Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month # 29  (11/99)

By Rich Frye
For safety and best results, read instructions before doing lessons!

Rolling and Twisting

This is a very basic lesson in rotation; because rotation includes elements of both flexion and extension, rotation lessons tend to be powerful. This lesson integrates the body in turning and twisting movements, like looking over the shoulder, and like many martial arts, dance, and workplace movements.

Works with:
Differential rotation of the spine, twisting and lengthening the trunk

   1. Begin by standing...just stand and look behind you over each shoulder, and see how that is...then lie on your back on the floor and check in with the sensations in your body today.

2. Bend your knees so your feet are standing, relatively far apart...leave your arms comfortably on the floor near your sides...explore a movement of taking your right knee to the left, toward the left foot and into the space between your feet...your left knee stays oriented toward the ceiling...begin with small movements and gradually make it bigger...how do you orient the right foot as the knee moves left and back to center?...and rest.

3. Repeat #2 on the other side.

4. Same position...explore taking the right knee out to the right...left knee can move a little from side to side with your pelvis but stays oriented to ceiling...is it easier if the heel slides a little as the knee moves?...repeat it slowly many times...you are exploring how to free your hip joints...and rest.

5. Repeat #4 on the other side.

6. Feet standing, feet comfortably apart, arms out to the sides...take both knees to the right toward the floor, and back...go slowly and stay in control, don't let the knees flop to the side...your pelvis rolls...your left side wants to lengthen...your left shoulder wants to lift...let it happen and let your head roll left a little at the same time...repeat it many times...and rest.

7. Repeat #6 to the left.

8. Same position...slowly take the knees from side to side, feeling each side lengthen...your head rolls opposite the movement...take your time...compare the two sides...often each side has its own limitations, and can learn from the other side...do it many times...and stretch out and rest.

9. Again feet standing...now hold one wrist in each hand and rest the wrists on your forehead...explore a movement of rolling your head from side to side, carrying the wrists and arms from side to side...first one elbow and then the other goes toward the floor...just explore it easily...your back, shoulders, and ribs have to participate...and let it go and rest.

10. Hold one elbow in each opposite hand over your chest, so there is a space between your chest and forearms...take the elbows from side to side...let your head roll with the movement...do that several times...then let your knees go from side to side with the movement...gradually make it bigger, and explore letting the elbows drop toward the floor above your head as your upper body rolls toward the floor on each side...go from side to side like that many times...your whole body is rolling right and left...the side you are rolling on has to get longer so your head rolls comfortably...and rest.

11. Same position, feet standing, one hand on each elbow over chest (or resting on forehead)...take the knees from side to side, but take your elbows and head opposite...so knees go left while elbows and face go right...and vice versa...go from side to side many times...you are differentiating upper and lower body in rotation...compare the movements on either side...are they the same?...and rest.

12. Same position...take knees right, face and elbows left, and stay there ...several times repeat a movement of gently pushing your pelvis forward, kind of a sexy movement...your body will twist a little more each time...and then again go from side to side...and then stay with knees left and face and elbows right, and push pelvis forward several times...and again go from side to side...is the movement bigger or easier now?...and rest.

13. Same position...take knees from side to side...this time let your face go with your knees, and elbows opposite both...this requires additional differentiation of the spine...take your time...do it many times...then stay with knees and face to left, elbows right...gently push pelvis forward several times from this position, and see how your body responds...it's and interesting stretch...and again take knees and face side to side, opposite elbows, a few times...and then stay on the other side, twisted like that, and gently push pelvis forward several times...and again from side to side...and let it go and rest.

14. Feet standing, arms near sides...repeat initial movement of taking knees from side to side, letting your body participate however it wants...the movement is more fluid than before...then roll to your side and sit, hands beside you, legs folded in front...turn left, take both knees to left, take right hand to left side, and turn to look to over left shoulder...then turn to right, take knees up and over to right, take left hand to right side and look over right shoulder...go from side to side a few times...and then come to standing...take a moment to get your balance, and then look over one shoulder and then the other...let your body twist, and notice how it is different from the beginning.