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Feldenkrais Method

Overview :


Moshe Feldenkrais (1904–1984) was a Russian-born Israeli physicist and engineer who was also an active soccer player and judo master. He devised his system in response to his own recurring knee injury, which had restricted his movement and caused him great pain over a long period of time. Feldenkrais believed that repeated muscle patterns cause the parts of the brain controlling those muscles to stay in a fixed pattern as well. He thought that the more the muscles are used, the more parts of the brain can be activated. He devised a method of re-educating the neuromuscular system and re-evaluating movement to increase efficiency and reduce stress, using his knowledge of mechanics and engineering, and applying some of his martial arts training.

Feldenkrais is described a being a dual system, with two components: "Awareness Through Movement" and "Functional Integration." The system aims to re-educate the body so that habitual movements that cause strain or pain can be relearned to improve efficiency and eliminate dangerous or painful action.

Feldenkrais helps to translate intention into action. In practice, an individual can learn to achieve his or her highest potential, while at the same time learning to avoid and eliminate stresses, strains, and the possibility of injury.


Moshe Feldenkrais was born on the border between Russia and Poland. When he was only a boy of 13, he traveled to Palestine on foot. The journey took a year, and once there, young Feldenkrais worked as a laborer and cartographer, also tutoring others in mathematics. Moving to France in 1933, he graduated in mechanical and electrical engineering from the Ecole des Travaux Publiques de Paris.

Feldendrais became the first person to open a Judo center in Paris after meeting with Jigaro Kano. He was also one of the first Europeans to become a black belt in Judo, in 1936.

Obtaining his Ph.D. at the Sorbonne, he went on to assist Nobel Prize laureate, Frédéric Joliot-Curie at the Curie Institute. During World War II in England, he worked on the new sonar anti-submarine research.

Prompted by a recurring leg injury, he applied his knowledge of the martial arts and his training as an engineer to devise a method of re-integrating the body. The concept was that more efficient movement would allow for the treatment of pain or disability, and the better-functioning of the body as a whole. Later on, he would begin to teach what he had learned to others in Tel Aviv.

In addition to many books about judo, including Higher Judo, he wrote six books on his method.

Functional integration

During this session, the patient wears comfortable clothing, and may sit, stand, walk, or lie on a low padded table. The practitioner helps the pupil by guiding him or her through a number of movements. The practitioner may use touch to communicate with the student, but touch is not used to correct any movements. The purpose of this session is to increase a student's awareness of his or her own movement and become open to different possibilities for movement. The instruction can be focused on a particular activity that the student does every day, or that causes him or her pain. The student can learn to alter habitual movements and re-educate the neuromuscular system. This type of session is particularly useful for those who suffer from limitations originating from misuse, stress, illness, or accident. It can also help athletes and musicians perform to the best of their ability by increasing their possibilities for movement. It offers students the potential for improving their physical and mental performance in addition to heightening the sense of well-being.

Awareness through movement

Feldenkrais's martial arts background can be clearly identified in many of the aspects of Awareness Through Movement (ATM). During group sessions, pupils are taught to become acutely aware of all their movements and to imagine them, so that they can improve the efficiency of their actions in their minds, and put them into practice. Pupils are encouraged to be disciplined about practicing their exercises, to achieve maximum benefit.

Awareness through movement is described as an exploratory, nonjudgmental process through which pupils are encouraged to observe and learn about themselves and their movements. The range of this therapy is wide, and there are thousands of different lessons designed to help specific areas.

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