Simple Self-Hug (31 min)

Back-lying, one or both knees bent. Embrace and gently cradle yourself in our simplest version of this beloved ATM lesson. Melt tension and find more ease and comfort for your shoulders, chest, neck, spine, pelvis, and breathing.


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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.

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 – 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 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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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.

Tip – Rewinding

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Tip – What’s New

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!

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 – 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 – 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 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.

Please follow the directions given for the first embrace throughout the lesson: always hug yourself gently, in a way that’s comfortable for your shoulders.

If hugging closely enough to reach your shoulder blades causes any strain, loosen your embrace. It’s ok if one arm needs to hug much more loosely than the other.

Don’t worry if you have moments of left/right confusion, especially when beginning this for lesson the first time. The hugging and cradling movements will soon make sense.

For most of the lesson you’ll have one knee bent, foot standing on the floor. Though your knee may sway a little from side to side as you roll your shoulders and chest, don’t tip it far or push the floor with your foot.

“Scapula” is used interchangeably with “shoulder blade.”

This audio recording is found in Getting Oriented, our introductory collection of Feldenkrais basics for newcomers (and longtimers looking for a “tune-up”).

It also kicks off two Deep Dive courses, Rock & Roll (and Rotate) and Shoulder Cloak, Rib Basket, Sliding Sternum.

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  1. Sara Firman on December 22, 2022 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you so much for adding this short version … definitely a ‘go to’.

  2. Pauline donohoe on December 22, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    Hi Nick. Thank you once again for this lesson. I really like this shorter version. I’ve noticed with the feldenkrais lessons lots of changes in my posture. My shoulders used to turn in, in a sort of crouched over position. Now they are straight for the first time ever. I’m 70 years now. I had a short walk to our local park after this lesson and found I’m not waddling or having to lean forward. This is a real blessing. Thank you

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on December 23, 2022 at 8:49 am

      That’s an amazing story! It’s such a pleasure to share this method and hear back from listeners about changes in lifelong habits. Follow those new pleasures closely, and they’ll keep growing!

      My personal “ah-ha!” realization after I got familiar with Feldenkrais 20 years ago was what I call the “positive snowball effect”: when a new way of moving feels pleasurable and free, simply making time and quiet in my life to notice, enjoy, and play with it often leads to unlocking the same ease and skill in more and more activities.

  3. Pauline Donohoe on December 23, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Nick. Thank you for your encouraging reply. I like the way you describe the unlocking the same ease in other activities. Awareness and discernment is so important of how we move through life. Thank you. I’m looking forward to mdoing my next lesson today. Warm regards Pauline

  4. on March 4, 2023 at 10:35 am

    Thank you so much for this lesson Nick! It is a perfect Saturday morning, “sort-out-the-kinks from a stressful week” lesson, it got my spine moving, connected to be with my self, and now I’m ready for a wonderful weekend!

  5. Gertrude Schmidt on March 25, 2023 at 2:40 am

    It was nice to read all those comments – today it’s a Saturday morning and I come love to come back to this lesson once in a while. After experiencing so much changes in using my body it helps me to relax and enjoy new sensations.

  6. Pradnya on June 6, 2023 at 5:06 pm

    This is the first time I have done this lesson and it felt wonderful. I really enjoyed the playfulness of it towards the end.Thank you Nick.

  7. Anna on August 19, 2023 at 1:10 pm

    This was pretty uncomfortable, I have had long term issues with my shoulders as I have spent too many years in front of a computer (not any more). But afterwards I felt very good. I likely should do this class often but do the movements much smaller than I did now the first time. I will also try other shoulder classes. These are great stuff and my plan is to fully heal 🙂

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