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gabrielle-allenGabrielle Allen

I studied at the Münster University Hospital Affiliate College for Physiotherapy and received my license with the German State Association of Physiotherapy in 1989. I worked as staff physical therapist in the Orthopedic Surgery Rehabilitation Department and in outpatient pain management at the Municipal Hospital Dortmund for one year and then joined a private practice near Düsseldorf, where I worked predominantly with patients suffering with joint and muscle pains, and patients recovering from stroke.

I completed advanced training with the German Association for Manual Medicine/Chirotherapy [1990/91] and studied the Feldenkrais Method® at the Institute For Somatic Education in San Francisco from 1992-96. I have been certified with the Feldenkrais Guild of North America since 1996.

In 1997 I moved to Oakland and established a private practice as Feldenkrais Practitioner.

In 2008 I was certified in the Sounder Sleep System, a meditative movement method to overcome insomnia. In 2012 I received certification as Anat Baniel Method Practitioner for children with special needs.

The spark that led me on the path to becoming a Mind/Body practitioner happened during my last year at college. As part of my training I completed an internship at a school for children with special needs in Münster, where I was introduced to the Feldenkrais Method® by one of the special education teachers. I was quite intrigued and at the next opportunity attended a Feldenkrais weekend workshop for the general public. Here I was guided through various series of very gentle movements and directed to pay close attention to the feeling of the movements in different places in my body. This process was unlike anything I had ever done before with movement. At the end of the day I felt very different in my body – My feet were planted in the ground and I felt very light and tall. I had an unusually clear internal, kinetic sense of myself. I was so surprised and wondered how could these simple movements lead to such dramatic changes in a person. After all I had just gone through three years of intense study of the human body and I was a dancer. So I thought for sure I knew everything about movement there is to know.

I was even more amazed watching another participant, a young woman with cerebral palsy, who had entered the workshop moving with great effort and having back pain from sitting long hours at her job. She left walking tall and apparently with great ease and enjoyment. Her pain was completely gone. I was very touched and inspired. I wanted to learn more as soon as possible. But I felt that after three years of studying it was necessary to practice what and gather experience of everything I had learned, before going on to more studies.

Three years later I attended a special Feldenkrais introductory seminar for physical therapists in Hamburg, which was taught by Paul Rubin, the director of the Institute for Somatic Education in San Francisco

Once again it was just a outstanding learning experience and I was now determined to study this method.

I raised funds, secured permission from my employer to leave my job for nine weeks every year for the next four years and enrolled in the Feldenkrais professional training program in San Francisco.

In spite of my previous experience, my only intention for studying the Feldenkrais Method was to broaden and refine my skills as a physical therapist. Little did I know how deeply and this training would transform me in body, mind and spirit.

The integration of the changes that I experienced through Awareness Through Movement and Functional Integration® lessons dramatically altered my perception and my understanding of movement and functional integrity in movement rehabilitation as well as the way in which I related to my patients. Over the next four years I experienced a metamorphosis from physical therapist, trained to diagnose, correct, and fix problems, to a facilitator of change; the change that can happen in a person at any time, when their nervous system wakes up to process information that prompts it to generate new patterns of movement, feeling and thinking; a process that allows people not only to overcome movement limitations and pain, but to evolve to and embody his or her full potential as a mature human being.

I believe that this profound process also led me to meditation and to an ongoing contemplation of the human experience. Ever since the Feldenkrais training I have been fascinated with the human potential for personal refinement and growth and I hope to inspire others on their own journey of self-discovery.

When my colleagues witnessed the striking functional improvements in my clients, they referred patients to me for Feldenkrais work, particularly those who had suffered injury to their nervous system.

Outside the practice I taught weekly Awareness Through Movement classes, and periodically workshops in health insurance-sponsored wellness programs and other venues.

I had met my husband, Jumbé Allen in my training, which gave my life yet another new direction.

I decided to leave my homeland, friends and family and move to California. I assisted with the management of my husband’s TCM practice and established my own practice as Feldenkrais practitioner. Jumbé and I shared a vision of creating a holistic health center, a place for healing, learning and change, a resource for the community. Raising two children and the special attention that we devoted to our boy, who had sensory integration problems and was dyslexic, changed our focus for some time.

During the many hours I spent on playgrounds and volunteering in my children’s schools I saw other children with developmental challenges. I observed that these children have to cope every day with expectations that they cannot fulfill. The social and academic demands of a typical school environment often overwhelm them and lead to mental and physical exhaustion, and often to emotional distress, causing negative behavior that gets them in trouble. They quickly develop a negative self-image that erodes their self-trust and leaves them feeling inadequate and misunderstood, in spite of the well-meaning and loving adults around them. At a formative age these kids develop resistances instead of resilience. When they have supportive parents and educators around them, they often learn to accept and deal with their limitations. They eventually learn to advocate for themselves and to work very hard to meet academic expectations.

I felt a growing desire to help children with special needs and learning differences, so that they can tap faster into their potential for change and thrive, not only physically but also mentally and emotionally from an early age.

I decided to study the Anat Baniel Method in order to expand and refine my skills for working with children.

Today I experience myself as a co-creator of change in the universal field of unlimited possibilities.

I facilitate a process of healing and personal growth by cultivating a clearer sense of self through refinement of movement, attention to how we are from moment to moment, and awareness of choice.

I deeply enjoy this ongoing process of recognizing facets of our being-ness, transcending self-limiting concepts and beliefs, which ultimately leads us to personal freedom and fulfillment in life.

I work with children and adults, and I continue to vision and co-create the Acupuncture and Health Center as a place for alternative health care and positive transformation together with my husband and other inspiring people who envision holistic health care as the order of the day.

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