Folding, Arching, and Rolling (Patrons)

Mostly side-lying. Refining our awareness and skill for the many ways we can gather the front of the body together (folding) and also lengthen it (arching), including very fine work with the spine, sternum (breastbone), and shoulders. Integration of breathing with these ideas. Experiments at the end of the lesson turn these primary functions into rolling.

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: 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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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!

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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.

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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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  • The last part of the lesson involves some rolling, and you’ll need a little more room than most lessons. If you don’t have that space you can still enjoy and benefit from most of the lesson; just limit or imagine the ending movements.
  • It’s helpful to have a large bath towel to fold for head support. Change the height of the towel throughout the lesson to suit your comfort in each configuration. If you pay close attention you’ll likely find you enjoy a different height for lying on each side, and for back-lying.
  • Use enough padding to be very comfortable lying on your side in this lesson. Sometimes hips and shoulders really need it.
  • Sticky mats (like a yoga mat) will have too much friction for this lesson. Use a cloth mat or lie on a carpeted floor.

For simplicity in the teaching, I spoke of the sternum as one bone, but in reality there are three regions to what we commonly call the breastbone: the manubrium, the body, and the xiphoid process. And there’s some articulation between them.

Take a look at a Google image search.

The sense of articulation and softness that the lesson develops in the sternum is based on 1) that three-part anatomy, and 2) the movements of the shoulders and clavicles, and 3) all the wonderful, cartilaginous intersections of the ribs with the sternum.

  • There’s a lovely variation hinted at but we didn’t have time to fully develop it. Near the end, before the back-lying, head-lifting part begins, students have just rolled in a lazy arching from side-lying to back-lying. It may be very interesting and pleasurable to continue that roll right through back-lying, sweeping the arms overhead along the floor, and onward to resting lying on your other side.
  • Culturally we speak of a rib “cage,” and we often have that iron image in our minds too, which limits our freedom. In reality the ribs are a strong but flexible, articulate structure. I like the image of a rib “basket.” When you push into a well-woven basket it warps a little, but still retains its overall shape and protects its contents. So it is with a free chest as we move about the world. UPDATE: Check out our Deep Dive called Shoulder Cloak, Rib Basket, Sliding Sternum for many more explorations of this image.

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our collection of new monthly lessons especially for Feldenkrais Project Patrons.

It also appears in our Deep Dive course called Shoulder Cloak, Rib Basket, Sliding Sternum.

As you may notice in the recording, this lesson was part of a workshop. In “Yoga + Feldenkrais: Easy Does It!” I first led the participants in this ATM. Many were newcomers to Feldenkrais who were familiar with yoga, and we even had a handful of yoga teachers in the room. Then the participants enjoyed a Yoga practice with Kevin Kortan.

If you’ve got friends who are yoga fans, and curious about Feldenkrais, this might be a fun way to introduce them! After this lesson invite them to take a few minutes walking around to process their new sensations, then to try a few minutes of favorite yoga work. They’ll almost certainly notice a lot of refined awareness and improvements!

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  1. Fern Chester on August 4, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    Love love this class

  2. Lorraine on March 22, 2021 at 10:48 am

    I love how all the bits come together in this lesson.

  3. Sara on January 8, 2024 at 12:08 pm

    Very interesting to find how challenging it was to balance in superwoman on my left side where my right side was quite fine – pelvis seemed a different shape over there!

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