Moshe Feldenkrais was a Russian physicist and engineer who came to England in 1940. He theorized that from infancy our brain develops patterns of movement. Bad posture or gait in a parent could therefore be passed on to a child, and this incorrect structure can have an effect on the neurological and muscular systems. His exploration of the dynamics of movement in the human body led to the development of his movement method.
The Feldenkrais method teaches gentle sequences of movement which aim to reorganize previous patterns of action so that the body may be used more effectively. Feldenkrais believed that the body and mind were connected and profoundly affected one another, and that changing negative habits of movement and posture would not only enhance physical well-being but also have positive influence on the mind and emotions. As with the Alexander technique, pupils learn how to change their restrictive patterns and habits of movement using an awareness technique, and this leads to an increased sense of relaxation and a reduction in stress which benefit the mind as well as the body.
The method is taught in two ways: in a group class called ‘awareness through movement’, the teacher guides students verbally through a series of slow exercises, carried out at first while lying down so that the strain on the body is minimized. Then, in an individual lesson called ‘functional integration’, the teacher guides the student by means of touch, in conjunction with gende manipulation and massage. Individual lessons are particularly beneficial for those with disabilities or painful injuries.
Anyone can gain from the Feldenkrais method. It is helpful in cases of chronic pain and helps recovery from physical trauma. Because it is such a gentle therapy, it is suitable for stroke patients and children with cerebral palsy. The method is very popular among athletes and those in the performing arts.