Bodywork - Movement Education - Fitness - Ergonomics

The Aston Paradigm is a "new math" of the body and mind, based on the recognition that human movement is most clearly understood as asymmetrical three-dimensional spirals. Judith Aston has developed her insights into a profoundly integrated system of movement education, bodywork, fitness, ergonomics and product design.

The goal of the Aston Paradigm is to assist the individual in reclaiming his or her own natural structure. In the Aston problem-solving approach, there is no "ideal body type" to achieve or conform to; the uniqueness of each individual is respected. Practitioner and client work together in a gentle, precise and powerful way to unravel the layers of history stored in tissue. Visible changes in alignment and movement patterns accompany the relief felt as the body rediscovers and refines its natural sense of what feels "right".

The Aston approach to alignment and movement, we believe, represents a new level of accuracy in the understanding and facilitation of optimal structure and function. The understanding found in the Aston Paradigm has grown into a comprehensive set of tools, all designed to increase our opportunities to live comfortably.

Based on this view of the body, Judith Aston has developed an integrated system of movement education, bodywork, fitness, ergonomics and product design to increase one's ability to live more comfortably.

About Judith Aston

Judith Aston is a pioneer in the study of movement and the body. In response to her recognition that the current understanding of the body has outgrown the constraints of a linear model, she has formulated a new paradigm of human structure and function. Aston-Patterning is an integrated system of movement education, body assessment work, environmental modification and fitness training that is based on the Aston Paradigm.

Judith's work represents a powerful tool for changing patterns of body usage, whether these patterns originate in habit, injury, emotional trauma or hereditary conditions. She found that when these patterns changed, there was great improvement in comfort, energy, mobility, stability, performance and structural balance. Her innovative approach has been useful to health care professionals such as physical and occupational therapists, massage and recreational therapists and other movement specialists.

After graduating from UCLA with a B.A. and M.F.A. in dance, Judith started a movement education program for athletes, dancers and actors at Long Beach City College in 1963. Continuing her study of how movement communicates emotion, she worked with psychotherapists who encouraged her to develop a format of body consciousness to assist in the therapy process.

In need of rehabilitation from serious injuries sustained in two successive car accidents, she met Dr. Ida Rolf in 1968. Dr. Rolf's myofascial treatment (Rolfing�) assisted Judith in her recovery and expanded her understanding of how bodies can change. Recognizing her background, Dr. Rolf asked Judith to develop a movement education counterpart to Rolfing, with the aim of helping clients to preserve the changes achieved in the Structural Integration Bodywork. Dr. Rolf enrolled Judith in the next Rolf training program in 1968. Judith developed and taught the movement education curriculum from 1971 to 1977. Students were taught to: see their clients' bodies in terms of proportions, dimensions and the relationships between segments, coach their clients to become more aware of and change the ways they move their bodies in work and play and use their own bodies with minimum effort and maximum precision. These contributions to

Rolfing were first offered in a class called Movement Analysis, and later came to be known as Rolf-Aston Structural Patterning and were an integral part of the Rolf training program.

By the mid-seventies, Judith had added environmental modification to her work. She designed ways to maximize the client's comfort by adjusting their chairs at work, teaching them new uses of pillows in sleeping postures and modifying their use of sports equipment. Later, this work developed into a line of products designed to help clients maintain the integrity of their alignment while sitting or exercising.

During the time she was associated with Rolfing, Judith's work continued to increase in sophistication. She abandoned her more linear viewpoint of bodywork in favor of a touch that matched the three-dimensional spiral patterns in which she now saw that tension was stored. She discovered ways to teach clients to incorporate their asymmetries in movement, rather than resisting their natural structures by moving in straight lines. She saw that the combination of this new bodywork style and new movement education model effectively allowed excess tension to release from within. Many of her ideas seemed to conflict with the Rolfing model; it became increasingly clear that Judith's paradigm was different. Rather than diluting the Rolfing work or inhibit the development of her own emerging ideas, Judith dissolved the Patterning Institute associated with Rolfing in 1977 and continued to develop her work as Aston-Patterning.

As Director of the Aston Training Center, Judith Aston continues to offer new insights to movement and bodywork professionals. She has the ability to train her students to understand complex sets of variables in bodies and to respond to them in simple steps that are easy to learn. Her training, since it has such an extensive variety of applications, appeals to a broad range of professionals. She has trained a corps of Certified Practitioners and has developed a faculty among them to make training more widely available. The Aston Training Center in Lake Tahoe offers the Aston-Patterning Certification Program and Aston Movement Certification, as well as introductory and fitness courses in different locations throughout the world.

About The Work

Aston-Patterning� is an educational process developed by Judith Aston in 1977. It combines movement education, bodywork, ergonomic and fitness training. Aston-Patterning can assist individuals who are seeking relief from acute or chronic pain, wishing to improve postural and movement patterns, either in everyday or specialized contexts or pursuing personal growth. Descriptions of the principal aspects of Aston-Patterning follow.

The movement education aspect of Aston-Patterning is Neurokinetics. The first starts with learning more efficient and less stressful ways of performing the simple movements of everyday life and progresses to complex activities such as sports and musical instrument performance. These movement designs can also be used to specifically release accumulated tension in the body. In all aspects of the movement work, the aim is to evoke easy and efficient activity.

The bodywork includes three forms: Aston massage, Myokinetics and Arthrokinetics. The massage is designed around a three-dimensional, non-compressive touch that helps to release functional holding patterns (i.e. patterns of tension that are maintained by the nervous system and have not yet created physiological change in connective tissue) from both superficial and deep layers. Myokinetics is a form of myofascial release that uses precise three-dimensional strokes to release structural (more strongly held) holding patterns in the fascial network. Arthrokinetics addresses structural holding patterns at bone and joint surfaces. In Aston-Patterning, bodywork is used to make new movement options available; changes in tissue are supported with movement lessons that clarify how a previous pattern of tension was held and help to maintain changes that have been achieved.

The ergonomic aspect of Aston-Patterning is designed to help clients examine environmental factors (seating conditions, shoes, etc.) that may be compromising body structure and usage. Once these factors have been identified, the practitioner can suggest ways of either changing body usage to improve the situation and/or modifying objects to make them more "body-friendly". The Aston-Line� offers ready-made products to modify a wide variety of seating.

Aston Fitness training includes Vertical and Horizontal Loosening, Toning, Stretching, and cardiovascular fitness. Loosening movements are specific "self-massage" techniques that can be used in preparation for a workout or to neutralize tension that might be associated with a particular activity or position. Toning is a specialized form of exercise designed to increase tone and stability where it's specifically needed, without compromising the rest of the body. Stretching accomplishes its goals in ways that avoid pulling the rest of the body away from neutral. This form designs stretches to move through the body rather than isolating one area to stretch by borrowing or compromising another area.

Aston-Patterning, in its application, draws from all the above tools as needed. The diversity and richness of techniques available makes it an unusually powerful system for helping clients neutralize the negative effects of past history and grow into a more comfortable, confident and knowledgeable future.

What others say about Aston-Patterning�:

"The Aston-Patterning work represents a new paradigm shift in thinking about the body and movement. It makes sense and can be highly recommended. The Aston Fitness Program for Seniors is, to my mind, the one approach to physical training for the elderly which clearly meets their needs." ... Erik H. Erikson, Professor Emeritus in Human Development, Harvard University.

"My cancer (Lymphoma), recently diagnosed, was taking on disfiguring symptoms. In addition to the anxieties natural to the disease itself, then, was the stress connected with my appearance. Your interventions taught me how to hold my posture and move in such a way as to reduce my sense of embarrassment."...Gordon Sherman, Mill Valley, CA, former president of Midas International Corporation.

"It was an incredibly rich experience with so many immediately practical applications. I am in great admiration of your effectiveness in presenting materials and in how transparent you can become for our illumination." ... Gay Cheney, Head, Dance Department, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

"Have been typing for three hours now - never before with so much ease and pleasure. Seems like concentration is improving, too. Fewer typing errors! It is a regret that I was not exposed to Aston Patterning 50 years ago. How much more pleasant the next 50 years will be!" ...a writer, Krause & Co., San Francisco.

Marilyn King, an Olympic pentathlete, wrote: "I feel of all the people I worked with - the chiropractor helped me get out of my chronic pain, but long term health, avoiding future injury, bar none, there's nobody who helped me as much as Judith. The shot-put was my worst event and I've been coached by the best in the country. I trained with world record holders. Judith taught me things that those people were unable to teach me."

"Local physicians, including cardiologists, orthopedic surgeons, rheumatologists and neurologists are a major referral source for the Aston program. Marin General is proud of our on-going association with Judith Aston and her staff." ... Faith Bartlett, Director, Senior Program, Marin General Hospital.

"I strongly support this non-invasive technique used in people with injuries involving the spinal axis, peripheral joints and multiple pain sites. As an adjunct to physical therapy, medication or sometimes instead of other treatment I have found it extremely helpful as an active rehabilitation approach." ... Irene Minkowsky, M.D., Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Spine and Joint Disorders, San Francisco.

In a letter to W. P. Thorpe, M. D., Orthopaedic Assoc., P. C., Carolinas Spine and Rehabilitation Center, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, D. W. Vaughn, PT, Director of Spine Therapies, wrote: "We found the seminar taught by Ms. Aston to be therapeutically beneficial and useful to us on a daily basis. We employ her techniques on practically all of our patients. I can certainly testify personally to the benefit of the Aston techniques as a number of patients that I was "stuck" in their rehabilitation process have responded nicely to the added dimension of Aston-Patterning techniques employed in their rehabilitation process."

James G. Garrick, M.D., Center for Sports Medicine, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, San Francisco, had this to say: "The use of Aston-Patterning has been successful in a number of patients with chronic overuse problems ranging from dancers to runners. We have found this particularly helpful in individuals who have anterior knee pain (chondromalacia), chronic piriformis syndrome, chronic adductor strains, and a variety of lumbar and SI joint problems. I would recommend both her {Judith Aston} and her services highly."

"As we all continue to spend more of our time sitting in front of computer screens, the need has increased for sensible workplace furniture solutions. I've heard the good news that you are making new progress in developing your furniture prototypes. Having stayed in close touch with your work for several years, it's exciting and encouraging to see your ideas coming closer to fruition".... Andrew Fluegelman, Editor-in-Chief, PC World Communications, Inc., San Francisco.

Joanne Goodrich, a pet owner, wrote: "My poodle suffers with hip dyslasia and arthritis. Judith worked on him while I took notes and she showed me what to do at home for him. It has made a very huge difference for him. I've seen him play like a puppy, again!"

"Aston-Patterning promotes improved blood circulation and quick healing for traumatized muscles. Being a guy who spent a lot of time in the trenches of the National Football League, I understand physical trauma in a profound way. Thank goodness for Aston Patterning; I still use it for my post-career maintenance" ....Jaimie Williams, San Francisco Forty Niners.

What to expect from an Aston-Patterning session

Your Aston-Patterning� session will be individualized to your specific needs, goals and interests. There are many components, including postural evaluation, massage, movement education, fitness training and environmental modification. Each session will follow a basic five-step outline with various possibilities, as described below.


Your personal history - physical, psychological and emotional, makes you who you are in the present. In assessing your everyday activities such as the work you do, the sports you play and when or where you feel fatigue or pain, the practitioner can help you learn which patterns are interfering with your function.


This part of the session is a way for both you and your practitioner to experience some aspect of your movement abilities and potential for improvement. The pre-test is usually a basic activity such as walking, sitting, standing, reaching, bending or lifting. In a session designed to work on a particular activity, you may perform some of that activity as a

pre-test. The testing has two major purposes. First, it allows you to be more specifically aware of your movements in that activity. The practitioner may call your attention to some details, such as how your foot is held when hitting the ground or what position your shoulders take as you move. Later, after the bodywork/movement education, this experience will serve as a basis for comparison. The Aston approach gives you a clear understanding of the changes made in the session so that you will have the knowledge to keep the changes as part of your pattern of movement. As you understand the changes taking place, you can become your own teacher. Second, pre-testing allows the practitioner an opportunity to make a chart of your postural alignment and tension holding patterns. A new chart is made at each session. This chart can then serve as a reference for both you and your practitioner regarding your patterns and the changes you are making.


Using the history and the pre-test, you and your practitioner determine what lesson would be most valuable for that session. Movement education and/or bodywork will be included in virtually all sessions. The bodywork includes massage, myofascial release and Arthro-Kinetics. They all serve to release unnecessary tension and make your new movement easier and more efficient.


The post-testing is essentially a repetition of the pre-testing movements allowing you to see and feel the changes that have taken place. The application integrates the movement changes into your daily life. Here again, the work is tailored to you as an individual. If the session is focused on arm and shoulder movements, you may apply the new movements to your tennis strokes, to your keyboarding at the computer or to the way you drive your car. The lessons of the movement and bodywork can become permanent options available to you with your conscious awareness and practice. You can choose to leave the old patterns in the past. Aston-Patterning is a wonderful opportunity for self-discovery and feeling good about yourself.

Articles, Books and Videos about Aston-Patterning�

Article of the Month

Bibliography of Additional Published Articles


Aston Postural Assessment Workbook: Skills for Observing and Evaluating Body Patterns,

Aston Video Productions:

Aston� Walk Your Better Body

Aston� Treadmill Workout .

Aston Patterning Introductory Courses

Aston� Therapeutics I: Assessment and Problem Solving Skills (4 days)

Aston Fitness Training is one of the most sophisticated fitness trainings programs available. Judith Aston developed the Aston Fitness Training from recognizing the number of individuals needing corrective work for pain and injuries resulting from conventional exercise programs and equipment. AFT facilitates the whole body in achieving and

maintaining appropriate proportions, muscle tone, joint resiliency, flexibility and cardiovascular conditioning. Aston-Patterning