Addressing Emotional Health through Movement

It is well recognized that regular physical exercise is essential to good health. But it is important to understand the ways in which rigorous activity can affect our emotional well-being. Such insight informs the kinds of exercise we choose to engage in as well as the consciousness that we bring to our movement.

Alexander Lowen is a student of Wilhelm Reich and founder of Bioenergetics, a body-mind approach to therapy. He developed exercises to help individuals increase their capacity for mobility, spontaneity, and vitality. His early work was motivated by the “mind-body” problem and after years of study he concluded that the only way to integrate the two is through the pursuit of pleasure.

Accordingly, his exercises focus on releasing tension, in key muscle groups, that stifles our capacity to move and emote freely. Much attention is given to breathing fully, without restriction, which he deemed to be the foundation for good emotional and sexual health. Lowen developed at-home techniques for individuals to do in consort with other therapeutic modalities or as part of their own practice for restoring and maintaining good health.

Lowen insists that the goal of all therapeutic endeavors is (or at least should be!) to open our hearts and increase our capacity for love. He grounds this conviction in our physiology and helps us understand the ways in which an increased capacity for mobility and motility immediately impacts the quality of our relations with others.

To learn more about Alexander Lowen and how he developed some of Reich’s techniques you can listen online to a lecture given by Carol-Ann Galego:

You can reference the corresponding handout here.