What is Functional Integration (FI)?

Nick teaching a Functional Integration lesson to a Feldenkrais student.
Nick teaching a Functional Integration lesson to a Feldenkrais student.

For most people, there is no better way to address pain reduction and self-improvement goals than the neuromuscular reorganization possible through Functional Integration lessons (hands-on, one-to-one Feldenkrais). Whether commencing a series of lessons, or just getting to know the Feldenkrais Method on a one-to-one basis before joining the weekly classes, FI lessons are an excellent way to begin studying the method.

Feldenkrais is a system of movement education with applications similar to physical therapy, but more holistic. When someone wants to reduce pain, recover from an injury, or improve an aspect of themselves (anything related to movement, balance, posture, athletics, or artistic performance), a Feldenkrais lesson addresses the whole person–not just the symptom–by eliciting changes in the nervous system. Scientists call this process “neuroplasticity,” the brain’s extraordinary ability to acquire more efficient patterns of movement and action if given the right environment. Nothing creates that environment like the Feldenkrais Method.

FI studio
A look inside TCF’s Functional Integration studio.

Functional Integration lessons are pleasant and effortless, done fully clothed, lying on a low, comfortable table, using a gentle, non-invasive touch. Students describe their sensations during lessons as pleasurable, relaxing, and fascinating. Most experience immediate reduction in pain, and over time they discover lasting, specific improvements in the movements of their day-to-day lives.

We call clients students, not patients, because the Feldenkrais Method is based on learning. Students are full participants in their improvement, and sessions are called lessons rather than treatments.

It’s a very personalized process, and sometimes difficult to describe. Below are a few words from some of my FI students.

A student who came to me for FI lessons with symptoms of chronic pain and fatigue wrote this about our work together:

Why FI sessions? Taking time to listen to my body regularly is good all by itself – but the real benefits go on and on. More flexibility. More energy. Fewer headaches (and neckaches, and shoulder aches, and more). The easiest fall allergy (and asthma) season I’ve had in 15 years. More than anything, more awareness of how I spend my attention and focus, so I can do more of what I want, and do it in ways that best reach toward my dreams and my goals.

Why Nick? A wonderful balance of conversation and silence, a willingness to explore, but also to suggest. An external perspective who not only notices what he sees – but also what he hears and feels, and what that says about the body and response. I look forward to my sessions, no matter what else happens in the week, as a chance to stop and breathe and focus on just one thing: listening to what’s good for my body.

— Jane, 34, librarian.

Another student wrote this about the FI process:

I enjoyed your gentle manner, your attentive eyes, and your knowledgeable way of guiding me to discover my own solutions for helping me improve my comfort. What a beautiful model for personal empowerment and the discovery of internal resources of which I was unaware.”

– David, a neuropsychologist

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Nick’s bio and teaching philosophy