AT Congress® Berlin 2022

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Event Details

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Elke Mastwijk
The Netherlands

From primary reflexes to primary control

From Primary Reflexes to Primary Control

You may have experienced that for some pupils, it is much easier to apply the Technique than for others, regardless of the number of lessons. Elke Mastwijk helps you understand the possible influence of the seven Primary Reflexes which are key to early childhood development.

These reflexes organize a baby’s nervous system in the womb and after birth, and provide the foundation for attention, balance and coordination skills later in life. Primary Reflexes should be naturally inhibited through movement as the baby’s nervous system develops.

If there are disturbances in early childhood (such as prolonged stress, feeding or crawling problems) Primary Reflexes may not be fully inhibited. This creates compensation mechanisms which disturb postural reflexes and fine motor skills in later life to varying degrees. In pupils with uninhibited Primary Reflexes there can be powerful reflex and muscular reactions which conflict with AT inhibition and directions.

Elke Mastwijk can provide you with an understanding of:

  • Primary Reflexes and early childhood development
  • the influence of an uninhibited reflex and how it affects activities such as violin playing, swimming and horse riding, and specific Alexander procedures such as monkey and chair work.

You will find this workshop interesting if you are struggling with balance and coordination issues and if you suspect this may be rooted in your early childhood experiences. Or if you want to understand the difficulties some of your pupils maybe dealing with during a lesson or when coping with stress. This is a lecture in which I will use video material as a teaching tool. However, the subject is complex and if your level of English is not very high you may find it challenging to attend.

If you wish to prepare beforehand I recommend the book: Attention, Balance and Coordination the ABC of learning success, by Sally Goddard Blythe. Also available in German. It is one of the best books on the subject and highly informative.

About Elke Mastwijk

Elke Mastwijk has been a passionate Alexander Technique teacher for over 25 years with a full-time practice in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Over the years one question became a quest for knowledge. “Why do some pupils make significantly better progress than others?”

She has been inspired by two pioneering colleagues. Firstly, by Hil Boode, who was a Dutch Alexander Technique teacher and CranioSacral therapist. Secondly, by Gitte Fjordbo, who spoke at the 2011 Alexander Technique Lugano congress about early childhood development in a special lecture titled: “when conscious control is not an option”.

After graduating as an Alexander Technique Teacher from ATON in the Netherlands in 1996 and a post graduate term with Walter and Dilys Carrington, she went on to study CranioSacral Therapy (2005) and Reflex Inhibition Therapy (2014). She is able to translate relevant knowledge from these disciplines to the Alexander Technique. She combines a special passion for understanding how fascia (connective tissue) restrictions affect use with an intense curiosity about early childhood development. How do we develop from lying on our back as babies to toddlers who can stand up and walk? How does an early childhood compromised by stress or health issues affect the adult nervous system and motoric skills?

Over the last 25 years, Elke has managed to connect the dots as to why some of her pupils make spectacular progress with the Alexander Technique and others do not. After presenting her work at workshops at previous AT Congresses in Lugano and Ireland, she has been invited to share her insights in the Alexander Technique communities of Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and the USA.

She has a busy practice teaching’ the Alexander Technique as well as providing support through Reflex Inhibition for pupils seeking help with early childhood issues. She is a CranioSacral therapist for people as well as for horses and dogs.


See also: Elke Mastwijk – Presenter Detail Page

Friday, 26 August 2022
10:30 h - 11:45 h (10.30am-11.45am)
Main Building
Floor: 2 floor
Room: H 2038

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