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The Power of Prone: Twisting on Your Belly

UPDATE from The FP: Lots of news and two extra free lessons are in the November Feldenkrais Project Newsletter

Recorded live in a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, the lesson below is copyright Nick Strauss-Klein, for personal use only. This and all our audio lessons are 100% donor-supported. Before you begin, read this first for practical tips and your responsibilities, and check out Comfort & Configuration below. Click the other lesson note tabs if you’re curious.

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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.

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: 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 little height under the towel you put your hands and head on, 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: this lesson is one of three we’ve created out of recordings of a sequence of classes taught in Jan-Feb 2021 called Embracing Our Differences. Click here to read about this somatic metaphor.

The three lessons are best explored in this order:


Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to download this lesson’s MP3 file.


Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view Nick’s comments about sources he used while developing this lesson.


Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view related lesson titles and links.

Comfort & Configuration

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: 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 little height under the towel you put your hands and head on, etc.

Clarifications

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.

Curiosities

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.

Context

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: this lesson is one of three we’ve created out of recordings of a sequence of classes taught in Jan-Feb 2021 called Embracing Our Differences. Click here to read about this somatic metaphor.

The three lessons are best explored in this order:

Download

Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to download this lesson’s MP3 file.

Source

Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view Nick’s comments about sources he used while developing this lesson.

Related Lessons

Members and Patrons only. Please login or join the Project to view related lesson titles and links.

We all thrive when more people are doing more Feldenkrais. Please share this resource!

4 Comments. Leave new

  • Nick Strauss-Klein
    September 12, 2021 12:35 pm

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

    Reply
  • Ileana Vogelaar
    September 15, 2021 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 !!

    Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • Nick Strauss-Klein
      October 18, 2021 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!

      Reply

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