Dr Feldenkrais Taught Israeli Prime Minister to Stand on His Head

Moshe Feldenkrais - Feldenkrais training for Israeli Prime Minister

Dr. Moshé Feldenkrais

*Dr. Feldenkrais believed that the best physical activity/sport was walking, and he got Prime Minister Ben-Gurion to take a 12.5-mile walk every day. The Prime Minister had military protection throughout his life and he would have four soldiers with him on these walks. Two soldiers would drive the jeep and two would walk half-way; and then they would switch places.

Ben-Gurion taught himself different languages and read the Greek philosophers in the original language. He was a man of letters but he was not really a man of sports.

Feldenkrais Training for Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion

Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion didn’t take much interest in or enjoy physical activity. Dr. Feldenkrais felt that in order for Ben-Gurion to function on the highest level and in the most effective way as the Prime Minister, he needed to develop that part of himself.

So, Dr. Feldenkrais told Ben-Gurion that he would like to teach him to stand on his head. He told him that he would do this very gradually, that it would be safe both in terms of the body, but also the blood vessels in the brain.

When Ben-Gurion told some of his peers that he was about to learn how to stand on his head in his 60’s, he got letters of warning from around the world. Indira Gandhi told him that in India, they learn to stand on their head when they are children but they would never teach an older person to stand on his head.

So, Ben-Gurion told Dr. Feldenkrais about these responses. He said: People are warning me, telling me it’s not safe to learn how to stand on my head.

To which Dr. Feldenkrais responded: “If I kill you, you will go to heaven and I will go to jail. So trust me, you are safe.”

He also told Ben-Gurion: It is extremely important that you enjoy your body, because it will make you a better Prime Minister. You will understand other points of view that right now are not accessible to you.

To which Ben-Gurion replied: I trust in you.

Ben-Gurion Shows Off His Skills from Dr. Feldenkrais’ Training

Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion stands on his head

Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion stands on his head

After two years and many small steps, Prime Minster Ben-Gurian stood on his head for the first time.

Unbeknown to Dr. Feldenkrais, Ben-Gurion called the different newspaper outlets in Israel and told them to meet him at 6:00 am on the beach one day and to bring cameras.

The journalists and cameramen were there and Ben-Gurian showed up in his swim suit, put his head down on the sand, and stood on his head.

Dr. Feldenkrais found out about this when he opened the afternoon newspaper.

Prime Minister Ben-Gurian was so proud of himself.

View a copy of the article that appeared in The Jerusalem Post: “The Man Who Stood the Prime Minister on His Head” by Meyer Levin.

*Story as told to Anat Baniel, by Moshé Feldenkrais