It's not an exercise


Exercise involves multiple, repetitive movements to achieve a goal (walking, running, swimming, cycling etc.) or as choreographed by an instructor or routine: Pilates, the exercises your Physio gave you, or the latest craze e.g. Zumba.

Many people when they first encounter the Feldenkrais Method assume that it is just another exercise regime: Previous exercises didn't work for me, so why would Feldenkrais? Understanding the distinction is critical to appreciating the unique benefits of the Feldenkrais Method.

I do exercise to increase my fitness. I do Feldenkrais to improve my movement. I now do only goal-oriented exercises, not the choreographed ones. For example, I greatly enjoyed my regular Pilates classes, but with Feldenkrais I soon realised that I could get more movement improvement from a single Feldenkrais class than from months of Pilates.

If you simply repeat a movement, then it will become ever more entrenched as one of your habits, increasingly narrowing other movement options. Moreover, the repeated movement was probably not perfect for the function you want to improve, be it everyday walking, sitting and standing, or specific to a vocation or sport. The perfect movement for you is that which is easiest for your unique skeletal and muscular structure, and adaptable to the nuances of your environment at the time - e.g. different gradients or ground conditions when walking. Given that there are many ways of movements that can achieve - to varying degrees - the same function, how do you find the most efficient movement to do so?

Exercise is good, but its benefits are primarily to fitness and strength, with any benefits to movement itself as an almost accidental side effect. The reason that you get some incidental movement improvement from multiple, repetitive exercise is that, however precise you try to be, each movement varies slightly, and your central nervous system (in effect, your brain) is clever enough to identify those that by chance improve the movement. Exercise regimes including Pilates, Physio, Zumba etc. are not designed to exploit this. Feldenkrais on the other hand is very deliberately designed to achieve exactly that effect, through concentrating on slow movements, conscious attention, ingeniously designed lessons, and encouraging exploring movement variations.

Feldenkrais classes are called awareness through movement for a reason. The movements in each lesson are there to teach not just movement but also awareness. Once you gain awareness, then the movements that you need will improve - your central nervous system will see to that. Every Feldenkrais lesson is different - do them, increase your awareness, and enjoy the subsequent improvements to your movement, your posture, your life. But keep up some goal-oriented exercise for fitness, too.

Feldenkrais is not an exercise - it is cleverly applied neuroscience, targeted on improving your musculoskeletal organisation, and hence, your life.

Conrad