Moshe Feldenkrais: Awareness Through Movement

Feldenkrais has something of a cult following amongst believers, yet his method is often misunderstood by the mainstream public who see it as geared towards an older audience or simply irrelevant for their particular fitness regime.

If there is one message we will keep banging home to you it is that cardio endurance, strength and power are all meaningless in the long run if you're not working on your mobility and movement skills at the same time. Sooner or later, either injury or age will kick in.

First up, Feldenkrais was a physicist and martial artist (judo / jiu-jitsu) who lived through the Second World War, a rare combination that seems to have given him a unique perspective on the practical realities of combat and self-rehabilitation through movement. He was also part philosopher.

In all human activity, it is possible to isolate three successive stages of development. Children speak, walk, fight, dance and then rest. Pre-historic man also spoke, walked, ran, fought, danced and rested. At first these things were done 'naturally', that is, in the same way that animals perform whatever is necessary for their lives. Although these things come to us naturally they are by no means simple. Even the simplest human activity is no less a mystery than the pigeon's return home over great distances or the bee's construction of a hive.

He breaks down the whole life process into the four components of movement, sensing, feeling and thought. These are the building blocks for his system. He also places heavy emphasis on "ability" (taken here to mean a combination of body control, mobility and strength)

We shall do better to direct our will power to improving our ability so that in the end our actions will be carried out easily and with understanding...will power may tend to cover up an inability to carry out an action properly. The right way is to learn to eliminate the efforts opposing the goal and to employ will power only when a superhuman effort is required.

The real meat of this book, after the somewhat esoteric first half, is spent detailing 45minute movement sessions. We found this video of Feldenkrais mobility for judo proving just how applicable this method is to those (like us!) with the goal of moving as nature intended.