ApproachMoshé Feldenkrais taught that increasing a person's proprioception|kinesthetic and proprioceptive self-awareness of functional movement could lead to increased function, reduced pain, and greater ease and pleasure of movement. The Feldenkrais Method, like the Alexander Technique, is therefore a movement pedagogy as opposed to a manipulative therapy. The Method is experiential, providing tools for self-observation through movement enquiry.
Feldenkrais is used to improve movement patterns rather than to treat specific injuries or illnesses. However, because habitual and repetitive movement patterns can contribute towards and in some cases cause injury, pain, and physical dysfunction, the method is often regarded as falling within the field of integrative medicine or complementary medicine.*
Moshé Feldenkrais also asserted that finding easier and more pleasurable ways to move could greatly improve quality of life, and have a direct influence on cognitive and emotional function: "what I am after is more flexible minds, not just more flexible bodies". In particular, he wrote extensively about the connections between dysfunctional movement patterns and anxiety.
InfluencesMoshé Feldenkrais' background as a physicist, engineer and judo master deeply informed the development of his method. Other major influences included F. Matthias Alexander|F.M. Alexander, Gustav Fechner, Gerda Alexander, Elsa Gindler, Jigoro Kano, G. I. Gurdjieff|G.I. Gurdjieff, Emile Coué, William Bates (physician)| William Bates, Heinrich Jacoby, and Mabel Elsworth Todd|Mabel Todd.
Functional Integration (FI)In a Functional Integration lesson, a trained practitioner uses his or her hands to guide the movement of a single student, who may be sitting, lying or standing. The practitioner uses this "hands-on" technique to help the student experience the functional connections between various parts of the body. Through the teacher's precision of touch and movement, the student may learn how to eliminate excess effort and to move more freely and easily.
Lessons may be specific in addressing particular issues brought by the student, or can be more global in scope. Although the technique does not specifically aim to eliminate pain or "cure" physical complaints, such issues may inform the lesson. Issues such as chronic Myalgia|muscle pain may resolve themselves as the student learns a more relaxed approach to his or her physical experience, a more integrated, free, and easy way to move.
Awareness Through Movement (ATM)In Awareness Through Movement lessons, students engage in precisely structured movement explorations. Unlike Functional Integration lessons, which are taught to a single student using touch, ATM lessons are taught through verbal instructions given to one or more students. Each lesson aims to offer comfortable, easy movements that gradually evolve into movements of greater range and complexity.
Awareness Through Movement lessons attempt to make students aware of their habitual neuromuscular patterns and rigidities and to expand options for choosing new and more functional ways of moving.
During his lifetime, Moshé Feldenkrais taught more than one thousand unique ATM lessons. The types of movements now used in ATM are therefore diverse. The difficulty and complexity of lessons vary widely, covering all levels of movement ability.