Moshe Feldenkrais: Legacy Of A Genius
“We walk like badly made puppets instead of like kings of creation.” (Moshe Feldenkrais to his student, David Ben Gurion)
Watch the graceful padding movements and landings of a cat and you are observing a living system functioning well. Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, developer of the Feldenkrais method, would say to move and live as easily and freely as that cat human beings need to unlearn bad body habits and relearn how their particular body moves best. A doctor of engineering rather than a medical doctor, Feldenkrais nonetheless devoted the latter part of his life to the study of human movement. His legacy is a teaching method that is now known all over the world.
Despite this legacy, his name is not only difficult to pronounce, it’s relatively unknown. Ask a physiotherapist and he or she will probably know of the Feldenkrais method and may have even trained in it. Ask an Israeli of the right vintage and they will probably recall stories that once circulated about Feldenkrais, the man. However, this prolific writer and teacher of some of the world’s great names is not even listed in the Jewish Who’s Who.
Today, with people so in need of a positive outlook, Feldenkrais’ ideas are finding themselves more in vogue. Though he was born on the Russian-Polish border in 1904 and died in his home of Tel Aviv in the Orwellian year of 1984, Moshe Feldenkrais did not join the ranks of the many writers and thinkers who left the world with images of boots stamping on the face of human history. Instead, he taught people about their capacity for pleasure. He taught them how they could live well. That’s quite an optimistic message for a cynical age such as our own.