Feldenkrais Therapy

About Feldenkrais Therapy

Feldenkrais Therapy originated from a Russian born physicist, mechanical engineer, judo expert, and teacher, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, D.Sc.. This treatment uses gentle movements and focused attention to improve a person’s coordination and flexibility.

Feldenkrais developed the treatment for himself when he injured his knee and was told he might be confined to a wheelchair. After successfully healing himself, he began teaching his new exercises to others.

The Feldenkrais therapy is based on Feldenkrais knowledge of human physiology, and the principles of biomechanics and physics. It draws on the connection between mind and body to reeducate a person’s brain and nervous system. The result is enhanced physical movement, better self perception of the body, elevated mood, and a sense of general well-being.

Feldenkrais Therapy is Practiced Two Ways

In Groups

Group therapy is called Awareness Through Movement (ATM). A practitioner leads the clients though a series of movements while they stand, sit, or lie on the floor. The movements are easy, and many reflect the motions people use every day such as standing, reaching, sitting from a lying down position, or standing up from sitting. The goal of the 30 to 60 minute group session is to learn which movements create positive changes in the body. ATM lessons are available for any level of need or ability.

Feldenkrais Therapy With Individuals

Functional Integration (FI) are sessions for individual clients who lie on a table, sit, or stand during the exercises. Props such as blankets or pillows might be used to aid the gentle, guided movements chosen to meet the patient’s goals for therapy. Clients typically wear their street clothes during sessions.

What Feldenkrais Therapy Is Used For

Feldenkrais therapy is successful in relieving stress and tension, and helps those with neurological injuries (stroke, head trauma, brain tumors, etc.) to regain movement and coordination. Feldenkrais therapy can treat bone and joint problems, ineffective habitual movements, and poor posture. Those who have a distorted body image, leading to depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, are also helped by Feldenkrais therapy.

Because this method is non-invasive and gentle, side effects are rare. Treatments are not recommended when a person has intense muscle or joint pain, or skin conditions that are irritated by movement. The Feldenkrais Method can be used in conjunction with other therapies or exercises such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, tai chi, swimming, walking, and biking.

In the U.S., training for Feldenkrais practitioners is under the direction of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America (FGNA). The training takes three to four years and includes trainee instruction and supervised client care. Those that complete the course can apply for certification as a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner, or Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher. The International Feldenkrais Federation (IFF) is the umbrella organization over most worldwide practitioner groups or agencies.

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Photo by John Nyboer

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