Moshe Feldenkrais, who died aged 80 in 1984, was an engineer and physicist who worked on France’s early atomic research program and on the British antisubmarine project during World War II. But it was the martial arts, and the body mechanics involved in them, that most fascinated him. The Feldenkrais Method was developed through 40 years of research by Moshe Feldenkrais, Ph.D., D.Sc., a Russian-born physicist, mechanical engineer, educator and martial artist. A severe injury led Dr. Feldenkrais to a lifelong investigation into ways of improving the body’s ability to function.
The recurrence of an old knee injury set him off on the research that was to be his life’s work. Like Matthias Alexander, in healing himself he invented a method that not only helps treat people with serious physical problems (most notably, spasticity) but is also increasingly used by musicians, dancers, and sportspeople to improve their awareness and performance.
Elements of Therapy
Functional Intecration This is the one-on-one application of the Feldenkrais method by a trained practitioner, usually in 45- to 60-minute sessions. The practitioner uses gentle manipulation and movements to encourage the body into new, easier ways of moving. In Feldenkrais terms, this feeds information directly of into the nervous system with the result that the body effectively reprograms the brain.
Feldenkrais Happy Hamstrings
This is one of the Feldenkrais Exercises involved in learning how to integrate the hamstrings in movement while softening and lengthening them. This lesson involves rotation of the leg and crossing the midline. This is a way of using Feldenkrais exercises in developing control and helps with balance. Very gentle reaching motions with the hands as your legs are put in slightly different holding positions.
We offer this Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement lesson along with the other Feldenkrais Exercises for the hamstrings.
Through Movement In contrast to the comparatively passive approach of functional integration, awareness through movement is taught in group classes and comprises a series of directed movements for students to follow actively. It is not conventional exercise, however, because the object is for each student to stay attentive and tune in to precisely what the body is doing. Movements may be very slight, perhaps only lifting one foot a fraction off the floor. But even this may quickly bring a realization of unnecessary muscle tension, release from which can lead to a state of profound relaxation.