Freeing the Shoulders by Rolling the Arms (Patrons)

Mostly back-lying, arms in a "letter T" position. Improving the function and mobility of the shoulders by connecting them more skillfully with the chest, spine, and head. Particular attention is given to the neck and to the spine between the shoulder blades.

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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The “letter T” position of the arms doesn’t need to be perfectly straight or perpendicular to your spine. If it helps for comfort you may have one or both arms a little further down your mat.

When you roll the arms up or down your mat…

  1. you’ll always sustain the hand shape of a very light fist.
  2. your elbows remain loosely straight but they may lift off the ground at times.
  3. at some ranges of the movement it may only be your soft fists that are actually rolling on the ground even though I’m saying “roll the arms.”

When you eventually lift your head as you roll your arms downward, allow your head to bow down so you look between your bent knees.

Once or twice you’ll hear me refer to “this month” of lessons. It was Rest and Recharge, and I’ve chosen to leave in some of my asides about becoming more familiar with the process of rest. For a detailed exploration please enjoy The Liminal Lesson: Transitions Between Action and Rest (Patrons). It was recorded this same month.

If you’ve come to this lesson in the context of our Jaw, Neck, and Shoulders Deep Dive course, you can explore the difference created by using some of the movements from the “Beard Pull Pecking” lesson in this lesson. Specifically, notice that when you roll both of your letter-T-shaped arms downward you can either lift your head to look down toward your feet (that’s what’s cued in this lesson) or tip your head back and let your neck arch (cued in that lesson).

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our always-growing collection of new lessons for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors. It also appears in our Jaw, Neck, and Shoulders Deep Dive course.

It was recorded during a during a Rest and Recharge themed Zoom class on December 29, 2020, then edited to enhance audio quality, flow, and clarity.

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  1. Chris Abdo on December 16, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    I think my shoulders and the T position really wasn’t comfortable for me so I brought my arms further down and it was interesting I felt guilt coming up for me for breaking the rules! But it felt better, even though it was hard to choose to change for comfort

  2. Nick Strauss-Klein on December 16, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    Excellent choice, thank you for sharing. I’ve updated the Comfort & Configuration tab to include your advice. I’m also glad you mentioned the guilt! So many of us are rule-followers, but adapting the lesson to your comfort is essential. May your experience help others reckon with similar challenges.

  3. Giles Cole on February 17, 2022 at 10:47 am

    Really challenging lesson for me but finally feel that, thanks to your approach to the lesson, I am beginning to make sense of some timing issues in the rotation of the shoulder in relation to the engagement of particular back muscles that for some time have not participated. I am very curious about this element of the forehead and chin travelling together. With a history of violin playing I feel this movement profoundly differently from one side to the other and I am wondering if there are other lessons that explore this more fully. I remember a series that I did in my second year of the training that were in sitting whilst leaning back on the hands and circling the head without turning the face to allow the movement to come from the sternum, ribs and thoracic spine as opposed to the neck and cervical spine. Any suggestions?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on February 21, 2022 at 9:40 am

      I’m developing a few future Patrons lessons — and an upcoming Deep Dive [Update: here it is!] — with some of these subtleties in mind, so stay tuned. In the meantime have you tried the lesson in the January 2022 Patrons Quarterly recording? I’m in the process of converting it to audio, but you may want to dive right in. It’s related to the lesson you’re remembering.

      • Giles Cole on February 21, 2022 at 9:55 am

        Thanks Nick. I will take a look.

  4. Sara Firman on April 3, 2022 at 12:27 pm

    Wonderful antidote to a day spent raking and spade lifting! I am finding this practice to be so helpful for recovery as well, as hopefully, for the learning of better ways of using my body outside of practice. Thank you as always for your clarity of instruction.

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