Sonja maintains her private practice in the Berkeley area where she offers individualized hands-on for adults and children. Through gentle yet precise, directive touch combined with verbal guidance, Sonja helps people learn how to move with greater ease, awareness and enjoyment. She also leads somatic workshops and retreats, empowering people to develop fuller, more satisfying ways of moving through their lives.
In addition, for over 17 years Sonja has been developing and teaching Creative Learning Through Movement, a somatic approach to social-emotional learning for children. She teaches her curriculum weekly to elementary school children.
Sonja H. Sutherland is a Guild-certified Feldenkrais practitioner® with a full-time private practice since 1997. She has also completed extensive advanced training in the Feldenkrais Method. This includes many years of advanced workshops, small group supervisions, one-on-one mentoring, FIs, and a weekly ATM study group with Feldenkrais colleagues for over ten years. Sonja has been a presenter at several national conferences for the Feldenkrais Guild of North America and organized two Feldenkrais Guild Conferences under Feldenkrais Trainer David Zemach Bersin.
Sonja & Stanley Keleman
For over 15 years Sonja has been studying extensively with the founder of Formative Psychology®, Stanley Keleman. His formative perspective, approach, practices and teachings deepen her somatic understanding of human nature and behavior, and deeply informs how she approaches her work. Formative Psychology® is grounded in evolutionary principles and the biological understanding of how animate life grows, forms, and develops.
Sonja holds a black belt in aikido — a martial art which emphasizes a non-confrontational, yet clear and direct approach to conflict resolution. Sonja began training Aikido shortly after she started her Feldenkrais training. Moshe Feldenkrais was a Judo master and his training as a martial artist influenced how he developed and formed the Feldenkrais Method. Many Feldenkrais trainers, trainees, and practitioners train Aikido as an embodied practice to deepen their Feldenkrais practice. Sonja trained under Robert Nadeau Sensei, whose approach emphasizes how to use the fundamental principles of Aikido as a means for personal growth and transformation. (Aikido photos by David Floeter)
As a young adolescent, Sonja trained as a competitive gymnast, training over five hours a day, year round. In high school, she stopped training competitively and began taking dance classes. Sonja fell in love with the creative, physical expressiveness of dance.
In college, she joined the St. Olaf Modern Dance Company and danced daily. As part of her junior year abroad, Sonja was selected for an independent study/service program in Bethel bei Bielefel, where she studied movement therapy and worked with people with a variety of physical, emotional and mental challenges. In her study/service proposal Sonja wrote: “I am particularly interested in studying the importance of movement as a means to express oneself and to better one’s self understanding.”
After graduating from college, Sonja continued dancing and worked in a residential facility with adolescents with significant behavioral challenges. Inspired by some of the residents, Sonja choreographed a solo in which she shared stories through movement, words, and song. With this choreography, she applied to graduate school in Dance at UCLA, where she received a full scholarship. She earned a Masters in Choreography & Performance and Dance Education. Sonja was awarded a year-long grant from DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) to study Pina Bausch’s TanzTheater (DanceTheater) and dance at Folkwanghochschule conservatory in Germany.
While she was training at the Folkwanghochschule, Sonja was introduced to the Feldenkrais Method.
ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION
- Feldenkrais Professional Training Program: Berkeley
- Center for Energetic Studies–Stanley Keleman: Berkeley
- MA in Dance—Choreography & Performance and Dance Education: UCLA
- BAs in Psychology and German: St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN
Learning In Action (510) 527-5981
- Feldenkrais Professional Training Program: Berkeley 1993-1997 with many years of advanced trainings and further studies in the Feldenkrais Method (1997 – present)
- Aikido : 1995-2005, shodan (black belt) 2001
- Formative Psychology® Studies– Stanley Keleman : 2000-present
- Dance—modern, ballet, contact improvisation: 1982-1996
- Gymnastics: Extensive training from age eight to sixteen
Feldenkrais office photos by Frank Pryor, Aikido photos by David Floeter, Stanley Keleman and Sonja photo by Imma Schmidt
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