Marion Rosen
Marion Rosen

When Marion Rosen opened the Rosen Method Center in Berkeley in 1980, almost 30 years ago, she had no idea her theory about gently manipulating the body to release stress and unresolved memories would become a global force.

But Rosen’s idea to use hands that “listen, rather than manipulate,” caught on and there are now Rosen centers in Israel, Norway, Russia. Australia, and many other countries.

“We have found out that in relaxation there is a chemical formed called oxytocin — it gives peace and quiet to people,” Rosen, now 95, recently told the “J” the local Jewish weekly.

“They relax in places that are tight in people’s bodies. The places are tight because the person has experienced something they couldn’t handle. In order not to handle it, they use musculature to repress their memory.”

Rosen, who is Jewish, was born in Germany but escaped the Nazis shortly after Kristallnacht in 1938. She had studied breathing and relaxation techniques in Munich before the war and she continued to explore the field when she moved to the East Bay in 1940. She worked as a physical therapist at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland in the 1950s and began to teach others about “listening touch” in 1972. Soon she had dozens of people signing up for her classes, which led her to open the Rosen Method Center, which is located on Bancroft Avenue.

Rosen hands won’t stop working; even at 95 she still sees clients four days a week.

Those interested in learning more about the Rosen Method can sign up for the school’s next week-long intensive from Dec. 5 – 12.

Frances Dinkelspiel

Frances Dinkelspiel (co-founder) is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California,...

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. I knew a similar, younger body-worker in Berkeley years ago who I think might have been influenced by Rosen. In one session she let on: “Sometimes [clients] cry.”

    One of the best gifts that person gave me was not just the sessions, but the pointing things out. Pointing out the detailed layout of the various muscles. Pointing out the feeling of transition from long-held tension to release. Basically, increasing bodily self-awareness by a gazillion percent. Ever since, when stressed and unsure what to do, a good starting point is to ask myself “Ok, where in my body am I carrying this stress” and then go from there. And while I’m not as skilled as that person who helped me, I can, with gentle touch and listening hands, sometimes help stressed friends and raise their body awareness too.