As a Feldenkrais practitioner, teacher and trainer practicing for over 30 years, it is with great pleasure that I share my experience and knowledge with others: helping them to improve their lives and human functioning, and in the words of Dr. Feldenkrais, to “realize your avowed and un-avowed dreams”.
In addition to workshops, lectures and symposia, I maintain private practices in Berkeley and San Rafael, California, specializing in working with infants and children, older adults, people with neurological conditions and performing artists. I also continue to teach group classes (Awareness Through Movement ®), monthly ATM workshops, advanced trainings to Feldenkrais practitioners and workshops for the general public and for performing artists. For the last 18 years I have been teaching as a trainer in Feldenkrais Professional Training Programs worldwide. I am the Educational Director and Principal Trainer of the Optimal Moves LLC Feldenkrais Teacher Training Program in Marin County, CA.
I was first introduced to the Feldenkrais Method in the early 1980’s in New York City. I had been playing and performing for many years after having earned my Master’s of Music in piano performance from the University of Southern California. After suffering a performance-related hand injury I tried to rehabilitate with numerous forms of traditional therapy, with little or modest improvement. Surgery had even been recommended, but because of the possibility of nerves in my hand being damaged (or worse, severed) during the procedure I decided against this and continued to search for other options.
I continued to perform, albeit injured, but I wasn’t able to perform with the accuracy and fluency expected in high-level performance. Fortunately, a fellow musician mentioned to me that a method she had tried might work for me. Discovering the Feldenkrais Method was a complete revelation and had a profound impact on my life. I came to understand that the injury was a result of my habitual (and often dysfunctional and inefficient) patterns of moving and thinking while practicing and playing the piano.
After a few Feldenkrais sessions I felt a noticeable improvement and was on the road to full recovery. I regained the refined use of my hand and arm and could play the piano again with greater ease, power and intention. I immersed myself in the Feldenkrais Method, receiving private lessons (Functional Integration ®), attending ATM classes and workshops. I learned that by accessing the power of the brain and nervous system I could change my old patterns and restore lost function, and by developing my awareness of what I was doing, and how I was doing it, I was changing or re-wiring the pattern in the brain itself.
“Working with Mary Spire has given me profound insights along my road to recovery from a repetitive strain injury. With her patient guidance I have learned to play my instrument more efficiently and also to do many other things with greater ease and pleasure.”
– Gina Feinauer, violist, San Francisco Symphony
“I appreciate the “how” of Mary’s teaching. Her teaching praxis directly reflects the principles of the method, providing rich layers of experience and learning to her students. The classroom environment, instruction, feedback and progression through content, all coalesce to reveal dynamic applications with the method.”
– Sarah M. Nemecek, MFA
(Eugene, Oregon: Feldenkrais® Professional Training Program, June, 2012)
“Thanks so much for the great workshop. I came with a sense that I had reasonable ideas as to what would be more optimal for the musicians I see and have worked some with their instruments- but seeing what a master actually chooses to do was really the next step for me.”
– Marsha Novak, GCFP, P.
“I very much appreciated the FI that you taught on the YouTube video. It was of the best examples I have yet to see on a video or live. I found it mature, respectful, perceptive and functional. Your communication of the instruction, intention, and direction of the burgeoning outcome, was superb. You helped to guide her to understand precisely what, why and how her body was moving and being perceived by her while coming to a deep and subtle conscious awareness of herself, concretely revealing “Awareness Through Movement”.
“After five years of constant, debilitating back pain that conventional medicine could not diagnose or relieve, Mary has helped me to become fully functional. Thanks to her work with me, I now lead a full, active life.”
– Sylvia Gerton, Older Adult
“Mary’s lessons are clear, gentle, and pain-free. When I began to work with her, I was scheduled for knee surgery. My doctors could offer me no more than a 50-50 chance of recovery. Mary showed me movements that caused the critical pain to abate very quickly. She continues to teach me ways to move that allow for non-surgical healing.”
-Jennifer Kaiser, Media Relations