Lengthening the Arms, Freeing the Scapulas (33m, Patrons)

Back-lying, knees bent, arms often resting loosely upwards on the floor, and in self-hug position at other times. Lengthening the arms, differentiating the head, and expanding the mobility and self-image of the shoulder blades (scapulas).

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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Tip 3 – Head Support

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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 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 – Pause the recording

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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.

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!

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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When you lay your arms overhead, they should each be loosely straight and resting on the ground, with hand/forearm/elbow not airborne. Defer to whatever position you can find that matches these two guidelines and is still comfortable for you, even if your arms need to be far apart. They don’t need to be near your head, or symmetrically arranged.

Later in the lesson, if the self-hug position is difficult for you as described, you can make the hug as loose as necessary to suit the comfort of your shoulders. If you can’t reach your shoulder blades, hold your ribs and draw on them instead. Just don’t cross your arms – they are stacked on top of each other in the self-hug. (If you cross them, they get in the way of each other when you reach to the side.)

In all movements go slowly in “both directions,” meaning move gradually into each movement and gradually as you return home.

During the self-hug step, on the second side, the intention for the reaching arm is the same movement direction described for the first side: across your body and up your mat. It’s a diagonal movement.

Check out the Curiosities tab in the lesson notes for Effortless Arms and Shoulders for a deeper discussion of Moshe Feldenkrais’s ideas about work versus effort.

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our collection of Nick’s new lessons, for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors.

It’s edited audio from a lesson taught in the September 2019 video conference for Patrons.

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  1. Lorraine on April 11, 2021 at 2:53 am

    This lesson makes me want to explore further. I’ll try some of the related lessons.

  2. judi clinton on January 5, 2024 at 8:49 pm

    I’m recovering from a torn rotator cuff 5 weeks now, and this is a great way tofind how to move around the limited shoulder and experiment with different angles of lengthening, so that arm is not straight elbow, but still doing many variations out of gravity.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on January 7, 2024 at 7:36 am

      Excellent, thanks for sharing! Yes, with the arm supported by the floor, elbow bent as needed, there are great options in this lesson to safely explore what movements are possible as you heal.

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