Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #44 (10/01)

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


The pelvis is a pretty weird and pretty functional shape. This lesson uses feedback from the hands to explore the pelvis, particularly the sitting bones (ischia) and how they relate to movements of the legs and spine in standing and walking.

Works with:
Pelvis, legs, spine

   1. Begin by standing. Feel your feet against the floor...feel how the weight of your upper body is supported by your muscles and bones, and by your intention not to fall...and then walk around deliberately, with awareness on your feet in contact with the floor, and the responses of your pelvis as you walk...notice any differences between the right and left sides...and let it go and rest.

2. Again standing, place your right hand on your right sitting bone, or ischium (see picture)...the sitting bones are like handles on each side of the bottom of the pelvis...take a few moments to explore with your hand the right sitting bone...can you feel how it curves from the back of the pelvis to the pubic bone?...then place your hand sort of around and in contact with the sitting bone, as if to cup the bottom of it, and leave it there while you walk...your palm is on your right buttock, with the fingers around the inside of the sitting bone, fingtertips around the inside of the cheek of the right buttock in the vicinity of your anus, and the root of the thumb resting in the hollow between the sitting bone and the great trochanter, the big knob on your thigh bone which on most people is the widest part of the "hips" (see picture)...with your hand around the right ischium like that, just walk around, feeling how the muscles around the ischium are activated and released at different parts of the walking cycle...do that for a few minutes, and then let it go, and just walk normally...and compare the two sides...has something changed in the right hip, or in the way your right foot makes contact with the floor?...and let it go and rest.

3. Again, standing...shift weight to left foot...move right foot a little in front of you, resting on the heel, and hold right hand around right sitting bone as in #2...might be easier if right leg is bent slightly at the knee...now rotate your right leg from the hip joint, pivoting it on the heel against the floor...you feel the thigh rotating, and you feel the trochanter moving forward and back relative to the ischium...notice that the thigh rotates, the trochanter moves forward and back, and the pelvis (including the ischium and the pubic bone) remain relatively fixed in space...and let it go and again walk around briefly...and this time, place your right palm on the back of your right buttock, so the heel of the hand rests on the back of the pelvis, near the sacroiliac joint (the "dimple"), and walk around like that, feeling what happens in the cheek of the gluteus and in the sacroiliac as you walk...keep the elbow oriented more or less behind you, not out to the side...then lie on your back on the floor, somewhere near a bare wall, and rest.

4. Lie on your back near a wall so you can place the soles of your feet against the wall, with the knees bent about ninety degrees...bring your attention to your right foot...explore movements of lightly pressing the right foot into the wall, and releasing...do it many times...and bring your awareness to the right sitting bone as you do it...the pelvis moves in response to the change in pressure of the foot against the wall...place the right hand on the ischium as before, and continue...the right side of the pelvis rocks up and down...your back alternately arches and flattens...gradually explore that and exaggerate it a little...you press the foot and the back flattens...you release the pressure and the back arches...do it several times like that, and then return to very subtle pressures of the foot against the wall...change the location of the foot and its orientation, and notice the subtle changes in the response of the pelvis...and let it go and rest.

5. Come to a sitting position, with the knees to the left, and the feet to the right, so the sole of the left foot is near the right knee in front of you and the right foot is tucked back by your right buttock...rest your hands on the floor toward the left, and explore a movement of lifting the right sitting bone from the floor and setting it down again...do it many times...gradually let your upper body and head and eyes turn more and more to the left each time you lift the right sitting bone, and do that many times...then change it so the right hand holds the sitting bone, and continue, resting only on the left hand...repeat it a number of times...then, what happens if you try lifting the hip and don't allow the body to turn to the left?...can you change it so you turn upper body and head and eyes to the right each time you lift the right hip?...do it that way several times...and again the other direction a couple of times...and let it go and rest.

6. Lie on the floor on your left side, with knees drawn up at ninety degrees or so, right leg on top of left...support your head with a low firm pad or your arm, and rest your right hand on the floor in front of you...explore a movement or rolling your body as a unit forward and backward...what is the range of movement?...then let that go...then place your right hand on the great trochanter (right "hip bone"), and explore a movement of separating your feet and lifting the right foot into the air, while keeping the knees more or less together...you can feel how the thigh rotates to lift the foot...do it many times...then hold your hand around the right sitting bone as before, and continue lifting the foot...the sitting bone (and therefore the whole pelvis of which it is a part) moves very little in comparison to the thigh bone...you might even be able to feel the curve of the ischium all the way around to the pubic bone and hip joint...and then gradually change the movement of lifting the foot, so each time the foot lifts, the pelvis rolls a little forward and maybe also tilts a little up toward the head...try different trajectories of the hip movement that seem to "go with" the movement of lifting the foot...do that a number of times...you might even try lifting both feet at the same time, as if bound together at the knees (might help to rest right hand on floor in front of you for this), and notice how pelvis has to roll for you to lift both feet like that...(why?)...and then let it all go and rest.

7. Same position as #6...again place right hand around right sitting bone...keeping ankles more or less together, roll pelvis forward and back...the right knee slides in front of the left, and then behind the left...feel the muscles involved deep in the pelvis with the hand, and explore ways to make the movement more clear...the upper body can roll with the hip...or stay relatively stationary...or move somewhat opposite the hip...explore the possibilities...you become increasingly able to distinguish muscles that move the leg, move the pelvis, move the torso...you are developing awareness of the space inside your pelvis...and let it go and roll onto your back, and rest.

8. Bend your knees so your feet are standing, about shoulder width apart...explore a movement of lifting the right foot off the floor by lifting the right knee toward you, and setting the foot down...do it several times...then try it with the left foot...which is easier?...slowly roll to your side and stand up...compare how the two legs and feet make contact with the floor...walk around and notice differences between the two sides...for a brief time again hold the right sitting bone as you walk, and see if you feel more than the at the beginning of the lesson...and move the hand up near the sacroiliac joint (as in #3, elbow toward the back) and feel how it is involved in walking...and let that go and just walk normally, observing changes from the beginning...and rest.

9. Repeat #2 through #8 on the other side...then again walk around and notice the differences from the beginning of the lesson.