Who was Feldenkrais?

Moshe Feldenkrais

Feldenkrais as a young man, circa 1924.

Moshe Feldenkrais, the founder of the Method that bears his name, was born into a Jewish family in Ukraine in 1904. He did in 1984 in Israel. In between he lived a life full of struggle and triumph. From these experiences he devised a new approach to increasing well-being.

His first name is pronounced as though it were French: Moshé. His last name rhymes with rice.

Throughout his life Feldenkrais was interested in the experience of strength, or fitness for life. He learned early on that muscular strength is not sufficient in itself. There is something much deeper that has to be developed. He arrived at the understanding that what is needed is awareness. This is a quality that develops through consciously paying attention.

Feldenkrais as a mature man

Feldenkrais expressed what he meant by awareness, among other places, in this statement given while teaching a large class:

“You see, it is not important if you do well, or not well. It is important, if you pay attention. It makes all the difference when you pay attention. That means, it improves, and by way of this, a person can distinguish better. But, if he begins to do an action and does not check, the movement can continue a hundred times and stay the same. So, the attention, the checking, is more important than the movement. The movement is just a means to teach the person to feel, to distinguish, and to check because this is what makes the difference.”

Another time he summarized his life’s work like this:

“The aim [of the Feldenkrais Method] is a person that is organized to move with minimum effort and maximum efficiency, not through muscular strength, but through increased consciousness of how movement works.”

Feldenkrais’ long-term student Mark Reese wrote a two-page, concise biography and then a full-length book.
1. A concise biography of Moshe Feldenkrais
2. Moshe Feldenkrais: A life in movement. This book is available from Feldenkrais Resources.

Note 1: Professional Reference: AY 293, 5