The Feldenkrais method is very similar to the Alexander technique in that it encourages an awareness of the way in which you use your body and enables you to use it in a natural and more efficient way. The main differences are that Feldenkrais method is based on the premise that working on any part of the body will influence the whole, whereas Alexander technique emphasizes head-neck-back alignment; and that Feldenkrais method is often taught to groups of people, whereas Alexander technique favors one-to-one. But there is still a choice - you can learn Feldenkrais method either through group sessions, known as Awareness Through Movement, or on a one-to-one basis, when it is known as Functional Integration.
Feldenkrais method was developed in the 1940s by a Russian-born Israeli atomic physicist and engineer called Dr Moshe Feldenkrais. A keen footballer and judo expert, he became interested in body movement and posture after seriously injuring his knee.
In Awareness Through Movement, the teacher verbally guides the group through a series of gentle movements - suitable for all abilities - while you are sitting, standing or lying down. You will be asked to note the way in which you move and how that movement affects other parts of the body (turning round, for example, involves the hips, pelvis, spine, shoulders and neck). Through increased body awareness, you gradually discover new and better ways of moving.
In Functional Integration lessons, your teacher guides you through the movements mainly using gentle touch and manipulation, although there may be some verbal instruction. These lessons are tailored to personal needs and may be the best choice if you have a specific problem or physical disability.
Both Functional Integration and Awareness Through Movement sessions last 45-60 minutes. Feldenkrais method is used to help relieve the symptoms of the same ailments as Alexander technique, as well as enhancing movement and body function. Similarly, there are no set exercises: the essence of Feldenkrais method is finding what works best for you, rather than being taught a set way of doing things, and incorporating that into everyday life.
Feldenkrais teachers complete some 800 to 1000 hours of training, spread over three to four years.
Start Your Day The Feldenkrais Way
If the first thing you do as you get out of bed is raise your head, you may be putting unnecessary strain on your body. Use this gentler technique to help you become more aware of your posture and the way you move.
Lying on your back, bend your knees so your feet are flat on the mattress.
Starting with your legs, roll gently onto your side.
Swing your lower legs down towards the floor. At the same time, bring up your body and use your hands and arms to raise yourself into the sitting position, letting your head stay relaxed, until you are completely upright and your feet touch the floor.You can then stand up with ease.
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