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The Hip Joints: Moving Proximal Around Distal

Back-lying, knees bent, feet standing, often one leg resting out to the side on a pillow. Learning to move the whole self (proximal) in relationship to a quietly resting limb (distal), often using pelvic clock movements. This reversal of the typical image we have of moving a limb creates a novel learning environment within the self, with benefits for the legs, hips, back, and our overall organization. Sitting on the floor at the beginning and end of the lesson is used to help identify some of the changes that take place.


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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 – 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 – 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 – skip a lesson

Study tip: If you can’t find a comfortable way to do the initial movements or configuration of a lesson, it’s ok to skip it for now and go on to another lesson.

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 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 – 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 – Technical Difficulties

Tech tip: If you have any trouble with the audio player, reboot your browser. That solves most issues. If not, please contact Nick.

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Tech tip: On mobile or tablet? Once you start playing the audio, your device’s native playback controls should work well.

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Join the Project! If you already have, thank you for your support! Members and Patrons see streamlined lesson pages, and can access the Related Lessons and Source tabs below.

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.

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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.

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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 – Rewinding

Study tip: Many instructions are repeated. If you get a little lost, rest and listen. You’ll often find your way. Or use the rewind button on the page or your mobile device.

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!

For this lesson have one or two bed pillows or sofa cushions nearby. For most people pillows available at home work better than the props mentioned in the recording from the classroom where the recording was made (folded blankets, rollers, yoga blocks).

You can even simply lean the passive knee against a nearby piece of furniture, so long as that’s comfortable!

Curious about “proximal” and “distal”? These terms are talked about in the recording. You can also read about them in the Curiosities tab for the first lesson in this collection, Connecting Hips and Shoulders Part 1.

This lesson is found in the collection called Learning the Limbs, from the Center.

It also appears in our Pelvic Clock “Primer” and Illusion of Isolation Deep Dives.

Like most of our lessons, this one can be studied out of context, but you may find additional learning value by approaching it in the order of a collection or Deep Dive it’s in.

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  1. Stephanie on November 24, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    What a wonderful lesson! So interesting moving the pelvis in so many directions around the head of the femur. Having one leg totally relaxed helped a lot! One aspect that I added for myself, that I found helpful, was having a smooth belly or even bringing the belly forward in certain positions.
    Thank you very much for this lesson!

  2. Joan Haan on December 3, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Great ending to a long walk. Feel a loosening if my hips.
    Noticed new ATM the second time around.
    Thank you, Nick!

  3. Lauri Sippel on January 15, 2018 at 10:32 am

    I think this is a terrific ATM. I’ve done it twice now, each time I get something new. Thank you very much, Nick! Blessings, Lauri

  4. Chris Sigurdson on October 20, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Fantastic. Never had a smoother easier pelvic clock- at the end. A keeper

  5. Christine Barrington on August 27, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    I have been dealing with the impact of double frozen shoulder for over a year now. I have been doing various kinds of Feldenkrais and myofascial release, all of which helped tremendously. However, there was a particular range of motion I could never regain, no matter what I seem to do. Two days after this lesson, something just changed, and a huge chunk of range returned to me. I am almost completely back to normal, and I know if I just keep exploring this beautiful site, I will extend the experience of my body and being beyond what I call “normal.”

  6. jan Penney on December 2, 2019 at 11:01 am

    Thank you for recommending this lesson. It does indeed help with my unstable left hip and thigh. I will keep this lesson as a favorite.

  7. Remi Falquet on May 20, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    I have done years and years of awareness through movement lessons including a lot of pelvic clock lessons. This lesson got me to feel the pelvis much more accurately and smoothly than any other. I was also very stiff at the start of lesson and now feeling so much looser, can feel movement of pelvis and shoulder has created a nice integration of all the rest of my body as a nice rolling ball, well oiled, moving so easily.
    Thank you Nick!

  8. Liron on January 18, 2021 at 1:54 am

    This was a perfect class for my unbalanced pelvis and back pains. Thank you so much. Will definitely come back to it.

  9. Segolene Marchand on January 22, 2022 at 9:31 pm

    Wonderful lesson!
    It allowed me to feel details and differences between my comfortable hip joint and the one “with history” with surprising clarity.
    Having the leg supported brought a sensation of safety that allowed me to identify and let go of a lot of involuntary muscle work around the joint I had no idea was happening.
    That sensation of feeling the weight of the femurs dangling from the hip joints ridden of all the tensions when standing afterwards is priceless, I’ll definitely have to investigate and play with this lesson some more… new favorite!
    Thank you!!

  10. MARIA UCEDA on January 23, 2022 at 5:33 am

    Feels great in my hips now after the class. Thank you. ????

  11. Sara on February 5, 2022 at 8:01 am

    I use Feldenkrais to recover from desk work which I notice stiffens my outward hip mobility, so this is going to be a ‘go-to’ session. Very soothing too.

  12. James on July 8, 2022 at 7:53 am

    I thought I ‘knew’ my hip joints through yoga and whatnot. But discovering the hip joint from the inside face – by moving proximal around distal – was utterly novel. And fascinating. It’s a lovely sensation to feel the movement of the femoral head – from the acetabulum’s point of view. I was keenly aware of the difference between each joint, and found out what a parasitic movement is. Going to make this one a regular. Thank you, Nick!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on July 8, 2022 at 2:41 pm

      Glad to hear it. It’s a good one for many folks to return to, and one of the lessons I recommend most frequently. Our hip joints are engineering marvels, but so often we’re barely using a fraction of what they can do!

  13. chantal johnston on November 3, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    Excellent ! Thanks

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