Lifting Like a Baby + Simultaneous Lifting (Patrons)

Discover how baby-like games of effortlessness can make you a more poised and potent adult. Starts with explorations of how you first lifted your head while lying on your belly in your crib. Then in back-lying you'll learn to quietly, precisely lift and lower parts of your body while studying details of ground support, muscle tone, and reversibility of movement, leading to a discovery of surprising "new" baby skills at the end. Begins with a three-minute talk about the perceptual paradoxes of "effortless" movement.

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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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 1 – Interrupted?

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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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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.

Tip 3 – Head Support

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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!

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.

We offer over 50 free lessons, but this one's just for our Patron-level donors. You can learn about it in the free lesson notes and comments below, but to access the audio you’ll need to join The FP as a Patron. Learn more

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While the majority of the lesson takes place in back-lying, have a nice clean towel or pillowcase for the front-lying, crib-like experiments at the beginning and near the end of the lesson. You’re encouraged to really let the weight of your head smoosh different parts of your face into the ground.

If you’d like to get more comfortable with front lying before doing this lesson, you may wish to try The Power of Prone first.

In the back-lying, knees bent, head lightening or lifting steps, if you are comfortable lifting your head, allow it to incline naturally downward as if to look between your knees each time you lift.

Why does lying on your belly and lifting your head get so much easier, when those extension movements are the minority of the time in this largely back-lying lesson about precisely coordinating your flexors?

As always in our lives, the flexors and extensors are in a constant balanced dance. Improving the function of one requires more accurately inhibiting the other. Getting to know your flexors in such a detailed way gives you more precise control of decontracting them when you want to extend.

Additionally, you’ve become by this point so attuned to constantly flowing, changing interactions with the ground that you’re using the ground much more efficiently to support your head movements.

There’s a helpful summary of principles and learning techniques for effortless strength at the bottom of the course description from the class that this lesson introduced. Check out The Science and Art of “Effortless” Strength.

On another note, it’s worth acknowledging that near the end of the lesson, when you’ve returned to your belly, I purposely begin using the words “pushing” and “pressing” the floor a lot more than anywhere else in this lesson or the Grounding for Liftoff course it appears in. Here we’re alluding back to early developmental movements of babies, before lifting was even an option, when we got to know our very small world simply by pushing into it.

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

It also appears in our course called Grounding for Liftoff.

Recorded in an FP Weekly Zoom class on Oct 3, 2023 during a course called The Science and Art of “Effortless” Strength, then edited to improve flow, clarity, and sound quality in this permanent audio version.

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  1. Sara on March 24, 2024 at 4:25 am

    Really exquisite lesson, which I notice provides me with a deep way to learn how to let my neck and abdominal muscles reduce and reduce their efforts. I am feeling so light and relaxed now.

  2. Julie Turner on April 22, 2024 at 4:58 pm

    Nick when I was young and struggling to be a dancer! I was involved in Martha Graham technique – would that I could have had access to this lesson then!! Graham technique was all based on contracting in the middle of the body and releasing into movement. The classes were like torture but I was addicted to the idea that it was all going to make me into a better dancer – not so, I wrecked my body.

    ‘we used to do an exercise called Pleadings which was pretty much what we were doing at the end of this lesson where both the head and legs were off the gorund – except that you would lift everything and bend to the side stretching both arms out to one side. It was not effortless in those days and now I wonder if Martha Graham herself knew the effortless way to do it, but for sure teachers I had didn’t have a clue. Anyway I finished off this lesson with some very effortless pleadings and enjoyed returning to them with a very different sense of them.

    Just to round the story off I did wreck my body through all of that struggle, but then I discovered New Dance and Contact Improvisation and many of the things I learnt at that time had their root in techniques such as Feldenkrais although I didn’t know that then, but coming to your lessons all of these years later is like coming full circle and I discover that I am still learning. (I’m 65 now).
    I often take your sessions on into movement and still rejoice that I did injure my body, because if I hadn’t this wonderful journey wouldn’t have begun and still be going on now.

    Thanks so much for all of your wonderful sessions and for making them so easily available, they have been a wonderful gift for me for over a year now and came at a time of personal loss.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 23, 2024 at 7:16 am

      What an amazing story of how we can accumulate wisdom as we mature! I resonated with your gratitude for your injury: I’ve often said the same thing about my piano injury 25 years ago that led me to Feldenkrais.

      I’m curious to hear about your experience with the next lesson in the Grounding for Liftoff course, Joyful Lifted Rolling. If you dive into that one, please let us all know how it goes, like you did with this comment!

  3. Chris Sigurdson on May 20, 2024 at 4:31 pm

    So fun. I repeated this lesson after watching a friend’s twin 9 months old move around on the floor ( and experiment with rising to stand by crawling up a cooler). So I had the image of a chubby baby with little rocking movement as I experimented with different “goals”. And the pleasure I saw on their faces.

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