Elsa Gindler

Elsa Gindler (19 June 1885 – 8 January 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 tuberculosis (by concentrating on breathing only with her healthy lung and resting the diseased lung), Gindler originated a school of movement education, 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, and walking were explored, as well as other everyday movements. 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. 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.


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