Questions and Answers

1. What is The Feldenkrais Method?
2. Who Can Benefit from the Feldenkrais Method?
3. What Happens in a Feldenkrais Method session?
4. What is an Awareness Through Movement lesson?
5. What is a Functional Integration lesson?
6. How does the Feldenkrais Method differ from
other somatic and therapeutic methods?
7. How can I find a Feldenkrais practitioner?
8. How are Feldenkrais Practitioners trained?
9. Can I e-mail anyone with questions?
10. Who was Moshe Feldenkrais?
11. Can I read more About the Feldenkrais Method?
12. Where can I obtain Feldenkrais resources? (Tapes,
books, videos, etc.)

1. What is the Feldenkrais Method?

The Feldenkrais Method is named after its originator, Dr. Moshe
Feldenkrais, D.Sc. (1904-1984) [see question 8], a Russian born physicist,
judo expert, mechanical engineer and educator.

The Feldenkrais Method is a form of Somatic Education that uses
gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and enhance human
functioning. Through this Method, you can increase your ease and range of
motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate
capacity for graceful, efficient movement. These improvements will often
generalize to enhance functioning in other aspects of your life.

The Feldenkrais Method is based on principles of physics, biomechanics
and an empirical understanding of learning and human development. By expanding
the self-image through movement sequences that bring attention to the parts
of the self that are out of awareness, the Method enables you to include
more of yourself in your functioning movements. Students become more aware
of their habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities and expand options
for new ways of moving. By increasing sensitivity the Feldenkrais Method assists you to live your life more fully, efficiently and comfortably.
The improvement of physical functioning is not necessarily an end in
itself. Such improvement is based on developing a broader functional awareness
which is often a gateway to more generalized enhancement of physical functioning
in the context of your environment and life.

2. Who Can Benefit from the Feldenkrais Method?

Anyone--young or old, physically challenged or physically fit--can benefit
from the Method. Feldenkrais is beneficial for those experiencing
chronic or acute pain of the back, neck, shoulder, hip, legs or knee, as
well as for healthy individuals who wish to enhance their self-image. The
Method has been very helpful in dealing with central nervous system conditions
such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and stroke. Musicians, actors
and artists can extend their abilities and enhance creativity. Many Seniors
enjoy using it to retain or regain their ability to move without strain
or discomfort.

Through lessons in this method you can enjoy greater ease of movement,
an increased sense of vitality, and feelings of peaceful relaxation. After
a session you often feel taller and lighter, breathe more freely and find
that your discomforts have eased. You experience relaxation, and feel more
centered and balanced.

Athletes who have used Feldenkrais include basketball star Julius Erving and PGA golfers Rick Acton and Duffy Waldorf.
Celebrities who have used Feldenkrais include Norman Cousins,
Margaret Mead, former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, Helen Hayes,
and Whoopi Goldberg.
Famous musicians include violinist Yehudi Menuhin,
and cellist Yo Yo Ma.

3. What Happens in a Feldenkrais Method lesson?

Feldenkrais work is done in two formats. In group classes, called
Awareness Through Movement, the Feldenkrais teacher verbally
leads you through a sequence of movements in basic positions: sitting or
lying on the floor, standing or sitting in a chair. Private Feldenkrais
lessons, called functional Integration, are tailored to each student's
individual learning needs; the teacher guides your movements through touch.

People learning the Feldenkrais Method are usually referred to
as 'students' rather than clients or patients. This reinforces our view
of the work as primarily being an educational process.

4. What is an Awareness Through Movement lesson?

Awareness Through Movement consists of verbally directed movement
sequences presented primarily to groups. A lesson generally lasts from 30
to 60 minutes. The lessons consist of comfortable, easy movements that gradually
evolve into movements of greater range and complexity. These precisely structured
movement explorations involve thinking, sensing, moving and imagining. Many
are based on developmental movements and ordinary functional activities
(reaching, standing, lying to sitting, looking behind yourself, etc.), some
are based on more abstract explorations of joint, muscle, and postural relationships.
There are hundreds of ATM lessons, varying in difficulty and complexity,
for all levels of movement ability.

The emphasis is on learning which movements work better and noticing
the quality of these changes in your body. Through increased awareness,
you will learn to abandon habitual patterns of movement and develop new
alternatives, resulting in improved flexibility and coordination.

How do you learn in an Awareness Through Movement lesson?

Learning strategies in ATM include:

Using slow, gentle movement and directing students to move within the
limits of safety by avoiding pain and strain

Orienting to the process of learning and doing rather than working
towards a goal.

Directing awareness toward sensing differences and perceiving whole
inter-connected patterns in movement.

Allowing the student to find his/her own way with a lesson.

5. What is a Functional Integration lesson?

As Feldenkrais practitioners guide you through movement sequences
verbally in ATM lessons, they also guide you through movement in Functional
Integration lessons with gentle non-invasive touching.

Functional Integration is performed with the student fully clothed,
usually lying on a table or with the student in sitting or standing positions.
At times, various props (pillows, rollers, blankets ) are used in an effort
to support the person's body configuration or to facilitate certain movements.
The learning process is carried out without the use of any invasive or forceful

Functional Integration is a hands-on form of tactile, kinesthetic
communication. The practitioner communicates how you organize your body
and, through gentle touching and movement, conveys the experience of comfort,
pleasure and ease of movement while you learn how to reorganize your body
and behavior in new and more expanded functional motor patterns.

In Functional Integration the practitioner/teacher develops a
lesson for you, custom-tailored to your unique configuration at that particular
moment, relating to a desire, intention or need you have. Through rapport
and respect for your abilities, qualities and integrity, the practitioner/teacher
creates an environment in which you can learn comfortably.

6. How does the Feldenkrais Method differ from:

Massage and Chiropractic?
The similarity is that both practices touch people, but beyond that our
Method is very different. In massage, the practitioner is working directly
with the muscles, in chiropractic, with the bones. These are structural
approaches that seek to affect change through changes in structure. (muscles
and spine) The eldenkrais Method works with your ability to regulate
and coordinate your movement; which means working with the nervous system.
We refer to this as a functional approach wherein you can improve your use
of self inclusive of whatever structural considerations are present.

7. How can I find a Feldenkrais Practitioner?

In North America the FELDENKRAIS GUILD can refer you to a practitioner
near you. A directory of practioners on-line can be found in question 8.
The National Associations and Guilds can direct you to practitioners in
their respective areas. They are listed by country on the international
section of the on-line directory

8. How are Feldenkrais Practitioners trained?

All Feldenkrais practitioners must complete 800-1000 hours of
training over a 3 to 4 year period. Trainees participate in Awareness
Through Movement and Functional Integration lessons, lectures,
discussions, group process and videos of Dr. Feldenkrais teaching. Eventually
students teach Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration
under supervision. Trainees gradually acquire knowledge of how movement
and function are formed and organized. This extensive subjective experience
forms the basis from which she/he will learn to work with others.

The main purpose of the training is for the trainees to acquire for themselves
a deep understanding of movement and its formation, to become aware of their
own movement, to become astute observers of movement in others, and to be
able to teach other people to enlarge their awareness and movement skills.</P>

The training process is based upon the vast body of knowledge Dr. Feldenkrais
introduced. Since he integrated into his body of learning theory aspects
from a variety of scientific fields such as Newtonian mechanics, physics,
neurophysiology, movement development, biology and learning theories, we
present some of these aspects in the training program for the trainee to
comprehend the theoretical background of the method.

9. Can I Email anyone with questions?

Deborah McMahon would be glad to answer any of your questions. Please contact her at (310) 306-5479 or email her at

10. Who was Moshe Feldenkrais?

Moshe Feldenkrais was born in Russia. At the age of 13, he left his home and travelled alone for a year untile he reached Palestine, where he worked as a laborer, cartographer and tutor in mathematics. He also became active in sports
(gymnastics, soccer) and the martial arts (jiu-jitsu). During his mid twenties he left for France and eventually became a graduate of l'Ecole des Travaux Publiques de Paris, in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. Later he earned his Doctor of Science in Physics from the Sorbonne in Paris, where he assisted
Nobel Prize winner Joliot-Curie in early nuclear research.
In Paris Feldenkrais also met Jigaro Kano, the creator of modern Judo,
and Feldenkrais became one of the first Europeans to earn a Black Belt in
Judo (1936) and to introduce Judo in the West through his teaching and books
on the subject. In the early 1940's, while working in anti-submarine warfare
for the British Admiralty, he patented a number of sonar devices.

After suffering crippling knee injuries, Feldenkrais used his own body
as his laboratory and merged his acquired knowledge with his deep curiosity
about biology, perinatal development, cybernetics, linguistics, and systems
theory. He taught himself to walk again and in the process developed an
extraordinary system for accessing the power of the central nervous system
to improve human functioning.

Feldenkrais studied intensively in psychology, neurophysiology, and other
health-related disciplines, and in 1949 he returned to Israel where he continued
to integrate and refine his ideas into the system known as the Feldenkrais

11. Can I read more About The Feldenkrais Method?

Listed below are books and articles by Feldenkrais and other practitioners.

By Moshe Feldenkrais

Higher Judo
Body and Mature Behavior: A Study of Anxiety, Sex, Gravitation
and Learning
Awareness Through Movement
The Potent Self
The Elusive Obvious
The Master Moves

12. Where can I get more resources (tapes,books etc.)?

The FELDENKRAIS GUILD of North America is an international organization
of practitioners whose Professional Training Programs are approved and
regulated by the Guild Training Accreditation Board. The Guild makes a
range of informative materials available to the public including books
and articles by Moshe Feldenkrais and other practitioners as well as audio
cassette lessons to do at home. The Guild maintains a directory of authorized
practitioners. (see question 5)
The FELDENKRAIS GUILD of North America 524 Ellsworth St. SW,
P.O. Box 489, Albany, OR 97321 800-775-2118 541-926-0981 Fax 541-926-0572
Feldenkrais Resources 830 Bancroft Way Berkeley, CA 94710
800-765-1907 510-540-7600 Fax 510-540-7683
Sensory Motor Learning Systems (S.M.L.S.)160 Chesterfield Dr.
Suite 8 Cardiff by the Sea, CA 92007 800-735-7950 510-549-9140
This FAQ compiled by Richard Ehrman and the Feldenweb Committee.

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