Elsa Gindler

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Elsa Gindler (1885–1961) was a somatic bodywork pioneer in Germany.

Born in Berlin, gymnastics teacher, student of Hedwig Kallmeyer (who, in turn, had been a student of Genevieve Stebbins).

From her personal experience of recovering from an attack of tuberculosis (by concentrating to breathe with her healthy lung and rest the diseased lung) Gindler helped originate an entire school of bodywork, in close collaboration with Heinrich Jacoby.

What Gindler had called Arbeit am Menschen (work on the human being) emphasised self-observation and growing understanding of one's individual physically related condition. Simple actions such as sitting, standing, walking etc. were explored, also in everyday situations.

This became one of the bases of body psychotherapy since many of the most influential body psychotherapists studied with her or "Sensory Awareness" with Charlotte Selver at the Esalen Institute around 1962. Three other students of Gindler were Elsa Lindenberg,[1] the partner of Wilhelm Reich and Laura Perls wife of Fritz Perls and Carola Speads[2]

During the Nazi-period of Germany, Gindler used these investigations and experimental exercises with her students to covertly help people who were persecuted by the regime. For her assistance to the Jewish population of Berlin, she was distinguished as a righteous among the nations and a tree was planted in Yad Vashem in her honour.

Influences on other therapies by Elsa Gindlers work and by Sensory Awareness[edit]

Gindler's work has been continued and influenced the following movement and health-care therapies/originators:

- Germany: Sophie Ludwig (1901–1997)
- Hungary: Emmi Pikler (child-care) (1902–1984)
- Israel: Moshe Feldenkrais (1904–1984)
- Switzerland: Ruth Matter (1904–1995)
- Switzerland: Heinrich Jacoby
- France: Lily Ehrenfried:Methode Ehrenfried / Gymnastique Holistique
- United States of America:


  • History of Esalen Institute
  • German Wikipedia article on Elsa Gindler (translation requested)
  • Saltonstall, Ellen, Kinetic Awareness Discovering Your Bodymind. pages 19–24. Kinetic Awareness Center, New York City (U.S.A.) 1988. ISBN 0-89062-232-9


  1. ^ See: Store norske leksikon (The Norwegian Encyclopedia): http://snl.no/Elsa_Lindenberg (Retrieved 3. June 2014).
  2. ^ See: Carola Speads (1978). "Ways to Better Breathing." Healing Arts Press, Rochester. VT.

External links[edit]

in German:

in English: