Perfecting the Self-Image (Patrons)

Seated, back-lying, and eventually transitioning between, all while holding one foot in two hands. This lesson clarifies how our attention and sensory motor imagination can be consciously harnessed to improve our self-image, options, and behavior, since – as Moshe writes – "We act in accordance with our self-image."


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: 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 – 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.

While we offer 52 free lessons, this one's just for our Patron-level donors. You can preview the 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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Moshe dives into this lesson with no initial back-lying scan, but feel free to rest on your back during the brief talk that introduces the lesson. During the seated, bent knees wide apart portions of the lesson you could rest one or both knees on a pillow to make if it helps to make a more comfortable home position.

The Related Lessons tab has recommended preparation lessons to help make “Perfecting the Self-Image” more accessible. If you discover that it’s hard to hold a space of curiosity because there’s too much frustration or challenge in this lesson, in addition to the advice given in the introduction you could try one or more of those lessons first.

In both the seated and lying down configurations, whenever you take hold of your one foot with two hands, both arms reach down between the knees (the knees are usually wide apart). The hand on the same side of your body as the foot you are holding holds the outside of the heel in its palm. The other hand is palm-to-sole near the toes, with the four fingers holding the four small toes, and the thumb inserted between big toe and 2nd toe.

As you get to the middle of the lesson, when you start moving from a back-lying, rolled right configuration, you may gently pull on your right foot with your two hands to help you learn to arc your head around along the floor toward your right knee.

This lesson is one of 12 in Moshe Feldenkrais’s 1972 book Awareness Through Movement. The Feldenkrais Project has a collection of lessons from this source.

It was recorded during our quarterly Patrons call on April 15, 2021. Patrons can view a longer introduction to this lesson and some fascinating after-lesson discussion here.

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While taught in my own words, this lesson comes directly from Moshe Feldenkrais’s 1972 book Awareness Through Movement.

Got a question for Nick, or a thought about this lesson?

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  1. Nick Strauss-Klein on April 22, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    The audio player above is how I recommend you explore this lesson. It’s been edited for flow and clarity, and the lesson notes may be helpful.

    Patrons can also view a longer introduction to this lesson and some fascinating after-lesson discussion here in the unedited Zoom recording, including more quotes straight from Moshe, and some amazing responses from surprised students.

    One public comment was already left on that page. I want to highlight an excerpt here because it’s so valuable for learning:

    I am absorbing the depth and breadth of power we possess when we meld mind and body. The primary motivation for me is developing a different relationship to what I’ve been regarding as chronic pain that will only get worse as I age. Today I recognize just how much the story I tell myself about my body’s sensations and believing in my agency in this body (rather than being hijacked by the insults of time on my body) will make a difference in my daily lived experience. Thank you!

    If you’ve got a response to this lesson or a question about it, please comment below.

  2. Kira Heimeriks on April 26, 2021 at 6:02 am

    Wow, this was quite a transformative lesson! I’ll revisit this and see what’ll happen. Thank you!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 27, 2021 at 3:48 pm

      It’s transformative for me, too! This one always surprises me. I don’t think of myself as particularly flexible and I used to be intimidated by this genre of lesson, but it never fails to surprise me how much I improve, and how wide-ranging the noticeable improvements are throughout me – no matter how limited I feel at the beginning!

  3. Lorraine on July 25, 2021 at 1:06 am

    Often I find the more physical of Moshe’s lessons very challenging.I’ve always been able to roll to sit in this configuration but felt ill at ease with the constraints. Today I see how much the constraints contribute to my understanding of myself. Next time I’ll see how much I can do without effort. I might be on my way to getting this very strange roll to sit in a Feldenkrais way.

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