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Natural Awakenings Oklahoma

Ankrum Institute Founder’s Five-Minute, Stress-Busting Advice

Jan 01, 2022 09:13PM ● By Shanna Warner

Ankrum Institute Founder’s Five-Minute, Stress-Busting Advice

Leigh Ankrum, the founder of the Ankrum Institute, at 3331 East 31st Street in Tulsa, was shocked at her career choice. Someone she barely knew invited her to take a massage class. That acquaintance dropped out, but 35 years later, Ankrum is still learning and building her institute's solid foundation. “I said yes to many of my colleagues' desires to take continuing education. I just kept saying yes. After a few years I came to understand that I was on my perfect path. Learning became a deeply ingrained thing for 28 years of this life. Only in the last seven or eight years have I stopped traveling to learn and let the energies of my tradition teach me while I work.” 

She both taught and studied throughout Europe, and her credentials are extensive for a manual therapist. She graduated from a 500-hour massage school and then continued her education in the study of pain, anatomy and fascia. She then graduated from a five-year French osteopathic school and focused on craniosacral therapy. She put in years of travel and learning to build her knowledge and skills. After working in private practice for many years, she began to teach others that wanted a deeper understanding of the body. 

In 2016, the Ankrum Institute opened and offered the two-year program she currently teaches. “And the fact that after 35 years I am still learning and understanding more and more is exciting. What puts a smile on my face is the amazing way in which our bodies are put together and function. It is truly miraculous.”   

As Ankrum developed skills, she also developed intuition. She is deeply grounded in anatomy and function. She strives to understand the interrelationship between those two factors and teaches that to her students. And as she understands more about anatomy and function, her intuition grows. She explains it this way, “After the first several years in practice I began to trust my instincts/intuition. Even when a client says ‘but my pain is over here’ and inside myself I have a knowing that I must work something else first, I trust myself completely. And the funny thing is that most of the clients that believe in me, and allow me to work where the internal communication between their ‘inner’ and my ‘inner’ leads, are helped.” She guides students into developing their own intuitive process. She especially loves it when students have their own “ah-ha” moment each time they start a new training class. 

Ankrum believes that “everything, everyone, is connected and in relationship. We are a collective. If this is true, how can I work with a client as if they or their pain pattern stands alone? We are a part of ourselves, our family, our community, our country, the world, the collective unconscious, the galaxy, the universe.” 

Her personal mission is to share as much as she can of the knowledge she has gathered throughout the years. “The more practitioners out there that know and understand the body, the way we are put together, the better hope we have for helping people back to health.” Ankrum doesn’t believe in just teaching techniques or just treating symptoms. “When one understands the principles of how our bodies work, then the bigger picture emerges, and we get past the limitations set for us when we view only symptoms as a way to come into relationship with the body.” 

Ailments seen at the Ankrum Institute are varied, and can include anything from ear infections, TMJ, vertigo, back or neck pain, to difficulty in getting pregnant and even birth trauma for newborns and moms. When discussing the most common ailment that she sees and treats, Ankrum is quick to mention trauma. She sees it as the number one health problem facing us today. And within that category, she includes stress. “What happens is this: When trauma/stress goes into us, it results in turning down the part of us that runs all the systems of the body, thus increasing symptoms, which can include digestive issues, sleep issues, pain, anxiety, depression and more. The inability to slow down and let the stress out, or resolve trauma, means that we continue to build all of the symptoms inside of us.” 

Ankrum recommends a quick and easy way to begin releasing stress and trauma. “Take some time each day to be quiet without any stimulation—no phone, computer or television—and allow your body to get quiet. It does not mean you have to do meditation. That’s great if you do, but just get quiet so your body can let out some of the stress from the day, even if it is for five minutes before you go to bed.” 

Looking back over all of the years of learning and working, Ankrum knows she has been “asked to be a steward of this work. It is not so important to name all the places I have learned, the people I have treated, the students that have learned from me, but to understand the great responsibility that came to me from the beginning of my life.” She hopes that “after 35 years my private practice will slowly go into the sunset, but my school will grow and grow, and people will come from all over the country and then the world to join us in this amazing, life-changing journey.” 

For more information, call 918-212-4206 or visit