What is the Feldenkrais method?

First and foremost, Feldenkrais is not an exercise: it is cleverly applied neuroscience.

The method, founded by Moshe Feldenkrais, is well established with thousands of practitioners worldwide. Good summaries of the method can be found at, for example, Wikipedia and the New Zealand Feldenkrais Guild. Fine summaries of the method include this article by Dennis Leri, and this talk by Jacek Paszkowski. Other useful articles are here and here. And if you understand Italian or don't mind subtitles, try this.

The many other web pages on the method are of varying quality, so I recommend reading the literature on the subject: a summary is kindly provided by Amazon's Quick to look inside feature on, for starters, and Feldenkrais's Awareness through movement, and Wildman's Busy person's guide to easier movement.

Many tube clips relating to the Feldenkrais Method including group classes (known as awareness through movement) - albeit of varying quality and relevance - are available at YouTube. These might give you an indication of what's involved in a group class, and the huge variety of class lessons.

A personal favourite is a video advertising the Alexander technique, the first seven minutes of which is an excellent introduction to how the way we hold and use our selves deteriorates over time. In my view (I've tried both), Feldenkrais is a much more effective (and interesting) method to strip away those bad habits and reset your self, but see at least the first seven minutes of this video. And here is a shorter classic: how we learned to move as infants is, fundamentally, how we need to re-learn to move effortlessly as adults.

It is difficult to describe the Feldenkrais Method uniquely and concisely, because there are so many dimensions or facets to it. So here's one:

Do you sit, slouch or slump?

Most of us spend much or our waking day sitting, at home, at work, while eating, while travelling. There three basic forms of sitting. Most of us, when in chairs with backs, roll our pelvis backwards, which curves our spine, and rest some or all of our weight on the chair's backrest. Most modern chairs have either a hollowed seat or soft cushioning that encourages our pelvis to roll backwards like this. This is the 'slouch'. Others support themselves with their elbows on arm rests or a table edge, letting their arms take some weight so that their neck drops, supported by the shoulders, which again rounds the back and tilts the pelvis backwards. This is the 'slump'. And then there is sitting on our sit bones with our pelvis in a neutral position so that it can support the spine and head effortlessly. This is the 'sit'. Look around at any gathering of sitting people. Children aside - who have have not yet learned how to sit badly - it is rare to see anyone not slouching or slumping. Both slouching and slumping roll the pelvis back, which signals to your nervous system that it's sleep time - sitting with pelvis upright signals alertness and you can think more clearly. Do you sit, slouch or slump? How do you re-learn to sit naturally, as you did when you where a child? The Feldenkrais Method.

But all said and done, the Feldenkrais Method is experiential - you have to experience it to appreciate it. My best advice: try it. It's changed my experience of life in ways that I literally could not image before.

The Feldenkrais Method has two modalities: