A Brief History of Trager

It is like dancing—first you pause and listen to the music, then the rhythm within you pulsates to the rhythm of the music, your body begins swaying and before you realize it, you’re on your feet dancing. But it doesn’t have to be music for there is a rhythm to everything in life and if you will just get the “feel” of that rhythm, there are no limits to what your body will do.
— Milton Trager, MD

The Trager Approach was developed by Milton Trager, MD and evolved over time from the mid-1920s when he was 16 y/o working at the Post Office and saw a sign on the Bulletin Board that said, "Take a deep breath." It began with the Mentastics, although that word wasn’t created until 1974.  The table work began a few years later when he was training to be a professional boxer, and changed places with his trainer to do hands-on work with him. Doing acrobatics on the beaches of Chicago and Miami also played a big part in the development of Mentastics. These beaches were also filled with children suffering from the consequences of polio, such that he was drawn to do hands-on work with them.

From an even younger age, he had been fascinated with movement and rhythm. His deep sense of rhythm, developed through his acrobatics and his boxer’s fancy footwork, naturally flowed into the Miami entertainment world of dance. In 1937, he left for Hollywood to try to make it in the movie industry. While he did movie Stunt work, he never got the break he wanted, so he began to seek to make a profession of his movement work.

Meet Dr. Milton Trager in an excerpt from the 1986 video, Introduction to the TRAGER Approach, describing how to keep the TRAGER feeling in your body with Mentastics. (1:47 min)

He served in the Navy during WWII as a Pharmacist’s Mate, all the while using his skill to treat his fellow servicemen. After the war, he first returned to school to become licensed as a Drugless Physician, and then at the age of 42, he enrolled in medical school in Guadalajara, Mexico. He did a Psychiatry residency in Hawaii, then opened a General Practice there, all the while doing his beloved movement work as part of that. Finally, in 1975 he was invited to demonstrate his movement work at Esalen in California. From there the teaching of his life’s work began.


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