by Nava Semel
“Body Cognition – The Method, Movement, Health, Treatment”, by Yosefa Michaeli
published by Hargol, Am Oved 2009
“Do you go to the gym?” I am asked twice a week, instantly I retort: “No! I am a pupil of Body Cognition”.
“Body Cognition – The Method, Movement, Health, Treatment”, Yosefa Michaeli’s new book is a comprehensive study of a unique movement method developed by Michaeli in the sixties. This method has gained many loyal followers throughout the years.
Indeed, Body Cognition is not exercise in the conventional sense, but rather an education in correct body awareness, born out of the premise that it is the proper way, both for physical and mental health. This, while fully grasping the intertwined systems operating the body, including its “Achilles heel” as well as its functions in our vibrant and challenging modern life – as well as the daily pressures.
The goal is “to reach a point where a person’s body functions as a tuned and efficient tool”, writes Michaeli, “just as a machine, if not operated, rusts and ceases to function, so is the case with a complex living organism such as the human body that requires movement in order to be properly maintained and regulate the processes of life”.
The Body Cognition Method’s basic concepts are: posture awareness, quality of movement, the importance of rest and gentle rounded transitions between movements, the central role of breathing, relaxation during exercises and of course the delicate balance between our physical envelope and our inner spiritual beat – how do our senses and consciousness form and nourish the physical execution.
These diverse and vast subjects are laid out throughout the four chapters of the book, focusing on physical conduct and studying of its principles, development of movement and posture through group or individual lessons and an in-depth examination of the human carriage. The book is an ID card of the method and alongside the detailed theoretic discussion, lies a precise account of its practical implementation. “The lessons demonstrate how to choose the proper conduct of one’s body and its long-term implementation, so that the body may become a source of pleasure, joy and pleasantness”, writes Yosefa Michaeli.
Though the chapters are read as a book, each chapter stands on its own, inviting the curious, those seeking to expand the mind regarding the connection between body and health, as well as all professional therapists to a reading experience. If Maimonides were still alive, he would probably join the method. According to him, “Perfection of the body precedes the perfection of the soul, and it is as a key to opening a lounge”.
Yosefa Michaeli established a generation of teachers operating all over the State, among which is her son, Peled Michaeli (who teaches three sample lessons in the CD that comes with the book). The Body Cognition Method is a long-term investment and requires constant maintenance. By teaching correct movement it is possible to solve prevalent problems such as back pains or shoulder blade issues. I too, arrived with a shoulder injury at Yosefa’s doorstep seeking relief.
The reward, as I personally learned, is tested in time, with the belief that the benefits are received following the investment of persistent effort and commitment which are also enjoyable.
“The Body Cognition Method” is designed to ease the heavy burden we carry in our demanding day to day lives: ease the pressure on the spine, protect the breaking mechanisms, prevent injuries before they occur and reduce accumulative orthopedic wear and tear.
With each lesson, the body learns to reach a balance in accordance with our eve changing needs. The body discovers itself by being reconciled, and each exercise is executed through precise instructions and intelligent conduct. The exercises enrich the array of movements and broaden the scope of action of the muscles and joints, particularly the deprived ones that are seldom utilized. No exercise is random or mechanical and it is not a sport’s training intended to turn us into elite athletes or to set a competitive bar. The Body Cognition Method is an education towards a correct movement instinct even in our continuous conduct beyond the lessons – in the real, busy, stress filled world.
It is often that I find myself implementing the method’s principles while driving, or standing in line at the store. As it turns out, my body has already assimilated the doctrine and the faithful pupil knows which movements to choose while conducting a hidden dialogue with the brain, which is wiser and much more inspired than I. I learned one can simultaneously teach the body and study it.
At the end of each lesson I am reminded of the poet’s Abraham Halfi’s words:
“I am close to my body, yet my body is distant beyond compare”.