Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #35 (8/00)

Freeing the Arms and Hands

By Rich Frye
For safety and best results, read these instructions before doing lessons!
Reducing habitual tension in hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders; combating carpal tunnel syndrome; opening the heart to embrace new possibilities; improving creativity

Works with:
Arms, wrists, shoulders, neck, back, and upper spine.

   1. Begin in an ordinary position, say, sitting at a desk, kitchen table, or computer...notice the feelings and sensations in your dominant hand...manipulate an object in space in your customary way, like a spoon, or pencil, or computer mouse...notice the feelings in your fingers, palm, wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck...notice the quality of the movements...then let it go, and lie down on your back on the floor...and check in with yourself through your contact against the floor...notice in particular the feelings and sensations in your arms, shoulders, and hands.

2. Lie on your back with legs either extended or bent with feet standing about shoulder width apart (you can change them at any time for comfort)...then, beginning with your right arm palm down close to your side, slowly roll your arm so the palm faces up, and slide the arm out to the side a little on the floor...then roll the arm palm down, and slide the hand back to the side...repeat it many times, softly, languidly, gradually making it bigger each time, until you are hand is a little above the shoulder on the floor before you rotate it palm down and slide it back to the side...then let it go and rest...notice the differences between your right and left sides on the floor.

3. Bring your awareness to your right hand...rotate the arm so the hand is resting in a neutral position on the floor...then, beginning with a microscopic movement and gradually making it bigger, bend and straighten your right index finger several times...notice which joints move easily...do it many times, very slowly and softly...and let it go and rest.

4. Same position...touch the tip of your right index finger to the tip of your thumb and slowly rub them around each other several times, as it rolling a tiny grain of sand...feel all the minute sensations from the movement...and then softly open and close the distance between tip of the thumb and the tip of the finger…they get a littlle farther apart and come back together…find the trajectory that feels best…GO VERY SLOWLY...you feel movement in your wrist and in the fleshy part of your thumb as the movement gets bigger...notice if you hold your breath or tense other parts of your body...gradually it becomes like stretching an imaginary thread from the tip of the thumb to tip of finger...find the most comfortable trajectory…let your arm and wrist move in any way that gives more freedom to the movement...and let it go and rest.

5. Shift your awareness to the middle finger of your right hand, and repeat all the movements from #4 with the middle finger instead of the index finger...go slowly, don't rush...this is about minute sensitivity...and rest.

6. Repeat #4, this time with the ring (third) finger of the right hand.

7. Same movements as #4, this time with little finger of right hand...then rest on your back, and compare the sensations in the right and left hands and arms.

8. Lie on your back with your feet standing, about shoulder width apart...touch the tips of all the fingers and the thumb of the right hand together, as if holding a fine thread, and explore a movement of pulling the imaginary thread a few inches in the easiest direction...you might be sliding the hand on the floor, or lifting the hand and wrist into the air a little...just pull a few inches in the easiest direction...then your hand opens like a parachute and floats back to rest...do it several times...gradually let your elbow bend with the movement of the hand and wrist…so your elbow moves in space relative to your shoulder each time…let your breath resonate softly with the movement...it is like a jellyfish softly undulating, floating open, and floating closed...do it many times, letting your breath and entire self be involved...explore it for a full minute or two, as if it were a natural part of breathing...then let it go and rest...compare the two sides of your body, and notice the differences.

9. Repeat #2 through #8 on the left side.

10. Lie on your back with your arms near your sides, and legs extended...turn your right hand so it is in contact with your right thigh, and slowly slide the hand up over the thigh...slowly explore the sensations of moving the hand across your pubic bone to your left hip, then slide it back across to your right hip...feel your body with your hand and your hand with your body...then slide the hand to your lower belly on the left, and across to your waist on the right...go slowly back and forth across your body, moving slowly upward...to solar plexus...to chest...shoulders...eventually bring the hand to your face and sensitively explore the shapes and textures around your face and head and hair...which is warmer, your face or your hand?...let your hand rest on your lower jaw and gently stretch the skin downward over your lower jaw a few times....stretching the skin a little and letting it go...and then relaxing your jaw and allowing it to open each time you pull the skin downward...and let it go and rest.

11. Lie on back, right foot standing, left leg extended...beginning as in #10, gently slide right hand from floor near right leg, across pelvis to left side...up along left side of body and over head...lift right hip away from floor as arm come up over the head, and lower arm to floor overhead...lifting hip allows you to stretch gently and reach upward with more comfort as the arm comes to the floor overhead...then lower the hip and slide the arm on the floor to the side...notice where it is most comfortable to rotate the arm palm down...repeat it many times...your hand traces a circle each time...and let it go and rest.

12. Repeat # 10 and #11 on the other side.

13. Both feet standing, arms on floor near sides...draw both hands across body and upward along opposite sides to the shoulders, as in taking off a sweater...as hands approach shoulders, lift pelvis away from the floor (makes it easier to lower arms to the floor overhead)...drop arms to floor , and extend them overhead...then lower the pelvis and slide the arms back to the sides...repeat the cycle many times...your weight rolls up toward your shoulders as you lift your pelvis from the floor and lower the arms overhead...you rotate the arms palm down as they slide down to your sides...and let it all go, stretch out your legs and rest...notice the changes in your arms, hands, shoulders, and back.

14. Repeat the ordinary movements from #1 with spoon, pencil, or mouse...notice the improvements in your sensitivity and comfort.