Connecting Arms and Legs, Hinges at Feet and Knees

Side-lying, integrating movements of the arms, shoulders, head, neck, spine, and hips. Learning to sense and hinge bodyweight in relation to the ground, and between the knees and feet. Great for adding grace and ease to how we twist, turn, and walk.

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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 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.

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

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This lesson begins in standing.

For all lessons, especially side-lying ones, it’s helpful to have a large bath towel nearby to fold as desired for head support. Take the time you need as you get into each new configuration to make the folded towel height an amount that’s comfortable in that position. Usually your back-lying head support will be less than what you want for side-lying.

Also for side-lying, make sure the surface you’re lying on is soft enough for your hips and shoulders to be comfortable as you shift and roll your body forward and backward.

Due to time constraints the last variation was only explored on one side. Later today or tomorrow, a nice way to review the lesson and further connect your arms and legs might be to do it on the other side:

  • lie on your second side (or either side if you forgot) and draw up your knees in front of your hips
  • place your palms together out in front of you, elbows loosely straight
  • alternate hinging at the knees and feet, lifting one end of the lower leg, then the other, allowing your pelvis and your whole self to participate
  • allow your ceiling side palm to begin to slide alternately out onto the floor and up onto your wrist
  • which direction of the hand corresponds to which movement of the leg?
  • allow the hand movement to expand, and your elbow to begin to bend, until you brush your hand all the way across your upper chest and open your arm onto the floor behind you
  • linger and breathe in that twist, and roll your head
  • from there, how effortlessly can you return to side-lying? Or pour yourself onto your back?

 

This lesson includes a strategy of leveraging the body against the floor, “moving” parts that can’t move much because they’re on the floor, in order to propel the rest of ourselves. This fascinating concept comes out of Moshe Feldenkrais’s martial arts background, where he trained to be tremendously efficient using his body in combination with the support surface, in order to almost effortlessly throw his Judo opponents. He later discovered that we can use the same concept in the quiet, ordinary movements of everyday life, to reduce effort and strain and improve our abilities and quality of life.

This lesson is found in the Better Posture, Walking, and Running lesson collection.

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.

The lesson referenced “last week” was Activating the Arches.

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8 Comments

  1. Mike on April 25, 2018 at 6:24 am

    Just wanted to say thanks again and keep up the wonderful work. I was just working on the ‘integrating the legs’ session, and the recording, like so many others of yours, is so in tune with the struggles and sensations one has in doing the exercises, that even without being visually or actually present, it’s like being in a real ATM class! And the benefits have been outstanding. Much appreciated.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 25, 2018 at 9:19 am

      This is music to my ears — great reassurance that I’m doing what I intend to do! So glad you’re finding value, and thanks also for the donation!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on January 8, 2023 at 10:06 am

      Just a note to say the lesson Mike calls “integrating the legs” was the old name for this lesson that’s now called “Connecting Arms and Legs”

  2. Shan on November 2, 2019 at 3:06 am

    I really reiterate what Mike said, above. I love your work, Nick! I appreciate the depth of understanding you have of the Fkrs method, and your guidance in the ATMs. I’ve been doing lessons with various (good!) people, for over 30 years, and i am finding LOTS new in my body from your lessons. (I am 69, have had 2 hip replacements, and basically function pretty well for my age. I ride my horse at a professional level 5 times a week.) Some bits of me want to stiffen up, but these lessons are helping me improve my function, even at my advanced age. I know i’m improving, because “my horse is my mirror” (to use a phrase that has been used before!), and the better i sit and differentiate my body, the smoother and more “beautifully” my mare moves!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on November 4, 2019 at 9:51 am

      This is all so lovely to hear – thanks for sharing your experience! “My horse is my mirror” is somehow a line I haven’t picked up yet from all the equestrians I’ve had the privilege of working with, but I love it. It really summarizes the beautiful sensitivity I’ve experienced with them. Thanks for listening and please spread the word!

  3. Maria on July 27, 2021 at 8:46 am

    In România we say “Taking long and often pauses is the key to great success”. It is said mockingly, but with these exercises I have found the value in this. It’s what keeps me going when I feel like giving up – stopping breathing and then continuing. Thanks for supporting this valuable shift in perspective.

  4. Peter on February 4, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    This lesson was one of the more impactful that I have done. Upon waking up the next day, I noticed that I was walking completely differently, with much more coordination between the hips and shoulders. Such a cool feeling!

  5. Sara on November 24, 2023 at 5:18 am

    Still enchanted by the way each session takes me deeper. Today it was about noticing how stopping the movement of my head (which tends to be very mobile) released some more potential for turning in my thoracic spine. On standing, another massive degree of turn. So much good experiential feedback.

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