"Mounting evidence shows that movement is crucial to every other brain function, including memory, emotion, language and learning. Our 'higher' brain functions have evolved from movement and still depend on it."

John Ratey, M.D.,
Harvard Medical School Professor and Author of A User’s Guide to the Brain

Image Showing woman moving freely and a multi-colored brain to indicate how Feldenkrais impacts various parts of brain

Scientific discoveries have demonstrated that your brain and nervous system are the command and control center for your entire body. The movement sequences work to revitalize and improve your body by enhancing the communication between your brain and body.

When we were small children, we learned how to sit up, roll over, crawl, stand, walk and run. These accomplishments were achieved through an important natural process of trial and error. Scientists call this process “sensory motor learning”. It is called “sensory motor” because it involves the use of our senses – sight, hearing, balance, and touch – in conjunction with movement. And it is called “learning” because, as a result, we learn to do something new.

Sensory motor learning is how all physical learning takes place. It occurs through an information feedback process between your senses, muscles, and brain. As your body moves, your sense of touch, balance, and sight send your brain information about your body’s position and muscular activity. Your brain responds by modifying the outgoing messages to your muscles.

As the information is fed back and forth, the counter-productive and unnecessary muscular effort in your body is detected and “weeded out”. Bit by bit, your movement becomes more refined and efficient. Information is exchanged between the brain and the senses until a successful, coordinated pattern of action is formed.

In order to take advantage of your body’s extraordinary ability to improve itself through sensory motor learning, you must give your brain an opportunity to detect and reduce the unnecessary, counterproductive muscular effort in your body. Research in neurophysiology has shown that when we extert a lot of muscular effort, it is impossible for our brain to make the sensory distinctions needed to improve our neuromuscular organization.

This is why conventional exercise, with its reliance on muscular effort, force, and speed, actually restricts your brain’s ability to work on your body’s behalf. When we use minimal muscular effort, our brain is free to make important sensory distinctions. So these movement lessons apply the powerful neurological rule: less muscular effort produces more sensory motor learning and physical improvement.

The movement sequences involve slow, easy movements that activate your brain’s movement centers and generate a flow of valuable information between your brain and your muscles. Automatically, as if by magic, tension, strain, fatigue, and discomfort disappear as your neuromuscular system reprograms itself for optimum health and functioning.

Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984) was a distinguished scientist, physicist, educator and researcher. He was also a Judo master and author of several books on the subject. However, it was in the relationship between bodily movement and the ways we think, feel, sense, and learn that Dr. Feldenkrais made revolutionary discoveries.

A photo of Moshe Feldenkrais, circa 1957

The method that Moshe Feldenkrais developed powerfully enhances our capacity for change, while honoring individual learning styles. Grounded in the process of learning and awareness, this method teaches new, more effective ways to address neuromuscular limitations that contribute to pain and dysfunction, and/or limit our ability to carry out certain actions with grace and fluidity.

Being human, our capacity for learning in unparalleled. However, in adapting to changing situations, our learning can work for or against us. When it is necessary or desirable to adapt to change, this method provides the means to know what to learn, and how to learn it. Our nervous system’s self-organizing processes – accessed through intention, attention, and movement – are used to transform and refine our every activity. The singular genius of these lessons is that they use bodily movement, actual and imagined, to focus learning at the juncture of thought and action. By paying attention to sensory-motor differences, we create the awareness necessary to free us from habitual action. In turn, we make way for new patterns of thinking, moving, and feeling.

The lessons produce a feeling of deep relaxation, while improving flexibility, coordination, and overall vitality. The results are often dramatic, resulting in significantly better movement skills, greater spontaneity or thought and action, and the alleviation of chronic tension and pain.

Clearly on the leading edge of human development techniques, the method has gained widespread popularity in the United States and Europe, and is widely recommended by physicians, physical therapists, and others interested in improving physical performance. Additionally, it has been featured in Newsweek, Smithsonian, Science Digest, Runner’s World, Dance Magazine, Quest, Yoga Journal, and countless other books and publications.

Watch this informational video to learn more about the Feldenkrais Method®.

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