Based on the Feldenkrais approach to somatic learning
“Movement that nature meant” is the underlying theme of Ruthy Alon’s somatic body of work. Alon, one of Moshe Feldenkrais’s original students, has spent her professional life exploring movement in all of its implications on human health and well-being. Alon is well known in the Feldenkrais community as a spectacular senior trainer of 40+ years; she has studied various approaches and engaged in her own personal study of animal, evolutionary and human movement. A major inspiration for branching off from the Feldenkrais Method and creating her own work was the African water carriers. These women, with their incredible strength and grace in gait under pressure, really called her to answer the question, “How has the demand of carrying loads that are 20-50% of their body weight on their heads across long distances informed their posture, skeleton, and gait?” Using this question and detailed observation, she created the Bones for Life work in the early 1990s. Now there are five separate but interwoven programs under the umbrella of Movement Intelligence.
Each of these programs stands alone but can also fill in a unique aspect of your movement intelligence.
Bones for Life®
Where alignment, pressure, spring, and function meet
The complete Bones for Life® program consists of 90 fast-acting and easy-to-learn exercise processes. The safe, weight-bearing movements challenge bones to be strong and sturdy while improving balance and coordination.
Bones for Life® is…
- Intelligent fitness for safe and effective walking, running, weight training, dancing, yoga, Pilates, working in your garden, or cleaning your house.
- Postural training from the inside out.
- Personal ergonomics. Using yourself differently instead of just changing the environment.
- Anti-osteoporosis/osteoarthritis. Both of these dis-ease processes are driven by ineffective movement and postural habits to a large degree. Bone and joint health begin with quality, dynamic movement stimulation.
Upright posture is developed through simple tools that facilitate controlled resistance to pressure, like using a strip of cloth as a harness, pushing a wall, or lifting weights in a new way.
For the therapist/teacher, Bones for Life® provides a doorway for empowering students and patients for their own health and recovery. It benefits conditions such as osteoporosis, neck or back pain, joint challenges, compromised balance, and lethargy. The program also trains therapists in their own self-use and movement patterns, enabling health care professionals to engage dynamically in their profession longer and with greater ease.
Bones for Life® classes systematically coach alignment throughout the body so that pressure from the ground provides the skeleton maximum benefits and minimal damage over a lifetime of use.
Please read about our own Bones for Life research.
Walk for Life
Engaging your spine, enhancing your stance
We have a passion for walking at Integrative Learning Center, and this Movement Intelligence program is a lovely addition to anyone’s walking practice. It also offers tremendous benefits in the rehab setting. The use of poles allows us to reengage with our evolutionary quadruped nature. As an extension of our arms, the poles allow us to bear weight through the arms and use our upper back in walking as originally designed. Animals rarely have a stiff thoracic, but not so for humans. Yet if we learn to walk with poles and transmit the ground reaction force into the upper back, we will gain skill, flexibility, and strength to transfer into walking without trekking poles. Walk for Life contains both a robust indoor somatic program as well as a lively outdoor component.
Research by the University of New Hampshire’s Department of Kinesiology has shown improvements in balance and gait. Read more about this research.
“Walk for Life participants improved their walking speed, step length, and time spent on each leg during walking. They also experienced an improvement in their overall balance confidence.”
— Erik E Swartz, PhD, ATC, FNATA
The transformation of sitting
We have heard that sitting is the new smoking. That you cannot actually make up for all those hours of sitting by simply exercising for an hour at the end of the day.
The Chairs program capitalizes on the western world’s obsession with the chair so that instead of the chair as a tool for disease, we can convert the chair to a mobility tool. These short exercises rewrite our maladaptive use of chairs into dynamic sitting. This program is largely a reinterpretation of the Bones for Life work in the context of sitting. It can be useful for working with people who cannot immediately get down on the ground or in environments where floor space is not available. But beyond that, we have found that even healthy individuals can learn important aspects about their organization in the Chairs program in a truly unique way.
Break the new smoking habit—get dynamic in sitting.
The inner game of chewing
Whether it is the movement of emotion or the physical, all movement tends to come from a habitual state.
Our relationship to food and how we approach food and chew it is also likely a habit. Habits can serve us well, and they can also be a burden. In Mindful Eating, learn strategies to reconnect to a deep inner knowing about what to eat, what supports life, and when not to eat.
Lower the noise and demand of modern life so you can hear and interpret the inner signals that can allow you to become aware of addictive habits and regain control over your life around eating.
The path in Mindful Eating is not of rigidity or self-denial, but instead of listening to the small voices within that are often overlooked. The equation for healthy eating is simple.
For those wanting to reduce their body mass, this can be done by
- Decreasing food intake
- Decreasing the speed at which we eat
- Increasing our total body pleasure in eating
Or using any combination of these three.
The gentle, nonjudgmental somatic exercises explore non-habitual options for eating and movement, allowing us to break free from stuck, counterproductive ways. Learn to trust yourself again. Learn how to nourish your body truly.
Solutions for Optimal Mobility
Self-Care Strategies to restore ease & pain-free functioning at any age.
Awaken your body’s autonomous, sensory-based compass to calibrate better and coordinate integrated, ergonomic, and efficiently streamlined movement through Solutions for Optimal Mobility. Life happens, and in so doing, sometimes our inner compass becomes confused or damaged. But this compass can be recalibrated and brought back to optimal function, not through knowing a “right” way where one habit is exchanged for another, but by knowing how to give yourself quality brain and body food.
This program offers laser-focused somatic processes designed to be used in private sessions and taken home for self-use. Find problem-free, pain-free movement.
Sample themes of this program include feet, arms, shoulders, back, hip joints, neck, and scoliosis.
Find out more:
About Ruthy Alon, Movement Intelligence Creator
Ruthy Alon was one of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais’s first students. (Dr. Feldenkrais was a pioneer in somatic education.) Alon is an accomplished senior trainer in the Feldenkrais Method® and has trained thousands of practitioners worldwide. Alon is the author of Mindful Spontaneity and producer of the video Movement Nature Meant.
Alon became inspired many years ago by the women of West Africa who carry heavy loads on their heads. Studies of their efficient gait (walk), low bone density, and low hip fracture rate caught her attention. Drawing on her vast understanding of human movement patterns and analyzing the West African load-bearing gait, she shaped a program addressing healthy bones, uprightness, and strength. Now in her 80s, Alon keeps a busy international schedule.
Here she is seen jumping in the harness. For this jump, the harness is used to wrap the joints, giving security to the hip joints and the spine in particular.