Self-Hug, Embracing Our Differences (Patrons)

Back-lying, often knees bent. Learning to gently roll the head, shoulders, and chest from side-to-side while skillfully differentiating other parts of the body, especially the legs and pelvis. Explore how we constantly reconfigure our internal organization in order to keep a part of our body unmoving in relationship to the outside world. NOTE: helpful photos in the Comfort & Configuration tab.

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 – 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 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 – 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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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 – 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 – 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 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 – 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 1 – Interrupted?

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Tip – Technical Difficulties

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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.

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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Before the recording begins I had asked the Zoom class to look at me on screen for a moment. When asked to embrace yourself please DON’T embrace yourself by crossing your forearms like this:

INSTEAD, stack your arms one on top of the other, like this (but rest them down on your chest; I was just holding mine up on camera):

Note one hand is in the region of the opposite armpit; the other hand is around the outside of the shoulder.

We’ve created three Feldenkrais Project lessons, including this one, out of recordings of a sequence of classes taught in Jan-Feb 2021 called “Embracing Our Differences”.

They appear in order in our Deep Dive called The Illusion of Isolation, in the blue box.

Click here to read about the “Embracing Our Differences” somatic metaphor.

This lesson can also be found in Patrons Monthly, our collection of lessons exclusively for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors, with one or more new lessons added every month. It was recorded in a live Zoom class on January 5, 2021 then edited for flow and clarity.

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  1. Niva on July 3, 2021 at 3:55 am

    Excellent and interesting lesson.
    The many motives used in the lesson were familiar to me, but the composition was new!
    New observations, sensing new combinations, and the surprise of different walking in the end of the lesson 🙂
    Small movements lesson, very relaxing. A real pleasure.
    Many thanks, Nick.

  2. Lorraine on December 16, 2021 at 10:17 am

    I did this lesson twice in the space of a week. The second time I put all my thinking into feeling my shoulder blades resting on the floor. I noticed the weight of each shoulder blade as it glided along the floor. The result was wonderfully differentiated shoulder blades. One shoulder blade that has felt glued to my ribs for over fifty years can now move independently. It is amazing what listening to the instructions can achieve.

  3. Alisa on April 28, 2022 at 10:54 am

    My upper body feels so expanded, in a natural rather than forced way. I am walking more upright and forward compared to my more usual slouched and sunken and behind walking position. Wonderful to feel the comparison and feel the potential. Invigorating!! Thank you!!!

  4. Joan Oliver Goldsmith on April 28, 2022 at 11:30 am

    Similar experience to Lorraine, with the addition that at time I wasn’t quite sure which shoulder blade was connected to which hand. Rather disorienting and fun.

  5. María Gosse on April 28, 2022 at 5:05 pm

    Beautiful! I have all these feelings mingling within me after finishing the lesson. It’s been a beautiful warm day after a dreary rainy winter, so to finish the day like this, feels like an extra treat. I’ve seldom felt such a sense of wholeness and relaxation after exercising. I will try to carry with me this image of “floating” as I walk, which I can often re-create when we go for long walks but tend to forget when I’m rushing around the house doing my tasks. Perhaps I will eventually succeed in holding on to that floating, lighter step throughout the day. It all comes down to cultivating that self-awareness, remembering how good it feels to stand right, to walk right, just to move right. Thanks again, Nick.

  6. Nick Strauss-Klein on April 28, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    Fascinating learning happening today, it sounds like, by the three responses above! Thank you all for taking the time to share your experience with this lesson.

  7. Essie on April 30, 2022 at 9:28 am

    I have a question about the arms folded movement (aka self hug), one that I’ve been wondering about for a while, with the movement appearing in several lessons. I understand how the arms are stacked, but how much movement does one achieve side to side in the self hug, without the use of legs? I can barely move to the right/left when hugging myself, unless pressing with the feet. When not using my feet, the movement is very minimal, and I’m essentially just raising one shoulder at a time (not really rolling side to side). And I easily strain, and press against the back of my head to try and push my arm and shoulder further. I get the impression that folks are able to move quite a bit, and I can’t tell if I’m expected to only move a few inches, or if I’m doing it wrong.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 30, 2022 at 7:41 pm

      From what you say, a truly small movement is just right! Even if I sound like I’m cuing someone who happens to have a larger easy range, what’s in common with you is that you have an easy range too, and that’s the range within which you can really change, learn, and improve. Definitely don’t strain or press the back of your head to enlarge it: that will not expand the range in a lasting, helpful way.

      Think of it as raising the one shoulder, shifting the weight on your back slightly, and exhaling simultaneously, so there’s a sense of the chest softening and yielding. A beautiful coordinated combination of those ingredients with a sense of ease and pleasantness will be very helpful, and it’s plenty enough movement to relate to the other cues.

  8. Nigel Atkinson on January 6, 2023 at 2:16 am

    Happy New Year Nick!
    After a break it is so good to return to your lessons. The rolling lesson yesterday and this profound lesson of such refined and profound differentiation’s.
    Maintaining the quietness in the movement of the pelvis and feet for most of the lesson really brought lightness and clarity to the upper torso and I felt that particularly then in walking at the end of the lesson.
    A great start to my day and preparation for the New Year.
    Thank you!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on January 9, 2023 at 6:16 pm

      Wonderful! It’s a clever take on the genre. I love exploring the “not moving” parts. Have you seen this lesson in its context in The Illusion of Isolation Deep Dive?

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