‘Movement education’ has therapeutic results

Published Wednesday May 18th, 2011

“Back in January I went to the Well-being Expo held in Sackville, where I had the pleasure of meeting Tatiana Reymarova. She was there to demonstrate a ‘therapy’ I had never heard of before called the Anat Baniel Method. Note, however, that Tatiana herself did not call this method a “therapy.” She referred to her work as “movement education” and explained the difference in the following way. Movement education and therapy share the same goal, that is, to change a person’s life for the better. But whereas the therapist seeks to remedy an ailment, the educator seeks to improve the person’s total functioning by teaching him or her to make the changes through their own neuromuscular system. When she mentioned that this work could be especially helpful with neuromuscular issues, it peaked my interest for personal reasons so I booked a couple of sessions with Tatiana and was very surprised at how gentle yet effective the method is. Rather than try to explain what this education-with-therapeutic-results is all about myself, I thought it best to let Tatiana tell you in her own words: Jane: What is the Anat Baniel Method? Tatiana: Let me start by saying that in our high-pressure society, aches and pains have become part and parcel of everyday life. Given our fast-paced lifestyle, we tend to seek quick-fix solutions to our health woes, such as those offered by powerful chemical drugs or surgical interventions. Scores of us undergo repair surgeries in hopes of restoring function to our backs, shoulders, wrists, hips, knees or ankles, without even considering other options. One such option is the Anat Baniel Method. It is a system of somatic (of the body) education pioneered by Moshe Feldenkrais and further developed by his long-time student, Anat Baniel. This system relies on the capacity of the human brain to build new pathways for neural communication throughout life. Once we become aware of these novel neural pathways through our bodily sensations, they will replace ones that were lost due to accidents, emotional traumas, or simple lack of use. By accessing this remarkable capacity through a system of gentle and enjoyable movement lessons specially designed to awaken awareness, the Anat Baniel method enables us to discover new patterns of moving, thinking, and feeling that will replace the ones that cause us pain and deterioration. Jane: Is this method a kind of physical therapy or is it a system of physical exercises? Tatiana: The Anat Baniel Method is neither a medical treatment nor a physical exercise. It is a learning process with a healing effect. It uses directed attention to make you aware of your habitual movement patterns. In doing so, it enables you to identify the movement habits that lead to a build-up of tension and strain in your body and to develop new ways of moving that help relieve your body and mind of the stress caused by these harmful habits. Unlike physical therapy or physical exercises, we use movement as the medium for communicating directly with the brain. This is why the crucial element in our movement explorations is awareness – the quality of attention that you bring to your movements. Rather than making you perform and repeat specific exercises, we provide your brain with fresh cues to explore. These explorations result in meaningful changes and improvements. The general principle is this: When the body movement is well organized, the pain disappears. All people with tight, painful muscles have one thing in common – they don’t feel in control of their muscular tensions. In most cases, they aren’t even aware that they have them. All that they know is that they have pain and restricted movement. In fact, they may not even know they have restricted movement; they may only know that they feel pain. Muscular tension is practically always accompanied by a loss of sensation in certain parts of the body or the overall loss of awareness of the body. It is very important to maintain or restore this awareness, because it provides the brain with the feedback that is critical for effective organization of movement. Jane: Could you describe how the method is practised? Tatiana: The method is taught in two modalities: Transformational movement lessons are typically performed in a group with participants, comfortably dressed, sitting or lying on mats, and proceed in a manner attuned to each participant’s own pace and range of motion. Participants are verbally guided through a series of gentle movements that utilize attention and imagination. As the lessons progress, participants become increasingly aware of their movement routines, including the habitual constraints that interfere with physical ease. Functional synthesis lessons are one-on-one, hands-on sessions customized to the student’s particular needs. In these sessions, practitioners use a very gentle touch and subtle manipulation which can be best understood as a direct, yet non-invasive, form of non-verbal communication aimed at helping the student discover new and more harmonious ways to move. Sessions are conducted with the student fully clothed, sitting, standing, or reclining on a specially designed table. Jane: As you know, it was the individual session that I opted for and it was surprisingly relaxing and therapeutic. In fact, the next day I had sore muscles which I didn’t expect because the movements were so gentle and subtle – yet, they must have been very powerful… I had no idea of how tight I had been holding my upper body muscles! So, apart from me, who else can benefit from this method? Tatiana: The Anat Baniel Method is recommended for people suffering from persistent muscle and joint pain, injury, stiffness, balance and neurological disorders, as well as those who need to perform at an elite physical level (athletes, dancers, musicians, artists) and anyone looking to enhance their general well-being. This method has proven to be particularly effective for children with neuromuscular disorders, for example, Anat has great success with children who have cerebral palsy. Jane: Tell me about yourself and why you began to practise the Anat Baniel Method? Tatiana: I hold a masters degree in physics from a highly acclaimed technical university in Moscow (Russia), and still have a great passion for all things physics, although I haven’t been professionally employed in this field for many years now. I also have a lasting passion for herbal and holistic medicine, fields which appear to inherently defy standardization. And there is yet another subject that has long held a special fascination for me, namely the human brain. Understanding its workings requires an approach that links rigorous standards of hard science to something intangible, and a private experience. In a sense, this is a field where my passion for physics on the one hand and herbal and holistic medicine on the other come together. So, still being a scientist at heart, it was almost inevitable that when I heard about Anat Baniel’s work of applying the latest developments in brain science to help people reach levels of performance never achieved before, I decided to visit her center near San Francisco. Meeting this brilliant and powerful person proved to be a turning point in my life. After witnessing the profound and positive differences Anat’s work was making in the lives of her clients, and experiencing its effects upon myself, I quit my financial analyst job in Moscow and enrolled in Anat’s professional training program, which involved travelling to San Francisco to participate in 10-day-long sessions every 2 or 3 months over a three-year period and I have been working at it ever since. As a closing note, I found Tatiana to be a very knowledgeable, sincere and gentle soul who is dedicated to helping people. If you suffer with neuromuscular pain and wish to try something different, in my opinion, this unique, science-based complementary method is worth experiencing. In good health – until next time!”

* Written by Jane Claxton-Oldfield MDN. Tatiana works out of her home (Smart Body Studio) in Sackville, N.B. You can reach her at: smartbodystudio@gmail.com or call: (506) 536 4641. Nutritional or therapeutic advice is never a substitute for your health-care practitioner – ND or MD


Happy 1st Birthday Emma Zupko!

We want to share with you some more stories of the children and the families we work with. Today we will introduce you to Emma  Zupko. Her father found us, like so many parents after exhaustive searches on the internet. He watched a video online of Anat working with “Elizabeth” rushed upstairs to try a move out on his daughter and saw something in her response that he had never seen before! It led him to us both for lessons for his daughter and to enter the training to become a practitioner. Here is some of their story;
Emma will be 1 year old this weekend
To date she has been diagnosed w/ a rare genetic disorder called “Fryn’s Syndrome and complete agenesis of the Corpus Callosum.
She does not have a herniated diaphragm which is a life threatening characteristic of Fryn’s Syndrone. Most infants do not survive the first months of life because of the herniated diaphragm.
She was born with extreme Hypotonia, uncontrollable/unexplainable tremors throughout her entire body, feeding delays(g-tube), GERD(reflux), cortical blindness, peripheral neuropathy, extreme developmental delays, extreme irritability, sleeping issues,   and a  few other  minor issues.
Her prognosis was/is a big question for the medical industry: ”WAIT AND SEE”. The best Drs. In the world could only shrug their shoulders and tell us that “Emma is teaching us”. Fryn’s Syndrome has only  a handful of living survivors, so using prior cases as a benchmark for her development is not possible.
Emma began ABM at 4 months of age. Her tremors had gotten a little better but were still a  problem.
To Date:
1.       Her tremors are almost gone. They are apparent only when extremely tired and still they are very mild.
2.       She takes a bottle in small amounts and has two meals a day with baby food(spoon fed). Her initial ass. was that she could not be mouth fed and questionable whether she ever would.
3.       GERD is not an issue because while having her g-tube surgery she also had a nissen done.
4.       Emma’s vision was just re-evaluated  two weeks ago and the doctor was extremely happy to say that she sees signs of vision
5.       She has become a very happy baby and smiles and talks all day long.
6.       I question whether she has neuropathy or not. But she has begun to move a lot more and seems to have become ticklelish. Her movements are still that of a very young infant but they are so much more  than she ever had . her startle reflex is more apparent.
7.       She is aware of her family and will often turn in the direction of one’s voice or give us a smile.
8.       Irritability is just about gone and her crying is more like the characteristics of a normal child. i.e. , hungry, tired.

Emma has lessons with Marcy Lindheimer in New York and Kathy O’Neil in Pennsylvania. Here is an e-mail that her father just sent to Marcy concerning the  latest lessons;

Hello Marcy,
After  Emma’s lessons last week with you and Kathy, I felt the need to give you a follow-up.  She is doing great !!  She has been in a great mood, smiling all day long, and a lot more inquisitive about her surroundings. Her sleeping has greatly improved and just the other day she decided to drink 6 oz. instead of her normal 2 0z. We have taken your advice on her head positioning and that has helped tremendously. Other family members have noticed a great improvement in her neck strength and positioning as well. The list goes on!!
Equally important, last week’s lessons have given my wife and other family members a refreshing breath of hope for our little angel and has given them the opportunity to see what possibilities can be reached with Emma and their own lives as well. Tiny miracles are happening all around us and there are no words that express my thanks. Acceptance is a huge obstacle for parents with children with special needs, and seeing results so quickly and beautifully, only helps.
I am forever grateful that there is such thing as You-tube. It was what drew me to ABM. I was convinced by the first video of Anat’s work that I saw. I can only imagine the feeling You, Kathy, or any other practitioner must have when seeing such huge results with children. I am so glad I am in the training and only hope, that as a practitioner,  I may have some of the results I’ve witnessed with you and Emma.
Every time I bring Emma for her lessons with Kathy, I know that in the days to come after her lessons,  I will be witness  to some great gift.. It could be Emma’s movement, her speech, or maybe her vision.  One never knows.  But it’s inevitable and that’s what’s so great about ABM.  Last week’s lessons not only helped Emma, but my wife as well.  You and Kathy have given my wife the most beautiful gift any human can give another: HOPE.  I can only express my thanks and hope you know how much of a difference you have made in my family’s lives.

LOVE AND LIGHT,   David Zupko

Watch Anat on View from the Bay – Busting Popular Exercise Myths

logo_vftbYesterday Anat appeared on the popular ABC Bay area TV show View from the Bay. She was interviewed by and you can watch it by clicking here! Her topic was Busting Popular Exercise Myths and this topic will be expanded in subsequent posts.

In terms of exercise and fitness Anat talks about three popular myths.

1) The myth that stretching is beneficial

2) The myth that having a flat stomach is healthy

3) The myth that your brain cannot change as you progress through adulthood.

Meet Anat in NYC 6/4 and 6/6

Anat will be giving a 2 hour presentation and book signing from 4-6pm on Thursday June 4th at the Subud Center on W 29th between 7th and 8th and then a one day workshop from 10am-5pm at the same venue on Saturday June 6th. Bost events are hosted by Rebecca Gardiner, the Manhattan based Anat Baniel Method practitioner. There are still a few spaces left.

New York

Meet Anat in Chicago 5/30-5/31

There is still time to register for Anat’s free presentation in Northmoor on Saturday from 4-6pm and the one day workshop on Sunday at the Renaissance Hotel from 10am-5pm.

moveintolife_final chicago

Anat’s tour continues in the South Bay – 5/28

Anat will be speaking in De Anza College, Cupertino this thursday evening from 6.30 – 8.30. She will be hosted by Andrea Bowers and the Anat Baniel Method Center of San Jose. The event is free and is a great chance to experience Anat’s teaching first hand, to meet her, have the opportunity to ask questions and have your copy of “Move into Life” signed by her.

Anat Baniel Speaking

Anat speaks at Posit Science

On Friday Anat gave a presentation at Posit Science, the company headed by Michael Merzenich where he is continually looking to find new practical applications for the knowledge he has gained in 40 years of brain plasticity reasearch.

Anat initially won over the few skeptics in the audience before utterly captivating them as this e-mail we recieved shows;

Dear Anat,

Thank you so much for coming today- everyone really loved it. I wanted to share one comment I received afterwards:

“Anat Baniel!  Wow!  She is absolutely terrific!  Her subject matter is fascinating.  She is charming, delightful and a breath of fresh air!  What a brain!  And it seems that she has harnessed a corner on healing, and gentle, positive change.  Wow…I for one was truly impressed and can’t wait to go get my book!  And I can’t wait to put some of her concepts with the body to practice!  I’m jazzed! Thanks again for having her.”

So, that about sums it up- thank you again!


Karen Merzenich

Michael Merzenich himself continues to be a champion of Anat, her work and her book. Amongst several moments of testimony during her presentation he described her work and her book as a tour de force that all of his staff should read in order to have a clearer understanding of what they are working to achieve at the corporation.