Feldenkrais® Teacher Training Program
Mary Spire, Educational Director
Begins January 4, 2016
San Rafael, Northern California
“What I’m looking for isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity.”
– Moshe Feldenkrais
This is an exciting time to become a Feldenkrais Practitioner. As the field of neuroscience is revealing more and more about our brain’s extraordinary ability to learn and adapt, we are noticing a remarkable thing: Many of the most compelling research findings today were actually anticipated by physicist, martial artist and teacher Moshe Feldenkrais more than 50 years ago. This “new” research is turning some of our old beliefs about the brain…on their head. But Moshe Feldenkrais and the many teachers of the Feldenkrais Method® around the world have known this for quite a while: Our actions are shaped by our learning, which also shapes who we are, in a continuous cycle of action and learning that literally changes our brain’s structure (this is called neuroplasticity). And by engaging our attention and our movement in very specific ways using the Feldenkrais Method®, we can actually “build” a smarter and more flexible brain—and thus become smarter and more flexible human beings.
“Feldenkrais is not just pushing muscles around, it’s changing things in the brain itself.”
~ Karl Pribram, Md, PhD, neuroscientist
Feldenkrais practitioners come from all walks of life, bringing the Feldenkrais Method® into such diverse fields as psychology, rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, education, ergonomics, gerontology, sports performance, art, voice, theater, dance and music, to name just a few. Some people are looking to bring new perspectives to their work, some are interested in improving their own health and well-being. Others are making a new career teaching the Feldenkrais Method®.
So if you would like to improve the quality of your life, and help others improve the quality of their lives; if you are interested in experiential learning and movement, or if you want to understand how to learn more effectively, then the Optimal Moves® Feldenkrais Teacher Training Program is for you.
At the basis of the Optimal Moves Feldenkrais Teacher Training is a concern with “learning to learn.” The training will expose students to a variety of modes of learning, not only through Awareness-Through-Movement® (ATM) and Functional Integration® (FI) lessons, but also through structured demonstrations, practice sessions involving classmates and/or outsiders, small-group discussions, lectures, videos, readings, and writings and exercises designed to encourage reflection. Over the 4-year program, students will engage with the lessons of the Feldenkrais Method both to learn about themselves and how they learn and also as something to learn and to teach to others.
All of the skills and abilities to be developed by the end of the training, such as learning to observe oneself or learning about another through touch, will be introduced in Year 1. The three years that follow will consist of increasingly refined variations that reveal the complexities and subtleties of these themes, as the main aspects of the work are brought into play in ATM and in FI, with oneself and others, in class and in the outside world. Through repetition and experience, students will become familiar with themselves and their actions, thereby increasing their comfort with and openness to greater challenges. They will learn how their own continued learning is the path to greater teaching.
The training thus aims to offer a coherent set of experiences that will foster each student’s growth without becoming formulaic; specifics will depend on the group. At the end of the training, trainees should be certifiably competent to teach ATM and FI, and will be open and able to direct their own continued learning.
Year 1’s immersion in ATMs will establish the foundations of the Feldenkrais Method ®, as students develop attention to and awareness of themselves in movement, as well as begin to develop their observational skills vis-à-vis others. You will be introduced to the skeleton and the role of gravity, to muscular tonus, and to the importance of breathing. You will also come to understand the rudiments of rest, stability, ground, basic directions, orientation, self-image, imagination, rhythm, patterns, variation, “neutrality,” and their relevance to movement and learning. Principles of minimizing effort and of reversibility will be emphasized. From the beginning, it will be underscored that the Feldenkrais Method ® consists of both FI and ATM, and that learning to learn may be facilitated through verbal or hands-on guidance, or through a combination of the two. Students will begin to touch others this year in such a manner that touch becomes a safe and subtle means of communication (rather than as an instrument to change others).
Year 2 will focus on the structure of ATMs and how to teach ATM lessons. Some ATMs will be more complex or challenging and build on lessons of Year 1; others will represent a return to basics, as students figure out how ATMs are constructed and why they are as they are. The training this year will address, among other things, clear communication of scanning, positions, movements, and transitions in orientation; attention to one’s own voice and how it connects with others; adjusting lessons to particular groups or individuals; and other basic teacher-student interactions, including issues of emotion, trauma, regression and so forth. Discussions of muscular and neurological learning will occur. FI practice this year will move beyond touch to “technique” as students increasingly recognize how their own movements affect those whom they touch; they will begin to grasp FI as a potential dialogue. Students will also be encouraged to begin practicing with friends and family this year.
Year 3, students will begin to relate and integrate the self-explorations of themselves that they have done in earlier years, to FI’s and FI practice. Aspects of ATM movements will be translated or related to possible FI “techniques,” using rollers, the artificial floor, or tables. Students will continue to refine their touch through ATMs. They will observe one another working and also consider how work in kneeling, sitting, and standing relates to functions of crawling, sitting, and walking.
Year 4, along with an emphasis on putting together coherent FIs, aims to leave students or trainees with mastery of a “big picture” that integrates the “details” they have learned as to how the Feldenkrais Method works. The focus will be on what makes a good FI, how ATMs can help, and when it is important to trust oneself and deviate from recipes or expectations. In addition to dealing with the overall shape of a lesson, Year 4 will address how to create conditions for learning, how to listen to what clients do and do not say or express, how to relate a Feldenkrais lesson to what a particular client takes as an issue, and how to end a lesson. Students will be supervised as they work with outside clients. Issues of professional ethics, entrepreneurship, and participation in the Feldenkrais community will also be addressed.
ATM – Students will be doing ATM lessons throughout the four years of the training. The core lessons will bedrawn from professional trainings and classes that Dr. Feldenkrais taught. New lessons created by the faculty will also be taught.
FI – Hands-on practice will be introduced from the beginning of the program. Trainees will become aware of issues of quality and clarity of touch, pressure and movement, not only as they touch and are touched by their peers, but also through verbal and non-verbal guidance from training staff.
Over the course of the training, the process for giving and shaping an FI will be expanded, as trainees learn how particular movements and variations familiar through ATM allow for the development of themes, how particular strategies and principles from ATM translate into FIs, and how the use of the self, learned in part through ATM and receiving FIs, is relevant to giving FI lessons. As trainees get ready to work with outsiders, attention will be paid not only to making transitions in completing the lesson, but also to making initial contact with others and using verbal and non-verbal cues for formulating a lesson. In addition to learning from their own experiences receiving and giving FIs, trainees will receive feedback from one another (as recipients, collaborators, and observers of FI) and from supervisory staff.
A minimum of 12 FI lessons shall be offered to trainees as part of their training. Three FI lessons per year are included in the tuition. The lessons shall be given by trainers, assistant trainers or other practitioners and teachers under the direction of the Educational Director. Trainees also may arrange for additional lessons. They are encouraged to observe lessons given to students during non-class hours. Demonstration FI lessons given in class and explicated by the trainer will further students’ understanding of FI. Videos of Moshe Feldenkrais giving FI’s to diverse students will be shown throughout the training and will be part of group discussions.
Trainees will have the opportunity to meet with Mary Spire, the Educational Director and/or other training staff from the program to receive feedback about their process and progress in the training. The trainee will also participate in a written self-evaluation process utilizing either the current Certified Practitioner Competency Profile FGNA or parts of the IFF Competency Profile for ATM and FI at the end of each training year. In addition, there will be many less formal interactions for the exchange of feedback on the training experience and encouragement of your progress as well as attention to many professional aspects of setting up your own practice.
In order to graduate from the Optimal Moves® Feldenkrais Teacher Training Program, the trainee will: participate in the training program; meet attendance guidelines; participate in self and course evaluation processes; adhere to all training policies; comply with proper usage of the service marks; teach a minimum of two ATM’s under supervision; give a minimum of two FI’s under supervision; and meet all financial obligations. The Educational Director reserves the right to ask any student to receive further training before being considered for graduation.
Missed Time and Make up
Trainees may miss no more than five days in any year and no more than ten days during the whole course of the training program. In the event that a trainee is absent for more than 10 days, the trainee will have to make-up these days in a format that is to be decided by Mary Spire, the Educational Director.
If space is available, you may be allowed to join the program late. Late enrollees must make up their missed time with the assistance of Mary Spire, the Educational Director.
Faculty and Staff
Mary Spire is the Educational Director and main trainer for the Optimal Moves® Feldenkrais Teacher Training Program. She will be at the Training during all of the segments. Well-known internationally as a trainer, and for her work with children with special needs, with performing artists, and with those with neurological conditions, she brings extensive experience as an artist and musician to her work as a Feldenkrais teacher and trainer.
“Mary is more than an experienced Feldenkrais instructor. She is sensitive, caring and perceptive about each person she works with. She is innovative and challenged to find solutions, even with the most difficult and challenging problems. I enjoy having the opportunity to work collaboratively with her in the care of our common patients.”
– Nancy Byl, PH.D., PT, UCSF School of Medicine
Other Faculty consist of highly qualified and certified trainers with many years of teaching experience. The Trainers include: Carol Kress, Dennis Leri, Olena Nitefor, Aliza Stewart, David Zemach-Bersin and Arlyn Zones. Kathy James will be the Assistant Trainer as well as the Administrator of the Training.
Experienced Feldenkrais practitioners will also be part of the educational team. They will provide support for the training and give FI lessons.
The training program meets for 800 hours, over 160 days for a period of 3 ½ years. The training will meet four times a year: Two three-week segments and Two five-day segments.
Class hours are from 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Monday through Thursday and 9:00 am – 2:00 pm on Fridays for the Two three-week segments. The Two five-day segments meet from Thursday – Monday. Class times for these segments are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday from 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm and on Sundays from 2:30 pm – 7:30 pm.
YEAR 1: 2016
January 4 – 22 Mary Spire 10 days; Dennis Leri 5 days
March 17 – 21 Dennis Leri 5 days
August 1 – 19 Mary Spire 5; Arlyn Zones 5; Mary Spire 5 days
November 3 – 7 Aliza Stewart 5 days
YEAR 2: 2017
January 2 – 20, 2017. Mary Spire 10 days; Dennis Leri 5 days
March 16 – 20 Mary Spire 5 days
July 31 – Aug 18 Mary Spire 5 ; Carol Kreiss 5 days
November 2 – 6 Aliza Stewart 5 days
YEAR 3: 2018
January 8 – 26 Mary Spire 5; Arlyn Zones 5; Mary Spire 5 days
March 15 – 19 Carol Kress 5 days
July 30 – Aug 17 Arlyn Zones 5; Mary Spire 10 days
November 1 -5 Mary Spire 5 days
YEAR 4: 2019
January 7 – 25 Mary Spire 5 days; Carol Kress 5 days; David Zemach-Bersin 5 days
March 14 – 18 Olena Nitefor, 5 days
June 17 – June 21 David Zemach-Bersin, 5 days
July 29 – Aug 16 Mary Spire, 15 days
In year four, we replaced the five-day November segment with a five-day June segment and graduation will be on August 16th, 2019.
We expect to be able to adhere to this schedule, but there may be changes due to the availability of facilities. Whenever possible, trainees will be notified 45 days in advance.
* Training programs are subject to cancellation with 30 days advance notice due to insufficient enrollment, teacher availability, and/or location availability.
Accreditation and Certification
The 2016 Optimal Moves Feldenkrais® Teacher Training program is accredited by the North American Training Accreditation Board (FGNA) and recognized by all international Feldenkrais Training Accreditation Boards (TAB’s) and Feldenkrais Guilds worldwide”. Optimal Moves intends to apply for accreditation for the 2020 Optimal Moves Feldenkrais® Teacher Training program
Graduates of the Optimal Moves® Feldenkrais Teacher Training Program will be eligible to become a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher® certified by the Feldenkrais Guild of North America® (FGNA) and they may then practice ATM and FI professionally. Upon successful completion of the first two years of the training, trainees will be eligible to receive authorization from Mary Spire, Educational Director and FGNA to teach ATM as student teachers. After receiving authorization, trainees may call themselves authorized Awareness Through Movement® Teachers, not certified.
In certain states, or countries, professional practice may be subject to licensing laws limiting their professional practice unless the graduate has (a) certain license(s). Accreditation of this program by FGNA does not indicate that this program meets local or state laws for post-secondary or vocational training.
Tuition and Application Fee
Tuition: Tuition is $4,500 per year- payable by segment (four segments a year), 45 days before the segment begins. Register by November 20 to secure your place in this training. Payment plan options will be available if needed through a mutually agreed upon payment plan.
Application Fee: There is a non-refundable application fee of $50, which will be applied towards your tuition upon acceptance. Application fee can be made through Paypal or personal check.
The Training will be held in San Rafael at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marin (UUCM). This site is located approximately 30 minutes from San Francisco, Berkeley and beautiful Napa. It sits up on a hill, is tranquil, spacious and affords panoramic views of the surrounding countryside; it includes a garden, patio and kitchen. When you are not in training, enjoy both hiking trails on Mount Tamalpais, the pristine Pacific Ocean beaches near by and visit the vineyards in Napa and Sonoma.
The Training is non-residential; assistance with carpooling is provided, as well as help in locating housing.
Mary will present introductory workshops in 2020 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Marin (UUCM), located in San Rafael, California.
These half-day workshops (3-6 pm) will serve as an introduction to the Feldenkrais Method® and the Optimal Moves® Teacher Training Program .
If you are thinking about becoming a Feldenkrais® Teacher this is a great opportunity to experience Awareness Through Movement® and the power of the Feldenkrais Method®. In this half-day workshop, you will experience 2-3 movement lessons, watch a demonstration of Mary giving a one-on- one Functional Integration® (FI) lesson and have the opportunity to speak with Mary about the training process and the upcoming training program.
If you would like to improve the quality of your life, and help others improve the quality of their lives; if you are interested in experiential learning and movement, or if you want to understand how to learn how to learn more effectively, then join us for one of the upcoming workshops.
“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 (the student) 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”.
Contact for More Information
Optimal Moves, LLC
P.O. Box 4413
2 Civic Center Drive #4413
San Rafael, CA 94913
There are no specific requirements for enrollment, other than prior experience with the Feldenkrais Method®. We are seeking a well-balanced student body, representing the full diversity of human experience, professions and backgrounds. We are committed to accepting people into the program regardless of age, gender, race or physical ability.
Click here to request additional information.
Click here to fill out the application and pay application fee.
Feldenkrais® is a registered service mark of the FELDENKRAIS GUILD® of North America, Accredited by the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America.
This training is accredited by North American Training Accreditation Board. Accreditation of this program by FGNA does not indicate that this program meets local or state laws for post secondary or vocational training. In certain states or countries, professional practice may be subject to laws limiting their professional practice unless the graduate has (a) certain license(s). Neither Awareness Through Movement(R) nor Functional Integration(R) may be practiced professionally before graduation from an accredited training program. Interim authorization as a Trainee Awareness Through Movement teacher is a student teaching position.
The terms FELDENKRAIS, FELDENKRAIS METHOD®, AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT®, FUNCTIONAL INTEGRATION®, GUILD CERTIFIED FELDENKRAIS TEACHER® GUILD CERTIFIED FELDENKRAIS PRACTITIONER cm, FRIENDS OF FELDENKRAISsm, FELDENKRAIS AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT TEACHERcm, The FELDENKRAIS GUILD®, and the FELDENKRAIS® logo may only be used with permission by and following the guidelines of the FELDENKRAIS GUILD® of North America.