Discovering the Feldenkrais Method


Discovering the Feldenkrais Method
Dr. Feldenkrais was not
focusing on the young man’s
difficulties. The entire room
seemed to be alive with only
the young man’s potential.
As I watched Feldenkrais
carefully lifting the young
man’s shoulder, turning his
head slightly, or sliding his
leg along the table, I did not
understand what I was seeing.
But I knew without a doubt
that each movement was
intelligent and meaningful. I
was only aware of the young
man’s improvement, and his
potential for even greater
Feldenkrais slid one arm
under the young man’s head
and the other under his knees,
and cradling his body slightly,
slowly lifted the young man
into a sitting position. Then,
he stood back to assess his
work. The young man’s body
was calm and stable. No longer
dominated by spasticity and
wracked with involuntary
movement, the young man
was alert and smiled easily.
Everything about him seemed
to have changed. His hands,
which had been knotted into
tight fists when he entered
the room, were now soft and
open. His posture was erect
and tall, his breathing was
steady and unlabored, -even
his face looked different.
When I first encountered the Feldenkrais Method, I thought; “How can this be? What is happening in
front of me?” I knew that in a very ordinary room, something extraordinary was taking place. With
considerable effort and a pair of crutches, a young man had entered the room, his body wracked
with spasticity and tension due to cerebral palsy. Now, he was changing before my eyes. His body
relaxed and seemed to be intently listening to the touch of a gentle and rotund gentleman, Dr. Moshe
When he was approximately
40 years of age, Feldenkrais’
ability to walk was threatened
by a series of serious
knee injuries. He was a
distinguished physicist and
engineer with a wide range
of interests, and when he
was told that his knees were
damaged beyond repair,
he reacted to the news by
applying his understanding of
physics, motor development,
and martial arts to see if he
could find a way to regain
and preserve his mobility.
His studies led him to make
important discoveries in
human learning, which not
only restored his ability to
walk, but also inspired the
work he is known for. Today
there are nearly 10,000
worldwide. They have private
practices and work in a variety
of fields, such as dance, music,
theater, athletic performance,
rehabilitation, chronic pain,
child development, etc.
As the Feldenkrais Method
gains recognition for its ability
to improve both our physical
and psychological habit
patterns, people are using the
Feldenkrais Method to help
them with a broad range of
issues. Some people are using
it to speed their recovery
by David Zemach-Bersin
from injury, or because they
hope to avoid the physical
limitations that are associated
Deeply moved by what I witnessed that afternoon, I have spent the subsequent four
their athletic abilities.
decades studying and practicing the Feldenkrais Method. Over the years I have seen the
it can profoundly
Feldenkrais Method to be extremely beneficial for both adults and children, and helpful
because it offers
with a wide range of issues.
effective solutions, and by those dealing with the postural effects of long days spent sitting
The Feldenkrais Method is very different from conventional exercise and treatment.
in front of computer screens. Much like fresh air and healthy food, it turns out that the
Instead of focusing on our symptoms, it works by improving our body’s underlying
Feldenkrais Method is good for everyone.
neuromuscular and skeletal organization. In this way, it helps us to make important
As I look back on the years since I first watched Feldenkrais work, I am struck by
functional changes. Although ‘body and mind’ are exquisitely connected, many of us
many ways that current research in neuroscience is providing evidence to support
don’t make a connection between our habitual posture, or neuromuscular organization,
ideas about the interface between the brain and movement, about the
and our psychological habit patterns. We assume that we are simply the ‘way we are’.
our emotional and physical habit patterns, and most importantly,
When we are caught in a web of habitual, self-limiting patterns, we feel that we have
about our incredible capacity for change and improvement. The famous anthropologist,
‘only one’ way of doing things. What the Feldenkrais Method does, is restore our sense
Margaret Mead once said, “the Feldenkrais Method is the most sophisticated and effective
of having options and choices. As the esteemed Stanford University neuroscientist Karl
method I have seen for the prevention and reversal of deterioration of function.” My
Pribram said, “Feldenkrais is not just pushing muscles around, but changing things in
experience is that Dr. Feldenkrais’ ideas have the potential to help millions of people who
the brain itself.” With better underlying organization, many aspects of our comfort and
are unnecessarily suffering from aches, pains, movement limitations and neurological
functioning can change and improve.
problems, as well as athletes and performing artists.
Engaging the brain’s plasticity, the Feldenkrais Method offers each person a wide range
of new possibilities for their comfort, function, and psychological well-being. Quickly and
David Zemach-Bersin is the Co-Founder of the Feldenkrais Institute of New York and the Director
effectively, it interrupts even our most engrained habits of posture and movement. The
of the upcoming New York Feldenkrais Method ProfessionalTraining Program. One of Dr. Feldenkrais’
Feldenkrais Method is practiced in two complimentary forms; as exercises (also called
original American students, he studied with Dr. Feldenkrais for over a decade, in the U.S., England, and
Israel. He has been an international leader in the practice and development of the Feldenkrais Method.
Awareness Through Movement), and treatments (also called Functional Integration).
For more information about the the Feldenkrais Institute or introductory workshops, call
Both are safe, enjoyable and suitable for people of all ages and abilities.
Discovering the Feldenkrais Method
Moshe Feldenkrais did not deliberately set out to develop a remarkable method of
human improvement. It developed gradually, in response to an urgent personal need.
pg 18
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December 2012/ January & February 2013