The “Morning Prayer” Lesson (Patrons)

With the hands together like a child praying, learn to move them up and down in front of you first in lying down, then sitting, then kneeling, gradually expanding this gentle movement into a larger and larger action. Details of the scapulas, spine, atlas, tongue, eyes, and floor support are investigated. Framed by brief explorations in standing.

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 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 – 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 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 – 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.

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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.

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 – 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 – 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 – 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.

Browser/device size and audio player

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

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 – 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.

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Tip – Technical Difficulties

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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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You may wish to have a firm, level chair and a large bath towel nearby. They can help with adaptations:

  • The floor-sitting parts may be done in a chair if necessary for comfort, but many people who aren’t very comfortable sitting on the floor can make it easier if they raise their bottom a bit with a firm cushion, a yoga block, or a folded up bath towel.
  • The kneeling parts may be adapted to sitting or standing if necessary, but folding a few layers of towel to kneel on can make it much easier. Having the chair nearby in front of you can help for stability as you transition.

Whether you’re lying on your back, sitting, or kneeling, the starting position of your “prayer hands” is the same: your hands together in front of your face, your fingertips pointing upwards.

Moving them “up and down” or  “above and below your face” is meant relative to you, even when you’re lying on your back. This means that while you’re back-lying the fingers point at the wall above your head, not the ceiling, and your hands move parallel to the floor.

I’ve made several additions to Moshe Feldenkrais’s classic version of this lesson to make it more accessible and to help you connect this learning with other Feldenkrais Project lessons.

These details may be helpful after you’ve done this lesson at least once.

The early exploration of the scapulas on the ground calls back to the “inchworm” in A Spiral of Length and Power (Patrons) and Integrating the Feet (Patrons) and lesson #2 of Self Empowerment (Members & Patrons video workshop).

The question about which way your heels move to best support you lift up your hands while standing on your knees is a great one to return to. When the pelvis comes forward, the activity of the buttocks and hips invites the heels to move closer together (explore this in lesson #1 of the Self Empowerment workshop). Bringing this sense into the action creates more potency in the legs and clearer support from the knees and lower legs interacting dynamically with the floor.

If it’s hard to find that in this lesson, this connection may be easier to discover in the prone steps of The Buttocks lesson and lessons in its Related Lessons tab: when the pelvis moves forward toward the earth as you squeeze your buttocks, the hip joints open slightly and the legs rotate externally, bringing the heels toward each other.

On another note, I sometimes am asked what lessons are good for developing meditation postures. This would be one of my first recommendations. My own meditation posture has particularly benefitted exploring the seated parts of this lesson while sitting half lotus on the same yoga block I use for meditation. (That’s just my practice; any sitting position will benefit.)

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

As Light as a Finger: Games of Weightlessness (Patrons), mentioned in the recording, was recorded in the same sequence of lessons. Both appear in our Deep Dive called Grounding for Liftoff.

Recorded in an FP Weekly Zoom class on August 29, 2023 during a course called Resilience, then edited to improve flow, clarity, and sound quality in this permanent audio version.

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  1. Nick Strauss-Klein on January 26, 2024 at 11:13 am

    Alun, a student in the Zoom discussion after this lesson was recorded, made a beautiful comment about it that matches my own experience studying the source lesson: “I felt a sense of wonder and awe and gratitude. That was a very profound lesson.” Shared with his permission.

  2. Sara on January 27, 2024 at 3:20 am

    I loved this lesson on so many levels: the bird-like action of my shoulder blades, releasing them so that my spine could move freely between; the flexion and extension of my spine, aided by that shoulder blade action; then connected earth and sky in such a divine way. I feel set up for my day and will return to this one often!

  3. Stephen R Stern on March 20, 2024 at 10:37 am

    Very challenging to go between back, sitting and kneeling — and to find the flow from hands, scapulas or sit bone floor source with ease. Yet with many failures and rests and returng the standing finding source of uplift and letting it go seems so rewarding.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on March 20, 2024 at 12:39 pm

      Wonderful! Your comment mentions something it’s important to highlight: failures are a necessary part of learning. The trouble with failing isn’t that we failed, but how we’ve been trained culturally to think about our failures. Instead of just absorbing them as valuable information along the process of learning, we typically beat up on ourselves or expect skills before we’ve had a chance to learn them through trial and error. One constant in Feldenkrais is we’re trying to create an environment of self-discovery where failed attempts are useful, and don’t have a large or negative emotional reaction layered onto them.

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