Ideokinesis is an approach to improving posture, alignment, and fluency of movement through structured guided imagery[1] that uses metaphors, such as visualizing an object moving in a specific direction along various muscle groups throughout the body, while lying completely still.[2][3] Proponents claim that repeated practice of this particular formula of mental imagery translates to improved coordination in dance and in movement in general[4] "based on the idea that imagery can improve skeletal alignment and posture through the re-patterning of neuromuscular pathways in the absence of overt movement".[5] Although there is some evidence that rehearsal-style mental imagery may benefit performance in sports, there is currently insufficient data to draw conclusions on the effectiveness of metaphorical imagery as only personal and experimental research has been conducted on ideokinesis and there are reasons to believe it may be contraindicated as a relaxation technique.[5]

Ideokinesis was originally developed as a form of mental practice for injured dancers,[6] but some dance schools have integrated it into a standard somatics protocol for all dancers because it is thought to optimize motor control and performance by using periods of rest constructively.[7] Known among followers as "the Work",[8] "ideokinesis" is sometimes used interchangeably with other terms, such as "mental practice", "mental rehearsal", "visuomotor behavior rehearsal", "covert rehearsal", and "ideokinetic facilitation", among others.[9]

Mabel Todd conceived the ideokinesis approach; Barbara Clark and Lulu Sweigard,[10] and others contributed to its early evolution;[11] later, André Bernard, Irene Dowd, Erick Hawkins, Pamela Matt, Eric Franklin and others lent their influence.[10]

Sweigard borrowed the word ideokinesis, composed by two Greek words: ideo (thought) and kinesis (movement), from Bonpensière, a piano teacher, who applied imagery to his methodology.[12] Ideokinesis can be translated roughly as "the image or thought as facilitator of movement".[13]


  1. ^ Batson, Glenna (2013), "Exercise-Induced Central Fatigue A Review of the Literature with Implications for Dance Science Research", Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 17 (2): 53–62, doi:10.12678/1089-313X.17.2.53, PMID 23759479
  2. ^ Golomer, Eveline; Bouillette, Arnaud; et al. (July 2008), "Effects of Mental Imagery Styles on Shoulder and Hip Rotations During Preparation of Pirouettes", Journal of Motor Behavior, 40 (4): 281–290, doi:10.3200/JMBR.40.4.281-290, PMID 18628105, S2CID 35396959
  3. ^ Farnell, Brenda (Spring 1986), "Introduction to Martin's Article: 'Sweigard's Legacy: Further Explorations into Breathing'" (PDF), Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement, 4 (1): 14–15, retrieved 12 July 2016 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Kearns, Lauren W. (2010), "Somatics in Action: How 'I Feel Three-Dimensional and Real' Improves Dance Education and Training", Journal of Dance Education, 10 (2): 35–40, doi:10.1080/15290824.2010.10387158, S2CID 143315834
  5. ^ a b Pavlik, Katherine; Nordin-Bates, Sanna (2016), "Imagery in Dance A Literature Review", Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 20 (2): 51–63, doi:10.12678/1089-313X.20.2.51, PMID 27245944
  6. ^ Matt, Pamela, "Pioneers: Lulu E. Sweigard",, archived from the original on 21 October 2007, retrieved 12 July 2016 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) Try: (subscription required)
  7. ^ Geber, Pamela; Wilson, Margaret (2010), "Teaching at the Interface of Dance Science and Somatics", Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 14 (2): 52–53, PMID 20507721
  8. ^ Rosen, Richard (1 April 1998), "Imaginary Movements: Transform your body and your yoga practice with these nine visualizations from the ideokinesis system - all without moving a muscle", Yoga Journal (139): 79–87, ISSN 0191-0965
  9. ^ Batson, G (2004), "Motor imagery for stroke rehabilitation: current research as a guide to clinical practice" (PDF), Alternative & Complementary Therapies, 10 (2): 84–89, doi:10.1089/107628004773933325, S2CID 16796198, archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-12-29
  10. ^ a b Franklin, Eric (2012) [1996]. Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. pp. 4, 6–7, 277. ISBN 9780736067898.
  11. ^ "Pioneers". Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2011. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) Try: (subscription required)
  12. ^ See e.g. Luigi Bonpensiere: New pathways to piano technique;: A study of the relations between mind and body with special reference to piano playing 1 Jan. 1953, accessed 17 January 2021
  13. ^ Bernard. A. An introduction to Ideokinesis, WorldCat, accessed 17 January 2021