The Periscope

Side-lying, using a reference movement of the arm standing like a periscope. This lesson softens, mobilizes, and integrates the use of the chest and shoulders.

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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.

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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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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.

Tip 1 – Interrupted?

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Tip – Pause the recording

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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 – 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.

Please have a bath towel nearby to fold for head support for this and all side-lying lessons as needed. As the lesson progresses you may find you need – and perhaps want – less head support, so you are freer to move.

Rest frequently, before you feel fatigued. You can even pause the recording or just let it continue while you only imagine the movements during any extra rests you need.

The periscope image at the beginning and end of this lesson always intends the periscope-like arm to be in true vertical. That is, the periscope arm is plumb with gravity, standing up vertically in the room. (Usually in ATM lessons “up” refers to the direction the crown of your head is pointing, which is usually “up” the length of your mat, toward the top of the mat.)

The spiraling action of the periscope described at the very end of the lesson can of course be tried with the other arm too. Note that the direction of the rotation of the arm while lengthening it is not specified. Both ways of rotating are possible, and require very different and fascinating uses of the chest and spine. Try both!

This lesson is found in our Freeing the Spine, Chest, Shoulders, and Neck collection. The next lesson in this collection builds directly on this one.

It also appears in our Deep Dive course called Shoulder Cloak, Rib Basket, Sliding Sternum.

Like most of our lessons, this one can be studied out of context, but you may find additional learning value by approaching it in the order of the collection or Deep Dive it’s in.

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

Patron-level donors can listen to a different teaching of this lesson in the Legacy and Alternate Lessons collection called Periscope 2 (Patrons).

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

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  1. Joan Haan on March 28, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    Was sorry to have missed class last week. Feel fortunate that I was able to take virtually. Feel relaxed, a bit confused and a lightness in both my ribs and hip!

  2. Laurie on February 3, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    This and Periscope 2 are on my all time favorites list. The second time I did this lesson I felt a long standing stuck place inside my scapula free up. It was like getting a massage from the inside. The amount of freedom in my shoulders was incredible and it was truly blissful! This used to be “my spot” that was only relieved by a massage therapist’s elbow in the groove between. Having it free its own self was sublime!

  3. Gaile on June 20, 2018 at 5:57 am

    Just an amazing lesson. Did just after breaking a finger badly and while casted and again after the op to fix it. Both times very different but the end result was such a feeling of lightness and being centred back again in my body. Thank you thank you

  4. Wendy on September 22, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Wonderful lesson! I am enjoying the image of my scapula sliding along my upper ribs.

  5. Sigurdson Chris on October 22, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    This was profound. I’d had a small spasm in my thoracic ribs/spine that was really bothering me and my movements. It’s gone!

  6. meriel nicoll on March 22, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    FABULOUS i have a lot of stiffness in my shoulders and upper body this is so good for freeing up the ribs spine and shoulders

  7. Gail Fishman on August 15, 2019 at 7:16 pm

    What is interesting about yourself? Your body is moving, the joints are flowing and the chest is softening, so reassuring and wonderful, thank you!

  8. Beverly Brookman on January 4, 2021 at 2:26 pm

    Wow did the whole lesson ,rather ½ as I often do. “stuck scapula and left side persistent pain feels lighter and well almost light headed. will definitely do again but wonder if it’s cumulative as is often the case.. wwhere would you suggest I stop and start again if i do half. Thanks as always.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on January 4, 2021 at 3:25 pm

      If you need to stop, or feel you want to, any full rest on your back is an appropriate place. There’s more details on our FAQ about how to resume a lesson, and your learning.

  9. addi on February 9, 2023 at 11:56 am

    LOVd this Lesson Nick! (I sent a check awhile back-because i dont like paypal, but) am joining as a member today because this was just SOooGood, i wants more ;0)

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on February 9, 2023 at 12:06 pm

      That’s awesome, thank you so much! As soon as you’re a Member you’ll have access to the Related Lessons tab. You’ll find there are several connected lessons you can do. For access to all the Related Lessons you may wish to join at the Patron level!

  10. Christine on February 11, 2023 at 2:44 am

    This lesson helped me relieve my upper body. My neck felt longer, my head was supported and lighter and my chest more open when I stood up. There was also less tension in my lower back. I’m really savouring these changes ! Thank you Nick !

  11. Chris Sigurdson on February 14, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Revisited after chopping wood and ice. What a relief! Such a great lesson

  12. Judirh Bodenheimer on February 16, 2023 at 2:48 pm

    What a wonderful and interesting lesson, thank you very much.
    I have one question. In the beginning you mention noticing the chest, when you are actually referring to the back. I always regard the chest as only the front of thr body.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on February 16, 2023 at 4:55 pm

      I think many folks think of it that way, but I like to imbue the image of the chest with very three dimensional connotations.

      I also sometimes use the word “chest” in place of “ribcage” (which I avoid using due to its limiting connotations). You could substitute “rib basket” when I say chest, but even that’s a little limiting since I’m often thinking of the whole upper torso, including the sternum and sometimes even the shoulders.

  13. Nick Strauss-Klein on February 16, 2023 at 4:54 pm

    I think many folks think of it that way, but I like to imbue the image of the chest with very three dimensional connotations.

    I also sometimes use the word “chest” in place of “ribcage” (which I avoid using due to its limiting connotations). You could substitute “rib basket” when I say chest, but even that’s a little limiting since I’m often thinking of the whole upper torso, including the sternum and sometimes even the shoulders.

  14. Gina C on April 17, 2023 at 1:46 am

    Thank you very much for your classes. I am doing one a day at present and find relief with every class. I will be repeating this one a few times as it is such a blessing for the shoulder girdle sternum issues I am wanting to heal.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 17, 2023 at 8:13 am

      Glad to hear it! If you’re interested in more like it, we have a lot of variations on this lesson in different forms around the website. Check out the Deep Dive linked in the Context tab, and/or the Related Lessons and Alternate Version tabs above, if you haven’t.

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