My name is Susanne Leutenegger, I was born in Switzerland and my life’s path has led me to Ireland and to the Feldenkrais Method.
It has been a fascinating journey since my first encounter with this Method of Somatic Movement as each day holds new learning by observing what can change and improve in movement and life.
I have a life-long interest in exploring the mind-body connection – as a teacher, visual artist, mother, sea-swimmer and gardener. When I experienced myself how powerful and effective the movements of the Feldenkrais Method are for the prevention and treatment of pain, I decided to become a Feldenkrais Practitioner/teacher.
I love to share what I am learning on my continuing journey when I teach Classes (called ATM or Awareness-Through-Movement Lessons) and Individual Lessons ( called FI or Functional Integration Lessons).
I work from my practice in Crosshaven in County Cork, and also via Zoom to assist people with a wide range of issues and abilities to find ways of moving with less pain, improve mobility, find better coordination and balance. I also work with people who seek to refine skills in performance and sports.
My particular focus is on developmental movements, which means movement sequences which we are familiar with since our first year of life. It’s the fascinating time when we progress from lifting the head to rolling, crawling, sitting, standing and walking. These movements and all the preparatory steps are immensely relevant and can be revisited at any time in our lives. Over the years many babies and children have been brought to my practice, in particular those with physical and developmental difficulties. I provide parents with enjoyable and practical ways to support their child’s development.
I am a European (GCFP) Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner (teacher), and graduated from the 4-year training in the Feldenkrais Method in 2012. Over the years I have given more than 1’000 Individual Feldenkrais Lessons and have been teaching weekly Group Classes and Workshops in the Theatre Department in University College Cork. I attend International Advanced Trainings a few times a year. I am a member of the Feldenkrais Guild UK and Feldenkrais Ireland.
I am also a Child Space Practitioner and graduated from Chava Shelhav’s ‘Child Space Training’ in Amsterdam (300 hours) in 2019. I have attended an advanced course by Anat Baniel for NeuroMovement for children in San Francisco in 2015.
I am grateful to many teachers, who were so generous to share their knowledge; to name just a few: Chava Shelhav, Jeremy Krauss, Garet Newell, Carl and Lucie Ginsburg, Jerry Karzen, Anat Baniel, Alan Questel, Elizabeth Beringer, David Zemach-Bersin.
My aim is to give you an experience of what natural, pain-free, functional movement feels like as you discover knowledge and skills to moving well and being well.
As Moshe Feldenkrais said ‘I’m interested in assisting people to reach their full potential.’
My personal journey to the benefits of Feldenkrais
I started to teach myself Yoga from books at the age of 15, enjoying daily routines practicing the lotus position and sun salutes. My path led me on to Tai Chi then Qi Gong, and then to Feldenkrais!
At the age of 30, I needed to check out the pain in one hip joint and X-Rays revealed that symptoms of a form of Arthritis. I intensified my swimming and cycling as I believed that I needed to move more.
During ante-natal classes (in Oldenburg, Germany, 1991), I experienced for the first time some elements of “Pelvic Clock” – Feldenkrais lesson. Afterwards I felt a smoothness as if newly oiled and was nicely surprised. Intrigued, I bought the best-known Feldenkrais book “Awareness Through Movement” by Moshe Feldenkrais.
After moving to Ireland, I still felt that all I needed was to make an effort to keep fit. For a while I enjoyed those routines typical for Ashtanga Yoga. Then I noticed that my lower back started to complain after every class. I had been given the present of several recorded Feldenkrais Lessons by a friend, and found that doing a lesson before and another one after the Yoga class helped to release the back pain acquired from my Yoga practice.
The first Feldenkrais Lesson with a teacher in a class left me amused. I kept peeping around the room to see how the others took to what sounded like non-instructions such as “how have you placed your arms” or “which side is wider, heavier”. Or questions that had never been put to me before: can you find a way to do the movement so that YOU like it.
I got impatient as I wanted some action and felt twitchy. Nevertheless, I was intrigued to focus for an hour on small and slow distinct movements and how I perceived that parts of me changed and how I was feeling about myself. Over the course of several years my focus shifted. Through the Feldenkrais Method, I came to recognize that the pain in my hip was a permanent tension that I had gotten into the habit of carrying with me and I learnt to recognize when I am holding tension and also what kind of movements help to release this. Nowadays holding tension is no longer comfortable and I quickly move to a balanced position. I feel that I’m on a journey which encompasses exploring physical and mental and spiritual spaces.
For some questions I have found answers, but for every answer there may be new questions such as “how comes that my glasses give me a headache?
- My eye sight has improved.
- how comes that one eye is more comfortable focusing into the distance, has it got to do with a habit of how I hold my head, my shoulders?
How can I keep my eyes soft even when focusing into the distance or looking into the screen of the computer?
There are endless mind-games like when I walk a shallow flight of steps and observe how it affects my whole structure (skeleton) as compared to when the steps have a habitual height.
Or watching the the similarity of the cat and the tennis player who leap for a mouse/ball.
Susanne Leutenegger Art
Painting is a process of “making” for me. There is a variety of materials and experimenting with different approaches; mixing pigments with earth, plaster or marble dust, rolling and embossing clay, carving, cutting and reassembling pieces of paintings on paper, squeezing and trailing paint. There is a physicality and a playfulness to this making through which I aim to express inner states of being.
A painting can be a glimpse of life in movement, like the moment when a plant that has turned inwards is ready to unfurl outwards.
I wonder how a state of balance can be achieved when I try to capture and keep fluidity of movement so that it may hold the shape and bravely face into the wind.
I let colours intuitively spread their wings and sing a song which is energetic and patient, lucid and brave, dreamy and opaque. My art is about moments of life in motion.
“What I’m after isn’t flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I’m after is to restore each person to their human dignity.”