Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month # 32 (3/00)

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

Torsion Bar

If you roll out a lump of clay or dough into a strand, you can roll it on a table with your two hands. If both hands go back and forth together, the whole strand rolls as a unit. If the hands go opposite each other, each end twists in opposition to the other. These kinds of movements are very energizing, combining elements of flexion, extension, and rotation in many ways. Walking is like that, and so are many movements in martial arts, dance, and everyday life. So this lesson is about some of the subtleties of this kind of torsion, particularly through the trunk, or "torso."

Works with:
Legs, hip joints, spine, trunk, shoulders, neck.

   1. Begin by standing...just stand still for a moment and see how that is....then walk around slowly and mindfully...how do you use your body when you step from one foot to another?...how does your body twist?...everyone has their own pattern...then remember what that was like and lie on your back on the floor...scan your body...notice feelings and sensations in your body today...

2. Bend your knees so your feet are standing fairly close to you, more or less under your knees...rest your arms on the floor at about 45 degrees from your body...from this position, explore a movement of sliding your right foot away from you and back...as the foot moves further down, the ball and toes lift from the floor...imagine there is a little wheel on your heel...and gradually make the movement bigger until the leg is fully extended...and return the same way...the knee lifts and falls, and the foot slides toward and away...do the toes leave the floor and return at the same spot?...and rest.

3. Same position...now slide the right foot toward your right buttock on the floor, and return to neutral, the foot standing more or less under the knee...and repeat it, gradually finding where the heel comes off the floor...does the heel return to the same spot where it lifted?...gradually make it bigger, until the whole foot leaves the floor and the knee comes toward the chest...repeat it many times...and rest.

4. Repeat #2 and #3 with the left leg.

5. Same position, feet standing, arms out to sides...from this position, explore a movement of opening your right knee slowly toward the right, and returning to vertical...the left knee stays oriented toward the ceiling...the right foot rolls but does not slide...gradually make the movement bigger, until the right knee comes all the way to the floor...in order to keep the left knee pointed to the ceiling, at some point (when the right hip joint is fully open) you have to roll your pelvis to the right to bring the right knee to the floor...the left knee will be carried to the right along with the left hip, but you keep the knee pointed to the ceiling...repeat it many times, mindfully...your left side has to get longer...and rest.

6. Begin from the same position...slide your left foot down and away from you until an inch or two before the ball of foot has to lift to extend further, and stay there, so the left foot is further from you than the right, and the left knee is lower than the right...from this position, repeat # 5 several times...how is this different from before?...gradually make the movement bigger, and now let the left knee move to the right and down away from you as your pelvis rolls to the right and the right knee goes toward the floor...the left knee moves more or less down away from you in the space over the right ankle...the left side your back arches...repeat it many times...and rest.

7. Same position, feet standing, left foot further from you...slide your arms further up on the floor so they are out to the sides...repeat #6 again, this time rolling your head a little in the same direction as your knees...your whole body rolls to the right...do it several times...then change it so your head rolls to the left and you look toward your left hand each time the knees go right...just go slowly...and rest.

8. Repeat #7, but now involve your arms...each time the right knee goes to the floor on the right, the left knee goes to the right and down, more or less passing over the right foot...you roll your face to look toward the left hand...and now also lift the left elbow away from the floor and extend the hand away from you on the floor with the palm up...repeat the sequence many times...and rest.

9. Repeat #5 through $8 on the other side.

10. Feet standing, left foot further away, arms out to sides, roll knees and pelvis right, face left, and stay there...from here, again extend your left hand away from you, palm up, while lifting the elbow away from the floor...and at the same time draw the right hand toward you, while rolling the right arm palm down from the shoulder...and keeping your knees to the right, slowly change your arms, rolling the right arm palm up and extending it away from the shoulder, and rolling the left arm palm down and drawing it toward you from the shoulder...and gently and slowly go from side to side like that a number of times...go easy...and let it go and rest.

11. Repeat #10 on the opposite side.

12. Stretch out and lie on your back...notice changes in how you experience yourself...then roll to your side and stand up...just stand for a moment and see how that is...then place your fingertips together on your sternum (breastbone), and one step at a time, slowly walk forward...as the right foot steps out, the right hip comes forward...let your upper body, chest and face turn to the right as you step forward with the right foot...then shift your weight onto the right foot, and step forward with the left...turn face and upper body to the left...and walk like that for a bit...feel the rhythm of it...feel the torsion as upper body and lower body twist in opposite directions...where is the neutral point?...is it the same point for both directions?...and rest, standing.

13. Now try walking backward, slowly a step at a time...I find I tend to turn my whole body as a unit when walking backward...how is it for you?...and go forward again several steps, with the twisting...and go backward again, seeing if you can incorporate the twisting into the backward movement...it's a little tricky...and forward again...and could you go forward now without twisting, as in walking backward without twisting?...it feel pretty weird...and just let it all go and walk around normally...notice what is different from the beginning of the lesson.