The Anat Baniel Method

Anat Baniel established her method (ABM) based on an approach developed by Dr Moshe Feldenkrais, scientist and martial arts expert, in response to a severe knee injury. Feldenkrais theorized that the way to health and well being is by reconnecting with your natural ability to move, think and feel without excess effort. The method centers on movement awareness and subtly teaches you to move in the best way possible, with the least degree of strain or pain.

How It Works

A first session begins with the practitioner assessing the student's movements by observation. The student may be asked to walk, stand, sit or lie down. The practitioner will typically move the student and feel how their body responds. The practitioner then very gently manipulates the client's body in order to train the brain to move the body in a more optimal way. The movements are sometimes so imperceptible that the student may wonder if anything is actually happening but, even after one session, there is often a sense of new and easier movement. This not a musculoskeletal treatment; it is about helping the brain to teach the body to learn to move differently. So, for example, muscle spasms in the neck can disappear not because bones or the muscle have been manipulated but because the brain has learned how to move the whole body differently to stop spasms.

What It Involves

The work can take one session or it could take a dozen or more, depending on the severity of what is occurring. Each session lasts approximately 30-45 minutes. This amount of time is about the optimal time for the learning capacity of the brain. For some people, used to more rigorous treatments for chronic aches and pains, the adjustments might seem almost too gentle, but this gentleness enables the brain to become more aware of a different way of doing things. Imagine holding four telephone directories: if you put a pen on top of those, you wouldn't feel it, but if you were holding a single sheet of paper and I put a pen on it, you'd feel it right away. If a movement is too forceful, the brain cannot perceive what is happening and has difficulty sensing the difference. So it's about providing subtle information to the brain not forceful movement of the body. The method might be gentle but the results are powerful.

Lessons are performed in two ways. The Functional Synthesis (FS) is a private, one-on-one session of about 30-45 minutes. During the FS, the ABM practitioner will gently guide the student through movements using a hands-on approach.

The Transformational Movement Lesson (TML) is normally taught in a class setting. Students lay on the floor as the teacher guides them to create movements on their own.

In either type of lesson, all movements should be performed with minimal effort and without pain. ABM is not exercise or massage. ABM is teaching the brain to move the body in a more organized way by creating new neural pathways in the brain.

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