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February 5, 2021

In This Issue
From the Editors
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We are dedicating this issue of SenseAbility to questions of inclusion and diversity in the hopes of opening up a more inclusive world of Feldenkrais® work. The authors embody these explorations of diversity and have developed their particular somatic practices out of direct experiences. Their narratives can be used to expand the repertoire of our inclusivity strategies. 

Neruma Ankti talks about the concept of equality as a foundation of an Awareness through Movement lesson. "A Feldenkrais® lesson is a place where everyone can have an experience of this equality, as a core concept is that no two people are the same - that it is our differences however similar we may appear, that make us human," says Neruma. The interview with Kelly Feder takes a penetrating look at how we can use the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education to understand our limiting beliefs connected to race and color. Finally, Gail Thompson offers an anthropologist's look at working with Somali communities that would normally not get access to somatic therapies. 

There are many thoughtful articles and podcasts for you to learn more about race and diversity in our Resource section.

Lavinia, Yulia, and LeeAnn
Be the Change: A Podcast with Neruma Ankti

The following podcast was originally published in the Feldenkrais UK Guild public newsletter, Move With Ease, in Summer 2020. Click here to listen to the podcast and to see the transcription, offered by The Movement and Creativity Library, created by Feldenkrais® practitioner Tiffany Sankary.
Neruma Ankti is a Student Teacher, currently in the fourth year of her Feldenkrais® Practitioner Training in Sussex, UK.  She is a self-taught writer and artist - a creative person is more how she would describe herself, with a passion for art, learning and teaching. She is a contributor to the Movement and Creativity Library.

Creating Community with Students

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An interview with Kelly Feder

Kelly Feder is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Teacher® and founder of the Feldenkrais Movement Academy of St. Louis. Throughout her career, Kelly has sought a diversity of teachers, completing Ruthy Alon's Bones for Life, Chava Shelhav's Child'Space, and MBS Academy's Advanced Practitioner certifications. As a YWCA Witnessing Whiteness Facilitator, Kelly has participated in many courses, including CrossRoads Anti Racism/Anti Bias trainings, Non Violent Communication and Empathy trainings and the St. Louis Racial Equity Summit, which emerged from the commission on Ferguson. Kelly writes that she "brings the unfinished, imperfect process of my own transforming self into my teaching, inviting compassion in the midst of uncertainty to linger in and learn from the complexities of the habits that limit us."

SenseAbility (SA): Kelly, tell us about the recent class that you taught titled, "MIRROR: Moving IN: Recognizing and Remembering Ourselves in Racism". Can you give us the context for your idea for the class and how you were thinking about it? 

Honestly, my plan and process were not fully formed as I began. For a long time, I had been thinking about racism as a neurological habit and ways the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education could be used to expose unconscious habits around race. For so long, I was in analysis paralysis.

In my general Awareness Through Movement® (ATM®) classes I often bring up the learned social habits of pushing oneself to be a good student, the binary thinking of a "good" knee and a "bad" knee, the need to be perfect before doing something, the reliance on an authority outside oneself rather than turning the lens inward to follow one's own line of curiosity and inquiry. Today, I am exploring how to expose my habits of racism and asking how the construct of whiteness is limiting me.  I didn't realize until recently that these are all characteristics of white supremacy culture that sociologists have studied and named.*  So why not name them as such? 

When racially charged events were happening in my city, such as Ferguson or the election of the first Black prosecuting attorney, I'd point out the either/or thinking, the "othering" or judgment or assumptions we might be making about these events and how we do these same things in our bodies. 
Kelly Feder (Feldenkrais Movement Academy of St. Louis, LLC) has participated in multi-day workshops on Antiracism/Anti Bias training through Crossroads, Embodied Racism, Colorbrave, Unwinding Whiteness, and the St. Louis Racial Equity Summit. She participates in on-going racial caucusing to do the internal work of dismantling and recognizing my embodied white superiority and internalized racial scripts. When she was in the bay area she participated in many Non Violent Communication and Empathy courses. Kelly writes that "most helpful is my life partner, Bob, who challenges me to see my embedded racism daily."
Daryel, the Seattle Somali Women's Wellness Project
By Gail Thompson
Photo provided by author

These times have highlighted the extent to which ethnic communities are segregated in our socie ty, and Feldenkrais® practitioners are rightfully concerned about serving all of our communities. As an anthropologist, I am aware of the richness in other cultures that we can experience through participation and observation. But it's difficult for all of us to make contact and serve those who are different from us. I have had the good fortune to engage with the Somali community in the Seattle area. 

Some 30,000 Somali people have come to live in the Puget Sound area. Many Somali women have experienced physical trauma and emotional pain from fleeing war, relocating thousands of miles from their homeland, and caring for their families in an unfamiliar environment and a culture that isn't just new but also often insufficiently welcoming and socially isolating. 

Harborview Medical Center (HMC) medical providers have reported many Somali women complaining of musculoskeletal pain and headaches that were not alleviated by prescribing medication, and adherence with physical therapy has been poor. Some patients express symptoms of depression and PTSD but are uncomfortable with psychotropic medications and psychotherapy based on the cultural stigmatization of mental health issues.

A now-retired HMC nurse collaborated with a Somali interpreter/cultural mediator to develop the Daryel program and continues to direct it.  "Daryel" means wellness in Somali. Volunteers include Jewish, Christian, and nonreligious women who wish to provide holistic and culturally competent care to connect, improve, and enjoy relations with our Somali community...

Gail Thompson, Ph.D., is a mostly retired anthropologist, who trained in the Feldenkrais Method, graduating in 2012 and is now deepening her learning in the Feldenkrais Training Academy. Her other volunteer work includes teaching an online Awareness Through Movement Class to seniors in the Northeast Seattle Together (NEST) community.


The International Somatic Movement Education (ISMETA) and Therapy Association is hosting an online conference titled, "Somatic Applications for Health, Education and Social Justice" March 3-7. Even if you do not work in a field related to somatics, you might be interested in learning more about the organization or sharing the information with others. Please click here for more information.

FGNA is a member of ISMETA and supports their vision. Six Feldenkrais Guild members will present at this year's conference:

Nancy Haller
Larry Goldfarb
Elinor Silverstein
Daniel Burkholder
Sonja H. Sutherland
Margit Galanter



3. Waking up White - 
4. 21 Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge - 
5. Non Violent Communication Bay Area -

6. Multiday Antiracism/Antibias Trainings -


Seeing White: 14 part series that unpacks the history of whiteness and its implications. 

CodeSwitch: Fearless conversations about race

We Live Here: Explores the issues of race, class and power that led to the emotional eruption in the wake of Michael Brown's shooting death in Ferguson. 

Race and Healing: A Body Practice is a podcast interview with On Being's Krista Tippet and Resmaa Menakam, author of My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies.

TED Talks:

TED talk with Verna Myers "How to overcome our biases"

TED talk with Baratunde Thurston "How to deconstruct racism one headline at a time"

TED Talk with Valerie Alexander "How to Outsmart your own Unconscious Bias"

TED Talk with Heather C. McGhee "Racism has a cost for everyone" 


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