How “Awareness Through Movement” and “Functional Integration” Were Named

Do you know where the term "Awareness Through Movement" came from? How about "Functional Integration"?

Many people assume that Moshe Feldenkrais developed these terms over his decades of experimenting and teaching at his studio on Alexander Yanai Street in Tel Aviv, starting in the 1950s. However, it appears that during that time, Moshe referred to his individual sessions as "hands-on sessions" and his group sessions as "group work."

According to several participants of the 1972 Esalen workshop, the "official" Feldenkrais terms originated from a group discussion there.

Below is an edited version of a talk by Judith Stransky, who organized the Esalen workshop:

"Moshé sat there [in the Esalen workshop] and didn’t say a word. He just let us talk about it. We said you can call the group work 'Awareness Through Movement.' That seemed to be a no-brainer.

But we had great difficulty finding a word for the individual work, the hands-on work. Different people came up with various terms, but none of them seemed right.

Then we said, well, the only term that seems right is the one that Ida Rolf is already using, Structural Integration. But we can’t use it because Ida Rolf is using it. And then somebody said, 'Functional Integration,' and we all said yes! That’s it! And from then on, those were the terms."

I have seen a written report of the same conversation from another Esalen workshop attendee, so I will assume – for now – that it is accurate. If you know otherwise, please let me know.

I wish I could hear a recording of that conversation, as well as others from that workshop. It would be fascinating to hear Moshe's thoughts about his work at that time and see how it has evolved.

But no recordings of the conversations exist (or so I have been told). Apparently, the workshop participants wanted to speak freely without being recorded.

I hope you found that at least mildly interesting or entertaining.