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Sliding the Sternum, Integrating the Neck, Shoulders, and Chest (Patrons)

Side-lying. Gentle movements of lifting the head and looking toward the floor are used to integrate the eyes, neck, shoulders, chest, spine, and pelvis in increasingly sophisticated movements. Later, learn to differentiate the sternum and soften the chest further by maneuvering your sternum and ribs with your fingers.

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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: 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: 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 – Complete the Movement

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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.

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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 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.

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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Have a bath towel nearby to fold for head support. You’ll want to adjust its thickness frequently to accommodate the lesson’s different body positions and movements.

For most folks this is a challenging lesson. It’s especially true that LESSS is more (Light, Easy, Soft, Slow, Smooth movements are best for your learning) because any straining is particularly counterproductive when we’re asking the chest to soften.

Your breath may be the best touchstone for your quality of movement and range choices. You’re doing well if it’s continuous, full, and easy as you’re moving!

The Related Lessons tab has some easier lesson options if you need to come back to this one later.

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our collection of lessons exclusively for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors.

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

It was recorded during a Patrons Quarterly call on January 26, 2023, then edited to improve flow, clarity, and audio quality.

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

This lesson is my version of Moshe Feldenkrais’s Alexander Yanai lesson #217, “On the side, the sternum becoming flexible.”

I’ve made a few additions of back-lying steps to introduce the self-touch movements of the sternum and ribs in a more neutral situation.

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7 Comments

  1. Rini Vornoff on February 18, 2023 at 6:12 pm

    The lesson is very effective.
    I am not sure if the right arm when lying on the right side is perpendicular or if it goes under the head parallel to the spine.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on February 19, 2023 at 9:37 am

      Thanks for commenting. Perpendicular is the answer. As described at the beginning (but carries through all steps): the floor-side arm is on the ground, straight out in front at shoulder level, palm facing the ceiling.

  2. Gertrude Schmidt on April 14, 2023 at 1:04 pm

    What a wonderfull lesson – I enjoyed the softening of the ribbs and played around with my voice afterwards – there was so much resonance in my chest.

  3. Ellie Rollins on April 14, 2023 at 1:51 pm

    I have been doing eyelash extensions for the past 8 years. People in my industry don’t last much longer than 8 years (if they even get that far) due in large part to the physical strain. I often find myself in the shape of a croissant by the end of the day, and have had a hard time straightening out. Lying flat on the floor was beyond me for a long time. Feldenkrais in general has changed my life, and this lesson in particular has been amazing. I have never experienced such a projection of my chest as a have now after this lesson. I’m not fighting gravity and I instantly feel more powerful and energetic. Love love love

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 14, 2023 at 3:22 pm

      Awesome! Happy to help you de-“croissant” yourself. A new image I’ll never forget. Moshe Feldenkrais talked about that power and energy when the chest and shoulders relax and open. I forget the exact quote, but something to the effect of “a worker could start their day over” when they feel this change.

  4. Kat Szuminska on December 1, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    hey its listed as today’s free lesson but seems to be patrons only

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on December 3, 2023 at 3:08 pm

      Sorry about that! Thanks for letting us know. I had accidentally put in the wrong “bucket.”

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