Neuroplasticity & The Brain’s Ability To Adapt, Change – Anat Baniel Explains

Adiel Gorel
How Movement and Brain Change Are Connected

You know how we often say things like I’m hardwired to do this or that someone is made that way and cannot change? What if I told you that it is possible to actually change that supposed ‘hardwiring’ of the brain? Now more and more research is telling us that it is, in fact, possible to change the physical structure and connections in the brain. We can actually alter behavior with the help of new sensory stimulation, new information and so on. I recently interviewed Anat Baniel, whose life work proves that it is, in fact, possible to change, improve and enhance the brain, even later in life.

Anat Baniel and Moshé Feldenkrais.

You know how, sometimes we hear someone’s life story and we think – there’s a movie story for you, or now more recently we tend to think, there’s a Netflix series just begging to be made? When I interviewed Anat Baniel for my podcast, I was struck by how her story about her mentor Moshé Feldenkrais, and her life’s work would make such a great Netflix series!  She has studied clinical psychology and dance and even worked as a psychologist with the Israeli army. However, she really found her calling when she trained with Moshé Feldenkrais and then started to work with him.
Feldenkrais devised methods to improve body movement and the state of the mind in unique ways, by making simple changes to people’s thoughts and actions. For years, Anat worked alongside, learned from, and traveled with Feldenkrais to soak up all of his experience and learning. She saw how he was able to help children with autism or brain deformities, and people with multiple sclerosis. She saw how, with the help of exercise therapy, it is possible to repair or regenerate connections between the motor cortex and the body, improving physical performance, range of motion, and general wellbeing. This helped Anat understand that movement is the key to positive brain change, and she took forward the work of Feldenkrais with her own research and work.

The Anat Baniel Method.

In my podcast interview with her, Anat shared the story of 13-year-old Elizabeth who was brought in with something called global brain damage. She wasn’t developing at all, stuck at the newborn stage because of a structural deformity of the brain. However, through consistent therapy Elizabeth made amazing progress, learning to walk, talk, and even go to school. This is when 

she realized the real power of this therapy and her ability to really make a positive change in the lives of people.
Another story Anat tells is that of a ballerina – she has worked with many high performance athletes and professional dancers over the years. So this ballerina was able to perform the arabesque movement perfectly with one of her legsbut not with the other. Try as she might, she couldn’t get herself to move past that particular problem – until Anat showed her how. It is truly fascinating how simply by moving in different ways, the brain receives new information to change what it can do and how it behaves.
Listen to my podcast with Anat Baniel where she speaks about the NeuroMovement Treatments developed by her.  She even takes us through some movements that demonstrate the work she does in the course of our podcast, so don’t miss this one.
Adiel Gorel

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