susan matthews bio


Current Schedule

October 28, 2012, Sunday, 9am-12:30pm
Brain Workshop- Tai Chi and Dance for Seniors, Parkinson's, Movement Disabled, Caregivers and Trainers

Susan Matthews and Sri van der Kroef

at Saddle
back College, Mission Viejo/Laguna Beach, California

Link to PDF Poster
Call Susan 970-903-5723 or email
Map to Saddleback College, PE 306, Laguna Beach, CA Register with a friend for discounts!

Professional Development:
Participants may receive Certification for Brain Workshop™ Clinic for Neural Rehabilitation and are eligible for CE Hours.
















Susan A. Matthews, M.S., N.D.
Shanti School of Internal Martial Arts
An Institute of Research and Education

Southwestern Colorado

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Brain Workshop™ DVDs  | Brain Workshop Seminars |  Brain Workshop Home Programs  |  Theory  |  Private Consultation | Guide to navigating these pages

Brain Workshop- Tai Chi and Dance for Parkinsons, Brain Injury an Mobility Disorders

DANCING WITH CHI ~ Power and Grace

Susan Matthews Tai Chi Dance PowerSri vanderKroef Tai Chi DancerDANCING WITH CHI™ is the most effective and exciting movement and brain training available.

Dancing with Chi™ combines Tai Chi, Dance, and Brain Workshop™ in a powerful exercise program designed to maximize and integrate physical health, rehabilitation, energetic and spiritual well-being. A fun way to retain or regain the vigor of youth, the program addresses many of the conditions of aging and can be used to alter the progression of disease. We specialize in Movement Disorders, Parkinson's, Brain Injury, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke, Neuropathy. Dance and move, think and feel chi as energy, for better balance, strength, flexibility, mobility, brain health, circulation, digestive health, incontinence.      Sri van der Kroef, RSMT, LM,T is a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist and Educator, and has trained with the Mark Morris Dance for Parkinson's outreach program. She currently teaches classes for seniors and people with neurological challenges and those who simply want to improve their brain/body connection, in Ventura and Santa Barbara on an ongoing basis. She playfully combines her training in different forms of dance with creative expression and non performance oriented dance with  movement work shown to be effective in improving coordination, balance and brain function.    Excellent tools offer powerful training supplements for any person teaching other forms of exercise. Join us in a journey that empowers with new ways to think and move through life. A new way to think and move becomes a powerful force to healthy holistic function.


In our unique approach, Tai Chi and Dance exercises using mind intent and qi movement are detailed and exercises are performed training the imagination to generate a visualization of energy flowing in and through the body. Physical movement is trained to follow the energy flow. In Dancing, this creates more grace plus a powerful and beautiful connection with a dance partner.

Tai Chi teaches how to move with greater balance, efficiency and relaxation, and involves learning specific principles of biomechanics. We learn to work with gravity. Tai Chi exercise is not muscle training, rather it is mind-energy training. Muscle tone and bone strength is enhanced using isometric spiral power-stretching, whole body, not isolated muscle work; an ideal way to improve posture, joint flexibility and bone strength.

Practitioners have cultivated the dynamic qualities found in Tai Chi to enhance physical and mental abilities well-beyond normal, and to further their spiritual paths. In terms of rehabilitation, these same qualities make it a superior exercise to access the brain and nervous system and to heal it through movement. Read the New England Journal of Medicine article on tai chi and balance. PDF


Dance is easy to be passionate about. Nothing is more exciting and fun to share with people than Dance. We are really thrilled to have found this way to combine the principles of Tai Chi and neuroscience with the fun, the art, the joy, the expressive movement and creativity of Dance to create an even more powerful healing and therapeutic modality for people—especially those who have brain function challenges, neurological disorder, or just simply the aging process where people become more challenged with balance and coordination, and flexibility.

We have put together a really exciting and fun program that combines the 'internal principles’ of Tai Chi with Dance steps to get in touch with what's going on inside your body, what you are putting your attention on, what you are thinking of and what you are doing internally with your body, all in order to maximize the benefit of Tai Chi and Dance.


The part of the program called Brain Workshop™ was designed by Movement Disorders Specialist, Susan Matthews, MS, ND. It incorporates exercise based on scientific discoveries about the brain and nervous system that reveal our capability for plasticity--the intrinsic ability of the brain to change, to adapt to environmental, physiological and behavioral cues. Brain Workshop™ Mind and Movement Exercises for Brain Health, available on DVD, use movement to change the structure and function of the brain. Movement with the physical expression of synchronicity, rhythmic, bilaterality, and symmetry has been linked to brain activation during locomotion, neural repair, and rehabilitation, memory acquisition and learning, neural information coding, growth and development, states of consciousness, perception and awareness, and autonomic function. (Read more about Brain Workshop)

What are the important components of a tai chi program or any exercise program for using movement to improve brain function? View this 10-minute video on Five Key Elements for Neuroplasticity. Learn how to exercise to maximally activate the brain to repair, change and grow. expand

For example, we know that bilateral movement, defined here as balanced, integrated, left- and right-sided movement, is necessarily accompanied by balanced brain activity. With each level of integration, such movement activates the motor and sensory neural circuitry of the whole brain. One way whole brain and physical balance is accomplished using Tai Chi principles is by zhong ding or central equilibrium training, from Wu Style Tai Chi. One mental image we hold focus on is a perfectly vertical column of light streaming in from above the top of the head, through the spine, out and below the feet; i.e., a plumb line. (view). The brain follows this internal command to remain straight and unconsciously dictates what the muscles and joints should do. Remembering this line guides posture to improve over time, permits effortless walking and enhances performance of any sport with greater intent, focus, and energy.

Rhythmic movement is important for balance in locomotion and emotional states. Brain Workshop™, Tai Chi and Dancing with Chi training consists of tools and specific movement principles that practicing therapists can use to aid in learning and memory acquisition. For example, speech and reading therapists can incorporate rhythmic movement and music as a right-brain activity to facilitate left-brain re-patterning. Similarly, this mind-body integration training uses movement synchronization and rhythm, coupled with mental practice that affects both physical and mental balance. For the symptoms of depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and improved overall mental health, Brain Workshop, Tai Chi and Dancing with Chi techniques are like EMDR therapy using the whole body. Similar benefits can be achieved in many other types of exercise that contain rhythmic mind/movement principles. Running, walking, tennis, golf, and everyday activities can be enhanced. Contact us for information regarding training specifically for therapists.

Brain Workshop™, Tai Chi and Dancing with Chi training is used for speeding neural repair and to induce plasticity. We maximize the brain’s ability to change and grow in every part of this program. This program can help if you are recovering from stroke, brain injury, or have progressive neurological symptoms as seen in Parkinson's Disease and multiple sclerosis.


Specific ways of focusing attention, including visualization and movement imagery as describe above, are receiving greater significance for treatment potential. New imaging techniques show that when you visualize going over movement in your mind, neuronal (nerve cell) activity in the brain actually mirrors that movement. This capacity of the nervous system is just beginning to be explored in brain injury research and treatment. Tai Chi and other internal martial arts training tools greatly enhance mental agility by tapping into the mind connection between visualization of internal energy (chi or qi) and movement. What makes our program unique is the powerful synergy created when Tai Chi principles are applied to Dance for healing.


Why does tai chi work? Watch this 3-minute video showing how a person with Parkinson's can improve balance better than normal using visualization of internal energy.


We are blending Tai Chi and Dance into a new form of energetic, creative self expression. Studies have shown how much more effective people's functioning can be if they incorporate creativity along with analytical thinking, visualization along with movement. We are blending this in a really fun, playful and effective way. We are balancing yin and yang: Dance being considered more yin or feminine, Tai Chi and the martial arts being more masculine or yang. Everything we are doing is working towards a holistic model. Blending power and grace--blending both in a way that balances one’s being with power and grace when required. We feel this approach is extremely helpful to rehabilitation work and a lot of fun. This blending activates and integrates right brain activity. Right brain and artistic activation can be used to help heal analytical deficits. We are excited to also incorporate Chinese calligraphy painting blended with movement as another fun and integrative therapeutic and fun tool.

SPIRITChinese Tai Chi Spirit

We are concerned not just with physical healing, but also with spiritual healing which is connected to the heart, emotions, and psychological healing. When we are blending the principles of Tai Chi that incorporate that with the creativity, joy and music of Dance we get a really beautiful holistic experience. The internal principle of sensing human energy fields in Tai Chi combined with the external movement of Dance is a bridge to the spiritual dimension or the spiritual experience. In that sense this is an extremely holistic approach to healing that works on many levels. Combining the yang-masculine aspect of Tai Chi with the more yin-feminine aspects of Dance is really about expression of beauty, grace and joy of movement simply for sake of joy and movement and the expression that comes from it. This is an extremely healing experience. It has been shown that anything learned in a positive emotional state of joy is actually wired more permanently into the brain. So one of the things that we focus on in our work is bringing out the joy—the joy of creativity and the love and the beauty that comes from it; healing the heart, thus not only working on the physical, but working on the healing power of beauty that opens the heart and brings a really full experience to the human spirit.


All physical and mental health is dependent primarily on a fine-tuned nervous system, yet rarely does physical exercise take this approach. Most of what we see these days is muscle exercise with secondary effects on the cardiovascular system and internal organs. Practitioners of Chinese internal martial arts, such as Tai Chi, have consistently used various forms of “meditative” movement such as Tai Chi and Qigong to promote longevity. Using proven methods to relax the mind and heart, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress, inflammation, increase blood circulation, lower blood pressure, promote sleep and induce plasticity. Formation of new neural pathways can be made by using a multilevel approach to activate the brain for health, healing and even higher consciousness.


In Tai Chi and Dance, engaging and integrating multiple sensory systems, both physically and with mind intention, wakes up the entire body and brain, improves balance, speed and strength, and can speed up the healing process. These systems include: visual, kinesthetic, the sense of gravity and position, muscle load, stretching and contracting, sensors in the skin, and the sensation of qi (vital energy). These techniques and others to train the mind achieve three levels of adaptation. First, increased awareness of the sensation of internal qi energy flowing in the body; second, the ability to harmonize internal energy and physical movement, and finally, the training cultivates awareness and harmony with the energetic movement in the space surrounding the body.


It is critical to nourish the brain with massage and movement that increases head and neck blood circulation. Along with meditative movement and visualization of internal energy (chi, qi) flow, massage calms and de-stresses the nervous system, helping to generate stronger whole body integration. Chinese Meridian Massage and Qigong movements stimulate chi energy circulation, opens blood circulation to deliver oxygen, and stimulates lymphatic drainage to reduce toxicity.

Tai Chi and DanceMerged PET-MRI brain section illustrating changes in cerebral blood flow during movement visualization. From: Lafleur, M. F., et al., 2002. Motor learning produces parallel dynamic functional changes during the execution and imagination of sequential foot movements. Neuroimage. 16, 142-157.



We regularly consult with a team of nutritionists and recommend a well-balanced diet essential for good health that is natural, seasonal, moderate and chemical free. It is important to avoid foods that are overly processed and foods that contain additives and preservatives. Body Balance for the BrainAs much as possible these foods should be organic and grown locally to reduce exogenous estrogens, pesticides and other toxins. Chemical toxicity has been shown to be a considerable factor in Parkinson’s Disease. Since the soils are depleted, supplements that are derived from naturally harvested foods are recommended, rather than petrochemicals, other inorganic chemicals, or through synthetic manufacturing.Body Balance™ is recommended as whole food nutritional supplementation for your brain that provides essential nutrients, trace minerals, vitamins, and amino acids. Body Balance™ is 98% inner-leaf aloe vera juice providing the most essential element to reduce inflammation and toxicity! Chronic inflammation and toxicity in the nervous system is now recognized as the predominant underlying condition in Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, MS, fibromyalgia, as well as chronic pain, migraine, allergies, Lupus, and autoimmune diseases. Our recommended supplements provide the essential trace minerals, amino acids, vitamins, active enzymes and antioxidants necessary for healing. Body Balance™ is 98% inner-leaf filet aloe vera juice that provides the most essential element to reduce inflammation and toxicity.  Please visit


Tai chi principles, exercise sets and dance movements are available for home practice on several instructional DVDs produced by,, Serai Communication Arts, and

Highly Recommended by practitioners, doctors and therapists! Brain_Workshop_V2Brain Exercise Video

Get started now at home with Brain Workshop™ Exercises for a New Brain- Use Mind Power and Movement to Change Your Brain 2-Volume DVD set
Improve Balance and Memory · Heal Brain Injury · Reverse Aging · Use Mind-Body Integration for Higher Consciousness.
Brain Workshop™
is the ideal therapeutic exercise for Parkinson's, MS, stroke, fibromyalgia and chronic pain.

Brain Workshop™ Mind and Movement Exercises for Brain Health make it really possible to change the structure and function of the brain. By training your mind and movement you can change your brain. Susan A. Matthews, using decades of experience, combines the ancient secrets of Tai Chi with cutting-edge science to produce a powerful system which you can use to tap into the power of the mind and movement to change the way you think and feel, to reverse age-related changes in the brain, to rehabilitate and regain lost function after Parkinson's, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke or brain injury. Integrate these ancient Tai Chi principles to maximize any exercise for improving brain health and brain function and to maximize mind-body connection. Two-volume set $39.95 See more details about video content.

Qigong Practice DVDEnergy Gathering and Blood Circulation Qigong with Susan Matthews

This Qigong video is an excellent home practice aid for any age or ability. I consider it essential that my students practice this first level of exercises on a regular basis. Detailed instruction contains essential principles for cultivating qi, for training mind to move qi anywhere in the body for self healing, and for training the internal movement of energy by the mind in Tai Chi and Qigong practice. Several have reported their family members were using the tape successfully so we decided to share it with everyone. QiCircles©, or abdominal rotations, and Mindful Massage© of the Head, Neck, Hands, and Meridians exercises directly stimulate the immune system, internal organs, brain, lymph and blood circulation, skin circulation, and energy flow in the meridians. Great for detoxification of the tissues. Exercises are performed sitting so it makes a great tape to regain strength and energy. Movements also loosen hips and low back. Front and mirror view. Instructions on Qi (Chi) circles and self massage come directly from Wu Style taiji and were taught to me by Grandmaster Wang Hao Da who was 18 years indoor student of Mah Yueh Liang. ©2005 $34.95
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Eight Pieces Brocade Qigong

Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong with Susan Matthews

Eight Pieces of Brocade is one of the oldest known forms of qigong ("CHEE gong") that originated in China some 800 years ago. Qigong means to "cultivate energy" and has been shown to improve overall health and feelings of well-being. It is ideal for beginner tai chi and gigong practitioners. The postures are simple to learn, but doing them correctly for their fullest benefits is key to feeling their profound effects. Practice regularly and mindfully and you will unravel the secret.

The Eight Pieces of Brocade DVD is in two parts. Part I is the entire sequence practiced to calm music. Part II is presented with detailed instructions for transmitting spirals in two ways: the first way is taught describing a type of power-stretching in which one part of the body is set up in opposition to another, creating an isometric stretch around the joints. The second way describes the movements with qi. 27 min. ©2002, 2006 $19.95

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EARN BRAIN WORKSHOP CERTIFICATION by attending one of the seminars held nationally.

PRIVATE CONSULTATION Contact Susan about scheduling an online Private Consultation appointment via Skype or to schedule a personal nutritional consultation. Read below to learn essential nutrition for the brain.

LOCAL CLASSES Contact Susan about classes in Southwest Colorado, Northwest New Mexico.

Brain Workshop™ Programs
are presented in Seminars offered nationally. For current schedule or if you would like to sponsor a Brain Workshop seminar with Susan Matthews please email Susan at

Testimonials from participants! BRAIN TAI CHI EXERCISE

—Parkinson's Disease

After being diagnosed with Parkinson's (experiencing tremor, fatigue, balance issues and sleep issues) over a year and a half ago, I started working with Susan and Brain Workshop exercises.

I can say today that, rather than progressing in symptoms, I am not progressing. My doctor is thrilled. Balance is not an issue! I use Susan's breathing and meditation techniques for getting back to sleep at night, and I can quiet my tremor to a great degree.

Instead of stiffening, my body is moving and becoming more flexible than it has ever been in all my 64 years. My spine has become straight again! I am opening up rather than closing down. I will continue to practice this method for the rest of my life and tell my friends.

Thank You , Joseph


"Susan came to an ongoing group in Leland, where we live, and led us in a one-hour class. We found her knowledge of anatomy and style of working with energy and body movement so appealing that we invited her to our home for a private session. We now regularly use two of her DVD's for practice. And we are so pleased and excited that she is returning for a full day!"B & V

Hello Susan,
I want to thank you and the staff of the White Oak Institute for the seminar on Saturday. The wealth of information was a blessing. The DVDs are useful in helping my wife and I put new life into our long time practice of Tai Chi Chih and also to enjoy the new form you presented at the end of the workshop. Again, I thank you for coming to Asheville. All the best! Roger Wheelock

—Multiple Sclerosis and Brain Workshop

Dear Susan,

It is difficult to find words adequate to describe the depth of my gratitude to you. You gave of your time, your energy, your compassion, your wisdom 100% yesterday, to such an extent that it seems to me as if that aspect of yourself who taught me is forever with me. I am profoundly grateful for what you have shown and given me - and how flat those words fall next to the actual experience. Gerry, too, was transformed by hope and thankfulness yesterday, and in fact both of us were moved to tears on the drive home. You are a healer and teacher in the deepest sense of those words.

Today I am in no pain whatsoever, and am still walking better - though I have not practiced yet today. My tiredness last night was delicious and normal - no fatigue or exhaustion, just a sense of pleasant glowing accomplishment and readiness for rest. You were so right yesterday when you said that we had pushed through to a new level - for me, it represented the "forced evolution" that comes from walking a genuine spiritual path: the sensations and new information were slow to process by the time the afternoon tai chi class started, but by sitting and absorbing, watching and feeling, the integration process began and will never stop - it is a dynamo.

Thank you and bless you always, Susan.

—Multiple Sclerosis and Body Balance

This story begins when I was a 16 year-old ballerina in 1976. I struggled to find the energy to sustain myself through daily lessons, rehearsals, teaching schedules and high school studies. Throughout college, marriage and the birth of my children this search for energy continued.

Frighteningly, on July 4, 1999, my vision spontaneously blurred and I was extremely affected by a host of symptoms. They included: dizziness, heart palpitations, acute fatigue, insomnia, numbness and tingling in my extremities, inability to concentrate, short term memory loss and slurred speech. It hurt to do the laundry. Finally, the doctors gave it a name: Multiple Sclerosis.

During the following eight months, I immersed myself in a battle for health. In June 2000, I began taking two ounces of Body Balance per day. Within two days, the blurry vision cleared and a welcome energy had me back on my feet. I enthusiastically rode this wave of health for about six weeks before that roller coaster of intermittent fatigue and depression began to take hold again.

Blood analysis results that showed my calcium, magnesium, chromium, and phosphorus levels still to be low even though I had been taking these supplements in pill form for the past 11 months. At this point, I reviewed the ingredients in OsteoProCare and it was obvious to me that I had to add this formula to my arsenal.
Within a few days of taking OsteoProCare, the numbness and tingling disappeared.

It is hard for me to describe or find the words to describe what these products have done for me. After 23 years, I finally found what I have been searching for. I am experiencing significant and consistent health. Day after productive day, I marvel at the absence of those symptoms that plagued my life and crippled my spirit one year ago. My hair is even growing back in!

Life is a dance again! Julie Daly


A friend of mine that is 44 years old has had MS for four years and was getting worse. They gave her a new drug at Christmas time that nearly killed her. I asked her if she would try Body Balance three months ago. She went to her doctor last month and he could not believe how much she had improved. Her doctor has now cut her medication. Thanks to Body Balance, I have my friend back. Glenda Powers
Cambridge, OH

—Lower Brain Stem Stroke

With all the stress, Enar had a lower brain stem stroke. He nearly died on the way to the hospital. It left him paralyzed in the throat and with special disorientation. We got him out of the hospital on a stretcher.

The doctors wanted to put him in a nursing home, because he was so weak (114 lbs) and had to be fed through a tube in his stomach, and was deteriorating. We took him to Norm Burba, MD, who introduced us to Body Balance. Along with taking him off the chemicals and drugs they had him on, we fed him blended real foods and lots of Body Balance through the day and night.

He has made such a dramatic recovery that the speech therapist is using the product and recommending it! He literally has blown away the statistics on lower brain stem strokes. In 30 days, he can swallow and talk once again, has gained 20 lbs he lost and his equilibrium is returning. I highly recommend trying Body Balance!

June Fridh North Carolina

—Severe Depression

My friend, who is in her early 30’s, was suffering from severe depression. I read about how the lack of certain minerals can cause depression. I told my friend about Body Balance. She was so skeptical, she probably only took the product out of friendship. However, the improvement was so remarkable, that my friend made the comment, that she would never be without Body Balance! Thank you, because now I have my friend back, the way she used to be.



I have suffered with migraine headaches for over 22 years. The first 20 years they were few and sometimes far apart, but within the last 2 years the migraines became frequent (as many as 3 a week). They were actually destroying my life, marriage, business—everything. The migraines were so severe that I had to go to the hospital for pain and nausea medication. I have no hospitalization insurance, so I knew that we could not afford too many more trips to the hospital.

Since my last trip to the doctor I started on Body Balance and Sunset. I have only bad one headache since. This is nothing short of a miracle. I could never tell you what these products have done for me, what Life Force and the Hillmans have brought to me through these products. It is incredible! Judy Miller