What is Feldenkrais?

In Brief

What brings you to enquire about Feldenkrais? A friend suggested you try it? Were you intrigued after reading chapters 5 and 6 in Norman Doidge’s book, The Brain’s Way of Healing?  Perhaps in desperation you searched the web for anything to help you get out of the hole of pain you found yourself sinking into?

The Feldenkrais Method® provides a learning environment for change – improving how the whole person moves rather than focussing on a specific point of pain or restriction.  This whole of body approach changes your thinking from “this part of me is sore” to “how can I include more of myself in movement so this part of me doesn’t get sore”. It uses gentle movements to allow you to notice your subconscious or automatic movement habits.  Providing space to really notice the “how” of your movement allows you to change and re-organise yourself for easier movement.

Our habits of self-use and body awareness have led us to where we are today. Habits serve us well and don’t use up much of our brain power.  They allow us to move and act without thought, leaving our brains free to attend to more interesting things in life.  When pain creeps in and function declines we should be motivated to explore our habits and see if we can develop better ability

A bit more of an explanation

Feldenkrais can be thought of as a way of expanding and improving your movement habits.  Novel movement puzzles are used to shake up your habits, and often your one way of doing something.  New movement opportunities arise and with them comes a re-wiring in your brain.  Immediately you do something differently, neurons begin to lay down a new path for that movement.  Of course that neural pathway is tentative and not as strong as the highway of your habit.  You spend a lifetime with your habit and how quickly and easily you can develop alternative habits is as individual as you are.  Time and practice are needed to find new paths and new roads as alternatives to the highway of your habitual movement patterns.

The simplest analogy is that this is how babies and children learn to move.  Our earliest years are our apprenticeship for movement.  Then life and all it throws at you will influence how you move.  No two people have the same life; no two people move the same way.  With a childlike curiosity about movement you can certainly learn to move better and feel better.

Experiencing the effects of Feldenkrais classes was so life changing it led Vanessa Stephen to undertake the 4 year Feldenkrais Practitioner training. At an age where most people are lamenting their decreasing physical capability, Vanessa feels more vital and better able to meet new physical challenges each year.