Rewiring the Brain through Movement

Lessen Pain, Improve Physical Function, Increase Athletic Performance

Adrienne practices The Anat Baniel Method for children with challenges.

The amazing thing about the work that Adrienne does is that she is able to help strengthen the connections that make young athletes excel rather than trying to run them into the ground with extra workouts or risky weight training." - Michael Skinner

As I lay on the treatment table I had no idea what to expect. Adrienne Penebre told me to relax, then gently lifted my right leg up and moved it around. She moved to the left side of my upper body, lifted my arm, placed it on my chest, then eased my right shoulder and head up and towards the center of my body. It didn't feel like much of anything was happening. After she did this several times she asked me to get up and walk. When I took my first step one side felt so light I nearly fell over. Adrienne laughed and said that she had better balance out the other side. I felt my chest relax and felt more solid on my feet. And I felt as if I had lost 10 lbs. I had had my first lesson in the Anat Baniel Method (ABM).

ABM is a cutting edge, science-based neuro-movement approach that can transform the lives of children and adults by helping them move beyond pain and limitation. It can help people discover how to improve the mind and body through gentle movement. The ABM exercises create new neural patterns that increase strength, flexibility and vitality. "Whether you are in good health or have a limiting diagnosis, the method gives you tools to make the impossible possible and to live life more fully," said Adrienne.

Adrienne Penebre, a yoga teacher at Results Gym on Capitol Hill, was first introduced to this unique approach to movement while at a yoga training in Costa Rica in 2007. "My teacher was in a serious car accident and he used Feldenkrais to heal himself. I was very attracted to it." 

When she returned to DC she sought out the best possible teacher which took her to Anat Baniel, who studied under Moshe Feldenkrais, who died in 1984. He created the Feldenkrais Method, a somatic educational system which aims to reduce pain or limitations in movement, to improved physical function, and to promote general well-being by increasing students' awareness of themselves and by expanding students' movement abilities. After three and half years of study in California Adrienne opened her private practice on the Hill. "I want to help people move from limitations to possibilities. I love the ABM process. You can apply it to anything. It's so transformative.” 

Adrienne works with adults and children who have neurological disorders such as Parkinson's and MS. She also works with people who have scoliosis, back, neck or joint pain and anything that causes dysfunction. She works with children who are autistic, have CP, developmental delays, genetic disorders and brain damage. "I help people feel better emotionally and physically."

Adrienne designed a yoga class - Technique Yoga - using ABM. "A yoga posture is the outcome or the end result of the movement. ABM is about the 'how' not the 'what'. It's about what your brain is telling your body to do, not the physical process itself. You want to feel the difference between one thing and another thing." She said there's not one way to do a pose. It's not a linear process. I give people conditions and context to help them differentiate."

Rather than fixing limitations, Adrienne creates conditions for your brain to form and grow new neural maps and connections. She said a student can expand their skill and ability in both intentional and unpredictable ways. "ABM is talking to the brain through the body. It's not mechanical, it's not stretching. When you talk to the brain you get to places faster."

Last summer Adrienne worked with the Capitol Hill Little League 9/10 tournament team that Hill parents Becky and Michael Skinner were coaching. Michael described the experience. "We only had two weeks of practice with the players before the DC Tournament started. We needed to find a way to help the team gel quickly and wanted to give all the players a boost before we started playing together. Adrienne did a series of workshops with the players at the end of each practice. She was able to take 15 9-and-10-year-old boys through a series of movement exercises that fully engaged the whole team. By the end of the week we were seeing big gains in speed, throwing accuracy and batting. It was amazing to see how all the boys progressed in such a short time."

Michael then asked Adrienne to work with his two boys, Dakota, 13, and Logan, 10, to prepare for the fall soccer season. Both boys did six individual lessons in three days. "The amazing thing about the work that Adrienne does is that she is able to help strengthen the connections that make young athletes excel rather than trying to run them into the ground with extra workouts or risky weight training," said Michael. "Adrienne is helping their brains and nervous systems organize and coordinate movements. As the season started, we saw both boys able to be more powerful and more intricate with their ball movements on the soccer field."

ABM is scientific, not based on ancient eastern philosophy. Anat Baniel is partnering with top neuro-scientists around the world. She is on the forefront of those taking theories about the brain and creating a clinical application. "Doctors tell you how it is -- that you'll never be able to it. Yet that's not necessarily the case. What we think is not necessarily the truth. I'm not sure what the truth is, but I see changes that people don't think they can do."

To learn more about ABM and Adrienne log onto: www.neurophysica.net or call 202-525-8458.

Pattie Cinelli is a fitness consultant who helps clients reach their health, fitness and wellness goals in their homes, offices, at Results or Lavender Retreat. She has been writing her fitness column for more than 20 years. Please email her with column ideas or fitness questions at: fitness@pattiecinelli.com.