Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #46 (1/02)

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

Ankles and Knees

Flexible feet are an important key to smooth and balanced walking, running, or dancing. This is about softening the feet and connecting them functionally to the ankles, knees, hips, and spine.

Works with:
Feet, ankles, knees, hips, spine.

   1. Walk around, notice alignment of feet, ankles, knees, legs, hips...compare the two sides for differences...then lie on your back on the floor, stretch out arms and legs, and scan your body...notice the quality of feelings and sensations.

2. Roll onto right side, knees and ankles together, balls of feet joined together as if with a pin...place left hand on the floor near your chest for support…bring awareness to the little pads of the left foot…take some time with this, just bringing awareness to the sole of the foot...maybe bring left foot to stand on floor briefly behind right foot, to help feel the pads…and return to original position with feet and knees together, feeling the pads in your mind...and keeping an awareness of the foot, explore a movement of extending left heel down away from hip and back to neutral…ankle slides down…knee slides down…pelvis move?...do it many times...and rest.

3. Same position...now, keeping balls of feet connected, draw left heel up toward left buttock and back to neutral...left ankle and knee slide over right...notice movements demanded of ankle, knee, and hip...and rest.

4. Combine #2 and #3 and slide heel up and down, toward the hip and away from it...the left foot does not lift into the air, it just slides up and down (in line of spine) over the right ankle…notice resonance in ankles, knees, hip, whole body...and rest.

5. Same position...this time keep balls of feet connected...left heel lifts into air and returns…lower leg rotates…knee, hip, and pelvis might move a little...just separate the left heel toward the ceiling and a little forward, and lay it back on the right...and rest.

6. Same position...now combine the movements and take the heel in circles…left heel slides down away from hip against right foot...then lifts toward ceiling...and is drawn up toward hip in the air...then comes back to slide down across right ankle, and continues...do it many times, slowly and smoothly, ironing out rough spots in the circle...change directions…notice how your knee, hip, and entire body get involved...and rest.

7. Same position...again make circles with heel, but this time don't lift the left heel into the air; rather, take left ankle-bone in circle around right ankle-bone...knee makes a similar circle in the background of awareness…then bring movement of left knee in a circle around right knee into foreground…notice left hip also traces a circle in space...bring that circle into foreground...and notice how weight of right hip traces a circle on the floor...and roll onto your back and rest.

8. Again, same position on right side…imagine both knees and thighs are tied together...find a way to lift left foot and lower leg away from right…left thigh rotates inward (place left hand on lump of great trochanter, and feel it roll forward each time you lift the foot)…find a way to lift the foot so you feel taller each time...and rest.

9. Same position...place left hand over the top of your head, fingertips near right ear…slowly lift head from floor and set it down several times…right side presses into floor and lengthens…do it several times...don't struggle to lift higher, but learn to do it better each time...and rest.

10. Now combine #8 and #9, and lift left foot and head into the air at same time...is it easier to lift the head while lifting the foot?...repeat it several times...it might be a little easier if you think about bending a little backward as you begin the movement...and maybe easier if right arm is outstretched on floor above the head...just explore it, and see what works best for you...and rest.

11. Same position...now place left hand on floor near chest...now imagine your knees and also your ankles are tied together...find a way to lift both feet at same time, with the lower legs joined together like that…your hips roll forward…your back arches and your belly rolls toward the floor...at the same time lift head a little away from floor…find a way to do it so you feel taller each time...you might try extending the legs a bit each time you lift the feet, rolling belly toward floor, arching your back and looking up toward wall overhead (not ceiling--overhead relative to spine)...repeat it a number of times, enjoying the stretch...and let it go, roll onto your back, and rest...notice what kinds of changes have been occurring.

12. Repeat #2 throught #11 on the other side...then lie on your back and observes changes...and slowly stand up and walk around, observing any differences in your walking and the contact of your feet and legs with the floor.