What is the Feldenkrais Method®? How it Works

Annie Thoe, FeldenkraisI began studying the Feldenkrais Method® in 1984, after seeking every possible treatment (Osteopathic, Physical Therapy, Chiropractic, various Massage therapies, Rolfing, Cranial Sacral, Acupuncture, etc.) for chronic, debilitating knee pain.  I couldn’t walk, hike, bike or swim without pain.  In one lesson, I experienced a profound shift in the alignment and coordination of my legs with my entire body.  While it took me a while to shift the pattern causing this pain, over the three decades in studying this Method, I continue to refine the ease in my movement and life.  This was the beginning of my career in bodywork and awareness study.  I use this method (along with Nature Awareness) to help expand awareness to move past obstacles in learning, healing, performance and problem-solving.

Moshe Feldenkrais and SkeletonThe Feldenkrais Method® named after its founder, Moshe Feldenkrais, is a sensory method of learning to refine one’s movement, improve function and expand awareness.  Feldenkrais developed his method in the mid-1940s after suffering a crippling knee injury.  He found he could teach himself (and others) to align, stabilize and move better based on the neuroplasticity of the brain for learning to function better.  Through guided positions and movement with self-awareness, a student engages their senses to refine their ease in an activity.  People develop expanded awareness to find better choices for movement, action and life.

Over my years of study, I find 3 major Principles in the Feldenkrais Method® that yield the magical results of ease in movement:

  1.  Tune into Your Bones:   The bones are the most solid and stable support in the body.  Once you can sense where the bones are and how they connect and stabilize to the ground or contact, the entire body responds to the sensation of support.  Often relaxation and ease in movement occurs simply by this connection alone.  However, to refine movement, sensing the position of one’s bones during movement and rest are used as the constant landmarks for guidance and alignment.
  2. Focus on Ease & Well-Being:  Awareness of one’s intentions and attention directs action in the body.  Tuning into the quality of ease refines one’s movements to become smoother, better coordinated and more aligned.  Train yourself to “search” for ease as a mindfulness practice.
  3. Attention to Whole Self: Sense how bones and specific areas connect through the entire body during movement in various situations.  Even during constraints, this attention to the whole helps balance oneself with the environment.  Feldenkrais sessons continue to refine one’s abilities to sense parts of the body in greater detail and then integrate these parts to the whole. This maturation process of attention expands one’s vocabulary of movement to act with more choices, ease and mastery for self-expression.

For a short 5 minute demonstration on these three principles, try this Youtube lesson below.

For more background on Moshe Feldenkrais and his method, you can read more on the National Feldenkrais Website.

Annie Thoe, How the Feldenkrais Method Works

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