The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education®

The Feldenkrais Method was founded by Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli physicist and expert in Judo. Using his unique genius and wide range of interest he pioneered many aspects in the field of Somatic Education. He was known worldwide for his ability to help people with neurological problems such as stroke, cerebral palsy, pain relief as well as assisting athletes and other performing artists improve their skills. Through the period of the early 1950’s until his death in 1984 he meticulously trained many students in what is now know as the Feldenkrais Method®. There are now thousands of Feldenkrais Practitioners world wide that continue the legacy of Dr. Feldenkrais.

Somatic Education is a mind/body approach of expanding the potential of a person’s life through the use of movement and awareness. Because people use habituation as a means of getting through the day-to-day of life, they frequently loose the neurological flexibility needed for subtle adjustments. As a result they often strain themselves doing everyday activities without even knowing it. What they are aware of is pain, exhaustion and the depression that often accompany it. This frequently leads to poor sense of self-esteem and other ramifications.

To counter this innate tendency of habituation, Dr. Feldenkrais developed movement explorations that take us out of our normal patterns. When done slowly and with awareness the nervous system is stimulated in such a way that a wider range of movement options becomes available. The basic idea is instead of repeating the same pattern, we actually learn what we are doing and how to do it differently. With this new awareness, we are then able to do things in a less stressful way. Whether it is mental, emotional or physical our ability to learn and behave in a healthier way can always expand.

Feldenkrais developed two ways to go about this learning process. The first is done in a class where the instructor leads the group through a series of gentle movements. Fledenkrais call these lessons Awareness Through Movement®. As the lesson progresses the movements, though always gentle, become more and more complicated. It’s similar to rubbing your belly and patting your head. As you swap things around you get a little confused. However, it is during these moments that the nervous system is challenged and new strategies are developed. Frequently you leave the class with a whole new awareness of sensations, body postures and a sense of rest.

The second method of learning called Functional Integration® is similar to the first except it is done one-on-one with a practitioner. In these lessons you usually recline (fully clothed) and the practitioner moves you in gentle ways. As the lesson progresses you begin to become aware of areas you may have been holding or even an increase in movement abilities. Frequently areas of limitation are overcome and new more effective ways of addressing things are developed.

There is no question of the genius of Dr. Feldenkrais and the method that he developed. It is a means of empowering a person by going beyond their limitations and giving them the means to expand their options. The Feldenkrais Method is the primary approach that I use when working with people either in my private practice or at the Doleys Clinic. It often provides an immediate reduction in pain, and also equips clients with the awareness of things that they can do on their own to contiune their improvement.

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