Some Fundamental Properties of Movement (Patrons)
Lying on the back and later on the front with the limbs in a large letter X shape, learning to lengthen and lift the limbs, organizing from the torso, discovering a pressing foundation, and inhibiting unnecessary shortening and tightening responses to anticipated difficulty.
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 – 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 – 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 – Rewinding
Study tip: Many instructions are repeated. If you get a little lost, rest and listen. You’ll often find your way. If you need it, use the 10 seconds back button.
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 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.
Tip – Comments
Project tip: Leave a lesson comment below! It’s a great way to give feedback or ask a question, and it helps google find us so we can achieve The Feldenkrais Project’s vision!
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 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 – 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!
While we offer 52 free lessons, this one's just for our Patron-level donors. You can preview the lesson notes and comments below, but to access the audio you’ll need to join The FP as a Patron. Learn more
Got a question for Nick, or a thought about this lesson?
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The Zoolander reference had me laughing out loud, though it did hit a little close to home; I remember watching that movie several months after giving up on my dream of being a dancer, in part because I could not ever master turning to the left, a problem that was completely obvious to any observer, but seemingly impossible to correct, indeed I had been plagued by disfunction pain and injuries on the left side of my body throughout my dance training and then there’s this Zoolander fellow up on the big screen “but I can’t turn to the left”. Well at least I wasn’t the only one.
I love this. Had totally forgotten that I made that reference in this recording. As always with perceived asymmetries (even strong ones), proceed lightly and kindly and curiously. Our goal ISN’T to make you symmetrical, but to help you learn to function (including dance) in a way that’s satisfying, sustainable, and effective for you!
Another great lesson, thanks Nick. I LOVE your work! I’ve been doing Feldenkrais for a very long time, with some very good teachers, but i find your lessons fresh and new… i always discover fresh insights. I’m 69, got 2 new hips, and feel better than ever! (And i ride my horse regularly:; she gives me the feedback i’m doing WELL! (The “better” i ride, the better and fluid is her movement!)
Well, this was quite the lesson. I’m so glad that you have recorded some of these lessons from Moshe feldenkrais land mark book. It is only some 30 years later that I am understanding this book. I thought of breaking all the lessons down and recording them for myself and then realized what a big project that was. Certainly someone must have done this and it must be online? And yes, you have done this. While it is recommended to do these in the evening, sometimes they stimulate me and I can’t sleep. Nonetheless, I decided to do lesson 3 in the evening to see what would happen. I had incredible nightmares. Probably the worst I remember in 60 years. This is not a knock against the lesson. It is a testament to the lesson. I must have gone a little deep and unwound some bound up terror musculature in the creating flexion and resting. During the lesson, I really focused on the resting, since I think that was a big part of the lesson. I guess I must have stopped inhibiting unnecessary shortening and tightening responses to anticipated difficulty and my psyche created some difficulty for me in In the nightmares, I fought back. Upon telling my husband about the nightmares, he questioned me Oh, you mean you fought back? I said yes. He gave me a big kiss. He said that is so unlike you. And then I remembered that yes, in waking life as well as in dream life I run or freeze. In the dream, I had the freedom to use my arms. There was so much force in my fight that my real arm slammed into the edge of the night table. Even after an ice bag applied immediately after the 5 a.m. nightmare, there is a little bruising. I consider it a hero wound. I got away. And today I feel much freer. I’m going to try the easier versions of this lesson that you have suggested in your comments. I have so much gratitude for this project. A very much appreciate being allowed to be a patron at a level that is supportable for me. Thank you so much.
Kate, this is an amazing story, and a reminder for everyone who reads your comment that we are never just a body, nor just a mind, but always simply a whole self, a complete being. Indeed, when we change some seemingly primarily somatic aspect of ourselves we are always influencing our whole self, mind and body, and some would add spirit. In my past I too have had some profoundly psychological reactions to lessons. I honor your ability to welcome this startling experience with grace and security, and the lovely support of your husband!
Hi Nick – For me, this is one of your most brilliant works. I love how you weave in Feldenkrais lore, your continual, soft reminders of self-care are well pleced and appropriate, and I especially like how you’ve adapted it to include both sides, and to have us stand in the middle to experience the impact of an asymmetrical lesson. Many blessings, looking forward to continuing to study with you.
I agree with everything you are saying. THis was a great class and I will be joining again soon!!
Dear Nick For the past six months I have been exploring possibilities of introducing Feldenkrais certification course in Indai through my wellness center in Mumbai. Am wondering whether you can collaborate with us make this feasible. If so let the discussion forward.
I wish I could help but I am not a certified Feldenkrais Trainer, nor able to travel internationally to assist (four kids at home). I’d be happy to have Feldenkrais Project lessons be part of informal study there. Please email me about that, or if you haven’t found who to contact in the international Feldenkrais leadership about starting a training.
Wonderful to be guided in this. In the mid 70s tried these on my own. Reading a bit and then carrying it out. Shifting from turning within to keeping track of the count. Thank you for rediscovering that initial sense of discovery and curiosity.
First time around this just hurt (old l5/S1 herniation). After going back through all the previous lessons this time it’s just fine. The difference in spine mobility and awareness from following your sequences is quite amazing. Slightly bizarrely this time my right collarbone at the sternum end finally decided that moving is OK. Great effect on head mobility and on upper ribs that side as a bonus.
I’m 59 and am now more graceful than at 40. Thankyou!
You’re welcome! This warms my heart! Our health and abilities are ongoing processes, and I love to hear about your progress over time. Thanks for commenting.
First of all, thank you for your wonderful lessons. I have done the whole series of Freeing your Spine, plus a couple of others, and I am thoroughly enjoying your program.
I’m an active, 73 years-old woman in excellent health. I do have scoliosis and my right shoulder sits more forward than the left. A couple of days ago I decided to try the first of the Awareness through Movement lessons available to us, since I had read the book a couple of years ago, was intrigued by the concept, but found impossible to do the movements associated with The Fundamental Properties of Movement while reading the book!
I was delighted to complete your lesson with some allowances made for my right arm, and felt great. However, 36 hours later I was doing some cleaning, straightened myself up from the waist and was struck with a painful stab on my L5 vertebrae area. The pain got increasingly worse over the next two days, and today the pain has moved to my left hip and down my left leg, a typical sciatica alarm bell. I haven’t had a sciatica attack in about three years, and my question is, do you think I injured my lower back in some way when I did the lesson I mentioned? I felt no pain at the time and was proceeding quite slowly and carefully.
Glad to hear you’re enjoying the FP, and always sad to hear of any of life’s injuries. The short answer is: probably not. If we’ve “overdone it” in a lesson somehow, we’ll typically know during or shortly after the lesson, or at latest the next morning. It is possible that your overall physical organization is shifting and changing as you’re learning, and a spontaneous new way of behaving caught you off guard in that moment. Go especially gently with yourself right now of course, and trust that this current manifestation of an old pain is a new experience, a new context. Feel free to reach out by email if you’d like to tell me more.
Difficult, wonderful and very well paced lesson. I had a sensation of suppleness after working on each side, and when walking at the end I felt like an astronaut in space defying the law of gravity. Thank you!
What a lovely image – thank you for sharing! I think we all benefit from hearing each other’s spontaneous movement metaphors.