difficult to get across what 'Feldenkrais' is, but recently there emerged a
Developmental psychologist Annette
Karmiloff-Smith, on ‘The Life Scientific’ on
Radio 4, described a ‘eureka moment’ she experienced when watching her small daughter
trying to balance a knife on a cutlery rest. Over and over the girl placed the
knife, over and over it failed to balance. The girl had acquired a theory about
the world – that things balance at geometric centre – and this idea overcame
her ability to observe what was actually happening and to adapt.
Karmiloff-Smith knew that a younger child would have been able to balance the
knife - they would have relied on what she called ‘kinaesthetic feedback’, that
is, they would have attended to moving, sensing, and feeling and adapted to
what that told them.
Feldenkrais classes offer
real-time directed experiences of moving which enable the student to
rediscover their ‘kinaesthetic feedback’. As for the younger child successfully
balancing a knife, the process is empirical, trial and error, sensory, real and
in a Feldenkrais phrase
‘the elusive obvious’ – so simple and effortless, you wonder why you haven’t
sorted it out already. Humans have to
learn how to sit, crawl, walk, use fine motor skills; but once acquired, the
patterns repeat without conscious direction and they become habits.
Let’s compare these movement habits to the
girl’s unhelpful ‘theory about the world’. Daily practices, injuries, tensions,
social conditioning, can all contribute to habits of movement being not very
‘well organised’ in a Feldenkrais phrase, but they’re so familiar people don’t
notice they’re not great theories – even
when they are painful or even harmful. It is difficult to change - the
superimposition of another theory (to use this muscle, to stand or sit like
this not like that) can often seem to reinforce the first problem. Feldenkrais lessons offer a practical,
possible, easy, enjoyable strategy to circumvent this – lateral thinking for
The sessions enable people to understand unwanted habits and change
them, to move more easily, and to feel better. Many take class just to enjoy
the pleasure of moving easily … yet others to experience the awareness –
mindfulness – of your body and mind: being here, now!
is widely used to prevent, manage and
alleviate workplace injuries by large companies and individuals, especially in
Germany and the US. It
offers practical, enjoyable, affordable, optimistic experiences of moving with
Finally, Neil Young credits
Feldenkrais with sorting his back and feet issues .....(p400 in his autobiography).
Find out more from these links (thanks to originators)