Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #31  (2/00)

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

Aligning the Legs II

Standing and walking are so fundamental to everything we do, that we take them for granted. This lesson explores relationships among ankles, knees, and hips in standing and walking.

Works with:
Legs, feet, ankles, hips, spine.

   1. Begin by standing, arms hanging at sides, feet under hips…notice how weight is distributed between the two feet…across and along each foot…which foot bears more weight?…now, imagine there is a soccer ball just in front of your two feet, and you want to kick it…which foot will you stand on, and which will you kick with?…how about if the ball is far enough in front of you that you need to take a step before kicking?…which foot steps out, and which kicks?…notice how you organize yourself for the two kinds of kicks…then lie down on your back and rest.

2. Bend your knees so your feet are standing, about shoulder width apart, more or less under your knees...from this position, lift your right foot off the floor several times, and set it back down...notice how much effort it takes and how the movement affects the way you lie on the floor...how does your pelvis move?...then do the same with the left foot...which is easier?...and stretch out and rest

3. Legs stretched out...slide arms overhead on the floor...keep them easy and comfortable...and let's explore a movement from earlier lessons...beginning with a very small movement, roll your right leg open, bending the knee...the outside of the foot comes to lie on the floor, and the knee stays near the floor...drag the knee out to the side, while dragging the foot toward your bottom...at the same time slide the right elbow toward the right knee on the side, dragging the hand downward...then simultaneously slide the foot back down and the hand back up...repeat it many times, gradually making it bigger...when the knee is out to the side, and the foot is near the left knee on the floor, swing the knee and elbow up over the body near each other, with the foot and hand hanging loosely, ...then open the knee and elbow back out to the side, and slide the foot back down and hand back up...let your pelvis tilt and your back arch to make the movement easier...do it many times...and let it go and rest.

3. Both feet standing...lift right foot off floor and set it down a few times...is it easier?...try the left...is there is difference already?...

4. Legs stretched out...arms out to sides...repeat #3, still with right leg...this time let your pelvis tilt downward each time you begin the movement...you tilt your pelvis down as you roll the leg to the right...and slide the knee out and up over the foot...and then also tilt the pelvis down as you begin to open the knee to the right and slide the foot back down...repeat it like that a number of times...and rest.

5. Left leg stretched out, right foot stands...explore a movement of sliding the right foot down a few inches away from you, and then drawing it toward your buttock on the floor...go back and forth softly...then change it to lift the heel as it comes toward you, and set it down as it goes away...try to lift the heel and return it to the same spot each time...where is the foot when it is easiest to lift and lower the heel?...and let it go and rest.

6. Same position...now lift the whole foot away from the floor and set it down without changing the bend in your knee...as if the knee were locked in a cast...the movement comes from your hip...let your hips and back adapt to the requirements of the movement...then bring the left foot to standing and continue the same movement of the right foot from this position, and see how it is different...and rest.

7. Again right foot standing, left leg stretched out...now fix the right knee in space, as if resting on a little sawhorse, and explore a movement of slowly kicking with the right lower leg and foot...the knee is fixed in space, the foot swings up from the floor, and comes back...see what this asks of the rest of you...and try it a few times with the left foot standing (still moving the right leg) and rest.

8. Combine #6 and #7 by lifting the leg from the hip and extending it at the same time, then returning the foot to the same spot...try to have the two movements happen at the same time...so only straighten the leg while the knee is lifting...not first one and then the other...and only lift the knee while the leg it straightening...neither one is allowed to happen without the other...notice if you have an unconscious tendency to favor one part of the movement over the other...make sure you are doing what you think you are doing...try it with the left leg stretched out and also with the left foot standing...and rest.

9. Both feet standing...repeat #8, but this time bring your awareness to the plane that contains your foot, ankle, knee, and hip...as you lift and straighten, and then lower and bend the right leg, attend to keeping the foot, ankle, knee, and hip all in the same plane...so no part is going out or in from the plane which contains the others...look down at your leg to check...it may give you an interesting sensation in your foot or ankle to do this...repeat it many times, observing the sensations...and stretch out and rest.

10. Bend both knees so feet are standing...lift each foot and set it down...which is easier?...notice all that goes with "easier"...then stand up, and just stand...repeat the thought experiments from #1, and see if anything is different, or clearer...and walk around a little to feel differences between the two sides, and how each foot feels against the floor...walk around yourself to left...and right...and return to the floor and lie on your back, and rest.

11. Repeat #3 through #10 on the opposite side...and rest.

12. Repeat #3 on the right side...begin with legs stretched out and arms overhead on floor...drag right elbow and right knee toward each other on the floor, and lift them up over yourself as earlier...but now change it so now you straighten the leg and the arm each time they come over your body...the hand and foot approach each other high over your body...and float back down and repeat the cycle several times... and rest.

13. Arms overhead, feet standing...now explore lifting and straightening the right leg while at the same time lifting and straightening the right arm...the hand and foot come toward each other over your body, but now they go directly, without travelling to the side...see how that is...and rest.

14. Repeat #12 and #13 on the left side...and stretch out and rest...observe contact with the floor...observe changes...slowly come to standing and repeat the kicking experiments...walk around, being mindful of whether your foot, ankle, and knee are in the same plane when you walk, now and whenever you think of it...does it matter if they are?