Coordination of the Flexor Muscles and of the Extensors (Patrons)

Lying on the back, knees bent, one or both feet standing, variations on tilting crossed legs and "triangle" arms/shoulders in order to twist and untwist the torso, learning more awareness, control, and coordination of the major flexors (folding muscles) and extensors (arching muscles).

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.

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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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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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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.

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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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If you struggle with the legs crossed, knees tilting configuration and movements used frequently in this lesson, you might instead do one of these first: Legs as Free as a Baby’s, or Folding, Foundation, and Feet, or The Hip Joints: Moving Proximal Around Distal. They will help improve the hips and lower back and make this lesson more accessible.

It’s helpful to have a very secure place for the foot stand when the legs are crossed closely together. Consider options to create more friction.

flexext triangle photoThe triangle arms position described around 11 minutes into the lesson has the arms extended toward the ceiling (elbows straight but not locked) and palms “glued” together. The arms and hands are thus in the air “right in front of the breastbone at the height of the shoulders,” like so:

Some might wonder what a lesson primarily using twisting and untwisting movements has to do with the flexor and extensor muscles, which are usually only thought of as folding the body forward and arching it backward in the plane of front-back movements (the sagittal plane). These muscles are also involved in very refined ways with twisting, because twists also change the lengths of the front and back, and both lengths must be carefully regulated to control the twist, especially when gravity is a factor in this lying down configuration. By asking students for the careful control necessary in this lesson they’re prompted to learn a lot more awareness of this fine coordination between the flexor and extensor muscles.

This lesson is one of 12 in Moshe Feldenkrais’s 1972 book Awareness Through Movement. The Feldenkrais Project has a collection of lessons from this source.

It was taught in the context of a Feldenkrais Fundamentals class which was designed to be a practical study of Moshe’s Awareness Through Movement book. Study tips for the book are here, along with info about where to get it.

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While taught in my own words, this lesson comes directly from Moshe Feldenkrais’s 1972 book Awareness Through Movement.

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

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8 Comments

  1. Judy Dodane O'Dwyer on May 5, 2016 at 9:28 am

    This is great! I was taking an Awareness through Movement class in The Villages last fall & loved it, but the instructor became very ill & there’s no one to teach the classes anymore. Finding your website is wonderful!

  2. Flavia on August 30, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    This lesson stops at the 16:32 minute. 🙁

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on August 30, 2018 at 4:00 pm

      I wasn’t able to recreate this problem. You may have had a momentary internet outage, or perhaps it was a hiccup on my end. Please do let me know if it happens again. In the meantime, rebooting your browser fixes any technical issues people have had with my site about 99% of the time! Thanks for listening.

  3. Michele on October 7, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    Hi Nick, I want to thank you for your ATMs. I live in Australia and although there are many felde classes and practitioners available, I enjoy your classes more than any I have attended locally. Your clear instructions and reminders are easy to follow, and it is so convenient to login and choose something that feels relevant to what I need at any given time. Once again, thanks.

  4. shan shnookal on March 26, 2020 at 2:13 am

    I too am in Oz, and love Nick’s lessons. I’ve learned from some very good people, and have done a number of variations of this lesson. Nick’s directions are such that i keep discovering new movements, mobilities and connections. When i get up and walk around, all my joints feel OILED!

  5. Lorraine on April 9, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    I love this lesson. Your presentation is faithful to the original. Nevertheless you bring something more to the presentation. I am grateful to Moshe for developing and sharing his insights but aware that we have learned even more in the intervening years and a classic lesson makes this clearer to me.

  6. Jorge Pérez Pérez on July 14, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    WoW what a great lesson!!

  7. jean kirk on January 25, 2023 at 9:49 pm

    My head kept getting further up the floor.Jean Kirk.

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