The Feldenkrais Method is a technique of ‘physical re-education’ or ‘sensory motor learning process’ which aims to help people more fully realise their movement potential in a unique and practical way.
What can the Feldenkrais Method treat?
Practitioners claim that the Feldenkrais Method can help treat a range of conditions including:
Babies, particularly those with congenital problems or problems of a muscular or neurological nature such as birth trauma or cerebral palsy, can benefit from the Feldenkrais Method.
- musculo-skeletal problems such as back and muscle pain
- RSI and sports injuries
- neurological problems such as strokes
- neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy
- general improved physical and mental wellbeing
- chronic pain
- to improve performance in the arts and sports
The Feldenkrais Method was devised in the Forties and Fifties by Dr Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli atomic physicist and engineer. An enthusiastic athlete himself, Feldenkrais began to study movement while recovering from a serious knee injury. He was struck by the natural grace of children and decided to study human movement in greater detail.
By bringing together Eastern and Western concepts of the body – combining the study of anatomy, physiology, neurology and psychology with his knowledge of Oriental martial arts – Feldenkrais created hundreds of ‘lessons’ or exercises which help facilitate ease of movement with "minimum effort and maximum efficiency".
The method is an educational one, focusing on learning and movement to bring about improved functioning. These exercises can help increase awareness of the body and change habitual postures and movements. Apart from ridding the student of tension and discomfort, the method also has a positive effect on self-image and self-awareness.
Feldenkrais also worked extensively with severe neuromuscular disturbances such as cerebral palsy and other forms of physical disability, helping sufferers gain increased control over limb movements. He founded the Feldenkrais Institute in Israel in 1962 and there are now over 2,500 practitioners of the method around the world.
Consultation and Treatment
The Feldenkrais Method is taught either in a class or on a one-to-one basis.
During classes, pupils are verbally instructed by the practitioner to explore sequences of movements around a specific function or theme. Habitual movements are reduced to their component parts and new perceptions of common movements such as rolling, bending, reaching and turning are encouraged. Consciousness of breathing whilst moving is developed. Alternative patterns of movement are explored and the student is retaught natural, efficient and co-ordinated actions.
In private sessions, most of the instruction is given through refined and sensitive touch. The patient is fully clothed. No massage, manipulation, invasive or forceful means are used.
A minimum of an initial three lessons is recommended to see if a client enjoys the therapy and finds it beneficial. The number of sessions required after that will depend on individual progress.
Classes cost between £5 and £10 for up to an hour. Private sessions cost between £25 and £45.
It is always beneficial for students to review what they have learnt in classes or private sessions. The Feldenkrais Method can also be learnt at home from books or tapes but consulting a practitioner is always recommended over home study.
How to find a practitioner
The Feldenkrais Guild UK holds a register of accredited teachers and details of training courses. Most training lasts for four years on a part-time basis and is undertaken in accordance with an International Training Accreditation Board.
The Guild is a non-profit-making professional organisation of practitioners and teachers of the Feldenkrais method. Only those professionally trained by Dr Feldenkrais and graduated from an accredited professional training programme or a training recognised by the Feldenkrais Guild UK are eligible to be full members of the Guild or to use the legally registered name: Feldenkrais Method.
Anyone receiving medical treatment for serious conditions may want to seek the advice of their GP before starting the Feldenkrais Method or to mention the treatment to their practitioner. Apart from that precaution, the Feldenkrais Method may be safely combined with most conventional and other complementary therapies.