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The Joy of Being Present and Learning!

by Harry Dalford and Julie Kingston(more info)

listed in trager, originally published in issue 183 - June 2011

Dr Milton Trager
"There is a way of being,
which is lighter, which is freer,
a way in which work as well as play becomes a dance
and living a song.
We can all learn this way

Harry and I have recently had the privilege of organizing a Level 1 core training in the Trager Approach and a Level 5 "Treasures of the Belly" post practitioner training.

The Level 1 students came from a wide variety of backgrounds and experience, from no experience in bodywork, to being medically trained. Trager is about self discovery in the present moment and so perhaps the first surprise is that there are no formal lectures or note taking, it is all about awareness and feeling. Be prepared to disengage the rational brain and leap into enjoyment of the senses.

Harry Dalford

So we started with a simple exercise in touching and exploring the shoulders of your neighbour in the class. The nervousness and anxiety dropped away as the simple pleasure of giving and receiving touch, took people into a deeply relaxed space. Afterwards they were introduced to feedback as a way of verbalizing their own personal experience. In the Trager world we do not imagine that we can know what someone is experiencing in their mind or body, we ask! Feedback is a very important part of owning your feelings and being willing to express them. It is part of self empowerment and self expression. This allows for an equal partnership rather than expecting someone to be the expert, or being worked on rather than worked with.

Later the class experimented with feelings of lightness by playing with balloons balanced on their fingertips as they moved to music absorbed in experiencing lightness.

During the next 6 days the class played with feeling the Trager principles of weight, lightness, connection, elongation, vibration and waves both in their own bodies and exploring each other's bodies using a basic table work repertoire. I have assisted on many Level 1 trainings and they are never the same. The instructors embody the qualities of the Trager Approach and work with lightness and fun in the present moment, to bring out the best in every participant. It is always light hearted and joy filled and yet the principles learned allow for a new depth of personal awareness in everyday life.
It was said by reporter Jane Alexander in the Daily Mail that "Trager practitioners they bubble with energy and laughter a lot, as if life were a wonderful game, packed full of miracles and hope. They seem to have found the key to joyful living."

The Trager Approach is not only to learn to move in a lighter way, but to connect to life in a lighter way.

Balloon picture

Does the Trager Approach work - YES! There are many examples of people finding through Trager that life can be easier, more pain free and movement rediscovered and enjoyed. During this training we had 2 people that, through accidents, had broken their spines. One was able to reduce and then give up taking pain killers during the course, the other's posture visibly changed and opened during the course, and by the end he was experiencing feelings in muscles in his legs and feet that had been numb for years.

Trager work raises awareness of the body's sensations and reinforces good patterns, whilst bringing attention to less helpful patterns. The light but connected movements allow the nervous and proprioceptive system to be stimulated and sensation to be verbally reinforced by recalling the feeling and explaining it, using images meaningful for the person receiving the touch.

The Level 1, although the first part of a Trager practitioner programme is usually taken by most people for self development.

The week progressed with joyous exploration, a lot of laughter and some serious learning acquired without effort. Dr Milton Trager believed that all of life could become more effortless if people learned to become present to the feelings in their bodies and let go of habitual tensions. He believed all patterns in the body were held in the unconscious mind and that we needed to overlay both thinking and feeling patterns with a lighter way of being.

Piermario Clara, the instructor leading us, said Trager work could be likened to arriving in an old banger and learning to liberate your inner Ferrari. I certainly left the course more Ferrari than old heap!

Our logo is called the Dancing Cloud logo and was drawn by a Chinese calligrapher after a session with Dr. Milton Trager, depicting in calligraphy how he felt - which was as if he was a "Dancing Cloud".

A picture of a feeling
A picture of a feeling

One course participant said after the course that she had learned to do her ironing in a softer, more present way, with less effort and no longer experienced back ache whilst ironing. In fact there is almost no daily experience that cannot be softened whether it is walking, running, typing, sitting or shopping. Right now sense your own body and soften, and let go of any uncomfortable sensations by bringing gentle movement and awareness to the area.

The Level 5 class was delightfully international, drawing in practitioners from all over the world including: Norway, Japan, Poland, Canada, France, Scotland and England.  

We played with water-filled balloons experiencing the liquid qualities of the belly and the soft strength of the pelvic floor. We played with the resonance that could be found in the pelvic and belly area from all over the body, the back, the front anywhere we could access that wave like a harmonic that passed through that area. We felt the Psoas and the relationship of the internal organs both in ourselves and in partnered movement explorations known as mental gymnastics or Mentastics in the Trager world. During the Tablework we explored the variations and possibilities of 'Reflex response' and experienced short sessions to enhance this practice. Of course through all of this we gave our feedback and our recalls of our present moment awareness of the feelings in the body.


For me (Julie), Trager work combines the wisdom of meditation with the wisdom of the body in a unique way that allows clients, students and practitioners, a way of integrating pleasurable movement into everyday life.
Further Information
Harry and Julie are active Trager Practitioners and Introductory Workshop Leaders and are happy to travel to anyone that would like to gather a few people together to discover Trager for a few hours, an evening or a day. The richness of immersion in a 6 day training is a wonderful thing. However if you don't have the time there are workshops, Mentastic self care days, or individual sessions to begin you journey into present moment awareness. There is more information about Trager on


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About Harry Dalford and Julie Kingston

Harry Dalford BEng(Hons) IPTI LTP is a former Paratrooper, sky-diver, skin-diver and rock-climber who practises and teaches Aikido. He is a self-employed, Engineer/Surveyor/Builder and practises Trager in the self-built studio he shares with his partner of 15 years Julie Kingston. He is the current Chairman of Trager UK, and is also the Trager UK Newsletter Writer/Editor. He may be contacted via Tel: 01483 894741;            

Julie Kingston BA(Hons) LTP BWY MIPTI MICHT IHHT VTCT became a British Wheel of Yoga Teacher in 1993, went on to study CranioSacral Therapy, Life Coaching, Indian Head Massage and Swedish Massage.  She has two grown-up children and practices Trager and other therapies in her home studio. She is also a partner in a drumming company, Drumheads Live organizing community, education and corporate djembe drumming events. She is currently UK representative and the Trager International vice president on the Council of Trustees of Trager International, and has also served on the TUK Board of Directors. She may be contacted via Tel: 01483 894741;


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