and the 'how' for acquiring behavior that is biologically fit, well supported, elegant and efficient. ATM lessons are available in group classes, audio recordings, and in book form.
Working 1-on-1 with a teacher is the best way to address your particular concerns and improve your performance most directly. In my sessions with students I often use my hands, my voice, my presence, and specific questions and constraints that help you clarify and improve your self organization.
“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
Feldenkrais Principles You'll Study
- Specific skeletal support with the ground, and clear internal support through the joints for any movement, so that both the muscles and the skeleton perform their functions accurately.
- Forces travel up and through the spine (not across it).
- Movement is generated with an equal and opposite support from the ground.
- Evenly distributed muscle tone for the activity, so that no one place works harder than any other.
- Good posture is the ability to move in any direction without hesitation or preparation, based on the specific support you get from the surface you're on.*
- Breathing evenly distributed and free in the activity.
- Head and eyes free in the activity.
*(addendum by Jeff Haller, Ph.D.)
Feldenkrais Skills You'll Acquire
- Creating a fluid and strong spine.
- Getting good support from the ground in every movement & orientation.
- Transitioning from one position to another efficiently and effortlessly, from sit-to-stand, to getting up from the floor, rolling, stairs, walking, running, etc.
- Using the bones below to support the bones above.
- Timing movements through your joints for healthy alignment and internal support.
- Learning how to learn new things.
- Developing a clearer self-image.
Feldenkrais Strategies You'll Use
- Not accelerating and avoiding movements driven by willpower.
- Initiating movements with the whole body rather than isolating parts.
- Initiating similar movements from more than one place in the body.
- Lengthening and expanding the body to move, rather than tightening/bracing.
- Integrating the larger muscles for more control and balance.
- Alternating between the parts and whole, so you can see how the bigger pattern is created.
- Timing your breath, eyes and head effectively with your movement.
Feldenkrais Distinctions You'll Learn
- Learning vs. Performance
- Skill vs. Willpower
- Practice vs. Activity
- Curiosity, exploration and creativity as higher functions than performance.
- Performance as resistance.
- Pleasure in learning and discovery vs. Fear of uncertainty.
- Separating Intention from Achievement
- Growth vs. Change
- Improvement vs. Cure or Fix
- Intention as separate from effort.
- Maturity as the ability to separate emotions from actions.