Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #50 (10/02)

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

Aligning the Knees

Distortions of vertical alignment and organization take an inevitable toll on our knees. This lesson integrates the alignment of the knees with the feet, ankles, hips and spine.

Works with:
Knees, hips, spine, feet

   1. Stand normally...feel how feet make contact with the floor...explore it minutely, noticing differences in the pattern of weight distribution over the two feet...then very slowly rock your body very slightly forward and backward just enough to shift the weight a small amount each way, and notice how your feet accommodate the movement...pay particular attention to the sensations across the pad of each heel...and rest.

2. Same position...explore a movement of slowly pressing the right heel into the floor...press more weight into the heel and then release it...your right side extends, getting longer or taller...maybe your body turns slightly to the left each time...and maybe the left heel lightens against the floor, or even lifts very slightly...just notice all the little ways in which this small movement involves the rest of your body...and let it go and rest.

3. Repeat #2 with the left heel.

4. Combine #2 and #3, pressing one heel into the floor and slightly lifting the other...let the movement grow larger...you feel taller on the side that is pressing downward, and you turn slightly to the opposite side...repeat it a number of times...and rest.

5. Place right foot forward a small step, extended so just the toes and front of the foot touch the floor...from that position, explore a movement of shifting your weight onto the ball of the right foot, centered near the roots of the first and second toes...go slowly and gradually...repeat it a number of times to get a feel for it...then continue, noticing how you have to bend and organize your knee and hip to give a sense of strength and balance to the moment of standing with all your weight on the ball of the right foot...you stand on the ball of the right foot momentarily, and at the same time you sort of sit into the right hip...there is continual movement in both the knee and the hip as the weight shifts... and rest.

6. Same movement, but this time move the right foot slightly more forward...shift weight onto the ball of the foot a few times...then move it a little further forward, and repeat...and again a little forward and repeat...and after you have done that in several different places, "walk" that way: step onto the ball of the right foot so the left is free...bring the left foot forward a little and stand on it...and step onto the ball of the right foot again...so you move forward like that...the right knee and hip bend each time, never straightening completely...you practice putting your weight on the ball of the foot and stepping onto it, learning how to organize the knee and the hip and the rest of your body so that the transmission of weight to the floor feels the best...and let it go and rest.

7. Repeat #5 and #6 on the other side...then repeat #1, and notice how your balance is different from the beginning of the lesson.

8. Lie down on your back on the floor, and take a moment to get comfortable...leave your arms on the floor by your sides, and bend your right foot so the foot is standing under the knee, comfortably close to your right buttock...in this position, explore a movement of pressing the right foot, especially the soft pad of the right heel, into the floor and releasing it...notice how the movement echoes in your body...explore for ways to make the movement feel strong as if intention came from somewhere in your center...and rest.

9. Same position...this time press the foot and at the same time lift the right side of the pelvis, rolling the pelvis to the left...your right lower back lengthens...keep the right knee more or less over the right foot...maybe the left leg bends and rolls outward to the left a bit...gradually lift the right side of the pelvis higher...do it a number of times...and rest.

10. Same position...roll pelvis to left and stay there...press right foot into floor and straighten the left leg and lift it away from the floor so entire pelvis and entire left leg are lifted free of the floor...and from that position, find a way to rock your entire body up and down along the line of your spine...you use your hands against the floor to help, and you feel your spine moving up and down between your shoulder blades...your whole body bounces lightly up and down along the axis of your spine (not "up and down" relative to the floor!) as if standing on a trampoline...and let it go and rest.

11. Same position, but now place your right hand on your forehead, and your left arm overhead on the floor...it's okay if your left knee is bent a little, with the entire left leg lying on the floor however it most comfortable...now from here lift your right hip as before, arch your back, and roll your pelvis to the left...at the same time reach upward overhead with your right hand, and follow the hand with your head and eyes...your back arches, your whole body rolls left at the same time as you are reaching and looking overhead...you can start small, and gradually increase the size of the movement...be careful not to strain, but rather attend carefully to how you go about this...your weight rolls up your back toward your left shoulder, and the shoulder and left arm and right foot are the only contacts with the floor...as you gradually make it bigger, you could almost roll all the way over onto your stomach, resting on your arms, and looking up at the wall in front of you (that was over your head when you were on your back)...and return...explore it carefully, resting as necessary.

12. Repeat #8 through #11 on the other side.

13. Rest on your back and just feel the qualities of your physical sensations...slowly roll to your side and bring yourself to standing...and once again repeat #1...than walk around the room, noticing the new qualities of your feet against the floor...