Breath, Belly, Back, and Hips: Connecting to the Earth (workshop lesson)

Back-lying, mostly knees bent, framed by brief explorations in standing. Investigations of the lower torso, especially as it connects through the legs and feet to the earth. This lesson develops awareness and spaciousness of this "middle" area, and the Tanden (a concept from the martial arts, also known as the lower Dantian) is discussed and sensed. See the Context tab if you wish to go on to the next lesson in the workshop.

The Feldenkrais Project's 50+ free lessons, including the one below, are a crowd-funded labor of love. We are proud to be ad-free and 100% funded by our listeners.

We need your help to share Feldenkrais as widely as possible! In 2023 we had $34,000 of direct expenses, in addition to Nick’s 20 hours per week of Feldenkrais Project work. Donations pay Nick and fund our technology and part-time staff as we maintain the website, add new lessons and features, connect with our users, and spread the word.

Please donate to support our work. Become a Patron for $21/month or less and access 75+ more lessons, all for about what you'd pay for a single in-person Feldenkrais class! Or become a Member for as little as $3/month. Learn more

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 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.

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 – Lesson names

What’s in a lesson title? Lessons are about an hour unless a shorter duration is shown in the title. Thanks to our donors they’re freely offered unless marked “Patrons” – those are how we thank our Patron-level donors.

Tip – What’s New

Community tip: See what Nick and other Felden-fans are interested in right now. Check out What’s New at the bottom of our homepage for recent blog posts and listener comments.

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.

Tip – Comments

Project tip: Leave a lesson comment below! It’s a great way to give feedback or ask a question, and it helps google find us so we can achieve The Feldenkrais Project’s vision!

Tip 1 – Interrupted?

Study tip: Interrupted or don’t have enough time? You can return to the lesson later today or tomorrow. Read how best to continue your learning on our FAQ page.

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.

Tip 2 – Social Sharing

Project tip: Try the social buttons below. Please help us to achieve our vision: spreading the life-changing benefits of Feldenkrais study as widely as possible!

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.

Browser/device size and audio player

Tech tip: On mobile or tablet? Once you start playing the audio, your device’s native playback controls should work well.

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 – Technical Difficulties

Tech tip: If you have any trouble with the audio player, reboot your browser. That solves most issues. If not, please contact Nick.

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 – 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 – 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 – Join!

Join the Project! Members and Patrons see streamlined lesson pages, and can access My Journey (the and above), and the Related Lessons tab below.

Please begin the lesson in standing.

This lesson is long but intended to be moved through in great comfort and ease. Keeping a restful, almost lazy attitude can help. There are several different sections of the lesson, so if you need a break, pause the recording when we begin to do something new. It’s ok even to come back to it later. When you do, lie down, breathe and relax, and scan your contact with the floor, then improvise briefly through what you remember of the lesson so far. Then resume playing the recording.

This lesson is found in our Miscellaneous Lessons collection and has a lot of different learning contexts on our site.

This important lesson about the center of gravity of our body appears in three Deep Dives: Supple Feet, Powerful Legs, and Better Balance, and The Pelvic Floor: Less Is More.

It was recorded in a workshop called “Organizing the Feet for Balance, Posture, and Power” and designed as sensitivity training and preparation for the Activating the Arches lesson, but it’s also valuable as a standalone lesson.

If you’re “doing the workshop” at home and going on to Activating the Arches next, you’ll probably want more of a break than the 10 minutes mentioned at the end of the recording. That was just the time until the group came back together for discussion. As long as there are no big stresses, continuing on to Activating the Arches any time today or tomorrow should create a close enough proximity in time for the relatedness of the lessons to carry through as they were intended in the workshop.

Finally, there’s a free sample replay from our FP Weekly Zoom Class that’s a mini version of that workshop right here.


The workshop description for the evening this lesson was recorded:

Foot pain or arch trouble? Do you experience aches or stiffness in your feet, knees, hips, or lower back? This workshop will use Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons to explore and enhance the use of your feet and their relationship to the rest of yourself. Using your brain’s extraordinary ability to learn more efficient patterns of movement and action when given the right sensory information, you’ll explore:

  • how a supple, intelligent use of your feet and knees can improve your balance and reduce chronic pain in your feet, legs, and back.
  • how to feel and find the particular use of your feet that most improves your posture.
  • how well-organized feet recruit your legs, back, and breath for powerful athletic movements.

This workshop will include ATM lessons in standing and lying (mostly on your back) positions, and discussion of neuromotor learning and the biomechanics of the foot.


Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

Tried It? Liked It?

If you like what you heard...

  1. Join the Project! You’ll support our free lessons while enjoying awesome donor benefits
  2. Sign up for our twice monthly newsletter featuring free lessons and new lessons
  3. Spread the word: Simply copy this page's web address to share this free lesson

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

Use the comments section below! Public comments build our community and help search engines find us.



  1. Laurie on April 22, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    Another great lesson! I was particularly interested in this one as I recently started aikido, and a main focus is moving from the center (tanden). My feet have been hurting from this activity, as well as lots of farm work.
    I became aware during this lesson of a holding in my hips that was creating a brace in my whole structure. After the lesson my walking was much freer.
    An interesting aside and not a surprise to me or regular ATM folks is that my eyes were wider after the lesson! My eyes were relaxed and softly looking at the horizon as I was walking-instead of looking down which has been a habit of mine.
    Feldenkrais is amazing-thank you Nick!

  2. Diane on April 14, 2019 at 3:08 pm

    I had a profound experience using this lesson. It tapped deeply into both physical and emotional holding patterns. When standing after the lesson, I felt exactly like the after photos from a Rolling or Structural Integration text. Thank you, Nick, for making this work available!

  3. Julie on October 6, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    At the end of this lesson, I felt more buoyant as I walked and that’s a word I’ve never used to describe my walking. I felt like I was floating, and my whole body felt light and free. As I’ve studied Feldenkrais over the past twelve months, I’ve noticed a spring in my step and a swing in my hips like never before. I can’t wait to carry this buoyancy on my next walk. Thank you again and again!

  4. Carol on December 30, 2019 at 5:52 pm

    Nick – wonderful lesson!

  5. Michelle K Wruck on August 23, 2020 at 10:39 am

    I was impressed and surprised by how much of an impact this lesson had for me on the first run through. I felt so well organized across my whole body.

  6. cyntia gaido on October 15, 2021 at 8:40 am

    Hello Nick, I am from Argentina and I improving my English at the same time I improve my body. I love the way you teach I appreciate the colours of the description of the movements. Thank you very much

  7. Gertrude Schmidt on March 28, 2023 at 3:50 am

    This lesson is amazing – there are so many of your helpful hints. Coming back to this lesson after experiencing ‘Improving Pelvic Floor, Control and Ease’ was outstanding! [Note from Nick: The lesson Gertrude is referring to has been split in half and renamed; it is now called Differentiating the Pelvic Floor Part 1 and Part 2]

  8. Sharon France on September 6, 2023 at 10:49 am

    Hi Nick when you say to push the floor with your feet @13:23 is the action more of a drawing the heels back toward the butt to engage the glutes or is it a direct push down into the floor with the heel? My physio has just given my an ex to help me engage my glutes more and switch off my hammy’ by lying on my back, legs and ankles at a 90deg angle with both feet pushing into a large yoga ball against a wall. However I don’t seem to engage my glutes but more my hamstrings and hip flexors. Do you have any thoughts as to how I may inhibit my hamstrings from taking over that I can draw from this lesson eg. pull with the heels back and direct the force toward the 4th metatarsal thereby opening the hip area? Thank you

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on September 6, 2023 at 2:58 pm

      It’s meant to be a simple push with the soles of the feet into the floor, not consciously tuned in either of the ways in your first sentence. Your last sentence is jam-packed with ideas: I highly recommend doing our two buttocks lessons, to learn to feel clearly the engagement of the buttocks, and get more control over how much you’re using your hamstrings. The Activating the Arches implications (4th metatarsal) at the end of your comment are wise, as they are tied to what I think you’re looking for. I’d revisit that one, or head into our several Spine Like a Chain lessons (and perhaps the ones in their Related Lessons tabs).

      • Sharon France on September 7, 2023 at 4:44 am

        Thanks Nick very helpful. I’ve just done the first buttock lesson and interestingly my left buttock fires up much quicker than my right. Also my right arch activates (supinates) much easier than my left. This may explain why I find my walking is quite irregular as I’m not able to stabilise or root on my left whilst at the same time rotate to the right in the cross crawl movement without feeling some loss of balance. I seem to stay to long rooted on my right foot. All very interesting to discover!

  9. Shelley on September 13, 2023 at 5:27 am

    Thank you for this fantastic lesson. The difference in my standing and surveying the surroundings of before and after the lesson is substantial. I felt my legs and knees much more involved with the turning in a soft and integrated way. It’s like I have all of a sudden remembered to soften and use my knees. I am most grateful to you

  10. c j on September 14, 2023 at 1:34 am

    Wonderful lesson Nick, thanks for this.

Leave a Comment