Side Clock: Shoulders (and Intro to Hip)

Side-lying. Starts as a "Feldenkrais basics" shoulders-and-hips lesson, then uses the image of a clock face to explore precise coordination, developing freedom and skill in the shoulders, chest, neck, and more. An emphasis on choice, imagery, principles, and improvisation creates a unique learning opportunity for your Feldenkrais study: you're invited to complete your own hip clocks.

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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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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: Wear loose, comfortable clothes that are warm enough for quiet movement. Remove or avoid anything restrictive like belts or glasses.

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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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In several ways your comfort and choices are emphasized over precise configuration. See the Curiosities tab.

Be sure any head support you use leaves your head free to move (make sure it’s level and no more than you need for comfort). Experiment with different positions for your ceiling-side arm.

The final section of the lesson – where the ceiling-side hip begins to explore the clock image – is only explored while lying on your preferred side. If you have time before getting up from the floor (or later today or tomorrow) for the improvisation “homework” that’s suggested, it’s great if you can explore the hip clock image while lying on the other side. You could work from the center of the clock (tracing a line like a “clock hand” to specific numbers), as well as in arcs and circles around the circumference.

Note: it will do no harm if you don’t get to do this soon after studying the recording. You’ll integrate more in the coming hours, and in fact, it may be fascinating and useful for learning if you’ve got extra “lopsidedness” to explore as you walk around. (Asymmetrical lessons are occasionally a learning strategy in Feldenkrais study.)

A few more thoughts for follow-up improvisation:

  • The dual-circling variations you can play with are many: choose an hour for the shoulder and hip to start on (directly opposite each other on the clock is easiest), choose a direction you intend for them to go (clockwise or counterclockwise or one in each direction), and see if you can become more skillful and find more clarity, even if a wonderful mess emerges the first few times around!
  • As long as you’re comfortable and kind to yourself, and your intention is clear before you begin to move, you’ll learn as much or more when you “fail” and lose your intended coordination as you do when you “succeed” and do what you planned!

This lesson is found in our Miscellaneous Lessons collection. Like most of our lessons, it can be studied out of context, but it also appears in our Pelvic Clock “Primer”.

Patron-level donors can study a direct follow-up lesson: Side Clock: Hips (43 min, Patrons).

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8 Comments

  1. Muriel on December 18, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    That was just what the Dr ordered Nick! thank you so much! been feeling somewhat dizzy all day, but your lesson has released a loaded of tension in my shoulders and hips which in turn released my neck and the dizziness is 99.9% gone! Feldenkrais magic strikes again (-:
    Have a lovely Mid-Winter time
    All best wishes, Muriel

  2. Daniela on January 20, 2021 at 8:19 am

    Hi Nick, I find this lesson so challenging. I fell asleep the first three times I tried it, and I don’t think this is because of the side-lying position. It’s more like it makes me feel all the stuff that my body is carrying in the shoulder region. My shoulders feel very tense and especially to move them backwards is not easy. When I remember not to do an isolated shoulder movement but allow my chest and my head to move with the shoulder, I get a little further, but the whole shoulder chest area on each side feels like a tense lump, rusted together. Do you have any suggestions that might be helpful here. Thank you
    Daniela

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on January 21, 2021 at 10:27 am

      Thanks for writing about your experience, and doing it where others can benefit from discussion.

      The best that Feldenkrais study can do for us will always come through pleasurable learning experiences, so it sounds like you should move on from this lesson for now. After many other lessons that are more immediately easeful and pleasurable to you (and after at least a few weeks), if you’re curious, you could come back later to check on how this one “lands” for you then. Sometimes lessons just aren’t “right” for this moment in time. It may take longer than a few weeks, too.

      All that said, it sounds like you’re heading in a healthy direction: you’re making discoveries about yourself, developing working theories about your response, finding a little more ease with more integrated movement. All together my guess is still that not repeating this one right now may be the best choice, but follow your curiosity.

      You’re a Feldenkrais Project Member, so you’ve got full access to the lesson notes. Have you checked out the many lessons in the Related Lessons tab above? Perhaps some of those will be more accessible in the short term.

      Thanks for your support and, if you wish, let us know how this line of self-discovery goes!

  3. Andrew Brown on January 12, 2022 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Nick, thank you for this lesson. I found it challenging but in a good way in that I feel there’s lots of potential for finding more ease in these movements. One thing I notice is that when I move my shoulder to 6 or 12, it doesn’t want to return to neutral of its own accord; I have to use effort to do this. Is this something which I may be able to learn/unlearn by repeating this lesson?
    Thanks,
    Andrew in England

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on January 12, 2022 at 1:52 pm

      Hi Andrew. Different folks’ structures and habits makes this a “your mileage may vary” kind of instruction. I’d say just keep it soft, slow, and smooth, minimizing the effort to return to a “middle,” neutral resting place. Also you might find that “neutral” changes a bit as you progress through the lesson.

      • Andrew Brown on January 13, 2022 at 3:06 pm

        Thanks very much Nick

  4. Shelley on April 26, 2022 at 5:12 am

    Hi Nick, I have just finished your lesson and i found it a bit challenging at first. Then I decided to soften everything, slow it down to snail pace and make the movements tiny. With that, it all started to become so interesting and relaxing and much easier. Wow, i feel so relaxed in the shoulders now, thank you. I lay on the mat afterwards and had the most delicious bout of stretching lazily like my cat. I haven’t stretched like that in years. So pleasurable. My sincere thanks to you for sharing this lesson.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 28, 2022 at 9:58 am

      You’re welcome! I love how you found difficulty then adjusted into a personal space of real learning – a fantastic description! Thank you for sharing your process with other learners.

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