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Spine Like a Chain, with a Bias

Lying on the back, knees bent. This lesson explores the basic human function of the legs pushing the pelvis forward into the world. It creates opportunities to better sense and articulate the spine and ribs, and organize the flexor and extensor muscles, all within the frame of discovering and using your natural primary spinal bias.

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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 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 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 – 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.

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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 – 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 1 – Interrupted?

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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!

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 – 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.

If you use a folded towel for head support when lying on your back, be sensitive to how thick it is during this lesson. You may find you want or need less as the lesson goes along (a thickly folded towel may interfere with allowing your head to shift comfortably while lifting your pelvis).

  • Just before the recording began, I spoke with the students about how all vertebrates (including us) have a natural spinal bias, which means the spine can be sensed and functions a little more fluently, clearly, and as a whole on one side than the other. This isn’t something to be corrected or made symmetrical with the other side; rather we can benefit from learning to sense and harness it as integral to our identity and self-image.
  • For advanced students, or on your second listening: in nearly the last step of the lesson, the pelvis is being sustained lifted in the air, and then moved sideways through the air. This step may be done with the pelvis lifted only a little, quite high, or anywhere in between, as suits your comfort and curiosity. Different heights allow you to experience sensations of articulation in different parts of your spine and ribs. How do you sense your bias when doing this movement at different heights of the pelvis?

This lesson is found in the collection called Freeing the Spine, Chest, Shoulders, and Neck. It’s designed to introduce the next two lessons, Advanced Twisting 1 and 2.

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.

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7 Comments

  1. Jonathan on February 16, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    Hi Nick,

    Great lesson. Was looking for a different spine as a chain ATM and felt your direction to see the spine as a C shape (using the bias) was interesting and refreshing. I’ll start this series from the beginning now.

    Thanks, from London. 🙂

  2. Lorraine on October 6, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    This lesson made me more aware of the bits of my spine that are reluctant to move and got them participating. Great lesson!

  3. Lorraine on May 17, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    I wonder if the bias is more in a pattern that exists in my nervous system than my spine.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on May 18, 2021 at 3:38 pm

      Bingo! I don’t remember if I say it explicitly in the recording so I’ll make sure I do here: anything that’s a pattern must be part of the nervous system; a skeleton doesn’t have patterns. But your spine is both skeletal structure and a key part of the central nervous system.

  4. lorraine stone on November 7, 2021 at 6:08 pm

    Many years ago just before I began Feldenkrais training I attended a workshop. One of the lessons involved examining posture while lying on the floor. Most of what I noticed then is still present today and can be explained by this bias that this lesson examines.
    On reading my last comment, I have some more thoughts about whether my bias is an idea or embedded in my structure. Today it is more evident to me that after years of holding an idea and acting upon it, I still have the same preference , now thoroughly learned, but it has become embedded in my skeleton.

  5. Christine Barrington on April 8, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    My SI joint was out of whack, and I have been doing various lessons to bring it back into order. This lesson was actually pretty hard, given that configuration in my sacrum. So I did what I couldn’t do in my imagination.
    I definitely had more mobility at the end, and I just felt better overall.
    Thank you, as always!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 12, 2022 at 12:28 pm

      Fantastic! Glad you took it gently and did something good for yourself. It’s generally helpful with SI concerns to be very picky about exactly where your feet are when you push into the ground, whether two feet at once (like this lesson) or one at a time like many other lessons where you roll the pelvis instead of lift it.

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