Dynamic Sitting and Chair Clock (24 min, chair-seated)

Explore and improve seated uprightness by getting to know your sitbones and learning to feel more clearly where plumb is. Discover different ways of moving and supporting yourself in a chair through explorations with the head, shoulders, chest, spine, pelvis, and feet.

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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.

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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.

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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 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 – 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 1 – Interrupted?

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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 – 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.

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 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.

Click the Curiosities tab for an illustration of sitbones.

You’ll need a simple, level chair, with a firm or lightly upholstered surface. Find a chair that’s an appropriate height for you, so that when you’re seated at the front of the chair your hips are slightly above the height of your knees. Knees are bent simply, at least hip-width apart, and your feet stand on the ground underneath them. If your feet don’t reach the floor easily, stack something firm under them, or under your bottom if your knees are higher than your hips.

Many people will find that their sense of the weight of their sitbones is uneven at the beginning of lesson 2, especially if sitbone awareness is new to you. Notice how it changes over the course of the lesson.

You can read more about ideas mentioned in Talk 2 and Lesson 2 in a post I wrote called About Dynamic Sitting, including the planes of movement mentioned in the lesson.

sit bones sitting

Here’s an illustration from Alexander Technique London to help you find your sitbones. Click on it to visit and read a post I can recommend called “Stand on your bottom, what?!”. Sometimes people are surprised by how relatively close to their midline the sitbones are.

This audio recording is found in Getting Oriented, our introductory collection of Feldenkrais basics for newcomers (and longtimers looking for a “tune-up”).

This important lesson appears in three Deep Dives: Pelvic Clock “Primer”, Better Balance and The Pelvic Floor: Less Is More.

The Feldenkrais Project has a whole free-to-use collection of talks and lessons  called Lessons for Easier Sitting. It’s suitable for Feldenkrais newcomers. In particular the first Easier Sitting lesson is closely related to this one.

This lesson was recorded in an introductory workshop I called Move Smarter, Safer, and Stronger with Feldenkrais: Back to Basics.

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Feldenkrais Project Patrons can listen to Getting Oriented tracks 1-4, the Back to Basics talks and lessons, without interruption as a 70-minute workshop recording.

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  1. Mary Duffy on February 27, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Found Getting Oriented an excellent introduction. Better than how I approached classes when I started 3 months ago. Then I just did each class 5 times then onto next lesson. A narrow approach but it took me the five lessons to really ‘feel’ I had a grip on sufficient of what was in lesson to move on.
    I think if I had approached things more broadly as these two shorter lessons have taught me I might not have been so concerned about not ‘getting’ it all first up before moving on. There are many ways to crack an egg!!!!!
    I am 76 with a significant rotator cuff injury and every iota of help that I can muster from the rest of my body is extremely important for my long term well-being. I do a class 7 days a week. Yes and the psychological challenges, the things we have buried in our bodies that get to be released via this work, need to be worked with!!
    Thanks Nick

  2. Andrea Herrera on March 20, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    I know we shouldnt ask what is correct but I wonder at the end when you have head stay still and the rest does belly dance or when the head rolls with body. What is ideal? I in particular like my head rolling with the body. But wondering about the motive of having the head stay still, not metal rod still but still

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 12, 2020 at 10:11 am

      One kind of ideal is not creating any internal strife based on any ideas of how a movement “should” be – and it sounds like you’re doing great with this! We can discover what seems to happen most naturally and comfortably, and then we can also play games with the movement. In this case I agree that ideally there will be a responsive/related movement of the head during the “belly dance”, and also that by making the belly dance small, safe, and inquisitive, you could absolutely enjoy and benefit from exploring how it could be that your head doesn’t move in space (your spine and neck will still be accommodating your movements). If you’re breathing, comfortable, and curious, movement explorations/improvisations will always help.

  3. Shelly Slyker on March 26, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    A great lesson and introduction, and I love your project of making Feldenkrais accessible. Many, many thanks for your generous gift to us all.

  4. Bryna on April 11, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    Thank you so much for these. I just started going through the orienting sessions. I find I get tired or overwhelmed after about five minutes and need to just rest the rest of the time but I still feel better after. And then also need a few days to recover after a session before trying another. Is this a normal part of the process?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 12, 2020 at 10:05 am

      Hello! Good to hear that you follow your urge to rest as soon as it comes. That’s the trick to making any lesson accessible and good for yourself. Can you say a little more about “a few days to recover”? Hard to answer that without knowing what you mean, but if you’re paying attention to how you feel and studying Feldenkrais lessons when you want to, that is a normal, healthy process.

  5. Bryna on April 12, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Nick! Thanks so much for your response. What I mean by that is when I think of doing another session, I feel this resistance inside, like my body is telling me it would be too much.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 13, 2020 at 3:17 pm

      Gotcha. I think it’s good to trust that instinct, and also to gently examine it with no “should” at all, just an attitude of curiosity about the resistance. Often there’s change and refinement when we apply a quiet curiosity. May be interesting!

  6. Andrea on April 14, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    Dont knoe how big of a deal it is but i find when i slump or roll onto my tailbone the sit bones go forward. Opposite of what u are saying. What am ij doing wrong?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 16, 2020 at 1:31 pm

      Probably nothing! I think we’re using different words for the same thing: when you slump, if the top of your pelvis rolls back (that’s what I’m intending) then your sitbones do technically point forward – you are correct! But I probably described them as rolling backward, which they do, if you think of their position on your chair. Make sense? Please reply if not.

  7. Andrea on April 17, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    Yes I too figured out thats what was happening. Different eays to describe the same thing. Thanks for getting me out of my box and for fast replies.

  8. Andrea on April 28, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    First off, I love how you really take on all of our comments in a personal way. It makes me feel like I’m not alone in this Feldenkrais world as I learn. Just have a question. Will this learning integrate on it’s own with true sitting in “sitting” situations? I just wonder a couple things: 1) When I’m sitting at a desk to write by hand/read with kids, I wonder if I should not try and be in a “straight” posture but whether in a flexed posture because I have no choice but to look down, so if I just look down with just the neck, I get dizzy, perhaps I have to round the spine?? curious as to how to integrate these movements is what I”m saying. Also, I hear backrests are better with chairs that to sit straight because more stress is on the spine. Is that true? I find it comfortable sitting on my sit bones with no back rest when I”m typing, so I wonder if we should also sit on a chair using a back rest, even while typing? Just wondering what your experiences/thoughts are

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 28, 2020 at 3:18 pm

      It’s a pleasure to connect like this, especially during lockdown when Feldenkrais is online only! This lesson and the Feldenkrais Method are pointing us toward “dynamic sitting.” The idea is that through movement explorations and attention we make sitting so comfortable and mobile, so pleasant and effective, that some version of it becomes desirable and spontaneous in most sitting situations. Practice does integrate on its own, but most people enjoy some intellectual understanding and principles play with in regular life experience, and as long as we’re not “should-ing” all over regular life, we can leverage more learning and improvement this way.

      1) Yes to integrating the orientation of your head with the rest of yourself while reading to kids or looking down, if you feel symptoms of isolation (like dizziness): let your whole body round a little more than you would if you were just looking at the horizon. Even in a little more rounded shape, what movement options can you find to keep the sitting dynamic?

      2) If you’re comfortable on your sit-bones, without a backrest, that’s great. It makes a much more dynamic uprightness available, and we crave movement! I spend most of my sitting time each day like that, too, and many of the Feldenkrais Project lessons are designed to guide listeners toward this ability. When I’m tired or not feeling my best, I’ll happily use a backrest. Then I listen for when I’m tired of that and want to be freely, fully upright again! Lots of options and choices are great.

  9. Andrea on May 1, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks so much. I really appreciate being able to work and learn from a passionate and compassionate person like you! Keep it up please!

  10. Andrea on May 1, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    and to get away and bust the “should-ing” we’ve been raised on, one more question, a burning question, so please don’t miss it! To round in the lower back, is that “ALWAYS” a no no or can it be safe while sitting and looking down?? I know in abdominal exercises, they have you round the lower back while lifting the upper body when they have you flatten the small of the back, so I would think that it would be ok to round the lower back while sitting, or not to round that far down?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on May 8, 2020 at 5:35 pm

      I’m not sure I understood the very end of your question, but yes, rounding your lower back can be safe while sitting and looking down – it’s great to let the lower spine and pelvis adjust to the movements of your head and attention. Depending on your patterns it may feel most comfortable to make very small movements there, and you may be better off inviting more movement to be distributed through the rest of your spine. Follow your comfort, and go slow and small and breathing as you explore.

  11. Maite Malcorra Balda on June 4, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Wonderfull class. Greetings from Spain and thank you very much for this project 🙂

  12. Beverly Brookman on August 30, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    This is my second time i’ve done this lesson 2 orientation class. This time I “invited” my husband to do it with me. We will become donors! Thank you! I look forward to transforming my understand of my body as “friend!” Persistent side chest sensation has been with me for some years!! I am intending for it to be a more friendly relationship!! Thank you deeply!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on August 30, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      Lovely! It’s beautiful how you’re connecting to Feldenkrais, and great that you’re exploring it with your husband. Welcome, and thanks for your support!

  13. Jean Hutnick on April 14, 2021 at 8:12 am

    I am trying to strengthen my buttocks, hips and basically my lower body to help me walk, improve my gait so I am not continually using the same muscle(s) causing them to hurt from overuse. If I find a lesson that seems to help, should I repeat it daily or go on to the next lesson? How often should I repeat the lesson?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 14, 2021 at 10:25 am

      Your curious attention is your greatest asset for learning and improving, so if a lesson feels particularly good and has your interest, feel free to repeat it as often as you enjoy, up to twice a day. If it feels “rote” in any way, move on to the next lesson. You can return to favorites any time, and they will feel different after you’ve had other Feldenkrais learning experiences. Progressing all the way through Getting Oriented is recommended eventually, and even a second or third time through will yield new benefits. (As always, safety and comfort first: you should skip any lesson you can’t yet find a comfortable way to do; you can always return to it later.)

  14. Boris Piker on June 24, 2021 at 7:19 pm

    How much to the front of the chair is good for long duration sitting?
    i find that even with a padded piano chair if i sit so far forward that only the sit bones are touching and the entire leg is completely in the air then i eventually get too much pressure on my sit bones and its painful.

    If i sit very far back in the chair however then i feel no weight on my feet on the ground, i can lift them up and put them down without any upper weight movement, that seems wrong too.

    I guess some of the upper leg below the pelvis should also be in contact with the chair, enough so that if you suddenly unweight your feet the body will tip forward automatically due to lack of support?


    • Nick Strauss-Klein on June 25, 2021 at 10:42 am

      Great question, and you clearly described a challenge may people feel – thank you!

      As long as you can move your pelvis freely as described in the lesson, having some of the upper thigh on the chair is just fine. Other adaptations to avoid the sit bone pressure buildup are to rest back in the chair more frequently (you can even pause the recording), or to make the chair a little softer by sitting on a towel that’s folded as many times as needed.

      Any combination of these three things is great, and often, over time, people become less sensitive to that pressure and end up really liking the sense of simple skeletal support and dynamic movement that’s available when we’re on the sitbones. Your piano chair reference reminds me of my many years on the piano bench!

      For me now, I spend most of my one-to-one Feldenkrais teaching days sitting on a wooden stool, and if it becomes uncomfortable I just add a few folds of a hand towel. It wasn’t initially this easy as I learned dynamic sitting, and I used the same adaptations I described above.

      Feel free to follow-up with more questions as you explore.

      • Boris piker on June 25, 2021 at 1:25 pm

        Nice thanks, very helpful.

        I’ve been playing around with height too.

        I know knees above pelvis is not recommended because it becomes too easy to hunch over, but I’ve also found that having pelvis too high above knees forced me to sit too forward in the chair for my feet to touch the ground with some weight and that causes the pressure issues I’ve described in my first comment.

        I’ve found a tiny bit higher pelvis versus knees seems to work, but I’d like to get used to even higher pelvis because then I really start to feel the weight go through the feet more, which just seems like that’s how it should be.

        Have you heard of squat computer work, like setting things up so you just remain in a squat, I’ve read primitive tribe people often sit around for hours in squats.
        Supposedly it helps keep the musculature active in a healthy manner and helps stay in shape lol

        • Nick Strauss-Klein on July 2, 2021 at 3:59 pm

          I resonate with all this. I’m comically particularly about my computer workstations: I own several adjustable stools, an adjustable desk (both keyboard and monitor height), and a standing desk. I move a laptop between all my options as suits my comfort. And I change things around pretty constantly while I’m working!

          Squatting is a species skill but not often a cultural skill in the west. It is worth playing toward if you can do so safely and comfortably.

  15. Virginia Nabavi on March 5, 2022 at 6:10 am

    Thank you very much. Another very interesting class which has brought buried childhood emotions and patterns to the surface and given me a bit more freedom. I should perhaps add that I have worked with Alexander Technique teachers, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, yoga mindfulness, Pilates, Gabrielle Roth and dance, Reiki , meditation over some 30 years in all now and I feel these classes take me more deeply into “ body play” with those or subtlety and playfulness. I feel many happy hours of gentle body play and laughter lying ahead of me with this material to clear yet more anger and fear held in the body…! Thank you very much xxx

  16. Suzanna on June 4, 2023 at 3:35 am

    So happy my son came across your project and directed me to it:) I used to be a belly dancer long time ago (30yrs) and forgot how good the movement felt. I also explored yoga, pilates, 5 tibetans. I very much enjoy this exploration of my body, it’s so gentle and focused and brings me (and also keeps me afterwards) in the present, and feeling, almost incapable of thinking and someone else mentioned how it helps clear emotions held in the body, I sense that too. Thank you for your work and making it so available, love & blessings

  17. Patrick on October 24, 2023 at 5:55 pm

    I’ve just started today working through the orienting lessons. The first lesson was quite relaxing and helped me get in touch with my movements more than I’ve been aware in the past. But I found lesson 2 more difficult due to lower back pain, which I often have. Sitting back in the chair with support for my back was OK but all of the sitting forward portions produced pain in my lower spine unless I let my back sag into a slump. Since you emphasize stopping when there’s pain, should I avoid lesson 2?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 24, 2023 at 6:37 pm

      Yes, for now skip lesson 2 (and maybe lesson 4 if it causes the same discomfort) and continue through the Getting Oriented series. You can repeat any that you find very interesting or pleasurable, and then perhaps restart the series and try #2 again. Or go on to explore lesson collections #2 and perhaps #3, which also explores sitting but has some of its explorations on the floor instead of in a chair.

      • Patrick on October 24, 2023 at 7:11 pm

        Thanks for your quick response, Nick. I’ll follow your suggestions.

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