Michael de Styrcea

About Feldenkrais

The Feldenkrais Method is a unique method of improving a person's physical and mental well-being. Through gentle, guided movement, it uses a neuro/muscular/skeletal approach to change habits and patterns of behaviour that inhibit our ability to function effectively. It can assist in any situation where improved movement can help recovery from illness, injury or pain.

Feldenkrais is widely used in America and on the continent (in Switzerland it is available on private medical insurance) but is perhaps less well known in this country.

It is neither a complementary medical practice nor a "treatment"; rather it is a learning process whereby change is effected through working with the person's nervous system to bring about discovery of new choices in movement and action. Through it, one can learn to increase the ease and range of our movement, improve flexibility and coordination, and awaken our innate capacity for comfort and grace. It is ultimately a way of learning about ourselves and how we can meet new challenges.

Central to the Method is the bringing of one's awareness to movement and action. By becoming more conscious of how we move, areas that are less flexible or where habitual patterns have formed, awareness is created that can be used to initiate change in how we choose to use our bodies. By repeated attention to how we move and by practising exercises to counter old patterns, the brain's signals to the body can be modified, becoming a new, 'chosen' way of moving. This can develop into a greater ease of movement, an increase in vitality and well-being.

There are two ways to experience the Method, by Awareness through Movement classes or by an individual Functional Integration lesson.

Awareness through Movement (ATM) classes involve students being guided verbally through a sequence of movements focussed around a specific movement or activity. ATMs usually incorporate movements lying on the floor, sitting or standing. All are gentle and no effort or strength are required, indeed "less is more" is a fundamental principle.

Functional Awareness (FI) classes are individual one-to-one sessions normally lasting for not longer than one hour. They take place with you fully clothed, usually lying on a low table or in sitting or standing positions. Through gentle touching and movement, my role is to communicate to you how you use your body and to suggest alternative ways of organising yourself to improve your functioning. I work with your nervous system and not by using any force.

Anyone - young or old, physically challenged or physically fit - can benefit from the Method. It is beneficial for those experiencing pain of the back, neck, shoulders, hips, legs or knees as well as problems of balance and general mobility. It has also been helpful in dealing with the central nervous system conditions such as strokes or other disabilities. Many elderly people enjoy using it to retain or regain their ability to move without strain or discomfort.

Through lessons in the 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 centred and balance.

About Moshe Feldenkrais

The Feldenkrais Method was named after its originator, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais. Born in what is now the Ukraine in 1904, he emigrated to Palestine at the age of 13. He studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and afterwards with Joliot Curie at the Radium Institute.

In 1940, he fled to the UK and spent the war in Scotland working on the development of techniques to detect and destroy enemy submarines.

It was during this period that he aggravated an old sports injury which threatened him with disability. Although doctors held out little chance of a full recovery and offered risky surgery, Feldenkrais decided to use his scientific knowledge combined with empirical observations to heal himself. This led to the development of the Feldenkrais Method.

In the 1950's, having returned to Israel, he taught the Method full-time, extending his teaching to Europe and to the United States whilst continuing to develop and refine the techniques.

Moshe Feldenkrais died in 1984 having established the Method and trained a new generation of practitioners who have extended its reach. Today there are over 2000 practitioners worldwide.