Your Navigational Pelvis

Back-lying, knees bent. A unique take on the classic Feldenkrais pelvic clock lesson. Learn how the interaction of the feet with the ground relates to the pelvis moving in all directions. Includes movements designed to integrate the spine, head, and eyes, all toward grounding and organizing the whole self for better walking and an easier upright life.

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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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If you have any discomfort pressing or lightening your feet, do less, rest more fully and longer between movements, or even proceed only in your imagination. You literally can’t do too little, as your brain will engage the musculature enough to promote the neuroplastic process, even if you’re only imagining the movement or it’s so small no one watching could even see it.

This lesson uses a different orientation and circle image than Simple Floor Clock (26 min), which many folks study first. This can be confusing.

Here a map is first imagined in front of you, on the ceiling: north is up, south is down, east is right, west is left. This is probably easy to picture when circling your eyes and nose around the map. The movements of the pelvis that follow later are the same.

So, early on when you allow your pelvis to roll a little toward your lightening left foot (this may be tricky at first, but it’s essential to the lesson and the compass directions), we call that “down and left” for the pelvis, or “southwest” in this lesson. Think of how your eyes and nose move down and left to look at the southwest part of a map.

Similarly, lightening your right foot pulls your pelvis down and to the right, or “southeast.”

Still confused, or want to hear more about why we use different images and directions in different lessons, despite the potential for confusion? There’s a discussion below that starts around Mady’s comment.

This audio lesson was linked by Experience Life Magazine in their April 2017 issue. It’s the original back-lying version of the chair-seated lesson I wrote for the magazine. The chair lesson is called “3 Steps to Walking Better” and appears at the end of the article Relearn to Walk, for which I was interviewed.

There’s also a “web extra” Experience Life sidebar in which the author writes about her experience with this ATM lesson in my workshop called Walking with Grace and Ease: Click here to read the online sidebar, “Awareness in Walking.”

If you’d like to try the seated magazine version of this lesson at the end of Relearn to Walk, please note two errors:

Exp Life Ill 2The second illustration (copied here) is misleading, but the text is accurate: “When you lighten your right foot, can you allow your pelvis to roll a little toward it, to the northeast?”

There is a text error just next to this illustration. It should read: “Now gently press your left foot into the ‘scale,’ adding a few pounds of pressure, then release. Allow your pelvis to roll a little to the southeast [not southwest]. Rest.”

This lesson is found in the Better Posture, Walking, and Running lesson 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.

The lesson referenced “last week” was Activating the Arches.

This lesson also appears in our Pelvic Clock “Primer” and our Supple Feet, Powerful Legs Deep Dive.

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  1. Carol Teitelbaum on August 28, 2015 at 7:06 am

    I think your lessons are extraordinary, Nick, especially Activating the Arches and the Navigational Pelvis (which I’ve revisited several times without yet completing the Integrating the Legs series). Thank you for your generosity in sharing these lessons. They are both simple and deep. I found your immediate engagement through the feet, especially after the Arches lesson, and your image of unweighting a foot/feet, to be very powerful and clarifying. Thanks!

  2. Richard on March 13, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    These are really outstanding lessons. I’ve been doing ATM for almost forty years; the use of the feet in your version of pelvic clock [Your Navigational Pelvis], your re-working of the spine like a skewer lesson [The Anti-Gravity Lesson] is outstanding.

  3. Lou Kurjata on April 5, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Thank you for your lessons – clear, concise and a joy to do!

  4. cj on July 7, 2017 at 4:53 am

    These lessons keep getting better and better. I have never felt such a clear relationship between the role of the pelvis and walking. You are an excellent instructor.

  5. Erzhi on December 21, 2017 at 8:26 am

    I can only agree with the comments above. This particular version of the pelvic clock was like a revelation to me – one more missing link towards the awareness of how pressing with the feet relates to the position of the pelvis in standing and walking and also connected other dots for me in the process of realizing where do my particular problems come from and how to overcome them. Thank you Nick for your admirable work and for your generosity in providing these excellent lessons for the benefit of all who are willing to work on/with themselves towards refining their awareness and ability to move and act with ever greater ease and joy. I wish I could participate live in person in Nick’s classes and also FI, but even doing these lessons again and again is a tremendous treasure as with each repetition of a lesson a new layer is revealed – that’s what happened to me with this particular lesson when I did it again after a while, believing it is the old well known circling with the pelvis.

  6. Julie on April 5, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Ditto! And many thanks for attaching the article, Three Steps to Better Walking, and the “web extra,” Awareness in Walking, under the Curiosities tab. They reinforce and illuminate the point of this lesson for me.

  7. Nicole Laliberté on April 22, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    Hi Nick, Thank you so much for your variation on this iconic lesson. I am a newly Authorized Trainee ATM Teacher, currently finishing my 3rd year of training in Boston. I am a dancer/choreographer based in Providence, RI. I am offering a free ATM this weekend as part of a local dance festival, in advance of hopefully starting weekly classes in June. I have been scouring through my lessons trying to find the exact right one that would be symmetrical and good for dancers who are about to perform, as well as accessible and powerful for the general public. I have a 75 minute time slot, so the shorter accessible lessons weren’t going to work. I just did this lesson, became a member, and am excited about the opportunity to pass this lesson along to others, on your behalf. Merci!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 23, 2019 at 2:00 pm

      This is a fantastic story! I’m so pleased to hear of your use of my lessons, and thank you also for understanding the vision of The Feldenkrais Project, contributing financially, and spreading the word!

      I have also gotten a lot of feedback from dancers also about the value to them of the Activating the Arches lesson and the Buttocks lesson, in case you haven’t checked out those yet.

  8. Ed Soon on August 8, 2019 at 5:57 am

    Thank you, thank you. The Pain in my hip. lower back is no more!

  9. Claire Gunn on August 29, 2019 at 2:53 am

    I find it hard to express in words how beneficial Feldenkrais is for me. I have luck to be close to two great ATM classes here in the UK.

    Nick, your lessons have been a remarkable addition to my life thank you so so much.
    I often follow one of your lessons first thing in the morning and often have the sense after of ‘ well, that is the most important, richest thing of my day so anything else is a bonus’.
    A great state to be in at 8 am 🙂

    Ever changing, ever discovering, ever growing in appreciation and awareness of the sensation of life, of aliveness.

    Wonderful stuff , wonderfully taught. Thank you x

  10. Sarah chase on December 29, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Such a wonderful lesson, Nick. Thankyou!
    It brings so much clarity to the connection between the movements of the pelvis and the head on the spine.
    I happened to have watched the video you offer, “skeleton rudy” before taking this lesson, and it illustrates so well the way the head and pelvis interact and dance with each other.
    Interesting that as a dancer I find that many years of dance training often teaches us to repress natural coordination, to over “stabilize” and isolate movements. I find myself in love with rediscovering more natural coordination patterns, and feel totally refreshed and rebooted when I do return to once familiar dance movements.

  11. Mady Rimbaud on January 25, 2020 at 8:30 am

    hello Nick, Thank you for this creative way of offering the pelvis clock lesson and its connection with walking. I appreciate very much the richness of your vocabulary and the inspiring and lightness mood you put in your teaching. I was a little confused about south west and south east (for me it was reverse : north towards my head and south towards my feet). Can you clarify for me please ? above all bravo and thank you. I am FP in St Barth (FWI)

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on January 27, 2020 at 6:59 am

      Thank you for commenting, and it’s always great to hear from a fellow practitioner! Yes, north is toward the top of the mat, south is toward the bottom in this lesson. If I remember correctly, the SE and SW references are early on when you’re learning to lighten a foot without bracing the pelvis, so the pelvis will roll down your mat diagonally toward that foot (which is either to the SE or SW). Is it possible you were instead taking the pelvis into diagonal flexion to lighten the foot (which would make it roll NE or NW)? That’s not intended. If you listen again, let me know if this doesn’t clear it up, and thanks!

      • Erica Eby on July 17, 2023 at 7:46 am

        I’ve really been benefitting from these classes and the clarity of your verbal instructions. I had the same question as Mandy during this class, though. Nick, in the shorter version where you use a clock, you have the class draw the clock visually before laying down. Perhaps if you do that first with the compass you’ll see what Mary and I are saying, or be able to correct us.

        If I am interpreting the instructions clearly in my movements, your verbal instructions should reverse either N-S or E-W. If I’m laying down and west is to my left, then north must be toward my feet rather than toward my head. I’m very curious your thoughts on this. Thanks!

        • Erica Eby on July 25, 2023 at 10:10 am

          Apologies for the autocorrect and/or typos on Mady’s name!

        • Nick Strauss-Klein on July 25, 2023 at 10:14 am

          Yes, this lesson uses a different orientation of the circle image than Simple Floor Clock. Some Feldenkrais practitioners believe in always using the same orientation, but the rest of us feel that the lesson’s body configuration, emphasized directions, and functional goals are the more important factor. There’s also great novelty value in orienting to a different image, since we literally experience ourselves and the world differently based on our self-image.

          I chose this orientation for this lesson in part because, in the beginning of this lesson, you imagine your eyes and head orienting toward a map that’s in front of you. North is up, south is down, east is right, west is left. If north were “down” that’d be more similar to Simple Floor Clock, but it wouldn’t go well with the lesson’s emphasis on navigation.

          • Gertrude Schmidt on July 25, 2023 at 11:30 am

            Finding the directions was quite challenging and a lot of fun for me.
            Lying on the floor I imagined to look at an old fashioned road map of the United States pinned to the ceiling:
            North – border to Canada (head)
            South – Florida (feet)
            East – New York, East Coast (right)
            West – San Francisco, West Coast (left)

  12. Elizabeth Hilliard on April 12, 2020 at 10:59 am

    I’m loving the lessons – I took a lot of ATM lessons about 10-15 years ago in Dublin with Mark Keogh, who also studied with Russell Dellman (who you mentioned in an earlier lesson). I had a similar feeling to Mady. I think you have the nose going north towards the feet and going south towards the crown of the head. I was a bit confused when you brought in the south – west for the pelvis, but just tried both direction to see which direction made sense with the co-ordination my lightening of the foot, and then adjusted to a new name for it. I also must say, this is the very first time (after years of doing similar lessons) that my head and pelvis are spontaneously doing what I believe the exercise is suggesting. I had a lovely moment when I noticed the double clockwork motions of my feet triggering a circle in my pelvis at the same time as triggering the one in my head. Thanks, Elizabeth (definitely planning on becoming a patron when my singing work in Dublin re-opens after Lockdown)

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 12, 2020 at 12:30 pm

      Welcome to the FP! Thanks for taking the time to share this detailed ATM account. I love the learning you found – very much in my hopes for how I designed this lesson! Please enjoy and share our resources, and of course only donate when you have the means to do so in comfort and joy! Thanks.

  13. Joann on July 6, 2020 at 6:45 am

    I like the classes very much but I have a question regarding this one.

    I don’t get it. If I light my left foot, the pelvis rolls to the South-East (not South-West as in the recording).
    Saying this in other words, if I lift (not really, just almost lift, but I’m trying now to rephrase the first sentence) my left foot, the pelvis shifts more to the down and to the right (down = in the direction of the feet, and right = away from the left foot that was made lighter).
    East being like the right side, West being to the left.
    Or am I not understanding something correctly here?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on July 7, 2020 at 8:29 am

      This is one of the most important questions about this lesson, and you asked it clearly, thank you! During this lesson you’re learning how NOT to over-stabilize your pelvis with your abdominal and back muscles, so that when the weight of one leg goes fully into its hip joint (when you lighten the foot), you can let the pelvis roll TOWARD that hip joint. Imagine a very shallow bowl: If you push down on one point of the edge of the bowl, the whole bowl would roll toward that edge.

      When the pelvis goes the other way it usually means you’re using abdominal flexors to pull the weight of the foot off the floor (and they also pull the pelvis away from that hip). We’re going for something much quieter and more precise: a gentle activation of the hip flexors, while the abdomen remains soft and breathing, and actually lengthens toward that hip.

      Hope that helps! Please contact me by email (in the About menu) if you still have questions.

  14. Joann on July 9, 2020 at 5:50 am

    Thank you, that was very helpful, and a very clear explanation!

  15. Andrea on July 29, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    I love this. A question. Practicing the walking and circling of thw pelvis without the head, what is the purpose? And shoukd we be allowing the head to move in daily walking or find other ways to movr the body so it doesnt move?

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on July 30, 2020 at 3:26 pm

      Good question! It’s always best in regular life and function to let your whole self move freely, comfortably, and spontaneously. During lessons sometimes movement is limited for learning purposes. We call these limits “constraints”, and, like in normal life, they present a moment where we don’t have all our options available, so we’re guided toward learning something else: mobility in another part, awareness of how we can navigate a challenge, etc.

  16. Andrea on August 4, 2020 at 12:15 am

    Thanjs for helping me learn always

  17. ‪Liron‬‏ on August 20, 2020 at 9:49 am

    Amazing lesson! Thank you so much!

  18. Andrea on August 24, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    And would you say that our pelvis should move like this, how it moves at the end of this lesson, always when we walk, fast walking, normal walking,etc. IS this our goal to have our pelvis moving like this in walking always?? I know it’s kind of repetitive question as to the one above but another feldenkrais practicioner told me no. So now I”m confused.

  19. Muriel Soriano on September 22, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    That was a brilliant lesson Nick! A bit of Feldenkrais magic once again when at the end of the lesson my head, which at first was mostly turning to the right, has suddenly accepted to also turn to the left! effort-free! Thank you Nick!

  20. shan shnookal on May 27, 2021 at 2:38 am

    A wonderful lesson from a brilliant teacher! Over many years i’ve done variations of this lesson, but Nick’s instructions, as has been noted above, are incredibly clear and simple, yet so profound. And lead to Feldenkrais-magic-results of a feeling of ease and power!

  21. Shelley Walters on April 4, 2022 at 3:33 am

    What an amazing lesson. I have never learnt so much detail about the pelvic clock and how the whole body moves with the slightest change. Thank you for your patience and time, and mostly for sharing.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on April 4, 2022 at 11:41 am

      Fantastic – this is one of my favorites on the website because of how it points at what you said: everything is related to even small changes in the pelvis!

  22. Christine Barrington on April 6, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    I knocked my SI joint out of whack. It’s been pretty painful, and this lesson really helped take a chunk out of my sacral dysfunction.
    Feldenkreis always feels like a miracle to me. It has helped me out of some pretty tough jams, and your lessons have been a big part of my healing on many occasions. Thank you!

  23. Nigel Atkinson on October 23, 2022 at 10:34 am

    As a fourth year student I am familiar with the pelvic clock but this Navigational variation with the attention of the contact of the feet with the floor is a revelation.
    I am interested is this your variation or is it based on a particular MF archive lesson.
    Either way it is pure genius!
    I just taught the Buttocks AY 13 lesson and I like the way these two lessons connect.
    A master class. Nick, Thank you!

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 24, 2022 at 2:55 pm

      I’m glad you value it! It is my own variation, but I know that others have found it in themselves too. My “discovery” was based on intricately following what happened if I “led” the pelvic clock from my feet. I get a lot out of chasing down answers to simple ATM questions that occur to me.

      And yes, in case you haven’t already seen this lesson in the context of our Supple Feet, Powerful Legs Deep Dive course, that connection to The Buttocks lesson is right at the heart of it.

  24. Nigel Atkinson on October 26, 2022 at 5:25 am

    Thanks Nick that gives me an insight as to how we evolve with the original MF material, through curiosity and experiment.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on October 26, 2022 at 7:34 am

      That’s the key. I like to remind myself and Felden-pros that no one taught Moshe the method. He found it in himself, and he would say we have the equipment to do the same. It’s really all about curiosity, exploration, and quality of attention.

  25. Nigel Atkinson on October 26, 2022 at 6:10 am

    Thank you also for directing me to the Supple feet, powerful legs course that is the perfect exploration for me at this moment.

  26. Gertrude Schmidt on December 3, 2022 at 5:37 am

    Your variation of this lesson is so special.
    I wasn’t quite sure if it was a good idea to do a ‘pelvic clock’ today because I felt
    some strain at the area of the sacrum.
    Doing this lesson very carefully brought a wide smile on my face.
    Thank you so much!

  27. Julie Peterson on January 24, 2023 at 4:47 pm

    Wow. I loved this. I have an old dance injury that has resulted over decades in a chronically tense and cranky right hip joint and hamstrings. The older I get ….. you know … the peskier it has become. Doing the Navigational Pelvis, left foot standing, right leg long, you gave the instruction to “go in a straight line from west to east.” First, it hadn’t occurred to me that I wasn’t ALREADY going in a direct line from west to east. Then, when I realized I wasn’t, I made a tiny adjustment that “dialed” my pelvis a little downward on the right (lengthening my right leg) and then – “pop” and release! A HUGE “Aha!” moment for me. Thank you. I’m going to work on this.

    • Ollie on July 8, 2023 at 4:21 am

      Hi Nick,

      I found while doing this lesson I had significant discomfort in my lower back region, really a muscle ache sensation.

      I think I my natural tendency might be isolating the movement of the pelvis to be controlled just by the lower back without involving the upper back and shoulders neck ect. ( as how you describe at around 39:30 in the lesson)

      Is there any other lesson/advice that might help to integrate the upper torso in the movement?

      Or do you think the pain may be caused by something different?

      Thank you for these lessons, I think the idea of learning without tension and effort is so powerful.

      • Nick Strauss-Klein on July 8, 2023 at 8:16 pm

        Hard to say from afar, but you’re probably on the right track with your thoughts on isolating vs including. Have you had trouble with other pelvic clock lessons? This one is unique, so you might try another one or two from our Pelvic Clock “Primer” and see if you find them more comfortable.

        • Ollie on July 9, 2023 at 4:19 am

          Thank you that was very helpful in clarifying the interaction of the upper torso and head in tipping the pelvis.

          As for the pain: I started awareness practice recently and my posture has changed dramatically where my lower back is almost always flattened (for example when sitting ) , I feel this gives me better alignment and control. However there wasn’t much of a transitional period for the muscles and skeleton to be working in this new configuration. – do you think that could be the source of the pain?

          Please let me know what you think.

          Thanks again.

          • Nick Strauss-Klein on July 9, 2023 at 11:07 am

            Quite possibly! There is a kind of “fitness” required for any organization, even a healthier one. New organizations put the forces of gravity and movement physics through our bodies differently than what we’ve “trained for” (even unconsciously) previously. Our joints and tissue deserve a lot of kindness and patience as we explore new ways of moving. I would make a note of this lesson and what you experience, then pursue more comfortable pastures of learning for now, perhaps coming back to it after a few weeks or months if you’re curious.

  28. Alex on July 30, 2023 at 3:36 pm

    I’m a little confused. When I press my feet down my pelvis rolls back towards my head to what I consider south and rolls forward or north when I lighten the weight.

    • Nick Strauss-Klein on August 22, 2023 at 3:49 pm

      Thanks for your question! To answer it, and help others, I’ve updated the Clarifications tab in the lesson notes above.

  29. lyn on January 11, 2024 at 3:45 am

    I have just found this totally awesome lesson! So happy! I have worked with the pelvic clock before but this is next level. I have an old recurring si joint dysfunction and a regular yoga practice. This session has been the most helpful atm lesson so far-yay! Thanks so much nick. I’m going to do this same lesson for a few more days and see what occurs. Love feldenkrais. Many thanks

  30. Nai on January 27, 2024 at 6:57 pm

    Thank you Nick for this lesson.
    It’s fascinating and so much clarity with the relationship of the feet to the pelvis and to the rest of the body. You gave such good instructions and always light heartedly. It reminds me of the fun of doing these lessons and enhanced the after effect of the movements.
    It’s a wonderful lesson and accessible to nearly everyone.
    Thank you for making this available.

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