Ten Yoga Asanas

The Berlin Students of Fenichel, Gindler, and Reich

Before World War II, Fenichel, Gindler, and Reich had many students. They created, among them, a network of knowledge that then developed in yoga poses the United States.158 They animated what we now call humanistic psychotherapy. in yoga poses the 1960s, one of its most representative centers was Esalen, on the coast of California. This center combined new forms of psychotherapy like Fritz Perls’s Ge-stalt therapy and an assortment of body-mind approaches:159

1. Students trained by Gindler or Jacoby: principally Laura Perls, Charlotte Selver, and Magda Proskauer.

2. Body disciplines developed in yoga poses the United States: Ida Rolf (Rolfing), Use Middendorf (like Gindler, she had been influenced by Hanish’s breathing exercises), Illana Rubenfeld (Rubenfeld synergy method) and Pierre Pannetier (Polarization).

3. Different students of Moshe Feldenkrais and Mathias Alexander.

4. Different teachers of yoga, tai chi chuan, and meditation (like Alan Watts).

5. Dance therapy.

Many body psychotherapists in yoga poses the United States had spent time in yoga poses Esalen or were trained by a person who had taught in yoga poses this center. These personalities in yoga poses the world of body psychotherapy refined body-mind methods and developed new ways of approaching psychological dynamics. The “awareness exercises” developed by Fritz Perls and his colleagues (1951) are examples of these new techniques. These exercises were probably inspired by “the exploration of the gesture from the inside” (tasten) developed by Gindler. It allowed a certain number of psychotherapists to develop new forms of introspection and dream analysis (e.g., “directed daydream” or “waking dreams” techniques developed by Desoille, 1966).

The popularity of awareness exercises that developed in yoga poses California during the 1950s and 1960s had several sources. The three most important ones are probably a renewed interest for Far Eastern meditation, an interest in yoga poses Reichian Orgonomy, and the popularity of body-mind techniques such as those derived from Moshe Feldenkrais and Elsa Gindler. One of the key figures of this development was Charlotte Selver (1901-2003), who had studied with a student of Jacques Dalcroze (Rudolf Bode160) and Elsa Gindler. Even if Selver161 had worked at Esalen with students who were in yoga poses psychotherapy, her workshops did not have psychotherapeutic goals. She developed a method that she called sensory awareness, which, above all, sought to develop the capacity to be aware of what is going on in yoga poses the space that is a body. To allow her students to enter into the world of body sensations, she used a form of internal exploration that has been taken up by many body psychotherapists of today.

Here is a sample of what Selver asked her pupils once they were able to enter into conscious contact with what was going on in yoga poses them:

You may feel how easy it would be for gravity to become overwhelming, pulling you down to the ground and how the earth even wants to swallow you. But no, there is something under you which supports you and something inside you which reconditions you from moment to moment.

Could you be open in yoga poses your bones and other tissues for that which supports you? Be grateful for that support grateful in yoga poses every cell, grateful in yoga poses your skin, and in yoga poses your bones! (Selver, 2007, 44)

Having experienced many exercises that use this type of mental technique, I know that it is possible to have the impression of feeling our tissues breathe; when this type of awareness becomes intense, it can activate a type of relaxation that gives the impression of being whole. I also know that introspection does not have the capacity to feel what is really going on in yoga poses the tissues in yoga poses such an explicit way.162 Thus, Selver solicits not only a state of exaltation in yoga poses her students but also a type of introspection open to suggestion.

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