Finding Sensations of Not Shortening (Patrons)

Side-lying and front-lying with optional rolling, framed by brief standing explorations. Movement riddles for the chest, shoulders, neck, spine, and legs are presented in a focused context of lengthening. Uses sensory images of the five cardinal lines of the body, breathing, organizing the “core,” and expanding into the support surface to create opportunities to sense and inhibit unnecessary shortening. Begins with a summary of what we're exploring.

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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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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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 – 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 – 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.

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 – 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 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 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.

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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Unless specified, whenever you’re resting on your belly feel free to turn your head to one side or the other as suits your comfort.

When moving from a front-lying position you can improvise which way your head turns when. Some suggestions are made but you can experiment with any and all comfortable options you find.

When asked to use or notice any efforts in the belly as you slightly “tuck your tail,” always think of making them as light as possible. Continually reduce and simplify the effort, and breathe easily throughout.

When first on your belly, I was unclear about resting your head on your hands. I meant palms face the floor, head rests on the back of your hands.

We act in accordance with our self-image. This self-image – which, in turn, governs our every act – is conditioned in varying degree by three factors: heritage, education, and self-education.

This feeling of the spine lengthening accompanies most actions of the body when they are properly carried out.

– Moshe Feldenkrais, Awareness Through Movement.

What is our self-image? It only seems elusive because it’s always here: it’s simply how you sense, feel, think, and move when you act in the world, and when you anticipate acting. The self-education of this Feldenkrais lesson is designed to nudge your self-image in the direction of all actions enjoying more lengthening and fewer unnecessary contractions. It does so by helping you experience more fully what not shortening is really like in your world of self, your experience as you move, sense, feel, and think.

After you’ve done this lesson, you may wish to explore the ideas below. To encourage Felden-fans to learn to improvise ATM on their own I sent this email out to participants:

Using the familiar pace and quality of movement that you know from class, in as little as three minutes:

  • Lie on your back and do a quick body scan.
  • EITHER Bend one knee to stand one foot on the ground. Press into the floor with that foot and roll your pelvis. What’s interesting or different today, right now, compared to what you’ve noticed before?
  • OR Lie on your belly, have the limbs of one side of your body long in a line up and down. The other side: hand planted like for a push-up, leg bend around 90 degrees. Practice lightening the bent knee without a sense of shortening…anything!
  • Following your comfort and curiosity, what strands from this lesson emerge spontaneously as pleasant, interesting, valuable? Play with them as long as you like!
  • What aspects of length and volume can you promote by experimenting with different parts and relationships in your body, with your breath, or with different parts of this lesson that you remember?
  • Rest on your back for a moment.
  • If you have time, try some of the same explorations on the other side. How are the two sides different?
  • Rest and scan, then stand and pay attention to your uprightness for a moment before continuing your day.

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our collection of lessons exclusively for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors.

It also appears in two Deep Dive courses: The Illusion of Isolation and Breathing with Vitality.

It was recorded in a sequence of Zoom classes taught in August 2021 called Long, Tall, & Graceful.

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Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

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  1. Terri Morgan on November 20, 2021 at 7:57 am

    Wow, another great lesson Nick . My new morning routine is to wake up to a class. what a super way to start my day ! Breathing with length ????

  2. Edna “ Kono on November 21, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    I really liked this lesson. I thought I would only do the first part but I did the whole lesson. I feel so energized from this. I tried to do less but I found I could do the whole thing. Since I have fragle shoulders I’m a bit worried about how I’ll feel in a while but I think I took good care. I tried to say to myself do less. Thanks for making it so easy to keep doing these atms.
    Edna Libby Kono

  3. Sara on September 15, 2023 at 11:52 am

    What a marvelous experience of lengthening – the change in the sensitivity to breathing long was so tangible by the end.

  4. Segolene Marchand on June 18, 2024 at 12:40 pm

    I found myself exploring a lot where “lazier” could take me during the lesson and it was fascinating to physically articulate each choice of adding a little effort and/or adding some extra length ..or not. I was really surprised by the strong “physical emotions” that came up during my resting times – like an unexpected strong aftertaste (feeling fear out of nowhere and about nothing specific was particularly disturbing – the sensation disappeared when I started moving again though)
    It did settle after a little walk that felt like getting back to some safe habits but I was wondering if I went “too far” in some way even though I was really just playing with being at my laziest.. Any thoughts on that?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on June 18, 2024 at 2:54 pm

      Unless you’re concerned or something felt unpleasant, I’d say it sounds like it was a very interesting exploration! Definitely inline with “LESSS is more.” I don’t think you overdid it unless you feel uncomfortable about where it went.

      • Segolene Marchand on June 18, 2024 at 10:57 pm

        Thank you!!
        It was more strange than uncomfortable or unpleasant – especially since the resting time “feeling/physical emotion” wasn’t attached to anything specific and would dissipate when I started moving again. The whole adventure was definitely interesting and left me curious to investigate some more, I just wanted to make sure this wasn’t a sign of pushing the limits of my nervous system somehow.. I will keep in mind to back off if it ever becomes unpleasant when I try that lesson again (or in general, I guess!).

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