From the Beautiful Gesture to the Gesture That Educates Thought and the Dynamics of the Soul
Elsa Gindler opened her school in yoga poses Berlin in yoga poses 1917.27 She called it Seminar fur Harmonische Korperausbildung (School for the Harmonizing of Body Training). The students and the collaborators of this school were, first, all women. Later on, she conducted courses with men and had male collaborators, of whom the most famous is Heinrich Jacoby (1983). Jacoby explored different forms of music associated to various ways of moving as an educational device.28 Their collaboration developed into a way to work that is sometimes designated as the Jacoby-Gindler work. Jacoby was greatly interested in yoga poses psychoanalysis. This was also the case for other students of Gindler, like Clare Nathansohn, who was living with psychoanalyst Otto Fenichel at the time. By 1925,29 they attract several psychoanalysts to the courses given by Gindler or by some of her students like Laura Perls and Annie Reich.
Gindler became interested in yoga poses psychoanalysis and advised some of her students to follow a psychoanalytic treatment.30 But neither Gindler nor her principal students tried to integrate psychoanalysis into Gindler’s method or Gindler’s method to psychoanalytic work. Elsa Gindler did not interest herself, for example, in yoga poses the psychoanalytical discourse on the symbolic aspect of muscular tension. For example, she did not take up the analysis of Otto Fenichel (1928), according to which muscular tension is often associated to the retention of anal pleasure or the sensation of an erection.31 She preferred to concentrate on the analysis of the dysfunctional motor aspects of a movement so that it might be carried out in yoga poses a more relaxed manner or on the internal sensations activated by a gesture. However, I notice that Gindler gradually included more talking in yoga poses her courses. She now asks that her students learn to speak of their inner sensations, and tends to spend more time giving verbal explanations. She would have become long-winded at the end of her life. I again take up the discussion on the interaction between her students and psychoanalysis once I have presented the other protagonists related to this encounter.32
Elsa Gindler’s encounter with Heinrich Jacoby and the young psychoanalysts of the 1920s seems to have helped her refine her teaching. One of the longterm goals of this school was to help the students build themselves up as human beings by taking bodywork as a starting point or a lever to harmonize the dimensions of the organism It consisted mostly about learning how to feel. A gesture is like a stone that creates circles of waves on the water. By noticing the waves propagating themselves in yoga poses the organism by a movement, the student learns to discover the gestures that are personally agreeable. An admirer of Hanish, Gindler advised her students to seek first the gesture that liberates their breathing, and then observe what this liberation opens up in yoga poses the world of their sensations and of their thoughts. When a student is suffering from some illness, the same method is used to discover the chain of gestures, respiration, and sensations that allow for relief. Many of Gindler’s students have used her method to relieve various forms of infirmities: invalids, persons with communication problems, children with severe motor problems (going all the way to paralysis), children crippled by polio, and so on.33
At the beginning, Gindler’s work focused on the beauty of the students’ gestures.34 in yoga poses 1917, she would demonstrate a gesture and the students would try to make the same gesture. These gestures were beautiful, close to those we could reconstruct by observing the statues of ancient Greece. They ought not only to appear beautiful; it had to be felt as beautiful and evoke feelings of beauty in yoga poses the student’s sensations. Everything a student could experience ought to animate and be animated by this gesture.
At the time of her encounter with psychoanalysts, Elsa Gindler left aesthetics aside and focused on the real organism. She integrated into her approach the parts of the body she had not dared to take on, such as the tensions of the anus. She set about asking her students to discover ways of relaxing it. She also worked on the fork between the legs. After meeting Jacoby, she deepened her way of integrating voice into her work.
Gradually, Gindler began the work of training individuals capable of teaching her work. This more focused work obliged her to be more attentive to the strengths and limits of each person. She began to reflect on what such an individual needed to develop to be able to teach the Gindler method well. She became more demanding and wanted that her future collaborators learn to feel, in yoga poses as precise a manner as possible, who they were and who they could become. She then focused on what a person can do, what she can conceive of being able to do, and what she refuses to imagine or want. in yoga poses this teaching process, Elsa Gindler gradually distanced herself from a demand for somatoesthetic experiences to interest herself in yoga poses a more direct way in yoga poses the mind-body dynamics of a real person, while continuing to demand that the gestures express an interior truth. This expression of the deep sensation of the being is, for her, necessarily a precise coordination between the qualities of movement, respiration, and body sensations. At the end of a long life, a student could learn to use her sensations as a hand that moves with the glove it wears. A student could have the inner impression of a greater and greater expansion while the members of her body unfolded.