Your Naturally Asymmetrical Spine (35 min, Patrons)

Back-lying, learning to sense the relationship of movements of the arms in the plane of the floor with movements along the side aspects of the spine, and eventually to initiate them from there. Discover essential differences between one side of the spine and the other (which I call the primary spinal bias), and how those differences are part of every action we take.

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 1 – Interrupted?

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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 – What’s New

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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.

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.

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 – 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 – 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 – 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 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 2 – Social Sharing

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Tip – Lesson names

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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!

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 – 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 – 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.

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 benefits from a low-friction environment, but can also be enjoyed on your regular study surface. If you’ve got a more slippery choice of mat, blanket, or carpet to lie on, we recommend that.

It’s essential in all lessons, but particularly so when the sensory tasks are as fine as the ones in this lesson, to have a sense of timelessness, of no rush whatsoever. Since we were confined for time on the Patrons call I made a decision to cut two brief variations from the work on the second side, when your body is bent a bit to the left.

If you wish to explore all the same variations on the second side, you can pause the recording right when the “draw in your belly, fill up your chest” directions start, and play with these two little bits you might remember from when you were bent to the right. Here they are, cued for this moment in the lesson, when you’re exploring to the left:

  1. Make the movement of arms overhead on the floor (right wrist resting in the left hand, left hand slightly pulling the right hand to the left) a little bit smaller and faster, and see if you can motivate them from a flash of gathering together of the left aspects of your vertebrae.
  2. Rest in that position (arms overhead, a bit to the left), and bring your long right leg into your awareness. Move it minimally to the right a few times, then to the left a few times, seeing if you can learn to sense and organize this movement from the lateral aspects of your spine.

This is a perfect lesson for reversing all the lefts and rights on a subsequent listening, so that you explore movements on the two sides in the opposite order (gathering left first, instead of right as it’s recorded). How do you experience yourself differently after the lesson if you’ve explore the sides in the opposite order?

As we begin the paradoxical breath movements at the end you’ll hear me note that on the Patrons video call where this was recorded I knew that everyone participating was experienced with Feldenkrais “paradoxical breathing” movements. If you’re not, you can find an introduction to these movements and ideas in Lesson 7 of our Getting Oriented series, called Freeing Your Breath and Spine.

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our growing collection of new lessons (one or more added every month) for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors.

It’s audio from the lesson I taught in the January 2020 live video conference for Patrons.

Audio edits are more minimal in this collection. I may edit this lesson down further in the future based on your feedback.

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

Members and Patrons. Learn more or login:

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  1. Robin Marlowe on February 29, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    I am motivated to explore asymmetry especially because I have a scoliosis.

  2. Lorraine on April 4, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    I enjoy the fact that the differences I notice in the way my spine folds differently to each side has less to do with pain, injury and deterioration than with prior learning.

  3. Gertrude Schmidt on January 28, 2023 at 12:50 pm

    What a relief for my lower back accepting my asymmetrical spine.

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