Reaching, Twisting, and Gazing Smoothly (Patrons)

Side-lying, learning to reach, turn, twist, and roll effortlessly by improving integration of the rotation functions of the axis (head, spine, and pelvis) with movements of the hands, arms, shoulders, chest, breath...and eyes! The Curiosities tab has notes from an introductory discussion with the students before this lesson was recorded.

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 – 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 – 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.

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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 – 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 – 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.

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!

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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 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 – Technical Difficulties

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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 – 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.

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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  • This lesson begins in standing.
  • Make sure the floor surface you’ll lie down on is soft enough for your hips and shoulders to be comfortable in side-lying.
  • Have a large bath towel nearby to fold for head support if needed. Consider unique folded thicknesses that work well for you depending on the situation: back-lying, side-lying, or rolling. You may find you enjoy less or no head support as the lesson progresses.

In the initial standing steps, when asked about your eye movements, “How do they cross the horizon?” may be unclear for some. What I mean is, how do your eyes travel along the horizon, looking around yourself, surveying the horizon.

When lying on your side, the floor side arm is always resting, extended out in front of you at the height of your shoulder, palm facing the ceiling. There are no movement instructions given for this arm.

This lesson was recorded in a short workshop called Free Your Spine, which included a lot of newcomers to Feldenkrais. As you settle into the back-lying rest after the lesson begins in standing, you’ll hear a reference about coming into the world of sensations after an intellectual discussion. Since there’s a few references to that discussion, here’s a summary:

I first explained that the Feldenkrais Method is about learning to learn, and that while we were in a group exercise studio where usually our bodies and muscle fibers are challenged so that they improve (as in cardio, strength, or stretch training), we were instead about to challenge our attention so we could better learn from our experience.

I then asked the students what the prerequisites or ingredients of learning are. Here’s the list they developed:

  • ease
  • curiosity
  • interest
  • attention
  • being present
  • safety

We focused on curiosity and said we have to generate an interest, an attention, an honest curiosity about the present moment if we’re going to fully experience it, and give it a chance to wire our brains differently.

We talked about conditions for curiosity and said they included safety, comfort and ease, and an effortlessness, almost child-like quality of exploring the self and the environment.

We talked about how in most classes in the group exercise studio we were in, and many other situations in life, we feel rewarded for our effort, for a sense of trying hard. We may even feel like the reward is about the effort, or like we’re being watched (or watching ourselves) to see if we look like we’re trying hard enough.

Instead, we said, we’d see what would happen if we cultivated a lazy, effortless sense of exploration during our hour together.

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our growing collection of new lessons (one or more added every month) for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors.

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

This lesson was recorded in a workshop I called Free Your Spine. More context in the Curiosities tab.

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  1. Gail Fishman on October 26, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Love how you pull us all together using our eyes to guide our movements and give a breath of fresh air to our nervous systems!

  2. Luisa on December 15, 2022 at 10:19 pm

    The effect of this lesson on my gaze and posture was amazing. At the beginning of the lesson my gaze was below the horizon line. At the end, my whole posture was improved. Head higher, shoulders straightened and my gaze was right at the horizon. The reach of my gaze was almost 360 when turning right and left. Thank you!

  3. Julie Turner on August 24, 2023 at 6:08 am


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