The Feldenkrais Method: Neuroplasticity and Possibility
The Feldenkrais Method is a novel method of movement education that uses directed attention to improve human functioning.
In other words, it’s all about creating a richer connection between the body and the brain.
Devised by Moshe Feldenkrais, a Ukrainian-born Israeli scientist, the Feldenkrais Method emphasizes gentle, deliberate movements done with awareness, with a focus on moving with the whole self and seeking to refine the quality of every movement.
In this way, we can engage the nervous system and help facilitate a context for learning—one in which the brain is invited to make distinctions and become aware of habitual patterns that are causing pain or holding us back.
These old habitual patterns can then be overwritten by newer ones that serve us better.
In this context for learning, the nervous system is given a chance to organize itself more optimally, by distributing movement more appropriately through the musculoskeletal system and reducing unnecessary muscular contraction.
As a result, the big “prime mover” muscles are allowed take over more of the work and the skeleton is able to more adequately support the body against gravity.
This is the power of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to rewire itself, in action!
Benefits of the Feldenkrais Method can include:
– improved body awareness, flexibility, and coordination
– less pain and stress
– faster recovery from injury
– a greater sense of ease in movement.
What does the Feldenkrais Method look like in practice?
The Feldenkrais Method has two main strategies to create this context for learning and improving human functioning.
The first, Awareness Through Movement (ATM), involves verbally guided movements done slowly and with careful attention in a classroom setting.
The second is Functional Integration (FI), a form of one-on-one instruction involving subtle, hands-on movement done by a skilled practitioner.
What can you expect to experience after a Feldenkrais ATM or FI lesson?
Many people report feeling lighter, taller, “longer,” and more relaxed. Pain may be reduced or disappear. You might sense a more solid connection to the ground in standing and walking. You might also find that your breathing has become fuller and easier, and that you have more energy.