Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #49 (8/08)

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

Pelvic Clocks

Our centers of gravity fall within the pelvis, and the moving relationships between our pelvis and ribcage determine our balance and mobility in virtually every activity. The movements in this lesson bring awareness to these moving relationships in ways which enhance one's ability to remain centered in a wide range of movements.

Works with:
Pelvis, waist, ribs, spine.

   1. Take a moment to stand normally...just stand and notice how that is for you...look down and see how your feet are arranged...don't "correct them" to some idea of how they should be, just notice how they are placed...are they symmetrical?...or is one a little ahead of the other, or turned more in or out than another?. ..now notice how your pelvis is oriented in space...(see picture) is it tilted or turned relative to the plane of your feet?...or of your head?...now place your hands so that the tips of the 3rd and 4th fingers of each hand rest on the respective iliac crests, and the thumbs rest on the lower front "corners" of your rib cage, the imaginary points where the "side" of the rib cage meets the "front" of the rib cage...and from that position, look down toward your feet a few times...and notice what happens to the relationship between the rib cage and the pelvis...and look up a few times...and then down and up...and a little right and left...and let it go and rest.

2. Same position, standing, with hands as before, bridging pelvis and ribs...place right foot a small step forward, and slightly toward the right...from that position shift weight back and forth completely from left foot to right foot, and notice what happens under your hands...do it a number of times...then several times look down as you come back onto the left foot, and up as you go forward onto the right, and notice how ribs and pelvis relate...and change it again so you look down as you go forward onto the right foot, and up as you come back onto the left...go slowly, and notice how this is different...and then again a few times looking up going forward and down coming back...and let it go and rest.

3. Repeat #2 on the other side.

4. Lie on your back on the floor...bend your knees so your feet are standing, more or less under the knees, about shoulder width apart, arms on the floor alongside...place your hands on your lower belly so the fingertips touch your pubic bone, the hands lie along the creases where your legs meet your pelvis, the heels of the hands touch the iliac crests, and the thumbs point toward each other near your navel...and take a moment to notice these three points in space: pubic bone and each iliac crest...are they all the same height from the floor, or is the pelvis tilted in some way?...and from this position, beginning with a tiny movement, repeat tilting your pelvis so you first gently press your waist into the floor, and then your tailbone...if your pelvis were lying on a large clock, you would be pressing alternately at 12 (waist) and then at 6 (tail)...repeat it slowly many times...find ways to reduce effort and increase smoothness and comfort...notice that all three points are part of one structure...pubic bone moves toward floor, iliac crests move toward ceiling...and notice how the more of your body is gradually involved...how does the rib cage participate in the tilting of the pelvis?...don't force movement to happen, but don't prevent it either...find what is natural for you...and let it go and rest.

5. Again bend knees, feet standing...now place hands under pelvis, palms down, so top of pelvis rests on backs of hands...from this position, repeat the movement of tilting the pelvis up and down, from 12 to 6 o'clock...notice how this is different...there is a bigger space under your waist, so your lower spine is invited to move in larger arcs...repeat it a number of times until it is comfortable...then change it by moving the hands further down so bottom of pelvis rests on hands, closer to tailbone, and repeat the rocking...notice how this is different...and then move your hands and place them again on lower belly as in #4, and continue the tilting up and down...notice the improvement...and rest.

6. Same position as #4, hands on lower belly touching the three bones...tilt pelvis a little to left, so the right iliac crest is higher than left, and then lower it...repeat that many times...notice that when you lift the hip, the right side of the pubic bone lifts also, and the left crest tips closer to the floor...the weight of the pelvis rolls toward the left hip...as the movement gets easier and larger, keep the right knee oriented toward the ceiling as it lifts a little toward the ceiling, moves somewhat down away from your face , and is carried a little to the left each time...the weight of your pelvis rolls over toward 3 o'clock...become aware of your pelvis as a unit as it moves...do it many times...and rest.

7. Same position...repeat the tilting of the pelvis to the left...and notice the lengthening asked of the right side of your lower back...what happens to your right shoulder?...try it a few times without letting the shoulder move...and a few times so the shoulder lifts a little from the floor each time...and a few times so you press the shoulder into the floor each time the hip lifts...and then let the shoulder do what is most comfortable...what does your head want to do in each variation?...and let it go and rest.

8. Same position...repeat #6 and #7 on the other side.

9. Same position...place hands as before, feeling the three prominent parts of the pelvis...and, feeling both the feedback from the weight of the pelvis moving on the floor and the feedback from your hands of the pelvis moving in space, repeat the rocking between 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock several times...and then roll the pelvis back and forth between and 3 and 9 o'clock...and then diagonally between 2 and 8 several times...and between 4 and 10...and rest.

10. Same position...roll pelvis to 12 o'clock...and slowly take the weight of the pelvis around the clock, clockwise in consecutive arcs, as between 12 and 4 a number of times...and then between 3 and 7... and between 6 and 10...and between 9 and 1...and then slowly go around the whole circle from 12 clockwise around to 12 again...repeat it a number of times...and let it go and rest.

11. Same position...place hands as in #2, bridging ribs and iliac crests, and again take pelvis slowly and smoothly in a circle clockwise...observe the moving relationship between pelvis and ribs...exaggerate the movement of the ribs slightly, and see what that is like...and change directions and see how that is...and back to the clockwise direction...and rest.

12. Same position, but now okay to let hands and arms rest on the floor beside you...bring your awareness to the left sacroiliac ("s-i") area, a little indentation or dimple near the top of the back of the pelvis, within an inch or two of the spine...and explore moving your pelvis so the weight traces a small circle just around the left s-i joint...so the inner part of the circle just approaches your spine...do it a number of times clockwise...and a number of times counterclockwise...and rest.

13. Repeat #12 on the other side.

14. Combine #12 and #13 by taking the pelvis in a "figure 8" around the two sacroiliac joints...imagine two smaller clocks, one around each s-i joint, and tangent to each other across the tailbone (9 on the left clock meets 3 on the right clock in the middle of sacrum)...just explore the figure 8 pattern a number of times in each direction...do it several times with hands resting on the floor beside you...and several times with hands on the three points of the pelvis...and then several times with the hands bridging the lower ribs and the iliac crests as before, and notice how the relationship between the rib cage and the pelvis changes throughout the movement...and let it go and rest.

15. Several times now repeat the initial movement of tilting the pelvis up and down, and notice how much of your body is now involved in the movement...then rest and notice the changes in how you feel in your body and against the floor...roll gently to your side and bring yourself to standing...repeat #2 and #3 and notice any differences since the beginning of the lesson...walk around the room...dance a little, maybe a few waltzing turns, and see how that feels...