Judith Aston of Aston Kinetics

I am delighted to share the early days, influences and development of Aston Kinetics with you.

The development of my work begins with me and my childhood. 

I’ve always been a good mime.  Even as a child of 4 or 5 years old, I would see body movement.  When my mother would come home from work, I would say, “A lady came by this afternoon to see you.”  My mother would ask, “What is her name?”  I would answer, “I don’t know but she walked like this.”  And my mother would smile and know exactly who it was.

This ability to see and mimic body movements is a key technique I use in teaching.  Duplicating the body pattern in myself, illustrates for others what a pattern looks like and, more importantly, helps me to have a better understanding of what happens in the body to create the movement patter.

Another area that began early and manifested in my work is efficiency.  At 14 years old, I started working as a salesgirl and assistant at Smit’s.  I liked to figure out ways to do tasks in an easier or faster way whether that was stocking china, silver, and glassware, sales, gift wrapping, or inventory.  I worked at that job during all school breaks until I was 19 and had many opportunities to present my ideas about the tasks and how to make them more efficient.  Luckily, my bosses were amenable to them and encouraged me to improve their systems. 

I still play games with myself to figure out the fastest way to travel to Los Angeles from Tahoe—considering factors like what route, what time of day is the traffic less, weather conditions and how do all of those factors affect the final amount of travel time.  I am sure many of you who live in a city spend time figuring out the best route for the time and day and your preferred schedule.

The other day when peeling an apple, I noticed that the skin was not easily coming off so I automatically turned the apple upside down and it was easier for me to cut off the skin.  This intrigued me because I realized I have done this all my life, when I feel resistance, I always try a different way. 

I had to laugh at myself because I have been teaching bodywork students to read the grain and direction of the body tissues for over 40 years.  I believe reading and working with the grain has a lot to do with the client’s comfort as well as, getting to the accurate layer creates more specific change.  In the end, working with fruit prepared me for bodywork! 

One of the other skill sets that emerged in high school was my love for math and abstract thinking.  I used to make up for the lack of skill on certain parts of IQ and aptitude tests when it came to the abstract thinking sections.  I loved them.  I loved looking for patterns and tendencies in anything i.e. this neighborhood has mainly tan painted houses and the next area over used cream. 

For 3 years in high school I assisted Mrs. Walker, the teacher for the blind students.  I enjoyed helping and learning some Braille.  When she asked what I wanted to do later in life, I said – be a flight attendant?  She yelled  WHAT- WHY- you were born to teach!  You have great skills in math.  You could become an engineer.

I really valued Mrs. Walker’s opinion so I decided to go to college and study the NEW MATH.  While there, my childhood joy of dance was rekindled and led me to UCLA to study dance and secondary education.  At UCLA, I became very interested in how the body communicates emotion through stillness and motion. (An interest would show up again later when I started working with actors and a psychiatrist with his patients.)

In 1963, I was hired by a community college to teach movement for athletes, musicians, the theatre department, and to create a dance department.  I taught there for 9 years and learned much from my teaching techniques – especially the ones that did not work. 

I observed that the mind does not learn on the NO.  The NO teaching style only creates a stop, putting the body on hold.  This was obvious when a golfer was told to stop lifting his shoulder up on his back swing he would add tension to keep the shoulder down. Usually, this was not an improvement. 

I realized that if I could figure out how to teach on the YES, I would be a more successful teacher.  The YES encourages movement and flow and people learn and retain the information/skill so much better and longer.  The other piece of teaching body movement that became exceedingly clear was that students needed to become aware of their own existing body patterns in order to know what and how to change whether for their character for a play, their golf swing, their dance.  Through this awareness, I began teaching others how to see their own and others body patterns.

In 1966-67, I had two car accidents – in one, I was rear-ended by a car traveling over 50mph, and the other, a driver crossed through an intersection on the red light at high speed.  The accidents caused multiple severe injuries to my body.  After many doctor appointments and endless treatment, I was left unable to stand up straight and in a great deal of pain.  That put me on the path to finding an effective therapeutic treatment outside of traditional allopathic medical options.

At that time, I was working for a psychiatrist who specialized in gestalt therapy.  I created a movement/body awareness program for his patients to facilitate their self -awareness and connect their body to its expression. As a friend concerned about my back pain, he referred me to Dr. Rolf.

When I went to see Dr. Rolf in Big Sur, California in April 1968, I was amazed how she could work on my body and the tissue could change instantly. 

What an extraordinary gift Dr. Rolf gave us all by creating a system that helped people neutralize limitation and pain. She was inspirational. 

Also during that first session, Dr. Rolf said she had heard that I created movement programs for different disciplines and wondered if I could create one for her work, Rolfing.  I said, “sure”.

I audited the training class she held at Big Sur in June of that year.  As an auditor, I watched the process with the intent of designing a movement program accordingly. 
I was fascinated with the process.

Then something interesting happened, her students were feeling unsuccessful at seeing what she was seeing and started asking me to teach them how to see.  That was the beginning of teaching my version of “seeing body patterns”.

By this time I was connecting to the work on a deeper and more comprehensive level and wanted to do further training.  Dr. Rolf refused to take me as a student because I was too small physically.

At that, I began massage school in July, 1968.  Movement had always been my thing, I had no idea that I would like or have any skill in bodywork.  If Dr. Rolf had not invited me to that training, I most likely would never have known I had any aptitude for bodywork . To my surprise, I did - enough so that the massage school asked me to begin teaching massage for them.  During this time I am still teaching at the college (1963-1972). 

That fall, Dr. Rolf accepted my new massage skills in combination with an additional 10 pounds of weight, and I finished basic training with her four months later(February, 1969). 

I continued to work on the movement program design and assisted her in several different classes along the way. 

I was pleased when Dr. Rolf placed me in charge of the program and said,  “You can be in charge of the Dynamic Body and I  will  be in charge of the Static Body”. 

Dr. Rolf class photo

In 1971, I taught the first official Rolf Movement Program.  I also created a class for all practitioner trainees on seeing body patterns and on their own body mechanics. I became a board member and the head of the movement program for The Guild for Structural Integration.  Thanks to Dr. Rolf I was now applying all my previous skills and interests to a new form of movement training:  posture.

Being a creative person, every time I would see something that did not seem necessary, I would want to figure out a way to improve it somehow.  For example:  Rolfers were damaging their bodies by the way they used their bodies in the work.  When they would go into the tissue at a perpendicular angle, I saw and felt it created more tension and pain.   I suggested they align their own body and move into the tissue more at diagonal angles. 

I became curious why good posture seemed to be teaching people to hold onto a static position while moving.  I started to play with changing all the components of what was good posture.

During my first week at the Rolf Institute, I began hearing about this legendary movement teacher that enlightened and enhanced Dr Rolf's work.

I've been associated with most of the great movement educators but I think most "in-the-know" therapists still consider you (Aston) the "Queen of Movement" Erik Dalton.

The questions came to me fast and furiously:  was there really a skyhook to reach for, are the feet supposed to be facing straight ahead, is the body supposed to be symmetrical, and so on.  I decided it was time for me to take these ideas and explore them.

That time was very exciting. The answers were falling into place and I could see it was coming together to be a different paradigm for the body in stillness and motion with applications to all activities in one’s daily life, exercise, rehabilitation, ergonomics, fitness and expression.

In 1976, I entitled the work Aston-Patterning—patterning because I was interested in people learning about their current patterns and how they could create new patterns.  Interestingly, I ended up creating a new math for posture, body mechanics and the interface with all products and the environment.  We now use the title of Aston Kinetics for the umbrella title for all of our work/forms and have kept the Aston-Patterning distinction for those practitioners who complete the 84 day certification.

Overiew of The Work

The work has many components and applications.  We train health professionals in the Aston Paradigm for movement education, bodywork, massage, fitness and ergonomics.  The courses include specializations for teachers of Pilates, yoga, senior fitness, personal trainers, and facial fitness.

All of our classes focus on the skills needed to assess and determine the WHAT, WHY, WHERE, WHEN, HOW AND HOW MUCH work is needed to problem solve for each client’s session content and success..

The Aston Paradigm is taught in our Foundation classes (ATI & II and ABI & II)  by introducing the following content:

  1. Seeing body patterns (alignment, dimension);
  2. Palpation skills to assess hyper- and hypotonicity and hyper- and hypomobility;
  3. Using a notation system for recording the body patterns and for assisting to decision of session content;
  4. Learning the basic movement units - designs for finding neutral, sitting, reaching, bending;
  5. Being able to demonstrate, teach, and modify movement units as needed for each client’s limitation and interest;
  6. Learning the Spiraling Technique, our massage form.  This form can facilitate specific change at deep or superficial layers of the body and/or be a whole body focus to integrate one’s changes.

In our certification trainings, we take all of the skill sets and progress them to advance practitioners’ abilities for:

  1. Learning how to break down complex movements (i.e., golf, running, bodywork, playing music, doing yoga, Pilates) and be able to restructure and improve the client’s performance;
  2. Learning myo-kinetics, our myofascial form which focuses on what sequence is best, as well as, how to match the grain, layer, tempo of the tissue needed to release its holding patterns;
  3. Learning arthro-kinetics, another form of bodywork to loosen tissues that are hypertoned throughout the fascia, muscles, joints, or at boney borders;
  4. Learning how to design a session for each client’s unique pattern whether that be in general or for that specific day;
  5. Being able to determine whether a client needs more education or change from bodywork, fitness, or movement designs;
  6. Learning specific fitness forms for loosening and toning the body; and,
  7. Applying this paradigm to the ergonomics of one’s environment and teaching the client how to modify for their comfort.

We also have certifications for specific areas of interest: 

  1. Aston Fitness forms:  senior fitness, stretching, loosening, toning, and cardio fitness;
  2. Facial Fitness;
  3. Aston for Pilates teachers;
  4. Aston for Yoga teachers.

The reason for the continuous expansion is that when you apply this paradigm to any other system, it changes the process and the result.   People who have been teaching for a long time become aware when they get better or faster results.  For example, Pilates is a wonderful system.  When Pilates teachers learn these concepts they repeatedly tell us how much it improves their client’s  learning and provides them with ways to accurately and quickly improve overall results. 

Please check our website for more information and details on our trainings at
Astonkinetics.com

The Future

There are many items on the to do list, specifically, one folder contains ideas for 25 continuing education DVD’s, completing the 5 books that are started, training more of our practitioners to become faculty,  the other 100+ product designs I have  (one of my favorite titles is as an inventor).   There is not a shortage of things to do just a shortage of time.  We will have to see how it all unfolds. 

As it turns out, movement and dance are still my “thing.”  I teach bodywork as a movement discipline, and enjoy teaching people to find their dance of brushing their teeth or lifting their child.  For all the changes over the years, much remains the same.

In the meantime, if it is of interest, take a moment and do a personal assessment of what you love to do and what you are good at and what traits and tendencies have you had all your life that might be ready to come back in to the forefront.

I look forward to our paths crossing in the future – the same path walked upon by all those who have come before us---how lucky we are to be part of such a great field of service and share that path..

Thank you for your interest.
Judith Aston-Linderoth

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