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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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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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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  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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