Self Image – Self Improvement via Movement

Self image is strongly influences by our pattern of thinking, and is reflected in our behavior. According to Feldenkrais (1990), self image is determined by three areas:

  1. heritage
  2. education,
  3. self education.

Heritage comes from our previous generation and is quite immutable. Through our educational system, we establishes our language and a pattern of thinking that determines the direction of self education, which is the most active component in our development, and to some extend under our control.

Initially in life, self image is not static but changes depending on action and awareness. These actions with repetition eventually become habits creating static character. Action has the following four components:

  • Movement
  • Sensation
  • Feeling
  • Thought

The contribution of each of the above components largely depends on the action and the person carrying out the action, but each are present to some extent. If any of the above points diminishes as to almost disappear, existence may become in danger since it is almost impossible to exist without senses, movement, or feeling.

It is the feeling of suffocation that forces us to breathe. –  M. Feldenkrais

Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we desire to change or improve our self image. Feldenkrais (1990), states that using movement as the primary tool in facilitating improvement is very successful and the reasons are given below:

  1. The nervous system is occupied mainly with movement – we cannot feel, sense or think anything without a series of actions being initiated by the brain.
  2. It is easier to distinguish the quality of movement – we know more about the organisation of the body than anger, love, and envy or thinking so therefore it is easier to recognise quality of movement.
  3. We have a richer experience of movement – freedom of movement is restricted less than of feeling and thought due to laws, religion, ethnic organisations, morality, politics and science.
  4. The ability to move is important to self-value – one’s build and ability to move has an impact on self value, this can be seen when someone has imperfections and how one goes through different development to the norm, and how he or she must think differently to prepare for any event, and not rely on spontaneous reaction. This creates a difficulty that distorts the self and affects the direction of natural inclinations.
  5. All muscular activity is movement – hearing, seeing, talking, and hearing require muscular action. Mechanical coordination, temporal and spatial accuracy is important in movement.
  6. Movements reflect the state of the nervous system – as the nervous system is connected to the muscles through impulses. Improvement in action and movement will appear only after a change in the nervous system has occurred.
  7. Movement is the basis of awareness – ultimately we become aware of what is going on in our nervous system when it is reflected in our muscles, skin, digestive tract, membranes, mouth, nose and the anus.
  8. Breathing is movement – breathing reflects our emotional or physical effort and any disturbances. Breathing is also used to relax the body.
  9. Hinges of habit – all behaviour is a complex of certain elements such as muscles, senses, feelings, thought, chemical and hormonal processes which come in certain combination of elements that when we change this complex combination can change the behaviour. This is where habit can be changed.

Where there is movement, there is improvement. – Rick Helders.

The above points point out areas that impact our self image and reasons why it is beneficial to use movement in achieving improvement.


Feldenkrais, M. (1990). Awareness Through Movement: Easy-To-Do Health Exercises To Improve Your Posture Vision Imagination, and Personal Awareness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

This entry was posted in Health Related and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.