A baby boy seated on a lap, smiling into the distance

Feldenkrais Method

The Feldenkrais Method was developed by a Russian doctor, Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, who was born in 1904. When he reached adulthood, Dr. Feldenkrais was an active soccer player and also took part in martial arts. After he suffered a knee injury, he began doing research to try and better understand human function, which led to his development of the Feldenkrais Method. 

According to the Feldenkrais Method website, the treatment is a form of “somatic education.” It “Uses gentle movement and directed attention to help people learn new and more effective ways of living the life they want. You can increase your ease and range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement.”

When it comes to special needs children, the Feldenkrais Method may prove to be successful in helping them become more comfortable in their own bodies and in learning how to properly move. For children with conditions like Cerebral Palsy, brain injury, or other neurological disorders, it can help them in their struggle with perceiving their body parts and moving them accordingly. The method introduces them to “effective movement variations,” which can help with their confidence levels. 

This video gives a better picture of how the Feldenkrais Method can be beneficial to special needs children.

During a session with a Feldenkrais practitioner, the therapist will alternate between a series of physical movements and periods of rest. They will customize the session according to the needs of your child. 

One of Dr. Feldenkrais’s most well-known students is Anat Baniel, who is the founder of the Anat Baniel Method. She worked as Dr. Feldenkrais’ associate for over 10 years and developed her own method of treatment based on his teachings. 

The Anat Baniel Method is based upon Feldenkrais’ principles and is a “holistic approach to human functioning and action, based on the understanding that movement is the language of the brain. Movement provides information the brain needs to grow and organize itself. And, in return, the brain organizes all movement, thoughts, feelings, and action.”

It focuses on “The Nine Essentials,” which identify all of the different ways the brain grows and develops. 

Movement With Attention -- With attention to specific movement, the brain immediately starts building billions of new neurological connections that lead to brain learning and physical changes.

Slow -- To learn and master new skills and overcome the limitation, the first thing to do is slow way down. Slow actually gets the brain’s attention and stimulates the formation of rich new neural patterns.

Variation -- By introducing variation and playfulness into everything you do, you awaken all your senses. New ideas occur and new possibilities emerge in your life.

Subtlety -- By reducing the force with which we move and think, we increase our sensitivity. With the resulting increased sensitivity, we greatly enhance our brain’s ability to perceive the finest of differences.

Enthusiasm -- Enthusiasm lights up your brain, helping to usher in changes, transforming the most mundane situation or task, adding meaning and generating delight. Enthusiasm helps make the impossible possible.

Flexible Goals -- Know your goal and embrace all the unexpected steps, missteps, and re-routes. They are a rich source of valuable information for your brain to lead you to your goal. Flexible goals will reduce your anxiety and increase your creativity, resulting in greater success, vitality, and joy. 

The Learning Switch -- For the brain to properly do its job, the learning switch needs to be on. Once on, at any age, life becomes a wonderful new adventure, filled with movement, creativity, and new possibilities.

Imagination & Dreams -- Your imagination and dreams give you the ability to create something that has never been there before, transcending your current limitations and leading you to develop your authentic life path.

Awareness -- When you are aware, you are fully alive and present. Your brain is working at its highest level, noticing subtle nuances of what is going on around and within you, revealing options and potentials, greatly accelerating learning.

Where Can I Find a Feldenkrais Method Practitioner?

The Feldenkrais website offers a searchable directory of guild certified Feldenkrais practitioners.