Learning in Action™ thinking bodies, moving minds™
Sonja H. Sutherland
Sonja maintains her private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area where she offers individualized hands-on sessions 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 20 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 Feldenkrais Guild-certified Assistant Trainer and 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. In 2019 Sonja was elected and is serving as Northern CA/Northern NV Regional Representative for the Feldenkrais Guild of North America.
For 18 years Sonja studied 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 Bielefeld, Germany where she studied movement therapy and worked with people with a variety of physical, emotional, and mental challenges.
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 Master’s 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 in dance at the Folkwanghochschule, Sonja was introduced to the Feldenkrais Method®…. and so the story continues…
ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION
Feldenkrais Professional Training Program: Berkeley