The Feldenkrais Method is a gentle, powerful way of self- and other-discovery — so gentle you might not at first believe how powerful it is. The Method uses movement to awaken more of the dormant potential of the brain and to heighten awareness, grace, all-around competence, sensitivity, and pleasure.
Many dancers, actors (Rene Russo,) athletes, and musicians (Yo-Yo Ma) rely on it for performance enhancement. Somatic Educators, i.e. Feldenkrais Practitioners, use it to teach patients/students new possibilities for easy, integrated movement that often dissolve chronic pain. The idea is that “movement is the first language of the brain,” the primary way we explore the world and discover/develop ourselves from the very beginning. Because our most powerful period of learning and discovery is also our period of greatest dependency and vulnerability, our most fundamental emotions and self-image are woven into our individual movement patterns. If our movement is restricted, inefficient, fear and habit-bound, or reckless and self-hurting, so are we. When our movement is released, and our awareness of movement refined, so are we. Because our muscular habit patterns are actually held in the brain, which retains astonishing plasticity throughout life and recognizes a good thing, learning and change can happen very fast if you know how to “speak” directly to the brain in its natural, wordless language. That’s what an eccentric genius named Moshé Feldenkrais figured out.
The Feldenkrais Method is about our human ability to learn, and to improve our situation through learning. We use movement as the medium for learning, movements that are designed to clear up symptoms and to enhance overall functioning. The benefits of Feldenkrais include improvement of our comfort and skill in movement, but they also extend into areas of our emotional and psychological life. Moshé Feldenkrais viewed the human potential as unlimited and barely tapped. The way to tap it is simple, through learning. We are built for learning. We learn (usually) to look where we want, to reach for what we want, to crawl, sit, stand and then to walk and run. We learn this in response to our own innate human curiosity and pleasure in accomplishment. We learn well enough to satisfy our need at the time. Later in life our situation may change: what we want may change, or the accidents of life may have altered our selves or our environment. How can we learn to cope with the new situation? As adults, we are usually very far from our original childlike pleasure in movement and learning.
The Feldenkrais Method is a way of re-awakening that original pleasure in learning. This kind of learning has a special quality.
When we first learn some new skill, its freshness means that it isn’t automatic. It won’t be our first, instinctive action; our memory may need to be jogged in order to choose it. We may also have to think about the process as we do it, and that thinking may slow us down. But when we have truly learned a new skill, we no longer need to think of each step; it fits together as a whole inner sensation. The advantage of such a skill acquired by awareness is that when it doesn’t work in the real activities of daily life this new habit easily provokes awareness and so helps us to make a fresh and efficient change to meet the new requirements of our environment.