Movement is Life

Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself. 
—Moshe Feldenkrais

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Practitioner Spotlight - Margot Schaal

Entered on January 29, 2018 by FINY

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Where are you from originally?
I was raised in the Midwest and North Carolina, and have lived in various parts of the US and abroad.

How did you find out about the Feldenkrais Method?
An Alexander teacher was building her art collection and wanted to trade sessions for my painting. It was she who suggested I try Feldenkrais. At the first class I attended, not only did my shoulder lie differently after 40 minutes, but I understood that this is a place where I am the authority in my body. So I took more classes.

I have enjoyed many different kinds of movement practices – dance, athletics and martial arts. Feldenkrais is special in its use of attention and resulting refinement.

What inspired you to become a practitioner?
Injuries got me into the training. The help with healing from Feldenkrais I received inspired me to practice the Method. What continues to inspire me is the new experiences it offers students, such as being the authority in yourself.

What kind of clients do you see?
My clients come from all walks of life. It’s a reminder of our common ground, yet individual expression of being human. Some of my clients are performing artists or athletes; others have pain, postural challenges, disabilities, or have been through multiple surgeries. Feldenkrais helps people respect their current limits and make healthy shifts with minimal impact, creating new, easier, more comfortable ways of being. Through gentle communication of touch, the individual’s nervous system reorganizes their action.

Do you have any particular areas of interest in your work as a practitioner?
This reminds me of the question, is there a part of the skeleton (or body) that most fascinates you? I go through phases of being most interested in the spine, or the foot, or another place, which is wonderful for learning. Because this is a holistic practice, truly including the whole person, the nervous system is of utmost interest. I took a medical neuroscience course to find out if what we do in Feldenkrais really is retraining the nervous system – my conclusion is yes, it is, and furthermore, as the medical world refines its understanding of what human health is and what people need, I think they will address peoples’ problems more as we do in the Feldenkrais Method.

Any anecdotes about adjusting to life in NYC after moving here from Marin, CA?
The biggest changes from CA to NYC are separation from the beautiful land of northern California, and the harshness of cement sidewalks on joints, both things I knew were ahead. In truth, this move requires minimal adjustments because I lived in New York in my 20’s and have visited several times a year for the past decade.

Could you tell us about your experience teaching Feldenkrais in Rwanda?
Everyone I meet is my teacher. When I lived in Rwanda each person was grieving tremendous loss – even the air was thick with grief. I learned to distinguish my own grief from that of the environment, or of others. The separation of one’s emotions from those of others is necessary to fully embody our individual nature and to mature. I had the honor of working with people who suffered physically and psychologically from the trauma of war, and others with birth traumas. There was nothing related to Feldenkrais there, so I was, in a sense isolated. When I returned to the US, I was delighted to discover colleagues – other Feldenkrais Practitioners: I participated in a study group that continues today, I became involved in the Region activities of the Feldenkrais Guild of North America. Today, in addition to working full time as a Practitioner, I volunteer on the Editorial Board of our professional publication the Feldenkrais Journal,  and on a committee that organizes meetings of the Training Community for the legacy of Feldenkrais work.

Do you integrate your knowledge of Reiki and/or Qigong into your work as a Feldenkrais Practitioner?
My approach to working with clients is greatly influenced by years as a student of healing arts and as a Reiki Master. The consciousness of healing work is as the mindset of Feldenkrais, the values, understanding of presence, attention, and intention. My objective with each individual is to create a context for (their nervous system to) learn. I include practices from Qigong or other types of healing when I feel they can enhance someone’s ability to make changes for their benefit.
One of the most poignant things about healing is that, as you heal you enable the environment, both human and natural to heal. And the corollary is, that as we help the natural environment heal, it makes individual healing possible.

What are your favorite types of ATM’s to do?
What a tough question! I like the variety of types of ATMs. Since I like a challenge, at times it is rewarding to do a more athletic lesson. And yet, even with lessons we do not “like,” with every ATM, when we attend to sensing ourselves and how we are moving, and being honest about what we discover, it offers a depth and vastness that correlates to the profound experiences of witnessing the natural world, creating art and clear meditation.

Any other thoughts about the Feldenkrais Method?
One of the powerful aspects of this work that distinguishes it from other processes is that it is not formulaic. In both ATM and FI, the lesson proceeds as we discover more (about ourselves). The results may include greater joint or muscle comfort, spinal alignment, clearer vision or taste, yet the depth of the lesson lies within a new sense of how you can be with yourself.

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