Fundamentals of a Healthy Back (workshop lesson)
Back-lying, often knees bent, sometimes legs crossed, tilting. Clarifying our image of the "five curves" of the axial skeleton in action: the traditional three (lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine), plus the sacrum/tailbone and the skull. Learning to sense functions and efforts through all five curves, including breathing.
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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 – 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.
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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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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.
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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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After the ‘MN Hunch Season’ is over, the easy going, very clear directions in following N.S.K. in slowly helping us to coordinate the movements with an amazing stretch, awareness and opening of the vertebrae to feel more flexible but controlled more, and feeling better alignment on my aging body and now can stand up straighter. Appreciate this so much after taking classes from N.S.K. many years ago at the JCC in St. Paul. Thank you!
Especially after this difficult winter we Minnesotans are so glad to throw off our parkas and shivering hunches! Happy to help!
That was a wonderful lesson Nick. It was really interesting to observe the relationship between the breath and the 5 curves.
Thank you so much Nick! Foppy breath and tummy was an interesting exploration and loved the giraffe image (-:
Feeling much taller and straighter.
Thank you Nick! This is a wonderful exploration of the spine and relationship with head and pelvis! So much food for thought. So warm wishes from Wales, GB 🙂
A little secret: I love this one too! I haven’t figured out a more prominent place for it in our collections, so I’m glad you ventured into our mysterious Miscellaneous Lessons and found it. Thanks for letting us know where you’re listening from – always fun to hear!
Wonderfull and thank you so much. Liked the 2 noses part….and rolling the head in opposite direction..
Was it a ” Feldenkrais boot camp ” ?? You were getting ready for a second leson. LOL
That’s right, it was the first lesson in a workshop pair. Click the Context tab for the next lesson!
I find this lesson very relaxing and soothing, but have two points of confusion:
– knees tilting to one side – I’m doing a slight tilt, as tilting further causes confusion and discomfort. But when you suggest to *keep* the knees slightly tilted, and raise the head – how does one keep the knees tilted without having to strain the whole lower body? So far I can only tilt a bit and bring it right back, the idea of having to keep them tilted, even at a small angle, gives immediate strain and makes me think I’m doing something wrong! Maintaining the tilt recruits a lot of my muscles, even with friction under my foot.
Second confusion – when bringing the head up (using arms, not neck muscles) – should I be squeezing my abdomen, like in a sit up? Or do I maintain perfectly calm abdomen / keep abs relaxed? The answer changes where the weight goes in my back.
Thank you as always!
For the second question, the abdominal muscles will be included and indeed do much of the work, but there’s no particular focus needed to squeeze them. As your head lightens and lifts do allow the weight and pressure to migrate down your chest and back. Allowing your abdomen to be included in the contractions will help you learn to press your back more fully into the ground to support lifting your head.
First question: what happens if you lighten/lift your head with the legs crossed but not tilted? First see if you can find a way to do that comfortably (again, allowing the middle back, and maybe even lower back, to press the ground should help). Then see, if you tilt your knees an inch to the side, leave them there, and then lift your head, is there a comfortable way? There’s no need to tilt them any particular distance and we’re definitely not looking for strain. You’ll be learning even if you don’t tilt them at all, since the configuration of the hips and pelvis and lumbar is so different with the legs crossed.
I find every lesson I do so helpful for something in my body- so thank you for that! I’m trying to introduce a friend to Feldenkrais who is struggling with sciatic pain. Could you direct me to the best lesson among the non-donor resources to start for her?
Thanks, and thanks for the referral. Please send her to Getting Oriented – that’s the best place for most folks to get familiar with the method, and many of those lessons can be very nice for sciatica. She can simply start from the beginning, but should skip any lesson she can’t make comfortable for herself.
I managed to do the whole enchilada(!!)(with some spontaneous movements ‘of my own’ here+there..
felt like there were no curves at the end(!)