Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #3 (8/96)

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

A Little Extension

Extension is movement that shortens the back of the body and lengthens the front. Like looking up or bending backwards. In our culture these are unusual movements, and therefore this is a very valuable lesson. However, because these movements involve muscles that may be seldom used, particular attention is invited to move slowly and mindfully, and not to effort and strain.

Works with:
Activates posterior musculature and counterbalances tendency to collapse forward.


1. Begin by lying on your back. Notice how your body feels on the floor today. Notice particularly your hips, shoulders, and back.

2. Bend one knee, gently stretch your arms over your head, and roll yourself over onto your stomach.... have your face turned to the middle, resting on your hands, and have your toes closer together than your heels. Leaving your hands on the floor, gently press your pelvis into the floor, and lift your head and shoulders to look up the wall in front of you...do it a couple of times, and notice how high you can see easily...then roll onto your back and rest.

3. Bend your knees so your feet are standing, and interlace your fingers behind your head...and slowly tilt your pelvis up and down, pressing first the tailbone into the floor, and then the waist...just do four or five cycles...and the next time you press the waist into the floor, lift the pelvis completely away from the floor several times...and set the pelvis down, and then lift your head away from the floor several times...and then alternate, lifting the head, and setting it down, and lifting the pelvis, and setting it down...and stretch out and rest.

4. Roll onto your stomach as in #2. Turn your face to the left, and rest with your right cheek resting on the backs of your hands. Is it easier to rest with your face turned to the right, or to the left? Place your left hand near your left shoulder, elbow in the air as if to do a pushup, and lay your right arm alongside your body on the floor...then begin a small movement of rolling your pelvis to the right...your left knee bends and your left instep rolls toward the floor...begin with small movements, and gradually make the movements larger, dragging the knee and lower leg on the floor out to the left...your whole body participates in the rolling...you can clarify the movement of your lower back if you place your right hand on your lower spine and feel the how the vertebra participate in the movement... and then rest.

5. Place both hands as if for a pushup, right cheek against the floor...from this position, lift your face slightly away from the floor, and slide your head and shoulders right and left, so your face slides toward the left hand on the floor, and then the back of your head slides toward the right hand...do it a number of times...then let go of that and repeat again the earlier movement of rolling the pelvis right while sliding your knee out to the left each time, and sliding your face toward your left hand to look toward the knee under the arch of your left elbow...you bend your whole body... and return to the original position...repeat it several times...and rest.

6. Same movement, but this time turn your face all the way to the right and come to rest with the left cheek down each time you come back, with your face to the right. Then begin the movement again by pressing the pelvis into the floor, lifting your head and shoulders a little away from the floor, rolling the pelvis to the right, and sliding the left knee out to the left...when turning through the middle you look up at the wall in front of you...and taking the right cheek to the floor and again looking under the left elbow toward the left knee...and when you return, you again press the pelvis into the floor, lifting the face toward the wall, and come again to rest with the left leg stretched out, and face to the right...each time your face passes through the center, going either way, you look up at the wall, with your chin away your chest. Repeat it several times. Roll onto your back and rest.

7. Bend your left knee, slide your arms overhead and roll onto your stomach, facing right. Repeat #4 through #6 on the other side.

8. Place both hands as if to do a pushup...now go from side to side, looking at first your right knee under the right elbow, and then the left knee under the left elbow. Repeat it several times, then rest on your back.

9. On stomach, face left, both hands as for a pushup...roll pelvis to right, and drag left knee out to left, as in #4, except this time, using your hands to help, lift your upper body away from the floor as if to look over your left shoulder...go easy, don't try to force it...feel your way into it...repeat it several times...

10. Repeat #9 on the other side

11. Combine #9 and #10 and go from side to side...take it easy, don't strain. Enjoy the sensations from this unusual movement... then rest .

12. Turn your face to the middle, resting on your hands. Repeat the movement of lifting to look up at the wall from #2. Notice the improvement; either you look higher with the same effort, or as high with less effort... Roll onto your back and rest. Then stand up slowly and notice how you stand. Walk around and observe differences for a few moments...you might feel as though you are leaning backward...then lie on your back once more.

17. Bend your knees so your feet are standing, shoulder width apart. Hold your one knee in each hand, and gently bring your knees toward your chest several times; then alternately bring one knee and then the other toward the chest...and perhaps take the knees a little right and left, massaging your lower back against the floor...and return your feet to standing...interlace your fingers behind your head, and lift your head toward your knees, and set it down...and lift your pelvis a little off the floor, and set it down...go back and forth, lifing your head and then your pelvis two or three cycles... then let it all go and rest on your back. Slowly stand up, walk around, and observe differences, both now and over the next few days.