Category Archives: Ruthy Alon

Independent Feldenkrais Trainings, Part Two

Last week’s post regarding independent feldenkrais trainings provoked several people to contact me offline. They all had ideas worth consideration.

But before we go there, I thought you might like to see some writing from someone who has already proposed a new training model. To be fair, Ruthy Alon was originally speaking of creating new models within the Guild system. I am not. And Ruthy’s ideas were never taken up. But they might be a great place to start the conversation.

Part of Ruthy Alon’s 1998 Feldenkrais Training Proposal.

“I suggest we agree to a quota of personal experience in a certain volume of practice, for instance, a practitioner who has 10 years of successful practice and who has completed

A SCHOOL FOR TRAINERS (which can include visiting some trainings not
necessarily as a paid assistant) and presenting a written work, will grant
the candidate permission to present their own training providing:

1. The training will be small, 15-20 persons maximum at first.

2. The training will be at the trainer’s practice and divided throughout the year.

3. The trainer will hold his or her practice, which the trainees will be able to watch.

4. A clinic, with low fees, will be set by the training for supervising the

5. The trainer will teach the first 3 years of the training, 150 days, with
assistant and experienced graduates.

6. At the end of 3 years, the trainees will have to complete a quota of 30
additional days with three different trainers in order to receive certification.

7. The main trainer will be responsible for the success of the training. The test for efficiency of the training will be evaluated by the Guild, who will follow graduates for a few years after completing their training and find out to what extend they had actualized their expectations. According to this survey, the number of participants in the next training will be given the permission to grow. To date, no such a follow up of results has ever been done. We are holding on to a format just with unresearched speculation.”

Download the entire proposal here: Ruthy Alon Feldenkrais Training Proposal

Please note: Ruthy’s proposal is over 10 years old. I have no idea if it represents her current thinking on the subject, nor if this is even a topic that she still cares about. I did not solicit Ruthy’s feedback for this post nor did I consult her or anyone else about publishing it.

Nancy Wozny: A Visit with Ruthy Alon

I very much enjoyed the article below published several years ago by Nancy Wozny on her “Motion Potion” blog. Her latest writings can be found on her Dance Hunter blog.

Feldenkrais-types may be familiar with **some** of the stories that Ruthy tells Nancy below. But there are some interesting tidbits about Moshe and the development of the work that will likely be new to you. – Ryan

“Reminiscing: A Visit with Ruthy Alon”

Ruthy Alon participated in the first Feldenkrais training. Now in her seventies, Ruthy is considered one of those most creative practitioners in the field. Ruthy has developed her own work, which she calls Bones for Life®. Her work is rich in invention. I had the opportunity to visit with Ruthy via e-mail this January while she was teaching in New Zealand.

Nancy: Do you remember your first impression of Moshe Feldenkrais?

Ruthy: I came to Alexander Yanai Street, into a huge hall in a basement where a Yemenite dance group used to rehearse. I saw many people on mats hardly doing anything. A voice came from the ceiling (a reel-to-reel tape recorder). Moshe was sitting on the side, but I did not know who he was. In fact, I stayed there a long time until I realized he was the teacher. He would stop the tape and ask somebody to demonstrate. Moshe had a good time finding an engineer and roasting him for not knowing his right from his left. I think at least two years passed before I first would speak to him personally. At that time he must have been in his sixties, which to me seemed very ancient.

Nancy: How did Moshe Feldenkrais happen to enter your life?

Ruthy: I was a mother of two children, going to an evening class in the kibbutz where I lived near Haifa. Our gymnastic teacher was studying with Moshe’s early groups, and I kept hearing the name “Feldenkrais” again and again. “Feldenkrais” said this and “Feldenkrais” said that. After I finished the mature exams, I felt that actually I had not learned anything that attracted my heart. When I returned home with my family near Tel Aviv, I began to look for this “Feldenkrais”—just an intuitive urge. It took me a long time because the local teacher for women’s gymnastics, who studied with him, told me it was just for gymnastic teachers. I did not give up and found him in the phone book. He sounded extremely important and not too warmly agreed that I could come to his class.

At that time no one could imagine that this would be a profession that other people could learn to do. I asked myself many times, how did I know to hold on to that? I realized I had the luck to be in the right place at the right time, but I also sensed without clear words the real value of those movements on the floor. I would return home a nicer person, more patient and open.

Nancy: I remember you telling me that it took you a while to “get it.” How would you describe this process of “getting it”? Was it an “aha” moment, or more of a slow fire?

Ruthy: I started to “get it” when I was in the training, although the training brought more questions than clarity. I started to get it even more when I was teaching. I started a month-long Awareness Though Movement (ATM) workshop in Boulder, Colorado, with 50 people. Many of them are trainers today.

I had to figure it out myself from the beginning and then I got my orientation and perspective. This is what I tell my students: the method is not just information that passes on. You need to pass it through your system like a bee digests nectar and makes it into honey. “Getting it” is when you make your own honey. And Moshe told it to us very explicitly, “Each one of you will write it in your own handwriting.” It makes me sad how we interpret the method in one training format and have lost the learning of mastery.

Nancy: Do you have a favorite story about Moshe that involves your connection to his work?

Ruthy: I came to Moshe after coming first to America. He showed me a pack of letters and said people complimented him for having taught me to teach his method. I told him people wanted to record the lessons. I asked him if it was okay with him. He asked me to bring him a demonstration.

When I came back with the tape he listened for a half a minute and said, “This is not English.” So I went home and had it all written and edited by an expert and came back. It was a great experience to be in Moshe’s home; he was extremely kind and soft.

He read a few lines where I talked about holding breath as an emergency mechanism, which is parasitic when a situation is less threatening. He stopped and said, “This is not true; when the lion roars, the gazelle holds its breath so it can tune up itself together and be able to run quickly.” So I went home and corrected my mistake. I brought him the corrected version. He read it and said, “No, when the lion is roaring the gazelle freezes so the lion will have something to eat.”
Moshe did give me permission to do the tapes. Somebody in the San Francisco training confronted him about it, asking, “Why do you let Ruthy do your work in her voice?” He answered, “I want my students to be independent.”

Nancy: What would make him proud if he was alive today?

Ruthy: Moshe had a vision to teach the whole planet from a satellite. He knew there is no one in the world that does not need it. He said it could be applied to any other human learning, not just movement. I personally feel good to carry his principles into my Bones for Life work, where I explore springy pressure in the vertical. I think we need to think of more explanations, use the enthusiasm of the teachers to share and make it easier for them to become trainers. It seems we are held by fear and do not move as we could and as we teach.

Nancy: As a teacher, you have had a crucial role in imparting the work to the next generation of practitioners. What’s on your mind during the first day of a training?

Ruthy: The first day is the hardest. People are coming to the unknown—a big commitment at a time of ignorance. I talk a little, but very early I want them to feel this alchemy of their organism changing its perception and upgrading its performance. I have many small five-minute mini-processes that are so convincing. The whole atmosphere lightens and people are inspired. I also warn them that changing old, reliable habits can bring up many resistances similar to the patterns we resist in life. So they know when it happens to them to not feel bad about themselves or blame the movement or the teacher.

Nancy: What would you be doing if you had not met Moshe Feldenkrais?

Ruthy: If there was not this unique person Feldenkrais, we would all be struggling in the level of yoga, Pilates, and the rest. I personally would be a housewife, a little frustrated, looking for something satisfying. I knitted some dresses that went in a fashion show with all the major Israeli designers all over Europe and in the U.S. I remember being in San Francisco at my first ongoing workshop in the city, in which Frank Wildman and Denis Leri first encountered Feldenkrais. The fashion show organizer called me to come to the Fairmont Hotel. When my handmade dress appeared on the line, they stopped the music and asked me to get up and speak. I asked the organizer if I should explain what I was really doing in San Francisco, but she said, “No, no, just speak about the dress.”

Once in Israel my wedding dress was on television and my entire neighborhood was so impressed, and I had already been teaching Feldenkrais for years unnoticed. This is our main task—to change the public criteria of what is really important in life.

Nancy: You have been so prolific in developing new work, and now your Bones for Life program has taken you in a new direction. How does the legacy of the work give permission for us to forge our own paths and carve our own contributions?

Ruthy: Moshe said, “If you know what you do, you can do what you want.”
So the main thing is to do what you want and the awareness of knowing the how is the instrument. I give the example of extending the arm to point to the moon. But some people keep their eyes on the hand, and you cannot move their eyes from the finger to the moon; only they can do that. For me, Moshe taught us the dynamics of awakening creativity and not just the different ideas.

Nancy: You have developed work with your own creative stamp on it—Bones for Life. How do you see the relationship between traditional Feldenkrais Method and Bones for Life?

Ruthy: Moshe started from judo, the ultimate efficiency in real time and vertical reality with an unpredictable partner. He created for us a laboratory for improving coordination for the purpose of learning to become more of our potential. His passion was to lead the people in the West so the ATM process would channel them to perfect themselves rather than endlessly imitating the master without understanding the clues. The context for the Feldenkrais bodily insight to happen is lying on the floor free of gravity and social judgment, with permission to follow one’s own individual pace and range. Now when I come to apply the learning principles of Feldenkrais to Bones For Life, there is a crucial need to interact with gravity in rhythmical, springy pressure. I needed to revise a different greenhouse condition for learning. I use the wall for support and alignment, like the floor supports and aligns. I add a harness (seven yards of material) as a loan of integration. This is what we are doing in Functional Integration (FI), giving the people a taste of the more ideal model.

I am amazed how well Bones for Life works. I use a self-touch, like putting the knuckle of the index finger bent between the teeth to pull forward and resisting it with the neck, which withdraws backwards, aligning the head over the backbone. When we add to that position integral movement, like walking in place, the alignment of the neck is reinforced. This is a kind of shortcut to better posture that is crucial for performing strength-demanding functions. The proof is in the pudding. Measurements of bone density of a group in Tel Aviv, studying once a week for 3 1/2 hours for 4 months, showed unexpected improvement.

It will be a while until our culture will have measurable criteria for quality and harmony. At least bones can be easily measured. Of course, with any ATM we enhance the potential of dynamic moving, but bones need this style of moving on a regular basis for the actual mechanical feeding of the bones. The revolutionary new pattern we get in ATM needs to be repetitively applied in the vertical to make a difference.

Nancy: You are in the midst of writing a book on Bones for Life. How is coming along?

Ruthy: The book will outline each process in detail with a brief introduction for the functional perspective. There will be three booklets for each Bones for Life segment. In my training in Italy we transcribe the training as part of the course and trainees get the book of every segment. There will be over 100 processes described. I have enough material for the first book in English. When I return home from New Zealand and Australia, I will finish it.

Nancy: If you could redo your Feldenkrais life again, would you do anything differently?

Ruthy: One day when I visited him in his home, he asked me to climb the ladder and bring down a pack of yellow pages. He asked me to read. This was the manuscript of The Potent Self. I was reading and admiring and impulsively said, “Why don’t you publish it?” and he said because he had not completed the last chapter. I continued to urge him but he came up with all kinds of excuses and I realized I just frustrated him, so I let it go. But I will always remember those typed yellow pages of 40 years ago.

When the San Francisco training graduated there was a great dinner at a big hotel organized by Bill Callison. At this dinner were all the leaders from the psychology conference and Jane Houston talked and said, “Moshe, you are our yoga of the West.” I was sitting at Moshe’s table. On one side, Werner Erhard, the founder of EST, and on the other side the Israeli consul in San Francisco.

I thought it would be the right moment for me to acknowledge Moshe for having those advanced ideas 40 years ago. I got up and told how Moshe had all these ideas 40 years ago. People were laughing. I was as standing behind Moshe and his presence was overwhelming. I sat down and then realized I had not said the main thing about the yellow pages book. I felt terrible. The next day the conference started.

Jean Houston talked about the third centennial of the U.S. with all the new messages of the new age methods, counting them one by one, never mentioning Feldenkrais. I knew he was in the audience and could imagine how he felt and then I understood what had happened to me the night before.

When I came back to Israel I went to his FI place in Nachmany Street and told him how I had intended to acknowledge him, but he probably reiterated his attitude of not trusting that the world would recognize him, and strong as his presence was, it hypnotized the people to not be able to express it. Maybe that’s what happened to Jane Houston, too.

It was the first time that I had told something to Moshe that he did not challenge immediately, and he just got to thinking. I wish I could get the message through to him that now the world recognizes him more and more as the universal best quality learning of what is most important to any person—how their body supports them to be what they want to be.

Nancy: If you had to distill the Feldenkrais work into one sentence down to its barebones essence, what would you say?

Ruthy: For me, Feldenkrais is about awakening the organism to use its resourcefulness, to not compromise and instead invent solutions of improvement. The awareness, the evolutionary models, the variations, the non-habitual approach are all instruments to awaken the core, which has the power.

Nancy: When I look at the picture of you jumping, I am instantly reminded of your lightness and depth. Ruthy, thank you for visiting with me, you’ve provided a wealth of wisdom, knowledge, and history. As always, you are a joy to spend time with and I appreciate your kindness in sharing your many experiences with the somatic community. I wish you well in completing your book and on your next creative adventure, whatever it is!

Again, thanks to Nancy Wozny for allowing me to re-publish the article.

Beware Trainers Bearing Grudges

“Sed quis Custodiet ipsos Custodes?” – Juvenal

Update: This blog post was first published in 2010. Since then, there have been some disturbing allegations of bullying, sexual harassment, and rape against some of the trainers mentioned in this post. And there seems to be a policy in the Feldenkrais Guild community to not speak publically about the allegations as evidenced by several published FeldyForum posts by Roger Russel and several Feldenkrais Guild Representatives.

A small investigation of something Moshe Feldenkrais attempted to teach….and what a few of his students actually learned.


Moshe Feldenkrais Lecture and Demonstration

Thursday, June, 23 1977, From the San Francisco Training Transcripts.

Moshe speaking during a Functional Integration demonstration:

“I used to take it differently. This is Yochanan’s way. [Feldenkrais demonstrates] Yochanan was watching me and finally, he brought to my attention that I was doing this. I thought it was so simple to take that. I never thought I’d do something like this …[Demonstrates] Then I just do that …[Demonstrates] Yochanan showed me that it means doing that … so it is a movement. There are many things like that which I learned from Mia [Segal], Gaby [Yaron] or Yochanan [Rywerant]”

Above Moshe is speaking about one of his earliest students, Yochanan Rywerant (recently passed away), who worked closely with him in Israel for many years. Feldenkrais was showing how Yochanan taught him something valuable. It’s a lovely demonstration of the kind of man and teacher Moshe was. He was not just demonstrating about the Method, but about his own ability to be a man of learning and to learn from his own students. He was open enough, wise enough, and yes – humble enough to learn from his own students. And he doesn’t just talk about the idea – he demonstrated it for all to see.

Moshe speaking to his students again:

“I want you to feel halfway between what you feel now and Mia, Ruthy [Alon], or Gaby. It is not that you do better than them. You should feel that in a year or two you will be capable of doing something similar. They will always have their twenty years experience. They have twenty years of watching me work all the time. People who [come] watch in Tel Aviv a month or two can see some of the things that are worth learning.”

Pretty wonderful, isn’t it? He is orienting his new students in San Francisco towards the eventual achievement of their own competence and ability to learn. It seems to me that he is also giving them an indication that there is much that they can learn from his original students with whom he worked for so many years in Israel.

If you know a little bit of the history that arose from Moshe’s American trainings, you may be aware that some of his San Francisco students were instrumental in creating what is now known as the “FGNA” or The Feldenkrais Guild of North America. Many have now taken to calling themselves “trainers” and they hold trainings that give people the right to use Service Marks such as “Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner” etc. That’s all well and good, but the question I want to ask is,

What did the San Francisco students learn? Do they comport themselves in a manner similar to Moshe? Did they in fact, learn to interact with, learn from, and value his original students from Israel and their own students?”

While you can rarely make valid generalizations about an entire category of people, there are a few comments from the San Francisco students that might shed light on what a few of them believe.

Trainer Emails

The quotes below are from emails that were forwarded to me earlier this year. They are from an email conversation in which a request was made to the Feldenkrais NATAB (North American Training and Accreditation Board) to discuss students in non-guild trainings getting educational credit for attending those trainings so that they could then finish and become “Guild Certified.” Several of Moshe’s original students, including Mia Segal and Yochanan Rywerant whom he mentioned above, have run their own Feldenkrais trainings outside the auspices of the Guilds (i.e. “non-certified”) and have been doing so for nearly 40 years.

I don’t know the names of everyone who was involved in the email conversation, parts of which I am posting below. I saw responses from half a dozen or so from the San Francisco Feldenkrais training, and a couple from the Amherst training. Presumably, some NATAB committee members and some FGNA directors were involved as well, though I do not have their responses. And though I received a great many emails, I did not get them all.

Here are a few excerpts. All of what is written below is from “trainers”:

I cannot begin to express what a slap in the face it would be if the Guild now decides that Baniel and/or MBS [MBS is the Mind Body Studies Institute, Mia Segal and Leora Gaster’s organization], will be given permission be – for every intent and purpose – to offer the first 90 days of legitimate training with none of the constraints we have agreed to, none of the loyalty to the community we have demonstrated and having paid none of the fees we have paid and continue to pay. A “cross over agreement” for students from these or any other organization would mean nothing more and nothing less than permission and encouragement to take the 90 days of class with an unaccredited program and then to join an accredited one for 70 more days with that plan bringing the same graduation as if the student had been in an accredited training all along! Once again, those people who have supported the Guild and have followed common agreements will have been taken for fools.”

I don’t know what the person means by “loyalty to the community.” But it seems to me that loyalty would involve a discussion about what would be healthy for the growth and needs of the various Feldenkrais organizations and members. But if the person views change as a personal “slap in the face” there’s really not much room for a discussion, is there? I guess his personal needs are more important to him. He is not in favor of inclusion.

Later in the same email:

When she [Mia Segal] and Yochanon started their programs I had already left my positions with the Guild and the Feldenkrais Foundation. However, I told Guild board members then that they should sue both Yochanon and Mia for improper use of the terms.  Instead a cross over policy was initiated.  If Moshe wanted either and or both Mia and Yochanon to be the only  trainers he had the opportunity to do so.

Sue Moshe’s most experienced and capable students? For what purpose? Who would that benefit? I believe Moshe wanted his students from San Francisco to learn from two of his most experienced students and colleagues. In fact, regardless of what Moshe wanted, one would have to be an idiot not to do so. Would you not want to learn from the most skilled practitioners you could find?

But the person above did not get the message. He wanted to sue them. Perhaps he still does. Why? What is it about Mia and Yochanon that gets this person so angry? After all these decades is he jealous of their personal relationship with Moshe Feldenkrais? Is he upset that they chose to independently teach their own training programs? What is it?

The idea of “suing them for improper use of the terms” seems like a smokescreen. Improper according to whom? According to guild lawyers? Could you imagine Moshe suing Mia or Yochanon because of how they used the service marks?

Why this is important

These are important to questions to ask for a variety of reasons. As you may know the FGNA went through a lawsuit 10 years ago. It spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend itself, nearly going bankrupt in the processs and then mysteriously settled out of court, giving the plaintiffs nearly everything they wanted.

Now, I’m starting to wonder if the guild is getting ready to start a lawsuit of its own. It recently convened a “portability committee” whose report is so convoluted and technical that it sounds like something written by one of Richard Nixon’s lawyers. (You can read the report online, you’ll need to scroll down the page a bit: Feldenkrais Portability Committee.)

I’d like to give you a full analysis of it, but I don’t want to step into the frame of reference that it represents. To me, the committee member’s report seems like typical political double speak and dissembling. They simply don’t have the guts to say, “We are worried about non-FGNA sponsored trainings happening in the U.S. and want to create a legal framework that will make it easier for us to sue.” [And bankrupt FGNA for yet another 10 year period?]

Here’s another response from a trainer residing in Europe:

It seems to be unofficial policy that most people should follow the training policies, but some people seem to be exempt from those policies, and the people who are exempt are those who express the least respect for those policies. Most of the accredited trainers in North America have made agreements to abide by the policies of the TAB and have done so as far as I can tell from my observer post in [names country]. While they are doing so, they are confronted with others who are publically ignoring those same policies. Now the question is if the students of the people who have basically thumbed their noses at the training policies, should be able to join the guild. If they are accepted, most likely on their own terms, or the terms are dictated by their teachers, then what is the training policy worth to those who have been abiding by it for many years?

That to me is one of the most fascinating responses. It is essentially saying that those who are not part of the Guild system are “thumbing their noses” and ignoring its policy. I simply do not understand the concept. If they have their own trainings and training policies what would be the purpose of following Guild policy? And remember the history. The people about whom he is speaking – Moshe’s original Isreali students – each had over 20 years of experience working with him and also developing their own work – before the Guild was created. Why in the hell would they now or – decades ago – have taken orders and directions from Moshe’s newest students?

His final comment “what is the training policy worth to those who have been abiding by it for many years” is also interesting. Is he asking what the policy is worth to himself and the other trainers who created the policy? Is he asking how it would affect his own trainings? It’s unclear to me. But again, it would be great to have a conversation about what inclusion would do for the entire system, including the guilds, practitioners and students.

For the record, the first two years of trainings after Moshe’s trainings were essentially carbon copies of the Amherst training. I mean that literally. The first two years of the original trainings consisted of playing the videotapes from Amherst. Can you imagine? That was the skill level of the original group of self-named trainers. I don’t mean that as in insult, we all have to start somewhere. But the first few trainings after Moshe’s involved a huge amount of taped calls. With the newly minted “trainers” adding their own commentary where they could.

If you were someone like Mia Segal, already training “live” and in-person, not only with Moshe’s blessing and help but also with well over 20 years of teaching experience, would you have agreed to teach by VCR? Would you have agreed to let new students from San Francisco – that you had helped train – dictate to you how to proceed and how to train? I think that was the original “sin” of Mia Segal and Yochanon Rywerant and many of the other Israelis. They were mature, independent adults who kept teaching according to their own desires and needs. They didn’t give in to the pressure and machinations of Moshe’s American students.

As to the current crop of American trainers who I have been quoting? (It’s interesting that the angry, self-righteous ones often seem to be males and Americans. Excluding me, of course. I’m full of love and peaches and cream.) Their fear and insecurity is still plain to see after all these years. Here’s a few more choice quotes:

…this question is being asked to accommodate people who have been spitting in our faces for years and the best we can do is to be obsequious towards them. Its incredible. Where are your spines? They take away our students for two years and then their students want to come to our Guild to be called Feldenkrais practitioners.  People organize advanced and mentorship programs for them, is it any wonder that practitioner referrals for prospective students are for their ‘trainings’?  We actually elevate them to some sort of super status.  This situation is absolutely absurd.” 

Wow. Talk about fear and loathing. Who is spitting on whose face? “They take away OUR student’s?” Our students, really?! Someone seems to have entitlement issues. And notice the bit about other practitioners organizing advanced workshops “for THEM.” What’s wrong? Are his feelings hurt because people don’t want to organize advanced workshop with him? Poor fella. Sounds like a clear case of professional jealousy.

Here’s a quote from someone else:

I hold no grudges towards Mia, Yochanon or Anat for starting their own versions of the “true” Feldenkrais Method according to them.  More power to them.  However it is chickenshit of them and their students to slam us and then expect to be welcomed into the fold.  I was never a fan of the crossover plan even if I benefitted from it.  Either they believe in what they are doing and accept the consequences or they are fudging it and hypocritically somehow claiming the high road.  If we want to allow for crossover on what basis is it acceptable other than monetary?

hmmm. Have you ever heard of incongruent communication? “I hold no grudges against you, but you’re a chickenshit.” Gee, thanks.

I’m not personally aware of Mia, Yochonan, nor Anat “slamming” the guild. Perhaps they have. But ultimately, why would they? They have been too busy doing their own work and developing the method. That’s the funny thing about organic development. When you are deeply involved in tasks that you find pleasurable and are evolving yourself you don’t have too much time to look askance at what others are doing. On the other hand, when you rely on legal distinctions and social control while simultaneously look backwards to what your dead hero was doing 30 years ago…you have plenty of room to slam others. The FGNA trainers that I have quoted are doing just that – and they seem to be the ones doing the slamming.

As far as Mia Segal or Yochanon Rywerant starting their “own versions” of the Feldenkrais Method? For the love of god, what a load of nonsense. Words simply do not suffice. It’s an idea that is delusional and flies in the face of the facts, common sense, and simple human decency. It would be more accurate to say, that Yochanon and Mia kept teaching and doing the work in the way that Moshe taught them and that they learned. Neither did Anat start her “own version” of the work. She simply decided it was not in her best interest to abide by rules set by others. She created her own marks and her own brand.

Ultimately what Mia, Yochanon and Anat refused to do is bow down. They did not become slaves to the service marks, nor to the Guild, nor to lawyers, nor to what Moshe was doing 25 years ago, nor to a VCR, nor some delusional American licensing scheme which attempted to label and bottle up Moshe’s work like some type of McDonald’s hamburger franchise.

And the American trainers that I am quoting? They did a power grab. With Moshe’s service marks in-hand, and the videos of the Amherst trainings, and some legal and ethical shenanigans, they created an organization that they have done a pretty good job of controlling…and choking the life out of. Organic learning and development by way of committee and the approval of lawyers? How in the hell is that supposed to work?

What’s not in the emails?

There are dozens of other choice quotes that I could share with you. But I will stop for now. It’s too depressing. Perhaps it would be better to talk about what is not in the emails. There is virtually no mention of what would be good for the Guild. There is no mention about what would be good for practitioners. There is no mention of how to provoke development and growth of the work. No. What we have here, is the same thing that we have had for 25 years. A small group of narrow-minded and selfish people fighting to preserve the institutionalization of their own prejudices and arrogance. They are kicking and screaming like children as they have been for years. In their minds, they own the work and they are in a fight to control it.

If you are in the FGNA hold onto your wallet. Because with angry men like that in the background, and I’m sorry to say, a toothless, cowed Board of Directors – who knows what will happen next. Personally, I have kept my guild dues in my wallet until such a time as it becomes a practitioner-oriented organization that lives to promote the Method and its ideas.

The Punchline

Ok, ready for the punchline? It’s pretty unbelievable. The conversation from which I am quoting above is not really about non-guild students wanting to join the Guild. There are no students who are doing so! According to an FGNA committee member who I spoke to in an unrelated email conversation, there are no Anat Baniel Method practitioners who are involved in the “cross over policy.” None of them are involved in becoming Guild-Certified. And I don’t believe any on Mia’s practitioners are doing so either. So what’s all the fuss about? Why are the trainers getting so upset about something that’s not happening?

Good question. Sounds to me like we are dealing with people who have some dependency issues. They are fighting battles from the long dead past – afraid of the shadows of past conflicts that they have not resolved. Whatever it may be, you may want to ask yourself:

Do these people have a vision? Do they speak for you? Do you want them setting policy for the Guild and Trainings? Are these people who are going to lead us into a new era and bring the work in its many guises and moral implications deeper into the world?

I don’t think so. But perhaps you think otherwise.

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Question: Were all the emails angry and negative?

No. There were some comments from other trainers that had a more “positive” slant. I will write them up in another post. Though as usual, the “reasonable” trainers never quite have the courage to challenge the system. I suppose it’s difficult to give up on a scheme that gives you a monopoly on service marked terms and the right to sell them. Some trainers are willing to criticize and provoke. But to date, only a few have developed the maturity and independence to do more than that.

Bone Mineral Content And Fractures: Are They Related?

The Job of Congolese Women and Girls Is To Car...
Image by Woody Collins via Flickr

In a previous post on the relationship between structural “deviations” and pain symptoms we discussed how specific issues such as “disk protrusions” and “torn rotator cuffs” are not necessarily related to pain symptoms – regardless of what well-meaning health practitioners may tell us.

Now, let’s talk about a related idea we first touched upon in our podcast with Ruthy Alon. Namely, is low bone mineral content the cause of bone fractures?


Bone Density and Bone Fractures

It is well established that most women lose bone density as they get older (Citation: Hip and calcaneal bone loss increase with advancing age.) But what is puzzling is the fact that bone fractures – presumably related to bone density and bone mineral content – varies among populations. For example, African American women have much lower rates of bone fractures than do Caucasian women.

Why? Is it because African American women have stronger bones? Do they have slower mineral loss? For the U.S. population, I have not seen an answer. However, I was intrigued by this comment by Ruthy Alon on a Facebook post (African Women Walking):

“Comparative research shows that African women, who carry massive loads on their heads
with effortless grace, are one hundred times less liable to fractures than women in the West,
despite the fact that their bone density is lower than that of Western women.”

Could this be true? Do African women, with dramatically fewer bone fractures than Caucasian women have actually have lower bone density? If so, what accounts for the differences in fracture rates?

Bone Density Research

According to a study in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research Ruthy is correct. The study compared Caucasian women and African women on a variety of factors including bone density, age, and weight. Surprisingly, not only did the African women maintain bone density at a similar rate to Caucasian women, but they actually had LESS overall bone mineral content than did the Caucasian women. Got that? Lower bone density and fewer fractures.

According to the researchers,”These results challenge the concept of BMC [Bone Mineral Content] as a primary determinant of fracture risk.”

If bone density is not the “cause” of fractures, then what is? How do African women avoid fractures? What can Caucasian women learn from them? Would anyone like to share a theory? If you are a Feldenkrais Practitioner or Bones For Life Practitioner, you likely have an opinion on this. Yes?

I’m listening.


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Ruthy Alon: Talking To The Bones

ruthy_alon_jumpI recently caught up with Ruthy Alon while she was in preparation for an upcoming 4-month international trip to teach Bones For Life and Feldenkrais. One of Moshe’s original “gang of 13” students, Ruthy speaks not only about the development and origination of her own work – Bones For Life – but also her beginnings with Moshe Feldenkrais.

In this podcast, you can find out how Ruthy got the idea for Bones For Life, how she integrates Feldenkrais principles into her work, and how she originally “found” Moshe. Ruthy also shares a wonderful story about how she approached Moshe with the idea of teaching his work at an Israeli University. This was at at time before he had conducted a formal training or was even calling what he did “ATM” or “FI”….

Much more that I could say, but let’s have the conversation speak for itself:


*When you click the link, the file should open automatically and play in another browser window. If not, you may need to download it to your computer. Also, if you use iTunes, you can go to the iTunes store and search for “Feldenkrais Podcasts” and each episode will download automatically.

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Ruthy Alon: Movement “Nature” Meant

Ruthy Alon Video

The number of Feldenkrais-related video seems to increasing dramatically on YouTube and other online sources. Here’s a gentle one by Ruthy Alon, one of Moshe’s orginal students. I can’t imagine that it would play well to a large market segment and I don’t know if this would be considered a Bones For Life video or a Feldenkrais video, but it is a nice use of YouTube to get the word out. This is one of several videos of Ruthy, posted on YouTube:

Update: If you are interested in Ruthy’s work, take a few minutes and listen to my Ruthy Alon podcast.