Allowing class participants to discover movement solutions on their own may be a key component of the Feldenkrais Method’s success. According to a study published in Physiotherapy (2010; 96 , 324–36), the Feldenkrais Method Awareness Through Movement® lessons rely on motor skill acquisition and postural control principles with intensive attention paid to internal feedback to improve balance.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, analyzed the content of select Feldenkrais Method balance classes to understand how and why the Feldenkrais approach is effective. The study’s overall purpose was to understand how to analyze mechanisms for successful balance training. The research team broke down the 16 lessons of the Getting Grounded Gracefully series and documented the research process in personal logs. Codes identified lesson themes. Data analysis revealed two major themes: motor learning and postural control. Researchers classified the teaching strategy as exploratory learning—a method aimed at helping people change established habits into new movement patterns.
Comparing the Feldenkrais Method with other forms of balance training, researchers noted significant distinctions. The Feldenkrais Method emphasizes trunk musculature—its mobility and stability—and independent movement of the pelvis and head. Another important Feldenkrais feature is the focus on intrinsic feedback to allow participants to discover movement solutions that are individually based on internal body cues while being guided by verbal instructions, rather than reliance on instructors specifically telling people how to achieve results. Practice variability was another important technique used to help people retain their new movement patterns.
Study limitations included the fact that analysis was restricted to one lesson series, was conducted from audio recordings and might have been somewhat oversimplified. Karol Connors, MPT, principal investigator and lead study author, added, “The important takeaway message from this study is the benefit of providing people with the opportunity to explore different ways of moving, instead of always using their limited habitual responses. This allows people to discover new movement solutions, enabling them to respond effectively to challenges to balance. Future research could use video analysis technology to study the changes to movement that occur resulting from Feldenkrais lessons.”