A Spiral of Length and Power (Patrons)

Back-lying, one knee bent, one foot standing, learning to lift that hip and spiral out of the ground into diagonal lengthening. Clarify your hip joints and create lightness, power, and eventually the seeds of explosive athletic action as you learn to distribute muscle tone proportionately throughout your whole self. Then enjoy an unusual inchworm-like experiment. Framed by brief explorations in standing.

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 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 – 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 – 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.

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 – What’s New

Community tip: See what Nick and other Felden-fans are interested in right now. Check out What’s New at the bottom of our homepage for recent blog posts and listener comments.

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 – Lesson names

What’s in a lesson title? Lessons are about an hour unless a shorter duration is shown in the title. Thanks to our donors they’re freely offered unless marked “Patrons” – those are how we thank our Patron-level donors.

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 – Technical Difficulties

Tech tip: If you have any trouble with the audio player, reboot your browser. That solves most issues. If not, please contact Nick.

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!

Browser/device size and audio player

Tech tip: On mobile or tablet? Once you start playing the audio, your device’s native playback controls should work well.

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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 – 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!

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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.

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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This lesson begins in standing.

Once lying on your back, each time you bend your knee and stand your foot take a moment to find clear skeletal support for that leg.

If the diagonal I’ve chosen first (right knee standing, left arm laying on the floor above your head) is significantly less comfortable than the opposite, you might reverse all this lesson’s lefts and rights. Even if the diagonal I chose first works well for you, this is a great strategy for a subsequent listening.

Until you’re invited to act more quickly, all movements are intended to be slow, smooth, and gradual, both when lifting and lowering the hip.

Mentioned throughout but worth emphasizing:

  • Don’t let the bent knee tip inward or move down away from you as you lift its hip. It may move very slightly outward.
  • When lowering, don’t drop the hip to the floor. Instead place your hip back on the ground with intention.

The brief standing experiment at the beginning (imagining you’re in greater gravity, then lesser gravity) can be repeated at the end, or sometime later today or tomorrow, or any time you’d like to experiment with your own agency in your skeleton’s ability to cancel gravity efficiently.

Shifting our intention toward gathering the ground’s support and clarity up into ourselves as we act, instead of pushing against the ground, can be profoundly helpful for learning to feel and function better in all we do.

It’s a way of tuning in to a natural phenomenon. Biomechanics teaches that ground reaction forces push up through us, equal and opposite to our weight and acceleration (movement). Or, in the language of Tai Chi, we “borrow” from the earth when moving.

This is a more potent functional conception of grounding than thinking of moving down into our feet with each step, or pushing down into the earth as we act.


A “homework” project, for after you’ve done this lesson

In many Feldenkrais lessons with this one knee bent, lifting the hip movement, you are directed to push your foot into the ground.

Over the years I’ve come to believe that thinking of lifting up and through ourselves (instead of pushing down and into the earth) is a better cue for learning to organize effective action.

I recommend exploring how lessons with similar movements change when you emphasize lifting away from your foot, instead of pushing with it.

Try lifting up instead of pushing down in any of the hip cues of our “self-hug” lessons or our “arms like a skeleton” lessons. You can search for those phrases here.

Patrons can try lifting instead of pushing with The Power of One Foot (22 or 36 min, Patrons) and other lessons linked in that lesson’s Related Lessons tab.

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

I’ve chosen not to edit out references to “last week,” which was As Light as a Finger: Games of Weightlessness (Patrons), because these two lessons are so closely related. That one is recommended first, but it’s not a prerequisite. Both appear in that order in our Deep Dive called Grounding for Liftoff.

This lesson was recorded in a FP Weekly Zoom class on August 8, 2023 during a course called Resilience, then edited to improve flow, clarity, and sound quality in this permanent audio version.

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

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  1. Nick Strauss-Klein on December 13, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    This comment, emailed to me by a student who was in class when this lesson was recorded, inspires me as a distillation of why we study Feldenkrais:

    This is what I love about Feldenkrais: learning a lot about myself and enjoying dealing better with challenges.

    – Gertrude Schmidt, shared with her permission

    Please leave a comment below to share your experience with this lesson, or ask a question!

  2. Sara on December 17, 2023 at 9:59 am

    At the end my entire back body feels so enlivened and strong – as good as any deep tissue massage or better since it was self-generated.

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