The Feldenkrais method is an educational system intended to give individuals a greater functional awareness of the self. The method is based on the assumption that the body is the primary vehicle for learning in the human organism. Feldenkrais method is often considered alternative medicine.
Based on the work of Dr Moshe Feldenkrais (1904-1984), an Israeli physicist and judo practitioner of Eastern European descent, the method is expressed primarily in two formats by practitioners, who generally receive more than 800 hours of formal training over the course of four years:
Functional Integration (FI) is hands-on form of tactile, kinesthetic communication between a practitioner and student. The practitioner communicates to the student how s/he organizes his/her movements. Through precise touch and movement, the student is said to learn how to move with less effort and strain. Lessons may be very specific in addressing particular issues brought by the student, or can be more global in scope.
Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons are verbally directed movement sequences given primarily in a group setting, though they can also be given to individuals. There are more than a thousand distinct ATM lessons in existence. Lessons are generally organized around a particular function, and each practitioner lends his/her particular style to each lesson.
Though the Feldenkrais Method is not manipulative therapy, Feldenkrais himself was a colleague of Ida Rolf, who established the rolfing method of bodywork. Some of the influences on Feldenkrais' work include Gustav Fechner, F. Matthias Alexander, Gerda Alexander , G. I. Gurdjieff, Emile Coué, Milton Erickson, William Bates, Heinrich Jacoby and Jigoro Kano.
Feldenkrais first taught at Esalen when he came to the United States in the early 1970s. He subsequently gave two professional trainings in the US, in San Francisco (1975-77) and Amherst, Massachusetts (1980-83).
Somatic-oriented techniques influenced by Feldenkrais include: Hanna Somatics, Rubenfeld Synergy, Tellington Touch (for animals), Anat Baniel Method.