Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #38 (11/00)

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

Rolling from Stomach to Back

Themes: Rolling from stomach, backward bending, visual orientation, opening the chest and shoulders

Works with: back, chest, head, neck, shoulders, and arms

   1. Lie on back, scan your body; notice all the feelings and sensations within your body and against the floor; remember the feelings so you can observe how they change during the lesson.

2. Roll onto your stomach...place forehead against the floor, and put hands in wide pushup position, palm down a foot or so out to the side from each shoulder...two or three times explore lifting your head, shoulders, and upper body to look at the wall above your head...just notice how much effort it takes, and how high up the wall you can see easily...then return to the original position...and explore a movement of slowly rolling your head to the right, so the right ear comes near the floor, and to the left, so the left ear comes near the floor...go from side to side...your upper spine, shoulders, head, neck, and chest participate in the movement...maybe your hips and legs roll in the same direction?...maybe they roll opposite?...let it go and rest.

3. Same position...now face right...and keeping left cheek near the floor, find a way to move your head and upper body to the right so your nose comes close to the right hand, and then slide back so the back of your head comes close to your left hand...do it a number of times...take your time...notice how your shoulders, chest, spine, pelvis, and legs are involved in the movement...and rest.

4. Repeat #3 on the other side, keeping the face oriented to the left.

5. Same position, again facing right...explore a movement of rolling pelvis to the left, bending the right knee a little, and sliding the knee a little bit out to the right...the right heel comes to the floor...and at the same time, slide your head to the right, and lift your right shoulder enough so you can look down under your right shoulder to see the right knee...then release it and go back to the original position...do it many times...and after a few times, change it so each time you come back, you lift your face from the floor and turn your head to the left, and come to rest with the right cheek on the floor...and continue from there...roll pelvis left, bend right knee, while lifting head and turning face to right and moving to look under right shoulder...do it many times...and rest.

6. Repeat # 5 on the other side.

7. Combine #5 and #6 so you roll the pelvis left, look under the right shoulder to the right knee, and then roll the pelvis through the middle to look under the left shoulder toward the left knee...go from side to side like that...and each time you go through the middle, arch your back, lift your head, and look up toward the wall in front of you...feel how your body presses into the floor on each side to help you lift your head...do it a number of times...and rest.

8. Repeat #5, but this time instead of looking under the shoulder toward the knee, look over the right shoulder toward the foot...you might not be able to see it, but you lift your upper body away from the floor and look over your right shoulder as the right knee slides out to the right...the right arm extends as the right shoulder lifts...and come back to rest each time with your face to the left...do it a number of times... and rest.

9. Repeat #8 on the other side.

10. Combine #8 and #9, rolling pelvis to the left, right knee to side, extending right arm, looking over right shoulder, then going all the way to the other side, lifting upper body, bending left knee to side, and looking over left shoulder...go from side to side many times...and rest.

11. Same position, forehead in the middle...lift head, eyes, and shoulders, and look up the wall over your head...you can look higher, with less effort...cool, huh?...then let that go, and extend your arms out on the floor over your head...from this position, explore lifting yourself up to look at your hands several times...and then looking up the wall in front of you several times...how is it with your arms like this?...and let it go and rest.

12. Lie face down, left hand as in a pushup, right arm extended on the floor overhead...turn your face and nestle your face into your right armpit (c'mon, it's not so bad)...now several times press your left hand into the floor and roll your entire body a little to the right...gradually make it bigger, so you start to come onto your right side, and your head rolls up onto your right shoulder...take it easy, so the movement gradually opens the shoulder to be comfortable with the movement...repeat it a number of times...and rest.

13. Same position again...do the same movement, but this time as you start to come onto your right side, slide your left knee out to the left...and then slide it back down and roll back onto your stomach...do that several times...then change it so as you come onto your right side, with the left knee bent in front of you, bend also the right knee and slide it out to the right, under the left knee...so for a moment you are on your side, knees bent about ninety degrees, one on top of the other, right ear resting on top of the right shoulder or upper arm, left hand in front, palm down on the floor...from there, draw the left knee a little toward your chest, push with your left hand, and begin to roll onto your back...at some point draw the right knee toward you also, and let the left arm come across over your face so you roll onto your back with both arms on the floor overhead, both knees over your body, and both feet off the floor...(it's easier to do than to say)...and then come back...drop your right knee to the right...roll your pelvis to the right...the right knee comes toward the floor on the right, followed by the left...your waist turns, pulling your left arm and shoulder...as you roll to your right side, extend the right arm overhead, and bring the left arm over your head to the floor in front of you...as your head continues to roll over the right shoulder, extend your legs downward, and roll onto your stomach...now, repeat the entire sequence many times, exploring the linkages, smoothing the connections...and rest.

14. Repeat #12 and #13 on the other side.

15. Face down, both arms extended overhead...make sure you have plenty of room on the floor...and combine #13 and #14, so you roll from your stomach onto your right side and onto your back...your arms help in a different way in this position...and keep going on to your left side and onto your stomach...and again onto your right side...and onto your back...and left side...and stomach...as far as you have room for, and then come back, from stomach, to left side, to back, to right side, to stomach, and so forth...explore it gently...and rest.

16. Face down in the middle, both arms extended overhead on the floor...lift face and upper body away from the floor, and then come back down...repeat it several times...then lift a comfortable distance from the floor and stay there, looking over your hands at the wall in front of you...and from there, slowly begin turning your head to the right, as if scanning the horizon, or as if following someone who is walking from in front of you to the right...let your vision moving to the right turn your head, and then shoulders, and torso...and as you look directly behind yourself, you find you roll onto your side and onto your back, keeping your head away from the floor all the time...and you keep turning to the right, and your body keeps rolling to follow your vision...explore that for awhile, following an imaginary person who would be walking around you in a big circle...and rest for awhile, and then explore the other direction...maybe this is how babies first learn to roll over...is there something familiar about this?...maybe it has been many years since you have moved like this...and let it go, roll onto your back, and rest.

17. Take some time to lie here and notice your contact with the floor and your sense of aliveness...then when you're ready, slowly come to standing, and walk around, exploring the new sensations.