Agile Hips, Knees, and Feet

Back-lying, knees bent, feet standing, exploring connections between the joints of the legs, and clarifying their relationship with the abdominal muscles, pelvis, back, breath, and head. Improving leg function by developing some movements into rapid action.

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Recorded live in a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, this lesson is copyright Nick Strauss-Klein, for personal use only.

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Tip 5 – Discomfort

Study tip: If a configuration or movement causes any increase in discomfort, or you feel you just don’t want to do it, don’t! Make it smaller and slower, adapt it, or rest and imagine.

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Tip – Complete the Movement

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  • This lesson includes some sophisticated and challenging explorations. In some ways it is more advanced than many of the other Feldenkrais Project lessons. You may benefit from first exploring earlier lessons in the Learning the Limbs, from the Center collection.
  • As always, if you experience discomfort with a movement do less, go more slowly, rest more often, or even work entirely in your imagination
  • …or come back to this lesson later. If you can’t get comfortable with the early step of keeping one bent leg over yourself in the air and moving it (especially by when it returns for the second time around 15 minutes into the lesson), you could also explore the first two or three lessons in our collection called Better Posture, Walking, and Running, then return to this one.

I refer several times to the horizontal plane. I mean this in relation to the room (not your body), so the circles I’m describing are happening in a plane parallel to the floor, but above it.

The use of rapid actions in this lesson is an unusual strategy in ATM lessons. It’s an interesting and practical challenge to learn to maintain easy, full breathing and have a sense of calm through your larger self while doing something quickly.

This lesson is found in the collection called Learning the Limbs, from the Center.

Like most of our lessons, this one can be studied out of context, but you may find additional learning value by approaching it in the order of the collection it’s in.

It’s also in our Deep Dive called Supple Feet, Powerful Legs.

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22 Comments

  1. Lesley on December 10, 2019 at 12:16 am

    Hi Nick…I love love love Feldenkrais since discovering it earlier this year and I am enjoying all the great classes on this website and really appreciate you giving them to us!
    This particular class I find very challenging in one area and that is rubbing the feet on the floor in circles and then the pivoting them from side to side…
    the feeling that comes up for me when I get to this part is kind of indescribable… I feel awful ..lol… not sure of a better word? I have to rub my face whilst doing the feet rubbing….to calm myself down…
    basically it’s the same feeling I get when I see blood or operations on eyeballs! ?… like intense nerve strain? If that makes sense? It does make me aware that I probably need this class more than any other…
    Do you know what I mean Nick? Do I make sense? I would love feedback
    Thank you ?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on December 10, 2019 at 4:56 pm

      Hi Lesley,

      It’s so interesting what some lessons can churn up in us. You do make sense! You sound curious and unafraid, which is a great place to be, but perhaps there’s room to do even less, to go even lighter, smaller, and quieter, if you explore these variations again soon? It can also be valuable to remember that we’re not trying to “succeed” at lessons, but rather to use them as opportunities to learn about ourselves. Sometimes we discover things that are intense, or even scary, and nothing needs to be repeatedly addressed directly, or even in the present. It may be valuable to return to this lesson (if you wish) much later, rather than diving in again soon. Follow your instinct and curiosity, and be loving to yourself as you choose! Feel free to reply again if you need to discuss more.

  2. Lesley on December 13, 2019 at 4:31 am

    Thanks Nick.. as soon as I read what you wrote I ‘got it’.
    . i try too hard, strain and rush in everything I do ..that’s why Feldenkrais has been life changing for me … this lesson was a great reminder and I got immediate physical proof
    … I will give it a miss for now and when I return to it I will go eeeeven sloooower ?

  3. Sue D on January 14, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Thanks, Nick, for this complex but clear lesson. I particularly valued it for improving organisation of the lower abdomen – liked the repeated reminders that it’s not about tightening abdo muscles. I’m full of warmth and vitality in this important area now, which is great. It is an excellent practice for martial arts and qigong where organisation here is a prerequisite for awareness of the lower dantian energy centre. Really helpful so I’ll be coming back to it!

  4. lasquilt@gmail.com on January 16, 2020 at 10:40 am

    Love this one thank you so-o-o much!

  5. Mika on June 6, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Thanks Nick

  6. Pam Merten on December 1, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    When I first did this lesson I didn’t “get” it. As I have been doing your other lessons, I have become better able to “let go”. This letting go is all about trust. Holding on is about fear to to let go (Obviously). I cried this time… tears that have needed to be shed. Tears that could not be shed because I have been afraid to let go. A very cathartic experience. Does this make sense?

    • evelyn davis on October 8, 2021 at 2:27 am

      It does to me, Pam. i had a reaction to a recent lesson that i found ‘hard’ (on a physical plane) but afterwards i found myself plunged into such old patterns of doom and gloom…. held somewhere on some visceral level. And definitely triggered. i know it is almost a year ago, but you asked if it made sense and no one answered… No-one does, apart from Nick, but you have to click that window below if you want to read a response that might have come. I hope you are well and still practising Feldenkrais…

      • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 8, 2021 at 10:00 am

        Thanks for continuing the conversation. We only recently (Sept 2021) implemented the opt-in checkbox that commenters can click to receive emails when others reply. Previously they just had to look at the page to know if someone responded. I hope for more and more listeners replying directly to each other, not just me!

  7. Claire on January 7, 2021 at 12:57 am

    Thank you. I haven’t yet completed this intriguing and revealing lesson. It was making my brain itch in so many different places !???? I look forward to revisiting.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on January 7, 2021 at 7:04 am

      Glad you like the lesson, and it’s great that you stopped for now – it can be hard to listen to those internal messages of “enough,” but everyone should!

  8. Lorraine on January 8, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you Moshe and thank you Nick for what you bring to this work!

    • Cindy on September 5, 2021 at 7:55 pm

      Thanks for your reply , Sue, I look forward to doing the rest , my abdoman is very tight but, bloaded at the same time, so this comment gives me more hope, I been doing other movements that seem to help a little,too.

      • Cindy on September 10, 2021 at 10:09 pm

        No Sue,it didn’t help what i hoped.dd
        This again and by calf cramped.
        I was hoping to lay on my side, my cocyx bone gets sore, I didn’t find any connection s with that.
        Only with the knee and the heel and some with the toes and get.
        I was making the connection with my shoulder and hip, it’s interesting with the foot..

  9. Pat Gallaway on January 31, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Have post tibial tendon dysfunction and severe arthritis in my ankle caused by a ruptured tendon 20 years ago. . Have done ATM for 30years. Have been doing your feet and ankle lessons and feel some comfort. Am wearing orthotics , a soft brace, and supportive shoes. Do you think it’s a good idea to have my foot so constrained. My foot is flat. Feel like I have a Feldenkrais body but because of the pain, am getting joint soreness. Am 89.. Thanks

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on February 1, 2021 at 3:10 pm

      It’s very hard to advise from afar. First: safety is paramount, so don’t do anything that risks your balance or stability, and please consult with your doctor about any changes you might experiment with. Always have something or someone nearby to hold onto if you don’t normally explore other options for your feet. Within these constraints (safety and doctor’s permission), it sounds like perhaps you could do brief experiments with different footwear, or seeing how things feel without the brace or without the orthotics, at least on a soft carpet or on a soft natural surface like a lawn. It’s quite possible that along with your “Feldenkrais body” you will find more options for your feet when they are less constrained. You’re just looking to change the situation a little bit, then see how you feel and function in a safe environment. Disclaimer: this is not medical advice, and these are brief experiments, to be tried once in a while as suits your comfort and curiosity. It would be a fading in to new options if they are safe and effective as you discover them, no sudden changes. If you don’t like how something feels, don’t do it.

    • Cindy on December 3, 2023 at 6:38 pm

      Hi Pat in a somatic practice,
      i did one for Shin splints,twisted pelvis, uneven leg lengths and many others might help , too. i have been doing along with Feldy and AT to for other whole body healing.

  10. From Ireland on July 27, 2021 at 5:11 am

    Powerful lesson…has relieved my knees which were extremely hurting me…..many thanks.

  11. Penelope Jones on July 12, 2022 at 2:23 am

    I looooved this lesson —very well designed, very sophisticated but powerful —it is a brilliant follow on to a class I did last week (included circles with big toe and little toe and middle toe) with middle aged athletes with lots of old injuries and pain.
    Thank you —-I love your approach, I love the way you direct the awareness —just loved it

  12. Hilary on July 23, 2022 at 7:25 am

    What a fascinating lesson Nick and such an interesting exploration. Really helpful for my very flat feet. Shades of ‘Bones For Life’ and Pom Pomming but not whilst weight bearing. Thank you for your superb teaching.

  13. addi on December 1, 2023 at 10:07 pm

    WoW! remarkable–started this with knee pain (ongoing on+off) and now none:>
    (split this over 2 nights; was a little worried it might make it ‘harder’ the 2nd night-but lo+ behold–just the opposite–
    challenging but effective
    –like to try to keep the effects going–so to do ‘portions’ of this daily,or…?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on December 3, 2023 at 3:04 pm

      Great! Always helpful to improvise little bits of helpful lessons from memory in the days and weeks that follow, re-listen to lessons that are particularly helpful from time to time, and of course to chase down Related Lessons.

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