MBS Trainer, Patty Underwood, will soon be bringing the MBS program to South Africa, where she will teach two introductory public workshops in September 2013. From her home in Fairfax, California, Patty answered questions on the upcoming workshops in South Africa and the influences Mia and Leora have had on her, both professionally and personally.


MBS:      During a recent Foundation Training in Bad Toelz, Mia recounted her wonderful story about speaking with Moshe after she’d first watched him work. He asked if she had any questions; she assured him that she had many.  Mia can still hear his response today: “If you know the right question… it will only take a minute!” 

During the course of your own training, what are the really decisive moments or particular touchstones that you regularly recall?

Patty:     I still vividly remember the first FI that Mia gave me. I was attending a training that she gave in Berkeley, and I really don’t know what got into me, but somehow I got the idea that I wanted to feel “the Master’s hands”! I’m not normally the type of person who just goes up and asks to feel somebody’s hands. But, as it turned out, I was very fortunate, as at the end of the training, Mia demonstrated FI for the group – on me. I still remember it so clearly. It was completely different from anything I had ever experienced before – and I had already done a good deal of training by this time! Mia had such absolute clarity and curiosity in how she asked my body questions, or rather, how she asked me questions, using her hands. It was such a clear and direct conversation of discovery, which I could feel going all the way through my body.

I’m friends with some people who were there at the time, and they still chuckle at my expression when I stood up afterwards. I was blown away. I could move without pain!

MBS:      Was that when you decided to begin training with Mia and Leora?

Patty:     Yes, this was the missing piece for me. It was after that that I started doing the Post Graduate Training, which was a sequence of 30 days. And then, as you know, I continued on to the Master Practitioner Training, followed by the Trainer’s Training.

MBS:      From your days as a student, to now as a Trainer, have you found that any particular strategies or pearls of advice have proven most helpful to your development and to your understanding of this work?

Patty:     One of the brilliant things I have found about working with Mia and Leora through all of these trainings is that over the years, Mia and Leora have discussed together what is important in this work. Mia tends to be intuitive while Leora tends to be analytical. Leora has come up with what I call a schematic, through her own experience and through working with Moshe and Mia. Both Mia and Leora continue to practice, develop and teach what they learned directly from Moshe. Together, they have created an incredibly clear curriculum.

“Bringing this work to Africa is very important to me. The opportunities open to people elsewhere in the world should also be available to Africa and other developing regions.”

MBS:       From your days as a student to now, as a Trainer, have you found that any particular strategies or pearls of advice have have proven most helpful to your development and to your understanding of this work?

Patty:     Being inquisitive. Really, it’s all about approaching life with an attitude of curiosity, without any agenda, and with openness for discovering when you’re working with someone. MBS keeps everything so clear and simple that it actually becomes really easy to identify the next question to ask with your hands.

I’ve really found that Mia and Leora have developed a way of teaching ATMs that is just remarkably clear. Students really learn, from the beginning, how ATMs and FIs are two sides of the same coin.

MBS:      Could you talk a bit about how the idea for these South Africa workshops came about, and your hopes for the trainings there?

Patty:     You know, I often think of Moshe’s quote“Health is the ability to realize our avowed and unavowed dreams.” For me, getting this training together is a part of my dream. I love Africa, I’d love to bring something back to Africa, and I don’t see why it’s not possible! I would just like to see the opportunity for people, that the MBS teaching could go around the world. In Africa, people are open to new ideas, they love creativity, and they don’t generally have the same opportunities for continuing education the way that you do in the United States or Europe. For a long time, I’ve thought how fantastic it would be if we could bring our kind of a training to Africa.

These public introductory workshops are both going to be in September, one in Gauteng and one in Cape Town. If the interest is there, we could eventually start a full Foundation Training program. There’s such a rich diversity and culture, and such extraordinary beauty there.b2ap3_thumbnail_pattyworkingsmaller.jpg

MBS:      I know that you have a very extensive professional background in multiple therapeutic and medical modalities, with ongoing practices in CranioSacral Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Lymphatic Drainage/Lymphedema Therapy. Could you talk a bit about what’s it’s like for you to work with so many methods, and how MBS fits into the picture?

Patty:     Yes! Often, I work with people who have had node removal due to cancer treatment, which results in edema of the limbs. Alongside the Lymphatic Therapy used for those cases, very often I teach these people how they can use principles from ATM to improve lymphatic flow.

I also do assistant training in both CranioSacral and the Lymph curricula for IAHE (The International Alliance of Healthcare Educators). As part of that, I recently taught a group how to use some strategies from MBS to complement their work. Of course, when somebody comes to me specifically for CranioSacral work, that’s what we do. But, I’d say that with every person, I end up using some aspect or quality of the MBS work.

In fact, I had an extremely interesting experience recently. I worked together with another CranioSacral Therapist, both of us working with one client at the same time. As you know, in our MBS Foundation Training, we’ll often work in groups of three, with one person at the feet and another at the head of the third partner, all of them learning to be in touch with one another – to be connected in a unified movement. We did something very similar, in which I used FI while she used CranioSacral Therapy. We were able to have a very clear and very useful “conversation” – and the client noticed the difference.

“The more aware of yourself, your organization and your self-image you are, the more your work is enhanced.”

MBS:      For professionals coming from various backgrounds, including many from therapeutic as well as performance-oriented fields, how do you think that learning from MBS can complement their own practices?

Patty:     It’s made such a huge difference in my life, both personally and professionally. In my Occupational Therapy and Lymphatic and CranioSacral background, I’ve seen how using the MBS work can improve people’s function and their quality of life. Whatever your skill set, this can enhance it, whether that means you’re making better use of your own body, changing how you think about what you’re teaching your clients, or whether it changes your speech and language. Whether it’s for Physical Therapy, Occupational therapy, rehabilitation, or for performance, music, sports: in each of these fields, the more aware of yourself, of your organization and of your self-image you are, the more your work is enhanced.

MBS:      Mia and Leora regularly focus on curiosity as an underpinning of this work, and it’s something you’ve brought up a good deal, too. Is there anything in particular that you are curious about lately, or that is just really surprising you?

Patty:     The thing I’m playing with at the moment is really about the many different layers and levels in this work. It isn’t just about lying on the floor and moving! It is about how you introduce these many layers and levels while your students are doing a movement, whether at a training or in your own ATM class. How many different ways can you say something without giving away the information, so that those doing the movement discover this for themselves?

This may sound very simple, but it’s actually not so simple. It is complex and we, as teachers are learning to make it appear simple.

“This method isn’t about fixing. It really is about ongoing human potential and about learning. It’s a method about finding patterns, noticing differences and asking questions.”

MBS:      Your teaching and assisting for MBS has you regularly flying around the world. When the person sitting beside you on your next flight asks that question, “So, what do you do?”, what’s your favorite way to answer?

Patty:     (Laughter.) Well, it’s interesting – it really depends. And I think one really has to gauge it. So, if you say, I’m going off to train people in Mind Body Studies, they may say “What?” and just kind of switch off, as far as I can tell. But, if I get chatting with somebody and it would prove interesting or useful to them, then I can start talking about the subject so that it’s relevant to their life. That’s really how I like to do it. You may not believe this, but I’m actually quite a shy bird!

Sometimes, I’ll get into the conversation of how, actually, it’s a method of learning. It’s using movement, it’s looking at your habits – it’s about human potential.

One thing that is really clear, especially when you study with MBS, is that this isn’t about fixing. It really is about ongoing human potential and about learning. It’s a method of questions:  finding patterns, noticing differences and asking questions. Being very precise, being very simple and being very clear and curious!

MBS:      One last question, could you talk about what students can expect at these workshops?

Patty:    We keep everything very clear in these introductory workshops, so people can sense and feel the differences. You want to give lessons in such a way that people notice when they stand up at the end, that there are differences.


Patty has studied under Mia Segal and Leora Gaster at MBS Academy since 2005, completing the Master Practitioner Program in 2011 and continuing with the Trainer’s Training. She has now joined the MBS Academy faculty.

A Feldenkrais Practitioner for 15 years, graduating from the FGNA (Feldenkrais Guild of North America) 1998 training, Patty has studied extensively with other trainers in the United States. She has assisted in or taught workshops and trainings in USA, Thailand, Singapore, Germany, and Zimbabwe. Patty is also a Certified Teaching Assistant in both CranioSacral Therapy and Lymph Drainage Therapy and assists regularly with International Health Alliance Educators. Read Patty’s full bio here:  http:www.iahp.com/pattyunderwood

To Contact Patty, email her at: Zimbo1@earthlink.net

Published by MBS Academy

MBS Academy is the premier training center for Dr. Feldenkrais' Mind Body Studies.

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