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:

I'm getting taller

It's said that studying Feldenkrais makes you an inch taller (and a foot size larger). Your height increase both through improving your posture but also through relaxing unnecessary tension in the muscles that otherwise pull your joints together. One of the reasons that I took up Feldenkrais was seeing a picture of me stooped: I was eager to nip that habit in the bud and reverse it.

If I measure my height against the proverbial doorframe, it hasn't changed. That's because when you're measuring yourself like that, you straighten yourself against the frame: it's a static, pre-meditated measure. It's difficult to measure your height when you are living your daily life, standing, walking, moving, sitting. But you can sense it.

Remember your growing youth when door handles kept getting lower? When you could finally see the table surface, and gradually look further and further down onto it? I've been having similar feelings for years now, as the world around me shrinks. It's most evident when I return to somewhere I know well but haven't been for a while. I carry my eyes higher now as I go about my daily life, in my case I think by more than an inch. Its not just the height that feels great, it's also the accompanying freedom and lightness of movement and turning.

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: