Effortless Arms and Shoulders (Patrons)

Side-lying, arm extended toward the ceiling. Sensing, organizing, and expanding effortless movements of the arm and shoulder by integrating them with the whole self, with particular attention to imagery of lengthening the torso. Learning to sense the gravitational plumb line and its neuromusculoskeletal relationship with ease and effort. The recording picks up during a brief discussion. Lesson begins around 2:00.

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.

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.

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 – 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 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 – 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 – 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 – Comments

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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 – Join!

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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.

Tip 2 – Social Sharing

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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.

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 – 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 – 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.

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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Please have a bath towel nearby to fold for head support when you’re lying on your side. As the lesson progresses you may find you need or want less support. Alternatively, if it’s easy for you, you may extend the floor-side arm straight upward along the floor and rest your head on your upper arm.

In the side-lying rests in this lesson I often ask for particular resting positions of your arm. If they’re not comfortable for you, you can rest your arm however you like.

When moving the shoulder in a circle is introduced later in the lesson, you can circle it in the opposite direction after a time. I believe I left out this invitation the first time circling is used.

The article I mention is actually called Feldenkrais: What The F Is It & How Can It Help?

On another note, sustaining a quality of effortlessness is tremendously valuable for the learning process. This is what we’re after whenever I’m talking about not going into even a slight stretch or strain during this lesson. Late in the lesson I make one allusion to “work.” It was very intentional, but we didn’t have time to discuss.

Moshe Feldenkrais pointed out that humans, while very sensitive to our efforts, don’t sense work in the physics sense. In physics, work is defined as the force needed to move mass over distance. By that definition every movement we make is work, but nonetheless lots of them feel effortless. This ease is a matter of how well-organized we are for our task. We’re capable of doing tremendous amounts of work with an effortless sense.

You may experience this at the end of the lesson, when larger movements of the arm that previously seemed to require effort (or stretch or strain) have an effortless quality. This is because you are better organized, using the large muscles and weights of your body to distribute the work through your whole self. This distribution of work happens when we’re functioning well as a harmonious whole, and leads to an effortless sense we want to invite in most of our human activities.

Check out As Light as a Finger: Games of Weightlessness (Patrons) for a lesson exploration of an effortless quality of movement, and these principles of work and effort.

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

Like most of our lessons, this one can be studied out of context, but it also appears in our Deep Dive course called Shoulder Cloak, Rib Basket, Sliding Sternum.

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  1. Sara Firman on October 29, 2022 at 12:42 pm

    For me, this was an excellent teaching about not needing to stretch into full expansion if we give our bodies this kind of time and attention. A more holistic route to that expansion is revealed.

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