EVOLUTION OF THIS PRACTICE
The skills that I bring to the table are many, drawing on my complex personal history, beginning as an elite level swimmer in my teenage years, and my evolution thenceforth as a kinaesthetically oriented educator … from my earliest years teaching swim lessons and coaching swim teams, to my early training and subsequent teaching of martial arts, and my studies in basic emergency medicine. Later on, I found dance and the performing arts. I followed my passion for performance and through that, began teaching dance and expressive arts. Finally, all of this experience has crystallised into a very unique practice of structural bodywork and somatic education.
I am not a therapist. I am a teacher. The very particular nature of my work makes it quite rare. There are very few bodyworkers who truly commit to the idea of treating the person as a complex system, rather than simply focusing on the symptoms one presents. I strive at all times to facilitate increased self-awareness, and therefore greater self-efficacy in my clients. My intention always is to help people learn about themselves, to clarify their own body-image* - how and why their bodies behave the way they do. Once they begin to gain that kind of awareness, they often find that their previous symptoms tend to just go away. (* 'Body image' being defined here as the accuracy of your own self-appraisal, in real time, of your physical body, in space, in time, in volume, and condition.)
My primary skill-set (specific to bodywork) is derived - in chronological order - from classical Swedish and deep tissue massage, to myofascial release and manual lymph drainage, all culminating towards my continuing studies in Structural Integration*, and the exciting fields of DNM (Dermo-Neuro-Modulation) and pain science.
*Structural Integration is a “process-based approach to somatic education, typically involving manual therapy, that explores the possibility of change in how you use and experience your body. Through education, awareness, and therapeutic touch, you can release painful, stressful patterns of tension. Effortful habits are replaced with feelings of comfort, ease of movement and posture, and a sense of whole-body coherence.”
I also have over ten years experience in the field of dance and performance, working primarily in small productions in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hungary, Germany and Austria. The most significant influence on my artistic growth - and most importantly in my sensitivity to the interplay between people’s physicality and emotional states - is the legendary Anna Halprin, considered an living treasure and pioneer of the American avant-garde. She was not only a dancer and choreographer, but also a master healer, instructing her students to reach into themselves and grow, personally, artistically and socially. In her own words: “I want to integrate life and art so that as our art expands our life deepens and as our life deepens our art expands.”
I served as an assistant in Mrs. Halprin’s bi-weekly classes for two years between 2005 and 2008, which made a deep impact on the way that I interact with individuals, being sensitive to each person’s needs at any moment, ready at a moment’s notice to change gears (strategy, language, intensity, etc.) to accommodate the fragile nature of a human being delving into their own personal life experience. In the year 2008 I was certified personally by Mrs. Halprin in her unique form of kinaesthetic education called Movement Ritual.
During this same period of time I was also involved in a one-on-one apprenticeship with master healer Rei McColley, who was Mrs. Halprin’s personal therapist for 10 years. Through Ms. McColley’s tutelage, I received a deep foundation in how to approach and ‘converse’ or ‘listen’ to another body; indeed it was from her that I first learned about the phenomenon that at the slightest touch with another living being, from that moment on there is an active conversation going on between two nervous systems.
Seemingly unrelated, but in fact what has made an extraordinary impact in my ability to support a wide variety of people, is my twenty-plus-year history at Chez Panisse Café and Restaurant in Berkeley, arguably one of the most famous restaurants in the world. (I worked in the front of the house.) This work, and the ethos specific to that particular establishment, has taught me how to quickly anticipate the needs of all sorts of people, all with wildly different temperaments.
This way of empathising with people - in real time - has benefited my bodywork practice in ways that continue to bear fruit. Service values like graciousness, safety, inclusiveness, patience, respectfulness, and attentiveness are learned and values and require time and practice to become not only effective but natural. From the moment one enters my practice space, they feel welcome, they feel safe and warm, and they feel heard.