The Feldenkrais Method, named after the founder, Moshe Feldenkrais, is a learning system which helps all people become more aware and alive. Through increasing awareness, people discover days to reduce their own pain, increase flexibility, and reduce stress. A delightful description is on the website of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America (click here)
How does it help people?
People who participate in the Feldenkrais Method are usually called 'students', to recognize that they are entering into a learning process.
Learning occurs at many levels of the nervous system. In the Feldenkrais Method, we address many of these levels, often simultaneously. Thus an action can have impact at the conceptual "thought" levels, the perceptual level, and the level of sympathetic nervous system, as well as at the central nervous system.
The training is an extraordinary opportunity for both personal and professional development. In the process, you will acquire the knowledge of how movement and function are formed and organized, all within an organic learning model. You will become aware of your own movement, as well as become acute observers of movement in others.
Learn how to teach others to enlarge their awareness and movement skills.
A recommended Audio Tape for beginners, which has several short, very practical lessons: Introduction to the Feldenkrais Method can be ordered from FELDENKRAIS Resources (800) 765-1907. (ask for Volume I Item #1999 $29 USD Volume II Item #2000 $29 USD)
On-line Sample Lessons
Lavinia's Lesson of the Month. Each month Lavinia Plonka explores a delightful new lesson in improving the quality of life. See: Lavinia's Downloads
Awareness Heals by Steven Shafarman. Addison-Wesley publishing. $18.95. ISBN: 0-201-69469-7. Copies are available at major bookstores in Calgary (Chapters/Indigo)
The Busy Person's Guide to Easier Movement by Frank Wildman, PhD ISBN 1-889618-75-6 Softcover, 188 pages $14.95 ($4.50 s/h) USD Available from the Movement Studies Institute, (800) 342-3424.
Mindful Spontaneity, by Ruthy Alon. $24.95 USD Available from the Feldenkrais Guild (800) 775-2118.
Relaxercize by and David Zemach-Bersin and Mark Reese $23.00 USD. Available from the Feldenkrais Guild (800) 775-2118.
Audio programs for the beginner(From: FELDENKRAIS RESOURCES: (800) 765-1907)
Introduction to the Feldenkrais Method by Elizabeth Beringer and David Zemach-Bersin. (Volume I Item #1999 $29 USD Volume II Item #2000 $29 USD)
Embodied Learning: Focus on Knees and Ankles: Series 1 (by Elizabeth Beringer) Item #2001 $40 USD
The Grammar Of Spontaneity: Volume I (by Ruthy Alon) Item #1045 $55 USD
ATM Video Series I (1-4) by Stephen Rosenholtz PhD Four Video tapes series available, each with four lessons per tape. $39.95 USD Available from the Feldenkrais Guild (800) 775-2118.
About the Feldenkrais Method.Susan Hillier, Associate Professor: Neuroscience and Rehabilitation at University of South Australia, writes, "
The Feldenkrais Method is a way of exploring movement, posture and breathing through hands-on touch, used by dancers, musicians, athletes, actors and people living with and rehabilitating from a range of illnesses and injuries. Terms integral to the method such as awareness and integration are not easy concepts.Click to read more.
Running, walking ideas with Jae Gruenke, The Balanced Runner™ US, writes,
"Things are starting to come full circle. When I started working with runners in 2002, the dominant belief about running form was still old school: everybody has their own natural form they were born with, and you shouldn't try to change it or you might get hurt. Danny Dreyer of ChiRunning and Nicholas Romanov of Pose Technique were making some headway in changing this but there was a long way to go.
Then came the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and within a couple of years the dominant belief reversed completely. Improving your running form became the most important thing you could do to prevent injury and run your best. After a handful of years, though, it became clear that a lot of people were getting hurt trying to force themselves to run differently (mostly working on their own rather than using a program like Chi or Pose or coming to see me). And furthermore the research into the relationship between different running styles (well, different footstrikes and footwear at least) and injury continued and yielded more complex results.
And now, as shoe designs swing back to more cushioning, thinking about running form is heading back towards the "stick with what you're born with" view, with the coining of the new phrase "signature stride" and ever more popular recommendation from health and fitness professionals that you stick with what you're doing, it may be good after all.
I have a special take on this as a Feldenkrais practitioner who believes there is a right way to run! click to read more.
I received a free recording this past week from Alan Questel, a highly acclaimed Feldenkrais Practitioner who has produced a number of CD series. The recording is from his Balance CD set and is very interesting. I uploaded the recording onto the class site. I encourage you to subscribe to his newsletter - each month you get a free recording (http://www.alanquestel.com)
Try an interesting variation on learning how to find freedom in the neck by Feldenkrais Practitioner, Oli Wiles. Enjoy!https://youtu.be/R_4h_QQe5ds
Another Video this week, by my friend David Sullivan, in New Zealand.
Does Stretching Really Work? Research is now pretty clear that stretching does not improve flexibility nor does it significantly assist performance (as in racing). Two articles that describe the physiology are: )
Why Your Muscles Get Sore (and What You Can Do About It)
. An interesting article that dispels a number of explanations and remedies. If they touch on your favourite remedy, sorry.
Fitness Trainers have discovered Feldenkrais-like movements. Steve Maxwell (www.maxwellsc.com) has been promoting a series of movement lessons to help his clients achieve better fitness.
From my perspective with the finesse of the myriad of lessons in the Feldenkrais Method, the activities are very familiar, and which I teach regularly. His approach seems very coarse, without of the overall finesse of ATM lessons, and so even the best demonstration models have no fluidity. He apparently has no concept of ease or even elegance. Nevertheless, these give the reader an idea of the benefits of these kinds of moving.
About a year ago, Gary Marcus wrote an article for the New York Times titled, Face It, Your Brain Is a Computer. Dr. Marcus is eminently qualified to present this perspective as he is a professor of psychology and neural science at New York University, and the editor of “The Future of the Brain”.
He opens his essay,
SCIENCE has a poor track record when it comes to comparing our brains to the technology of the day. Descartes thought that the brain was a kind of hydraulic pump, propelling the spirits of the nervous system through the body. Freud compared the brain to a steam engine. The neuroscientist Karl Pribram likened it to a holographic storage device.
Many neuroscientists today would add to this list of failed comparisons the idea that the brain is a computer — just another analogy without a lot of substance. Some of them actively deny that there is much useful in the idea; most simply ignore it.
He argues, "Too many scientists have given up on the computer analogy, and far too little has been offered in its place. In my view, the analogy is due for a rethink."
This week we have another essay, this one by Dr. Robert Epstein, who attempts to convince us that
Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer
Robert Epstein is no slouch. He is a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California. He is the author of 15 books, and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today. You'd think we should listen carefully to him, with these kinds of credentials.(click to read his article) . But read on. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.
But his article seems to have generated a lot of argument. It's kind of like angry bees.
Sergio seems to have a very broad background and seems to be particularly motivated to debunk anti-science or shallow-science articles. He has some very interesting points to counter the arguments of Dr Epstein. To clarify his mood in writing the article he says, 'Sometimes reading a flawed argument triggers my rage, I really do get angry, a phenomenon that invariably surprises and amuses me. What follows is my attempt to use my anger in a constructive way, it may include elements of a jerk reaction*, but I’ll try to keep my emotions in check."
The next article is by Julie Lee, a PhD student in Neuroscience in UCL. In her blog, titled, "The Not-So-Empty Brain, or Lessons Against Confusing the IP Metaphor. Julie's review is more of an analysis of the faulty logic in Epstein's article. It has some good points, and is worth a read (click to follow).
She summarized her thoughts as: "Epstein’s well-publicised argument is poorly argued as it conflates two orthogonal stances, (1) the information processing metaphor, and (2) the very much non-metaphoric computational theory of mind. Even if these were the same, Epstein frequently contradicts his anti-representational stance with logical inconsistencies. "
The final article gets back to the computer-brain conumdrum, and si titled, "Yes, Your Brain Certainly Is a Computer" Jeffrey Shallit opens his article with a conversation:
- Did you hear the news, Victoria? Over in the States those clever Yanks have invented a flying machine!
- A flying machine! Good heavens! What kind of feathers does it have?
- Feathers? It has no feathers.
- Well, then, it cannot fly. Everyone knows that things that fly have feathers. It is preposterous to claim that something can fly without them.
Shallit pulls no punches. "The most recent foolishness along these lines was penned by psychologist Robert Epstein" and finished with, 'I don't know why people like Epstein feel the need to deny things for which the evidence is so overwhelming. He behaves like a creationist in denying evolution. And like creationists, he apparently has no training in a very relevant field (here, computer science) but still wants to pontificate on it. When intelligent people behave so stupidly, it makes me sad."
In between are some interesting arguments as well as some irrefutable truths. Also particularly interesting is the comments after his article. (click to read more)
Dr. Norman Doidge's New Book Validates the Foundations of the Feldenkrais Method
Norman Doidge, M.D., on his remarkable new book, The Brain's Way of Healing, which details -- through compelling and dramatic personal histories, including two chapters about Moshe Feldenkrais and the application of the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education --the miraculous phenomenon of neuroplastic healing in action.
This is an interview with Feldenkrais practitioner and trainer Dr. Frank Wildman published on Dec 15, 2015. Dr. Wildman explains in this series of interviews by Yvo Mentens, in the Centre Feldenkrais Cantal, at the Beliashe Institute, the inner workings of the Feldenkrais method and how it can improve your life.
Learning and Awareness - quotes from Moshe Feldenkrais
“Our ability to learn... involves the developing of new responses to familiar stimuli.” (ATM pp 71-72)
“Most people do not achieve the use of more than a minute fraction of their potential ability; the minority that outstrips the majority does so not because of its higher potential, but because it learns to use a higher proportion of this potential...” (Awareness Through Movement, p 17)
“If a man wishes to improve his self-image, he must first of all learn to value himself as an individual, even if his faults as a member of society appear to him to outweigh his qualities.” (ATM, p 19)
Moshé Feldenkrais was born in 1904 in the little town of Slavuta, in the present-day Ukrainian Republic. In 1918 he left for Palestine and joined the many men and women who are now known as the "Pioneers" of Israel. In the 1930's he went to France to study at the Sorbonne, gaining his PhD studying nuclear physics. He also started the first Judo club in Europe. At the start of WWII, he left France with the other scientists, and worked scientific officer in the British Admiralty. His first book on the Feldenkrais Method, Body and Mature Behaviour, was published in 1949. He returned to Israel in 1951, working again in nuclear physics. He was working full time on what we now know as the Feldenkrais Method by 1955.
by Dr. Norman Doidge for the National Post, October 6, 1999
Anyone who is subject to the grim tug of gravity might count themselves lucky that one day, about 50 years ago, Moshe Feldenkrais, in his late thirties, while standing on a wet subma- rine deck, slipped and aggravat- ed an old knee injury. They should also be grateful to the doctors who told him he would never walk again without surgery (surgery that offered only a 50% cure rate), because Feldenkrais decided to fix him- self, and invented a new treat- ment in the process.
FELDENKRAIS lessons are intended to allow the student to discover how to embody new concepts, to foster increased level of functioning, physically, emotionally, academically and socially. Most of the lessons touch on the following topics in conventional cognitive ways, but they also draw the student to deeper levels, allowing the student to experience for themselves (e.g. “embody”) the concept.
Many people with Parkinson's Disease are finding that the Feldenkrais Method can be a useful way to find new ways to regain movement.
Ernie Adams wrote, "For a person with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), the natural rhythm and flow of perception, feeling, and movement is disrupted. There is a disconnection between the intention to move and the ability to start or complete an action. Routine automatic behaviors, such as those involved in walking, speaking, breathing, swallowing, and facial expression, become difficult or unavailable."
Many people with PD are frustrated with the typical generic prescriptions of “exercise therapy’,’ “fall prevention,” or “gait training,” and want to find additional ways to help themselves. There has been an upwelling of political advocacy and fund raising in the last few years to increase research and awareness of PD by nonprofit organizations, such as the Michael J. Fox Foundation. Complementary medicine and mind-body approaches, such as the Feldenkrais Method, are becoming more widely recognized as significantly beneficial to people with both orthopedic and neurological conditions.
The Feldenkrais Method influences brain and behavior through a learning process involving movement exploration, trial and error, and problem solving. With the Feldenkrais Method students develop their ability to attend to internal (proprioceptive ) as well as external and environmental feedback. Children learn to lift their heads, crawl, roll over, sit, stand, walk and talk using this same process. Rather than “correcting” or “showing’’ the student how to do something, the practitioner presents possible choices that may help the client solve the problem for herself or himself. These ‘choices’ are carefully designed movement sequences that can be adapted to the student’s specific needs. The student decides what feels right and what works. It is a self-organizing learning process, rather than a prescription to follow a generic exercise regime. The Feldenkrais Method offers persons with Parkinson’s Disease a way to discover and implement action patterns that can enhance functional ability. It will be different for each student. The goal of the practitioner is to create the optimal conditions for learning. (click to read more)
Irene Pasternack speaking at a Parkinsons Recovery conference
A short (3.5 minute) video version of the presentation can be viewed -- click the yellow square.
In 2010, Irene Pasternack of Seattle spoke with a radio program on Parkinson's Recovery. In this program she describes how you can use the Feldenkrais Method to improve your balance, prevent falls, cope with freezing, maintain facial mobility, speech volume and swallowing, and find greater comfort and ease in day-to-day activities.
The show includes a short Feldenkrais lesson to improve posture, comfort and stability in sitting. In addition to making you feel more comfortable, this lesson helps improve the mobility of your neck, head, and eyes, and has a direct impact on your balance in standing. (The broadcast is 89 minutes: click to go to the page and hear the presentation)
Matt Zeppelin of Denver has been providing support for persons with Parkinsons for some time, including a 4-hour workshop. On his website he has audio versions of the four lessons in the recent workshop. He writes, "The lessons build on each other thematically, and you may hear me make reference to a prior lesson from time to time, but they are also intended to stand alone."Click to go to his website.
Our human brain is incredibly complex. Intricately networked, and intertwined with our dexterous bodies, our brains coordinate our moving, sensing, feeling and learning. Out of a lifetime of experience laid down in the dynamic networks of our nervous system our sense of who we are and who we can become emerges.
When fashioning his unique movement lessons Moshé Feldenkrais recognized that our sense of ourselves – our self-image – is built on the foundation of our experience of moving.
During the evening presentation at the 2014 FGNA Annual Conference in Washington, DC, Roger Russell explored how awareness of our movement can bring about surprisingly pleasant discoveries about how we can move with proficiency and grace. The intriguing experience of this clever way to extend our movement repertoire raises a question:“How do Feldenkrais lessons work?”
Some FELDENKRAIS BasicsPeople often ask us, 'How does it work?', 'What makes Feldenkrais unique?'. As an experiential and exploratory process, it is best to get to know Feldenkrais for yourself. In this article, Cliff Smyth explores some of the ideas that underlie the Method.
The following 10-minute video outlines some of the benefits of the FELDENKRAIS Method. In this video students of the method describe how it has enriched and changed their lives. (If you cannot see the video, click here)
Recent social media reports breathlessly suggest that knee problems could be resolved with far less intervention than surgery. Instead, stem cells are being injected. Click on the video to watch it (If you cannot see it, click to go to the page)
However, there are warning signs, as well. In an article in WebMD titled, "Stem Cell Treatments: 6 False-Hope Warning Signs Unproven, Risky Treatments Mislead Patients to Seek Cutting-Edge Therapy", the authors note that
(the) "hype" that glosses over an inconvenient fact: There are no new approved stem cell therapies.
The danger becomes clear if you Google "stem cell treatment." You'll get search results from clinics in the U.S. and around the world touting stem cell treatments for conditions ranging from baldness to ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).
People who pursue those treatments "are spending huge sums of money to get therapies that are completely unproven and unlikely to work," Hare says.
Dr. Feldenkrais spoke extensively on the elusive aspects of awareness. For example,
There is an essential difference between consciousness and awareness although the borders are not clear in our use of language. I can walk up the stairs of my house, fully conscious of what I am doing, and yet not know how many steps I have climbed. In order to know how many steps there are I must climb them a second time, pay attention, listen to myself, and count them. Awareness is consciousness together with a realization of what is happening within it or what is going on within ourselves while we are conscious. (Awareness Through Movement, P 50)
Again, he saw the necessity to do the action, the movement, "... a second time... pay attention... listen to myself and ... (count them)". Thus there is an aspect of reflection, moving and attending to the experience, and intending to remember. This is what we are developing in the classes and the one-on-one sessions.
kinesthesia: the deep sense perception of movement, the muscular sense of perception
Some time ago, a colleague offered FELDENKRAIS workshops that had wonderful perspectives. I have retained the announcement because the language and ideas were so appealing.
Dennis Leri will give five Awareness Through Movement lesson/lecture workshops based upon the template of the Da Vinci Man. The Da Vinci Man is at once an integrated expression of Science, Philosophy, Art and Spiritual Knowledge. As we will experience in this series, an Awareness Through Movement lesson is no less than that.
The Experimenter is the Experiment: The Feldenkrais Method as a Scientific Practice
Science is founded upon definite conceptual and experimental principles. In contextualizing Awareness Through Movement lessons, weíll demonstrate how a Feldenkrais lesson employs the scientific method and then challenges it. Moshe Feldenkrais helped design the Nobel Prize winning experiments of Joilet-Curie. He carried that design experience over in his creation of Functional Integration and Awareness Through Movement lessons.
Know Thyself Knowing: The Feldenkrais Method as a Philosophical Practice
What is philosophy? How can a self know the self? The Feldenkrais Method in the form of an Awareness Through Movement lesson is a viable philosophical practice with antecedents going all the way back to Ancient Greece. This seminar will indicate and make explicit the path of philosophical enquiry in an Awareness Through Movement lesson and follow it where it may lead.
Giving and Receiving Form: The Feldenkrais Method as the Practice of an Art Form
Finding and constructing expressions of form for their own sake -- forms which have never before existed -- is one of the functions of Art. Each Feldenkrais lesson can draw out of ourselves something more intelligible and expressive than we can define or say. Moshe Feldenkrais was a martial artist and made the art of it available to all of us in his work. The relation to other arts will be touched upon.
Self Liberation without Compromise: The Feldenkrais Method as a Spiritual Practice
Feldenkrais hinted at and at times explicitly called his method a Way or Path of Awakening. What resonance does our work have to Spiritual practice? Do we dare follow this direction? What happens to us and our students when we allow this view of the Feldenkrais Method to unfold? Permitting a spiritual dimension, while challenging, can ultimately be the most fulfilling and satisfying direction for both practitioner and student.
Coming Home: The Feldenkrais Method as the Feldenkrais Method
Coming home means one must have left home. The comings and goings, disciplines and practices, that differentiate themselves within the Feldenkrais Method emerge united as a practice in and of itself. Arriving back at the beginning with new eyes, we will see how the practice of the Feldenkrais Method creates its own integrity.
Dennis Leri, Trainer, has worldwide experience presenting the Feldenkrais Method in training programs, seminars and workshops. He apprenticed with Dr. Feldenkrais at the Feldenkrais Institute in Tel-Aviv, Israel and has taught the Method for nearly 30 years. His accessible teaching style reflects training in Western and Eastern philosophy, psychology, martial arts and poetics. His published articles on the Method have been translated into several languages.
Ilana Nevill, of the United Kingdom recounts meeting Sara in May, 2004. "Sarah is a ‘born musician’ who transmits something very special to any audience, no matter whether she is playing the cello or the accordion. Employed by a number of exciting travelling theatre companies, she lugs one or both of these big instruments from town to town, from theatre to theatre, from stage to stage, inspiring actors and audiences with her extraordinary musicianship. Sarah’s demanding life-style was not helped by the pain that kept recurring in her left arm. When she consulted a doctor she was told she needed to do exercises in order to strengthen her stomach muscles so as to cope better with the big instruments." ... "At the beginning of her 4th session (nearly 10 months after the 1st) Sarah reported a sense of amazing liberation from previously hampering conditioned habits..." Click to read more.
Ilana Nevill also recounts the story of Connie. "In spring 1998 Connie made up her mind to find out if the Feldenkrais Method could help her return to playing without unbearable pain stopping her after a few minutes. ", She continued, "The first lesson started with Connie playing a little tune on the piano. I could see immediately that only her arms and shoulder-girdle moved while her pelvis remained quite still. As the session proceeded Connie discovered that it was possible to let go of useless tension in her legs and a habitually tight jaw. When Connie played the piano at the end of the session her pelvis and breastbone began participating in her action and everything - even the sound coming from the instrument - seemed to flow a little more freely." click to read more.
The following was from MedScape, May 28, 2015. I will re-edit it to make it more readable to the regular reader. --rob
PALM SPRINGS, California — An exercise program based on the Feldenkrais Method can improve the mood and quality of life among people with Parkinson's disease, a new study shows.
By damaging neurologic functioning, Parkinson's disease often diminishes quality of life and leads to depression.
"The Feldenkrais Method uses easy movement and breath control and flexibility and balance to facilitate more control in the whole body," said first author Lavinia Teixeira-Machado, PT, PhD, from the Education in Health Department, Federal University of Sergipe in Sergipe, Brazil. "I use it in cerebral palsy, autism, and Down syndrome."
"We reduced the isolation," said Dr Teixeira-Machado toldMedscape Medical News. "It's very interesting."
She presented the finding here at the American Pain Society (APS) 34th Annual Scientific Meeting.
To see whether the Feldenkrais Method could help with Parkinson's disease, Dr Teixeira-Machado and her colleagues administered the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Parkinson's Disease Quality of Life (PDQL) questionnaire, and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) to 36 people with Parkinson's.
They excluded four people from further study because of cognitive impairment, cardiopathy, or advanced impairment. Two others declined to participate.
The researchers then randomly assigned 15 of the patients to instruction in exercises based on the Feldenkrais Method. The remaining 15 got educational lectures. Both groups attended 50 one-hour sessions, with two sessions given per week.
The patients had an average age of 61 years, an average weight of 64 kg, an average height of 159 cm, and an average body mass index of 26 kg/m2. These measures did not statistically significantly differ between the two groups.
The groups were also statistically similar at baseline on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rate Scale Part III (UPDRS III), the MMSE, and the BDI.
After the 50 sessions, the researchers tested the patients once again on the PDQL and the BDI. The group receiving Feldenkrais instruction improved significantly on both quality of life and depression while the control group got slightly worse on both scales.
The change in the Feldenkrais group compared with baseline was statistically significant for both PDQL (P = .004) and BDI (P = .0005).
The differences between the Feldenkrais group and the control group were also statistically significant for both PDQL (P = .002) and BDI (P = .05).
"People with Parkinson's have all kinds of trouble with movement, so if we can modify that it would be great," said Kathleen Sulka, PT, PhD, a professor of physical therapy at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
But other exercise programs have also proved beneficial for people with Parkinson's disease, she said, so she would like to see a larger study in which some patients practiced the Feldenkrais Method and others practiced different exercises.
"I see this as a wonderful pilot study," she told Medscape Medical News.
The study was funded by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnológico. Dr Teixeira-Machado and Dr Sulka have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
American Pain Society (APS) 34th Annual Scientific Meeting. Presented May 14, 2015.
A delightful interview with Dr. Doidge on Feb 13th, 2015 for CBC's The National. Thisgives a very approachable summary of some of the findings in the book, "The Brain's Way of Healing". The interview is only 10 minutes. (this interview does not mention the Feldenkrais Method, but highlights so many possibilities of how the brain changes, the plasticity, that we know so well). Click here to watch CBC with Wendy Mesley
A simple description of Neuroplasticity. The graphics make a big difference. The Sentis Brain Animation Series takes you on a tour of the brain through a series of short and sharp animations. click here to watch NeuroplasticityAnimation
The Noisy Brain. Just one of the topics in this delightful 1-hr interview with Dr. Doidge. Enjoy! This interview with Dr. Doidge focuses on the underlying principles of brain plasticity and their clinical implications. Although brain plasticity is well-established in the research community it has not yet fully penetrated clinical medicine where old views, which seen the brain as largely fixed in adulthood, make it difficult for new approaches to reach most patients. Click here to listen to the Brain Science Podcast.