Rolling to Sitting, and Beyond

How do we get off the floor? This lesson explores the path from lying on your back to sitting up, and getting back down again, organizing the torso and limbs towards a smoother, simpler, more pleasurable transition. These movements are also powerful organizers for improving upright posture.

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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 – 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.

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 – 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.

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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 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 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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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 – 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 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 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.

  • If you struggle with rolling because of vestibular difficulties such as vertigo, dizziness, or nausea, please proceed very cautiously. You might do some or much of the lesson in your imagination, or perhaps skip this lesson for now.
  • This lesson requires a lot of floor space. Lying on your back and extending your arms fully out to the sides will show you the required space pretty well, though a little more than that is nice if possible.
  • If you need head support for comfortable resting you should of course start with it. You may find as the lesson unfolds that you need or want less. Experiment!
  • If you find difficulties that don’t ease as you get into the lesson, perhaps go back to the beginning of our Learning the Limbs, from the Center collection and get more familiar with the two Connecting Shoulders and Hips lessons, then return to this lesson.

This lesson can help to make a direct connection from all our Feldenkrais studies on the floor up into our upright lives. It’s lovely to move through the different positions and relationships with gravity that life requires of us easily and gracefully. Here’s a chance to practice. Please continue to explore the how of your day-to-day transitions between lying, sitting, and standing. Any of them can become a mini ATM lesson, given a little time and curiosity.

This lesson is found in the collection called Learning the Limbs, from the Center. It also appears in our Rock & Roll! (and Rotate) Deep Dive.

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 it’s in. It particularly benefits from familiarity with the Connecting Hips and Shoulders lessons that precede it.

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  1. Nicole Laliberté on August 6, 2019 at 10:33 am

    OMG the “Oye Vay Position” had me laughing so hard I eventually (after I could stop laughing) had to get up and “rewind” the mp3 because I had missed the directions that followed! I will forever refer to you and your description when teaching this lesson – thank you!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on August 9, 2019 at 11:27 am

      Yay! It’s so lovely when imagery connects and adds to the joy of study! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Laura Kunin on October 4, 2019 at 6:36 am

    hello nick, what’s the source of this lesson? i am feldy practitioner in Spain. I really appreciate your work. thanks

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 4, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      Since all our primary lessons are available to all our listeners, and our site is 100% funded by donation, access to lesson source notes is one of our incentives to donate and support the Feldenkrais Project. I hope you’ll consider joining the Project! Logged in donors will find the lesson source for every lesson in the blue tab titled “Source”, underneath each lesson’s audio player. Source notes are one perk among many other benefits for donors.

  3. Lorraine Stone on September 28, 2020 at 2:58 am

    As I did this lesson my cat shared the floor with me. She was a bit annoyed that I kept rolling into her. Early in the lesson when I was rolling to sit and feeling quite pleased with coming to sit, just as I raised my head I caught sight of my cat. She rolled her back legs into the air, legs akimbo, back paws relaxed. Then, perfectly differentiated she rolled her front paws off the floor front legs stretched over her head, arched her back and rolled to the other side. One trial learning.

    • evelyn davis on September 28, 2021 at 8:28 pm

      i adore your description of both the cat and the experience… thank you!

  4. Ellen Agger on March 27, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    Awesome, freeing lesson. So interesting after a wrist and shoulder fracture over a year ago to see how I can allow more movement to all of me. Great lesson.

  5. Terry Moro on April 29, 2021 at 4:47 pm

    Because I have COPD, I noticed this lesson really relaxed my breathing. Sweeping the arms down and then up over my head while still on the floor made me feel like an angel. Blessings to you and thank you.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 29, 2021 at 4:49 pm

      Lovely to hear, thanks for letting us know!

  6. Joan Oliver Goldsmith on May 1, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    With the nodding and using the eyes with and counter to the movement–I find that the only way I can do this sort of thing and not tense up is to turn each position into one position rather than two. Put flashlights in the eyes and chin, make an X when nodding up and then a V when nodding down. if that makes any sense.
    Super practice. Did it in the living room the second time where there was lots of room to sweep the arms. Very Martha Graham-ish movement.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on May 3, 2021 at 2:45 pm

      Yeah, it’s fun to have room for this one! And as always, improvising around the directions and finding a comfortable way to do it is the name of the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if next time you play with something similar you find new ease with it.

  7. Lorraine on June 2, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    I found a new way to think of the eyes and head moving in opposition. I sat on the lounge with my glasses on to read the comments and as I nodded my head down I looked up over the top of my glasses and as I nodded my head up I looked down at the bottom rim of my glasses.

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