IOPS is coming to Argentina!

We are very excited to announce that the IOPS Academy is going south! Our first IOPS in Buenos Aires begins December 2017. We look forward to practitioners from Latin America and beyond to join us in taking their practice to the next level.

Find out more about this cohesive graduate program at two upcoming free online conversations with Educational Director Jeff Haller:

  • Monday, September 18, 5pm Pacific Time
  • Sunday, October 22, 5pm Pacific Time

We look forward to you joining us for some or all of these conversations. You need only register once to receive invitations/access to all of the talks.

The conversation will be conducted in English and Spanish.


I was asked by the editors of Feldenkrais Zeit to write an article on how I view the training of practitioners. I am happy to do this, but I want to make a few preliminary statements.

One thing I enjoy doing is watching videos of Moshe either giving FI lessons or teaching in Amherst. It is very clear to me that none of his acolytes have the depth or breadth to teach in the comprehensive manner he did. I find a great deal of what he conveyed in Amherst or San Francisco is not included in todays training programs, mine included. I simply am unable to stretch myself into the totality of his message. My trainer colleagues and I, in my estimation, are like the story of the Blind Men and the Elephant. Each of us has our own unique interpretation and limited perception of Moshe’s work. Each of us sees the monk pointing to the moon but none of us can see the moon. Moshe was the moon, he was Feldenkrais.

It is my opinion that what my colleagues and I do in our basic training programs is provide our students with a basic introduction to the Feldenkrais Method. We provide the educational context from which our students develop the means to begin studying the Feldenkrais Method
I consider a Feldenkrais Training as I consider gaining a blackbelt in aikido. A person who attains blackbelt has developed the necessary skills and is proficient in the basic forms of the art from which to develop their practice through the following years of their training. Aikdio is considered to be a practice. I would like the Feldenkrais Method to be considered as a practice by its students as well. With that in mind, I believe my trainer colleagues, in their own way, provide a very good roadmap for the beginning seeker and traveler exploring the Feldenkrais world of learning and function. All trainers are unique and we can appreciate and applaud each other’s creativity and individuality, in helping our students to develop a basis from which to practice and move far beyond their initial training exposure.

With this I am happy to share my personal view of training practitioners.  

Every boat builder knows how important it is to lay a straight and true keel if a boat is to perform well. Over the years working with people in advanced training programs, I have found that few practitioners have laid their own keel or have a true foundation that they can build their Functional Integration lessons from. It is often, not always, the case that practitioners learn a first approximation of Functional Integration based on explicit bits of FI practice or “constellations of movement” they learned in their training that come from doing an ATM lesson and adopting some aspect of the lesson into hands on work. For a musician, this is tantamount to learning to play the notes but not play a whole piece of music. For the artist, it is like learning brush strokes, the application of paint to a canvas, but it is not painting. 
Something far more complete has to be developed for a practitioner to practice and be present for the emergence of a Functional Integration lesson. To me, it is not Functional Integration until both people come together in the moment and both learn something new. It is a lesson when it creates something that has never existed before for each person. It cannot be limited to the application of a few learned techniques to make a person feel better. Good Functional Integration leads to both the client and the practitioner functioning at a new higher standard than when the lesson began. 

In the Elusive Obvious, Moshe states, “I have formed in my imagination an ideal human brain and function.”* He then writes for two pages on the subject of ideal human functioning and ends with this quote,

“Without my ideal image I am at a loss to know what to look for; each function grades itself when compared with an idealized function, and although this is not a measure (as from a scientific instrument) it is still a mental auxiliary of the greatest value to me. It has guided my inquiry in neurology, physiology, evolution theory, and so forth, enabling me to find the pertinent facts which are dispersed in an ocean of knowledge and intelligence which in itself has no ports, only vistas.”**

It is clear that Moshe had evolved his keel from which to work. 

As I was a student in the Amherst training, I had the opportunity to experience first hand how Moshe laid and expressed his keel in the training process. He continually laid the foundation for what might be called, “biological fitness”. I believe one of his main tenets in the training program is little understood or practiced. To Moshe, a person is biologically fit if they can move from one orientation to another without hesitation or preparation. Over the years, I have seen that many training programs do not place the importance on this quality of human action that Moshe did. 

As mentioned in the preface each of us trainer’s presents a different interpretation of what the Feldenkrais Method is and what is important to us. For me this tenet of Moshe’s, living with a potent posture in biological fitness has always been the prime directive for me in my private practice in teaching ATM and FI and how I present my training material. Every FI I personally give is based on my ability to observe whether a person has the means to move to another position without hesitation. It means I have a profound sense of the ideal of what is possible for each person in relation to meeting the hypothetical ideal of biological fitness. Metaphorically speaking, this ability to move without hesitation to another orientation is also related to a person’s awareness and maturity. To me, a person matures into “Functional Integration” when they can move freely in all of the aspects of experience: thinking, sensing, feeling and acting. 
ATM and FI lessons are foundational to helping a person develop the necessary awareness for developing choice. Through this attention it becomes possible for some students to develop the maturity necessary to know how they form and maintain habits. With attention and time they learn how to suspend parasitic habits, leave the past behind, and develop new more efficient and appropriate behaviors that help them find the richness choice brings to life.  

To me, this is the ultimate ideal. In order to create the conditions for learning, I have to also know the ideals of physiological functioning, optimal skeletal organization, how to utilize ground forces to help people experience “levitation” as Moshe mentions, how to work with people’s ability to experience their emotions, how to support growth, and how to meet each individual, in each moment where they are and to be present to the emergent moment appearing— helping people have the means to move and thrive in times of uncertainty and change. Moshe’s statement, “life without movement is unthinkable”, becomes a truth. 

As a trainer then, I have to help my students in my training programs and advanced trainings grow in their abilities to expand their own sights and find their own keel to work from. There is so much to help them develop before they can truly paint on their own. Over the years I have developed post graduation workshops designed to drill more deeply into aspects of human functioning than possible to uncover in the first approximation of a basic training program. I attempt to create the conditions for learning so my students deepen their own abilities in a way that becomes directly applicable in their lessons. I work with my students to engage in the Feldenkrais Method as a personal practice as they would continue to develop their skills if they were a student of Tai Chi. aikido or meditation. My students learn to look at underlying movement patterns that arise in childhood that underlie all human functional action. They learn to see how different ways of rolling side to side relate to how a person walks, turns and runs. They learn how to find the powerful relationship between stability and movement. They become adepts of the basic human functions of sitting, standing, and walking. My training is principle based. Students learn about balance and counter balance, finding equal and opposite support, use of ground force, developing refined skeletal support, maintenance of equal, proportional muscle tone in action, etc. I attempt to teach so that any of my students have the internal resources to meet the unknown, be present to each moment, and yet meet the needs and help the people who come to their offices. 

For me, I make every attempt to remove mystery from the FI process. I hope to awaken my students to the internal mysteries that are implicit in ATM lessons, so their command of the material is strengthened and is not only a resource for their own growth but also becomes available to their own students. For example, recently I taught a workshop called “Crafting Functional Integration Lessons with Confidence”. In the workshop I offered several opportunities for practitioners to expand their horizons as to what Functional Integration might mean. On the first day of the workshop I showed and discussed a FI lesson I have published on YouTube. The lesson was given to a ballet dancer named Dorothy who had had a Lisfranc fracture of her right foot. For that day I spent the entire 6 hours of class breaking down and elucidating the inner details of the lesson. It was a very thorough discussion of what went into the creation of the lesson. Every effort was made to remove any mystery from how the lesson developed. Each point made pointed to skills that could be acquired by a practitioner. Nothing was hidden from view. This class description of Dorothy’s lessons will soon be put up on Vimeo and made available. 

Additionally, in the workshop, I gave two lessons to people from the public that demonstrated thinking that expanded the student’s view of what FI could be. One lesson was to a woman experiencing a painful condition with her back that required her to find more and more constrained and reversible ways of moving to insure her own stability. She had to learn to move from position to position while maintaining complete reversibility so she did not fall. Any fall lead to painful self protection. As she learned to maintain her balance she found she could skillfully change positions without engaging a pain reaction. The process of the lesson was surprising to many class participants in that it went against the grain of their thinking. The point of the lesson was not to make movement easier by helping her gain a greater range of motion, but rather the point of the lesson was to increase her stability, move less, but with much greater reversible skill.  

In the other lesson, a man who had had recent double hip replacement surgery was given the opportunity to discover how he could direct force from the ground up through himself rather than fall into his hip joints as he did prior to the lesson. In the lesson he was discovered lightness in movement after years of pain and difficulty. The advanced training then went on to clarify how I helped the man find the drive up and through him self in a way where they could reproduce the principle based thinking with their clients. 

With this introduction, while only a verbal representation, I hope to paint a brief perspective on how I see training practitioners. For me, it my responsibility to help each student I work with, mature in their personal development, develop their own ideal organization, and help them gain the resources and wide range of options they need for working with their clients. The underlying task I give myself is to my students develop their own straight keel and framework from which they build their own boat as a resource to float their own practice.


* 1 Elusive Obvious, page 100, paragraph 2
** 2 Elusive Obvious, page 101, paragraph 3


A Look Inside the IOPS Sit-to-Stand Curriculum

IOPS Faculty member Andrew Gibbons produced this video to show the link between Ideal Organization and Profound Strength in the sit-to-stand curriculum we teach in the IOPS Academy. 

The video includes: 

  1. A demonstration by Jeff Haller with students from the 2014 workshop "Learning Self Organization Again and Again and Again..."
  2. Source footage of Dr. Feldenkrais working with a client, showing and demonstrating the ideal organization in sitting. 
  3. Andrew demonstrating the sit-to-stand function with various challenges:  kettlebells, resistance bands, carrying children, and taking it further into everyday life activities like loading the dishwasher, picking things up from the floor and eating meals. 


Related Links: 

  1. Jeff Haller's "Learning Self Organization Again and Again and Again..." (June, 2014, NYC)
  2. Source footage of Dr. Feldenkrais' lesson with Ronald:
  3. Another good lesson on sitting with Dr. Feldenkrais and "Bill":

p.s. Below, we've posted the thread of Facebook comments related to this post.  

Facebook thread: 

Tom Rankin This is wonderful. Amazing editing and clear explanations make this video a powerful experience. Andrew and Jeff make an incredible team.

Marta Havlicek Sometime I would like to see a video about a trainer given lesson about a squat in one legs or a back walkover or real bridge. Something more challenging. Counter balance, loading stretching if you do more challenging movement are well known to improve your movement. Sometimes ,I fell like we continue to discover hot water. Maybe because I'm not in a good day today

Victoria Worsley excellent

Andrew Gibbons For another example of Dr. Feldenkrais working with this particular functional pattern in sitting, see his lesson with Bill Koch.

Andrew Gibbons Marta Havlicek: I agree. I've enjoyed learning from some of Jeff's more dynamic work with athletes and dancers. But also have enjoyed watching the basic foundation-laying he does with them, too. That's one of the reasons I included footage of me lifting weights in the video. Static, supine, table lessons where the client does little or nothing, are sometimes necessary, but don't necessarily have much of a future unless the person learns to take on the work themselves as part of the teaching process. You may have already watched it, but Jeff's lesson with Dorothy (a dancer and practitioner) contains lunges, leg lifts, etc.

Andrew Gibbons There's also Dr. Feldenkrais' lesson with Merrill Ashley, where he makes her take on much of the work to find the top of her hip joint (particularly the second half of the lesson, when she's prone).

Laura Yedwab It is a wonderful video. My favorite part is when Andrew is at the dishwasher and then cleaning up his living room. I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the video and have already shown these scenes to 3 clients. They also loved it.

Marcia Martins de Oliveira Congratulations, thank you so much!

Isabella Turino grazie per aver condiviso questo videoSee Translation

Andrew Gibbons Prego!

Laura Yedwab I have a request for the sequel. My sister-in-law watched the video, loved it, and wanted to see the ideal organization being applied while getting a toddler into a car seat in the back seat of a car.

Andrew Gibbons Anyone have a toddler to lend me? Mimi?

Cynthia Allen Well done. Very helpful details beautifully illustrated.

Ichi Hansamu Andrew Gibbons and Jeff Haller: thanks for filming this. Not only was the filming clear and well illustrated, It was nice to see someone talk about self cultivation aspects. I think we all sometimes pay lip service to this, or use ATM to get into transient, pleasurable states etc. I'm not really interested in that so much because it doesn't help me live the other 99% of my life. I liked your explorations and comments about how organization leads to profound power. 

BTW, one of the things that is very difficult for martial artists and athletes etc is being "power proud". Athletic endeavours tend to produce strength in above normal levels. If you're already on the 10th floor, while most others are in the basement, there can be little incentive to climb up to the 30th floor. So, one of the great challenges in cultivating practices like this is the idea/fear of 'losing' that physicality, betting on the wrong horse etc.

There are other pitfalls too; for example, purists who become hot house flower - good at doing the thing (ATM, exercise, whatever) but disconnecting from the greater reality of the thing.

It was interesting to see the application using bands, kettlebells, toddlers etc. Great video. Thanks for sharing!

Ichi Hansamu Didn't realise this was on youtube. Others may enjoy this also. 

Andrew Gibbons Ichi Hansamu: so Akuzawa: holy sh*t! The organization and spontaneity. Were I headed for Japan...

Ichi Hansamu Andrew Gibbons Let me see if I can't find you a juicer clip. If I do, will PM it to you. You'll like - trust me.

Andrew Gibbons On cultivating states: yes, I think it's a major pitfall we have in that we end up cultivating states, instead of stages--or not knowing the difference. I'm sure others can speak on the issues of working with athletes, and the athletic mindset. My experience is that their training has been so sport specific, and there's been so little exploration of any of these principles, that like anyone trained and any other endeavor they have to constantly put everything back into the bottles they know. I don't mind that, it's fun if you can break through it though. It's not until your mind is completely stopped by a demonstration for a moment of ability, or inability, that forces you to confront and reinterpret so much of what you've been "taught". The question then is, can you look down the road five 10-20 years and from that new perspective begin to till the soil and create what you now realize what you actually want for yourself.

Andrew Gibbons Thanks, Ichi Hansamu.

Ichi Hansamu No problem Andrew Gibbons. BTW sent you the clip, hope you enjoy. If you can figure out some way to capture that snippet, please do and share it. It's eye opening I think smile emoticon
 (I tried gifcapture but it wouldn't do it; something about the file format I uploaded it in)

Andrew Gibbons Purists are such because they're supported by an environment, typically stocked with novices (typically a stage, but all too often a very, very long, sometimes terminal, one.) It's an intellectual stance mostly that's used to provide some sort of beacon/certainty (it's ok for your to be uncertain as you learn because I'm not) in the swirling confusion of beginner-hood. It also masquerades as the path, when really it is nothing more than an interpretation (one that should be tested rigorously and dispassionately). Students and trainees can suffer because they never see that what they're being offered is, indeed, an interpretation (although it may not be described that way). Jerry Karzen seemed to allude to this a while back in a thread discussing the merits of exposure to different trainers. (In the same post he mentioned one of Dr. Feldenkrais FIs with Ronald where Ronald pretty much falls off the table.). So the question remains: to stabilize/calcify (unconsciously) in an interpretation? Or learn how to interpret?

Ichi Hansamu Gif'ed it. The guy riding piggyback is 190lbs; Ark is about 160 by comparison

Andrew Gibbons Whee! It's simple: just don't shear...

Ichi Hansamu I'd like to hear more about how the IOPS curriculum cultivates the "chop wood, carry water" mentality. How are things structured such that students fold their ATM/FI experiences back into real life? As I understand it, you're using a competency framework - Is there a mutually agreed upon project or...? It's very easy to gain intellectual/ cognitive understanding and state dependent / associative learning is something that everyone that goes through a FPTP experiences. I'm interested to hear more about the final stage - automaticity in every day life - and how IOPS inculcates it.

Jeff Haller Just to let you know but I have a meeting with Akuzawa in September in Los Angeles. Been in communication with one of his students. Should be a trip. J

Andrew Gibbons ...bring the elder wand...

Ichi Hansamu Let us know how it goes Jeff. I have a chance to meet with him in Jan

Ichi Hansamu Just a thumbs up here for Jeff Haller's online class (which just moments ago wound up). With some 70 odd participants, I found the Zoom platform worked seamlessly in creating a training-like experience. It will be interesting to see how IOPS rolls out

Andrew Gibbons Ichi,

One of the ways IOPS helps practitioners cultivate practice, discipline, automaticity is to help them better understand the upright orientations. 
Thus sitting, standing walking, climbing the stairs (loading the dishwasher) all have the potential to become your arena of practice. This way we stop paying lip service to how FM makes so many activities better, and start to explicitly show and embody it. Jeff places a high value on this. 

When I met Jeff, 7 years ago, the clarity of his presentation about the foot and support, made it absolutely clear to me that I had been totally ignorant of and ignoring this important aspect. My practice was still: study on the floor, get up feeling beatific and altered, and “somehow the learning will transfer.” Nope! Why would the lesson "stay" without some accurate skillful support to maintain it when you're upright?

Jeff has talked about this as one of Moshe’s mistakes: the assumption that the learning from the floor would translate into upright actions. 

The other thing he spoke to me about was that this work was not easy, but that it rewarded you for rigor, that through disciplined effort, your life would get immeasurably better. I have always been grateful for that honesty and directness.

I’ve lived and ridden the subway in NYC for 26 years, and wasted 19 of those years not practicing my upright support. Not anymore. It is simply what I do. At this point, I can even walk and chew gum at the same time. Every ride is a study: equal and opposite, cultivating the breath, you get the picture…. It just gets richer, and more and more humbling as you peel back the layers of ignorance. Like the old saying, you practice until you forget you're practicing and it simply becomes the way. 

What I often see in colleagues who work with Jeff, and work with this perspective, is that they are thrilled to realize there’s a practical, concrete “There” there to this work. They emerge out of the subjective/experiential fog and the generalities: sometimes slowly, sometimes suddenly. But they’re often grateful to realize that they can grow to the next level in this work. That there’s a clear path. 

When other practitioners ask me what was different about working with Jeff, I often talk about the discipline I found in myself. But through that discipline I experienced something unexpected: an explosion of creativity. 

As a graduate level program, IOPS is for depth over breadth. We’re going to work together to climb out of our first approximation of the Feldenkrais Method, and enjoy supporting and learning from one another as we do it. 

As to the “chop-wood-carry-water” aspect: participants will prepare and study particular ATM lessons prior to the live segments. There will be homework, preparation, study of DVD material, online forum, etc. 
Participants will complete a self-assessment, and track their personal and professional goals throughout the program. We’re assuming that the people who want to be in this program see the value in this kind of consistency and that want to use it to improve their lives, clean-up and strengthen their self-organization, and support the effectiveness and viability of their professional practice. 

We want to help them raise their teaching and self-organization to a higher, more specific standard; to embody the principles better and better and assess at each step how well their personal and professional study is moving them towards their goals. We want them to see that there is a substantial, rigorous curriculum to this work, that underpins all the vastness and richness of the ATM material. And that the same principles of self-organization that they learn in the program are the ones they will teach to their clients.

The conversation will be held within a consistent framework of understanding how to organize the ground forces through the skeleton, how the joint surfaces articulate with each other to promote that support, how to use the ATM lessons to study the specific principles. 

We will emphasize: 
--Cultivating a clear, disciplined personal practice. 
--Understanding the ideal as a way of measuring and orienting your progress. 
--Translating and understanding ATMs in relation to upright function/action and relating them to the tasks, activities our clients pursue. 
--Relating the biomechanical principles to the aesthetic qualities they promote in our experience of movement. 
--Developing clarity and practice in the upright orientations.
--Using the FI/ATM contexts for the study and demonstration of the principles of good support
--Demonstrating, testing and refining our competence with one another. 
--Figuring out "how the lesson works". 
More about the curriculum at

Hope this helps.

Laura Yedwab One of the difficulties with most advanced trainings is that you return home and its hard to integrate the learning into your practice. With IOPS, you will be part of a community that continues to work and learn together through out the 18 months. One part of this will be the on-line classes that will occur between the live segments.

Laurie Johnson Wish it had closed captioning for the hearing impaired...