Length Without Effort (36m)

Begins in standing briefly, then mostly back-lying, knees bent. Relating and improving turning and twisting functions from your head down to your feet and back, and becoming more sensitive to the movement and length possibilities between them.

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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 1 – Interrupted?

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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 – 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!

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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 – 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!

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While lying on your back, whenever your knees are bent, let your feet and knees be about the width of your hips, and your knees quite bent (if they allow that comfortably) so that your lower legs are “standing”.

If you find the movements of the lesson cause your feet to slip frequently, you might find a way to increase the friction under them so you don’t have to work to keep them in place.

In lessons 3 and 4 (and their intro talk) I make reference to “celestial gravity.” I’m indebted to Feldenkrais Trainer and master Zen teacher Russell Delman for this beautiful image, which I was introduced to in his Embodied Life II collection of lessons, available for public purchase. Terrestrial gravity is the center-of-the-earth gravity we think of usually. Celestial gravity refers to the many aspects of being human that call us heavenward, including our evolutionary journey rising away from ground-level living! Finding ourselves more and more often at our maximum skeletal height, elegantly suspended between terrestrial and celestial gravity, has a profound influence on our joy and comfort, our ease of movement, and the effectiveness with which we function.

Finding this graceful length more often is one of the many goals of Feldenkrais study.

This audio recording is found in Getting Oriented, our introductory collection of Feldenkrais basics for newcomers (and longtimers looking for a “tune-up”).

It also appears in our Deep Dive called Supple Feet, Powerful Legs.

This lesson was recorded in an introductory workshop I called Move Smarter, Safer, and Stronger with Feldenkrais: Access Your Axis.

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Patrons can listen to Getting Oriented tracks 5-7 (the Access Your Axis talk and lessons) without interruption as a 70-minute workshop recording.

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20 Comments

  1. Joanne on April 15, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Very cool, seeing the difference in turning side to side upright after the exercise. And it is effortless!

  2. beverly Brookman on October 5, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    i have a more “fluid ” movement. My neck has started to move more and more aware of my feet! thanks for the awareness!

  3. Sunny on November 20, 2020 at 11:28 pm

    Thank you Nick and team, this is really helpful.

  4. Lorraine on May 3, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    This is a great lesson. It doesn’t matter how often that I explore these movements I never fail to learn more.

  5. Ghislaine Rosen on June 17, 2021 at 1:09 am

    Felt the difference in the movement of both my feet doing the rotation and helping
    Felt more symmetry in the body.thank you

  6. Boris on October 12, 2021 at 1:11 am

    Am I going too slow lol, I could barely do half a repetition sometimes before you move on, I pauses the audio every time and it took me 2 hours to do the lesson.

    By the end even through I went super slow and did kind of increase my awareness I also felt a bit achy from laying on my back for so long lol.

    I think maybe I was going too “seriously” about it, whereas a more lighthearted attitude even if faster and missing some details would give overall better results.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 12, 2021 at 11:52 am

      Wow, that is impressively slow! I like your instinct: you may be going a bit too “seriously,” or making each movement a bit too precious. (I don’t often get to say this; most folks struggle with too fast and too little attention!)

      Yes, perhaps try it again a little lighter, and perhaps with smaller movements (that don’t take as long). And let me know how you feel afterward by comparison!

      • Boris on October 12, 2021 at 6:14 pm

        Ok I did the lesson again today, and before the lesson I did some trager mentastics to feel as relaxed and pleasant as possible.

        Also I did slow but very small movements, so small that my knee barely moved off center as I was lifting side of sole.

        I feel if I shift my knee of center a lot than it takes muscular effort to bring it back so I don’t shift it a lot.

        I got lots of chronic tensions in my left side and abdomen, back so I had lots of muscle spasm with trembling in the knees up and down even as soon as I began shifting my sole and turning head.
        It did feel like something in my abdomen loosened up a bit, and in general I felt “something” going on.

        This shaking stuff happens to me all the time due to these chronic tensions so I’m used to it.
        I was surprised though how it happened literally at the instant I began the movement, maybe it’s cause I already relaxed as much as possible before the lesson.

        But anyway, doing smaller movements enabled me to do a few reps before you move on so that’s cool.

        I think my movements became a bit bigger automatically towards the end of the lesson anyway.

        I’m not what made the bigger difference, the “prewarmup” or relaxing and getting into a more pleasant mood, or just keeping the movement small.

        Probably relaxing and entering a more pleasant mental state beforehand made it more natural to not try hard and be so serious, so even when I did small movement I didn’t do it with serious intensity.
        Maybe if I did bigger movements from the start I would have gotten similar results.

        But I read a lot of feldenkrais lol so I know the magic is not in the bigger and faster, at least not at the start.

        I think being in pleasant chill mood definitely makes it easier to slow down to a pace that feels right, not mega slow but not fast for sure, while being in a bad pent up mood just makes things so much harder than it has to be.

        Lol sorry for rambling nick, but you asked to report back 🙂

        • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 14, 2021 at 12:46 pm

          No problem. Your process sounds very healthy, and I think these details create a nice window into one person’s natural learning process, which others may find value reading about.

  7. Maria Mitu on October 21, 2021 at 5:32 am

    Hello, Nick. Feldenkrais has been my go to for a long time. The no disconfort approach came as a revelation after injuries in my knees and a long time of pushing myself. I find myself now trying to reconcile this almost meditative aproach to movement with the more classical way of approaching recovery from injury through muscle strengthening. What’s your take on this? Have you had any students who came from a long time of no moving due to fear and pain from injuries and who have managed to bring harmony in their system? Thanks!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 25, 2021 at 10:27 am

      Yes, many! Using awareness gained from Feldenkrais study, and patient experimenting with gentle then gradually more vigorous exercise, it’s great to explore your way back into more movement. I’m a huge fan for “simple human” kinds of training in these situations: walking, swimming, moving heavy objects (not very heavy at first), bits of running if it’s accessible to you. There’s some learning to sort out: what are the sensations that correspond with safe, effective, efficient application of effort supported by good organization of our bones and joints, and what are sensations that reflect straining and sheering our bodies? As you explore and expand your exercise repertoire avoid external imposition that might deafen you to your own experience. For me and many students I’ve coached through this that may mean to walk or run alone (not letting a friend or pet set your pace), to avoid classes or competitive atmospheres, to watch out for being more interested in the numbers (miles/minutes) than your sensations in THAT moment. And finally exercise machines are almost always to be avoided, since they set your biomechanics artificially and repetitively. Remember: healthy movement feels good, and getting physically tired can feel good, during and after! Set the quality of the experience as your goal, nothing else.

  8. Giles Cole on February 23, 2022 at 4:28 am

    What a lovely lesson. Having attended Deborah Bowes lesson yesterday, this morning I followed it up by doing the Supple ankles, shifting pelvis and then the Activating the arches. I finally came to this lesson which had a lovely calming and quietening effect. In sitting I am now very aware of a tendency to be more on the outside of one foot and the inside of the other. To explore further…..

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on February 23, 2022 at 5:39 am

      I’m so tickled that you worked your way through my recommended “homework” lessons after our weekly Zoom class! I enjoy spending time putting those together each week so it’s gratifying each time I learn folks are using them.

      For anyone curious, Giles and I are talking about Feldenkrais Project weekly pay-what-you-can Zoom classes. Everyone who signs up receives an email with the Zoom recording and recommended follow-up study from our permanent Feldenkrais Project audio lessons.

  9. Nigel Atkinson on October 26, 2022 at 6:12 am

    A wonderful lesson and beautifully paced. This is one I will keep in my pocket and return too often.

  10. Aviva on December 20, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    Amazingly healing lesson.
    From a tensed back to total freedom all the way from feet to head up the spine.
    Thank you,
    Aviva Wynn.

  11. Celeste on May 7, 2023 at 4:57 am

    I loved this lesson! Not only the difference between the beginning and end of the class in the way I was laying down ( felt so much more even) but also the fact that while twisting at the end in standing, I was also rolling my feet to their edges without consciously doing it (until you mentioned to take our attention there) , which means that I learnt to reorganise the movement to make it easier and smoother. This is so cool, really! Because the first twists after the class I thought ‘ oh, it got a bit stiff’ and then I instantly used my feet to make it softer and all this without really thinking about it..my body just went there to this new organisation of the movement it had just learnt while laying down <3 simply awesome! Thank you Nick!

  12. Kate Ruckman on February 2, 2024 at 2:35 pm

    Lesson 3 was very interesting! It’s a high pain day for me, or it was–almost no cartilage in right shoulder and both knees, as well as some spinal issues that sometimes don’t allow me to stand up more than a few minutes without significant fiery pain. During the standing part at first my movements were jerky and painful even though slow, and my right knee would make a giving-away sensation on turning, almost a pop. I had to lie down early.

    Afterward, standing, my movements were much smoother and much less pain. I didn’t push it too long, but it was very noticable! Thank you, this is not like any PT or exercise I’ve ever done before…even yoga often has you push beyond a sensible limit. I do a little qi gong, and I think this will complement that beautifully.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on February 4, 2024 at 10:21 am

      Welcome to Feldenkrais! It sounds like you’re tracking beautifully. Yes, it’s very different than a lot of other approaches: we’ll help you discover how “less is more” – very much more! Yes, qi gong and tai chi are often mentioned by folks who do them as complementary to Feldenkrais. Continue to not “push it” and see what happens!

  13. Ursula on May 2, 2024 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Nick, while doing this lesson and thinking as always how can I do this with less effort or what is inhibiting freer movement I felt my arms and shoulders preventing my surrender to the movements. Like my arms are like soldiers’ arms. Why would this be? I have neck issues and anxiety….could this be some protective mechanism at work….how can I release that?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on May 2, 2024 at 4:24 pm

      That sounds like a reasonable interpretation. A lot of our unnecessary efforts have roots in habits we learned to protect ourselves in another situation. As far as releasing it, how is the process of this lesson, and other ones where you explore your neck and arms and shoulders? Do you feel more ease or comfort or calm in the region at the end? If so, you are in the right processes – keep exploring!

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