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About Maureen McHugh

Hello, my name is Maureen McHugh. I am a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner. I teach the Feldenkrais Method full-time, offering both group and individual instruction.

I began studying the Feldenkrais Method for myself in 1985. When I had injured my back nine years earlier playing basketball, I had embarked on an odyssey of looking for help. I tried a lot of different things, and everything helped some. But "all the lights went on" when I met the Feldenkrais Method. My first workshop was with the visiting trainer, Yochanan Rywerant, and then my first regular local teacher was Michael Shapiro in Washington, DC. He did a great job helping me with my back, and also persuading me to take up the Method as a profession.

I graduated from the Washington DC training program that was conducted at American University from June 1988 - August 1991.

My career before Feldenkrais was in business. I have an MBA from the University of Virginia. I learned a lot there and in various corporate jobs, but my heart is in working with people and with the body.

My interest in movement has been expressed in doing a lot of different sports. When I was in my twenties I made a list. At that point I had done 50 different types of sport, dance and martial arts. After my injury I had to back off everything, except swimming.

Then in November 1999, after more than a dozen years of doing Feldenkrais, a friend invited me to go ice skating, which I had not done since childhood. I said, yes, but also I had some fear--would I hurt myself?  The fear evaporated quickly. Instead, on that first visit I got hooked. The movement felt so wonderful. I had been looking for a vigorous exercise that was also connected with dance, and skating fit the bill. So now I skate regularly and take lessons. I am making discoveries all the time, especially in the experience of balance.

Here I am in March 2006 with my coach Alexei Kiliakov. We skate at the Cabin John Ice Rink in Bethesda, MD.

It is a continually opening horizon. On the down side, of course, I fall. Every skater falls. But when I fall, I'm all right. I have learned how to roll into it and how to release tensions afterwards. Through skating I feel my life is expanding in a wonderful way, and I feel greatly rehabilitated from the original deep injury to my back.

I have also been able to return to activities I had given up. I need better aerobic condition to keep up with the skating, so I have begun to run again. I was afraid here, more than in skating, of hurting my back, but I have not had any problems. 

In a new venture, I have started roller blading. This way I can also explore balance outdoors. 

I have returned to T'ai Chi. I had begun T'ai Chi in 1980, a few years after injuring my back. After practicing for several years, I gave it up, to give more time to Feldenkrais. A dozen years passed. Then a friend encouraged me to begin again and to check out his teacher, Julian Chu. One visit hooked me on that class, too, and now I attend weekly. To my great delight, I find that T'ai Chi is in its principles of body mechanics very closely related to Feldenkrais. Granting myself poetic license, I summarize my feeling by saying that "Feldenkrais is T'ai Chi lying down, and T'ai Chi is Feldenkrais standing up."

The Feldenkrais Method has also opened a door for me to music. At one point in our training, we heard Moshe Feldenkrais say (through the video) that you could improve your musicality 100 times more by playing any instrument, no matter how badly, than by listening to any recording, no matter how good. This touched a deep chord in me. I loved music as a child, but had few opportunities to develop in it. Now as an adult I started to explore hand drumming through drum circles and later bought a snare drum and took lessons at a music store. I even performed on the doumbek, a ceramic hand drum, at the Maryland Renaissance Fair for three years with a friend, Maggie Sansone, who is a professional musician. For a while, I put aside drumming to shift focus to the recorder. From there, I moved on to clarinet lessons. Recently, I have putting time into both the drum and clarinet. They bring me so much growth and so much fun.

I believe strongly that Feldenkrais is a hopeful method. Early on in my acquaintance with the Method, someone quoted Moshe as having said, "You can learn to do what you want." Other people had told me that with my injury "I would have to learn to live with it." "I should rest quietly and give up vigorous exercise." These were very discouraging statements, especially since I gave the speakers authority. In its place, many years later, I offer my own experience, and that of many of my students: "You CAN learn to do what you want."