The Power of Prone: Twisting on Your Belly

Designed to be as accessible as possible, this lesson uses frequent back-lying rests and auxiliary movements to help listeners find more comfort, ease, and learning value while prone. Moving with awareness while lying on your belly can lead to unique benefits for the spine, chest, shoulders, and neck, as well as improvements for posture and breathing. NOTE: Be sure to read the Comfort & Configuration tab.

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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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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 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 – 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 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.

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 – 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.

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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!

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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 – 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.

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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 – 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.

There are some lovely breathing explorations in the last part of the lesson, intended to be done very mildly, smoothly, and gently. If you’re unfamiliar with Feldenkrais “paradoxical” or “seesaw” breathing please don’t do this lesson yet. First go enjoy Freeing Your Breath and Spine (37 minutes).

Please read the following carefully if you’re unfamiliar with belly-lying lessons, or the position tends to be uncomfortable:

Have a soft clean towel or pillowcase to lie on, something you won’t mind resting your mouth or nose on. You’re often invited to turn your head and rest it facing to the side while you’re on your belly. Please moderate how turned your head is based on your comfort – you might wish to turn your head far less to one side than the other. That’s great! Please only do what’s comfortable.

If you struggle with a sore lower back when you lie on your belly there’s an option discussed about halfway through the lesson that can be used from the beginning: you may find that folding a bath towel a few times and laying it across your mat at the height of your iliac crests (the bones you touch when you put your “hands on your hips”) creates more ease.

Additionally you can experiment with other props as needed: a small soft pillow under a shoulder, a cushion or folded towel under your lower ribs to make room for your breasts, etc.

When you lie on your belly with knees bent 90 degrees and you begin to tilt your feet to the side, the intended quality is the same as when you tilted your knees while lying on your back: only tilt as far as you’re able if the goal is to reverse the movement smoothly and pleasantly, without any strain. The range where that quality is available may be very small at first, and will likely grow larger throughout the lesson.

I’ve chosen not to edit out a reference to our “Rest and Recharge” Zoom lessons in December, 2020. Here’s my blog post about the vitality of rest.

This lesson is found in our Freeing the Spine, Chest, Shoulders, and Neck collection. 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.

And there’s another study context available for our Patron-level donors:  We’ve created three Feldenkrais Project lessons, including this one, out of recordings of a sequence of classes taught in Jan-Feb 2021 called “Embracing Our Differences”.

They appear in order in our Deep Dive called The Illusion of Isolation, in the blue box.

Click here to read about the “Embracing Our Differences” somatic metaphor.

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  1. Nick Strauss-Klein on September 12, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    Please share your experience in this lesson or ask a question below!

  2. Ileana Vogelaar on September 15, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    This lesson is great for my back, as ,by McKenzie method, I am favoring” extension” moves and position.
    Also, my cranky neck felt better , more mobility and ease.
    I can rest easy in prone, but of course I go for variety in all different positions.
    Thank you Nick for your wonderful work. I am already a big fan !!

  3. Meryl on October 18, 2021 at 6:30 pm

    Dislocated jaw, sore neck, sore eyes and my usual freely subluxating [usually] shoulders. Carriage of the head yesterday, twisting on the belly today. Carriage of the head saved me from taking meclizine for dizziness several years ago [no, I do not recommend that, but the dizziness seemed vestibular and I was afraid of the usual movements to fix it at home and locum drs…you know…drugs – when my doctor returned he listened to what I’d done, snickered. and said, come let me check that you are ok?]. So carriage and then twisting – my cervical arch is much shallower, my neck is easier, no knots behind my jaw but it is still chancy where my jaw will be at any time. I LOVE PRONE LESSONS. At the end of twisting, I was not paying attention and was moving both legs together while arcing my head from over one shoulder, down, and over the other shoulder – I think that is another lesson. Thanks.
    And a belated sweet new year.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 18, 2021 at 9:21 pm

      Glad to hear it. I’ve been thinking of creating a “Tummy Time” miniseries…I’ll take your all caps sentence as a vote in that direction!

  4. Chris Sigurdson on January 30, 2023 at 3:55 pm

    Difficult for neck which is always somewhat stiff. And upper thorax on R. But going gently and end result felt great. Head free on neck. Shoulders and hips moving freely. Not a fav to perform but a great result.

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