The FELDENKRAIS Method® by Gabrielle Pullen, CMT

Posted by Insight Directory on 18 September 2008 in Movement

 A Centennial Celebration of Awareness Through Movement®

“People cannot discover new lands until they have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

         André Gide

Why is it that we don’t trust ourselves?

The great violation we have wrought on ourselves with the advent of the scientific age, is to honor as valid only that which is measurable by external, objective means, in accordance with scientific method. We have set ourselves up for failure by not honoring the innate intelligence of our own internal sensitivity. We have thus lost access to one of the most sophisticated feed back loops known to science. The most complicated computer devised can only do binary calculations. The human brain can calculate the trajectory of several movements at the same time. It can generate spontaneous recognition of patterns, and generate art of great beauty seemingly from nothing. And it can accomplish all these activities simultaneously. Computers, as yet, cannot replicate these abilities.

Awareness Through Movement (ATM) is a practice that lends itself to improvement in function with an impressive range of applications. The accumulation of experience in Awareness Through Movement cultivates a trust of the kinesthetic sense. By doing guided, slow movements with a focus rarely found in any other physical activity, you learn to trust your own perception. It’s not the movement that matters so much as learning to trust your body’s innate sense of what is doable and what is not. Regardless of whether the goal is to be a more successful athlete or musician, or whether the goal is to relearn how to walk after a severe accident or chronic trauma, the impact of ATM is global. It leads to improvement in several areas at once. It may lead to improvement in flexibility, or to a lessening of discomfort. It may lead to greater clarity of thought. It may improve problem solving ability. It may result in greater creativity. Often, it leads to the development of a life that is more mentally stimulating, more physically free and more emotionally fulfilling.

In contrast to conventional physical therapy which emphasizes the mechanical factors of muscle strength and flexibility, Feldenkrais® focuses on movement patterns which, as it turns out, influence behavior, cognition, motor control, and perception. Because of this, Feldenkrais® lessons have the capacity to improve functional movement while at the same time allowing for exponential growth in many other areas of experience as well. It is this factor that allows people to blow through what previously seemed to be insurmountable blockages either in performance in sports or in learning in general, often with apparent ease.

May 6th, 2004, will mark the Centennial of birth of the man who came up with this incredible contribution to human consciousness.

The Feldenkrais Method® was developed by the genius of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, (1904-1984). Born in the Ukraine, at the age of fourteen he emigrated alone to Palestine. At the age of twenty-three he matriculated with a degree in mathematics. He then traveled to Paris where he pursued an engineering degree in mechanics and electricity. While at the Sorbonne, he was attached to the laboratory of Nobel Prize winner Joliot-Curie. During this time, he met Professor Kano, the creator of Judo and eventually earned a Black Belt in Judo and wrote two books on the subject. When the Germans invaded France during World War II, Feldenkrais was on one of the last boats to escape to Britain where he worked as a scientific officer dealing with sonar antisubmarine technology in the British Admiralty. He continued to practice and to teach Judo. He became increasingly interested in human development. His marriage to Dr. Yona Rubenstein, a pediatrician, provided him with a unique opportunity to observe how babies learn to walk. At the end of the war, he emigrated back to Palestine, where he became the first director of the Electronic Department of the Defense Forces of Israel.

Feldenkrais was a man of insatiable curiosity. When a bus accident aggravated an old soccer injury to his knee, it was a catalyst for investigation. At that time, doctors predicted a potential successful outcome of roughly 50% for the knee surgery he required. He declined to have the surgery, commenting in his usual forthright way on the lack of intelligence of performing surgery with little better odds than gambling. He then added that in the laboratories he was used to working in, they did not perform an experiment unless they were at least 90% sure of their hypothesis.

Instead, he immersed himself in the study of anatomy, kinesiology, and neurophysiology, synthesizing his ideas with existing research in cybernetics, engineering and physics, tempered by a sound physical experience in Judo. Feldenkrais was able to teach himself to walk in spite of debilitating pain. The genius of his Method lies in that it provides an environment for us to find ways to move around pain and often, to find the pain is thus removed as we learn to use more of ourselves and to approach life in new ways.

On May 6th Feldenkrais® Practitioners nationwide will be celebrating the birthday of Moshe by conducting simultaneous Awareness Through Movement lessons so that more people can become familiar with this life-changing body of experience. Contact Gabrielle Pullen, at 265-3880 or by email at to register to join in the Free Celebratory ATM at 6:00 p.m. May 6th in Nevada City or contact the Guild to find a Practitioner near you on the internet at

GABRIELLE PULLEN has been working with human & equine athletes for over nine years and with human potential for eighteen years. She is a nationally Certified Massage Therapist through the NCTMB, a Member of the American Massage Therapy Association & the American Academy of Pain Management. She is a Certified Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement® Teacher through the North American Feldenkrais Guild® & is currently an instructor at the California Institute for the Healing Arts in Sacramento in addition to her private practice locally.


Insight Healthy Living

10556 Combie Road, PMB 6379
Auburn, CA 95602
(530) 265-9255

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