Arms Like a Skeleton, Freeing the Shoulders and Neck (Patrons)

Back-lying, side-lying, transitioning. This detailed exploration starts simply then dives deep into variations designed to help you get to know your scapulas and improve their relationship with your spine, chest, pelvis, neck, and head.

Before you begin read this for practical tips and your responsibilities, and check out Comfort & Configuration below.

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

Tip – Rewinding

Study tip: Many instructions are repeated. If you get a little lost, rest and listen. You’ll often find your way. Or use the rewind button on the page or your mobile device.

Tip – skip a lesson

Study tip: If you can’t find a comfortable way to do the initial movements or configuration of a lesson, it’s ok to skip it for now and go on to another lesson.

Tip 1 – Interrupted?

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Tip 3 – Head Support

Study tip: It helps to have a large bath towel nearby when you start a lesson. You can fold it differently for comfortable head support in any configuration.

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Tip – Complete the Movement

Study tip: Complete one movement before beginning the next. You’ll improve faster if there’s enough time between movements that you feel fully at rest.

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Tip – LESSS is more

LESSS is more: Light, Easy, Small, Slow, & Smooth movements will ease pains and improve your underlying neuromuscular habits faster than any other kind of movement, no matter who you are or what your training is!

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 – what to wear

Study tip: Wear loose, comfortable clothes that are warm enough for quiet movement. Remove or avoid anything restrictive like belts or glasses.

Tip 4 – Padding

Study tip: Comfort first! Carpeted floors usually work well, but it’s great to have an extra mat or blanket nearby in case you need a softer surface in some configurations.

Tip – Pause the recording

Study tip: If you’re really enjoying a movement and want to explore longer, or you just need a break for a while, pause the recording!

Tip – Directions are Relative

Study tip: Directions are always relative to your body. For example, if you’re lying on your back “up” is toward your head, and “forward” is toward the ceiling.

We offer over 50 free lessons, but this one's just for our Patron-level donors. You can learn about it in the free lesson notes and comments below, but to access the audio you’ll need to join The FP as a Patron. Learn more

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Whenever you’re on your back reaching toward the ceiling, the hand and wrist are soft and relaxed, not striving.

This lesson uses back-lying, side-lying, and some rolling of the head and chest between the two. It’s useful to be able to change the height of your head support easily. Some listeners will find as the lesson progresses that they need less and less head support in the side-lying portions of the lesson.

Lots of newcomers were present when this lesson was recorded, so there’s more commentary and detail in the instructions than usual. Experienced Felden-fans may enjoy pausing the recording from time to time to explore at your own quiet pace.

There’s a back-lying movement I describe as “lengthening the knee” which doesn’t mean to straighten it. A that time the knee remains bent, and the sole of the foot remains standing in place on the ground. You’re asked to push your knee away from you, in the direction of it going out over your foot, as if lengthening your thigh. Your hip will lift, your pelvis will roll.

But the knee remains bent and the foot standing.

This lesson “steeps” in one-sidedness for a long time as we purposely create and exaggerate asymmetries because they’re so useful for learning, since they’re such great attractors of our curiosity and attention. On a second listening you may enjoy exploring the other side first (left arm reaching, with eventually the left knee bent) to discover new details.

Don’t be alarmed by my enthusiasm about embracing your asymmetries (instead of confronting them or trying to change them outright). We might fear that the asymmetries will grow stronger, or negatively affect performance in sports, hobbies, or other skills. This is not the case. Instead, when our brains are fed detailed sensory information about who we actually are, and how we actually move and act in the world, we end up shedding layers of tension and futile compensation that we’ve built up through insecurity, and we find more precise, simple control of our bodies when we need it.

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our growing collection of new lessons for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors, one or more added every month.

Audio was captured during a live Zoom lesson on Sept. 22, 2020, during Frederick Schjang’s wonderful LGBTQA Feldenkrais Festival, which I was invited to teach in. You can learn more about these free events at

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Got a question for Nick, or a thought about this lesson?

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  1. John Naughton on November 13, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    For me a very enjoyable and effective lesson, thankyou

  2. Lorraine on February 17, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    I love this lesson, and I feel motivated to play with it more, doing less and feeling more. I’m really enjoying the ease and comfort in my shoulders and upper back.

  3. Teresa Moro on May 7, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    The height of my r. shoulder vs my l. was very noticeable and unexpected. Forty years as a massage therapist seems to have had an effect. I enjoy being who I am right now. Thanks for that.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on May 7, 2021 at 5:01 pm

      Just echoing back: “I enjoy being who I am right now.” That’s an amazing Feldenkrais testimonial – and a whole lot of the reason I personally love it! The movements of day-to-day have become so much more pleasurable over the years.

      • Gertrude Schmidt on February 29, 2024 at 3:11 am

        I just found back to my Feldenkrais-smile, enjoying the feeling of this growing smile all over my face after a special Feldenkrais experience. Each time coming back to this lesson reveals the ongoing process in my body and surprises me with new details.

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