Important note: The Loheland Gymnastics is not recognised as Anthroposophic Body Therapy by the Medical Section at the Goetheanum. (as of summer 2023)
Loheland-Gymnastics offers a way to understand movement as an element of life by focusing on the relationship of man to space and time.
In it, as a practitioner, he discovers fundamental laws.
Finding orientation in the human muscolosceletal system, the person exercising will experience clarity and insights into given regularities. Concerning dynamics they will for example come into contact with the qualities of motion and stillness as well as heaviness and lightness. Concerning statics, the person exercising will come into contact with the dimensions, levels and spheric-radial principles of form. Concerning the rhythm of breathing they will come into contact with the relation between inside and outside.
In all these areas, the person exercising will learn about the meaning of movement as an element which mediates between polarities, experiencing themselves as the pilots of their own movements.
It is the person themselves who by exercising their free will can create balance, mediation and change.
The history of the settlement of Loheland begins in 1919, when 175 acres of land were bought on the Herzberg in the mountainous Rhön region, 10 km out of Fulda. The institution which was founded there as “Loheland” had already been in existence for seven years at different places under the name “seminary for classical gymnastics”. The seminary was founded in Kassel by professor K.F. Zimmer, who also founded various boarding schools for women, for which he wanted specially trained female gymnastics teachers.
The woman who started training those gymnastics teachers in 1912 was called Hedwig von Rohden, who was soon supported by Louise Langgaard in 1912.
Hedwig von Rohden was born in Helsinki as the fourth of eight siblings. In 1909 she attended the “seminary for harmonic gymnastics” led by Hede Kallmeyer in Berlin.
Louise Langgaard was born as an only child on 1st September 1883 in London. She attended the Dresden school of Arts and Crafts, where she attained her diploma as an art teacher in 1891. After that she travelled widely and worked in Hungary, Rumania and Poland, where she gained experience in painting, making pottery, weaving and crafting jewellery.
In 1912 she attended a class on movement with Bess Mensedieck, where she also met Hedwig von Rohden.
They met in the years of beginning women’s liberation. Women were allowed to study, went to the Bauhaus, started to train as dancers and began to establish their artistic qualities in the world.
Working together, the two founders of Loheland gymnastics wanted to develop an individual educational concept. A specifically designed movement training was supposed to help the students develop individual skills as well as finding their own way and strengthening their social responsibility. The students were supposed to learn about their true potential and see themselves as somebody who can move things and “make space come alive”.
Since autumn 1912 the two women had been working on finding a special method for teaching that. They came up with enabling students to have figurative and mobile experiences by doing movement exercises without fixed sequences. This allowed for certain discoveries and recognitions, which in a second step were then explained, “caught” and made come alive in artistic metamorphoses – by drawing, painting and sculpting.
For in-depth consolidation there was again explorative-playful movement and its observation.
The gymnastic training was complemented by scenarios in which the students could meet their inner selves and experience an echo of their own actions: in arts and crafts as well as in music, in pictorial arts as well as in nature, working in the garden or on the field.
These places of experience offered different qualities for observing self-efficacy and were not meant to be pedagogic projects, but were rooted in the real lives of the women living in the settlement.
Therapeutic elements on which Loheland gymnastics is based
Loheland gymnastics offers the opportunity to strengthen the inner center of the person exercising with relation to mind, body and soul.
It strengthens body control, has an educational effect and healing properties. The person exercising learns new skills, discovers new qualities of movement and hones their senses.
Immersing themselves into a process of movement and regarding the specific regularities can help the person exercising - using playful exercises - to loosen parts of the body which show stiffness instead of flexibility. So the person exercising becomes capable of action. The underlying thermal processes open doors to the person’s learning ability, to prudence, patience, enthusiasm and trust in themselves and the world.
Movement tasks are developed in a playful manner. They are based on space-time-regularities and anatomical studies of creative formative forces.
The person exercising is enabled to develop their inner potential. By becoming aware and acting they can overcome blockades. The person exercising experiences themselves as a personality, safe, warm and in breathing rhythm with themselves, other people and the world.
- 100 Jahre Forschung und Gestaltung durch Bewegung Elisabeth Mollenhauer-Klüber Loheland- Stiftung, Januar 2013
- Menschenkunde und Gymnastik Gertrud Wieland Aus dem Anatomieunterricht des Gymnastik- Seminars Loheland, Mai 1992
- Loheland- Gymnastik Ein Weg der Menschenbildung
Verein für anthroposophisches Heilwesern ISBN 3-926444-38-X
- Die Frauensiedlung Loheland in der Rhön und das Erbe der europäischen Lebensreform
Beiträge zur Fachragungam 29.30. Mai 2015
- Lichtbildwerkstatt Loheland Fotografien einer neuen Generation
Weib Bauhaus-Archiv ISBN:9-783922-613251-X
- Drei Frauen-drei Geschichten
Schriftenreihe der Lohelandstiftung März 2012; ISBN:978-3-943873-00-9
- Franz Hilker: Künstlerische Körperschulung
Ferdinand Wirth Breslau 1923
Von Rhoden-Langgaard Loheland; Veröffentlichung des Deutschen Gymnastikbundes Band 1, 1928 Lohelandverlag