Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #52 (3/03)

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

More Shoulder Circles

This lesson is similar to Freeing the Shoulders, but more clearly differentiates movements of the shoulder from movements of the ribs, head, neck and pelvis .

Works with:
Shoulders, chest, ribs, spine, hips.

   1. Lie on the floor on your back...scan your body, see how you feel all over...in particular notice the contact of your shoulders and upper back with the floor, and remember the feelings there.

2. Lie on right side, knees bent ninety degrees in front of you, left leg on top of right, head resting on right arm, which is stretched out on the floor above your head (if canít do comfortably, place 2Ē or 3Ē firm pad or folded blanket under head)...lay left arm along left side, hand on left thigh...from that position, move left shoulder by itself forward and backward, exploring easy range of motion...donít let your body roll as you do it...do slowly a number of times...then let your arm roll each time from the shoulder with the movement...does that make it easier or harder?...and go back to not letting the arm roll...then move shoulder several times quite lightly and rapidly forward a and back...and rest.

3. Same position, same movement, but now, keeping face oriented forward, let whole body roll forward as shoulder moves forward, back as shoulder moves back...pay particular attention to the patch of your side along your ribs and waist where you contact the floor, and attend to keeping this moving area of contact soft against the floor...repeat slowly a number of times...then change it so you allow head to roll forward and back along with shoulder and body...and then go back to the original movement of just moving shoulder forward and back...and notice the improvement...and rest on your side.

4. Same position...lift your head and turn your upper body to look in the general direction of your left buttock (you can put your right hand behind your head to help if the movement is hard on your neck)...and stay like that while you move the shoulder forward and back as before...it changes something in your back...then go back to the original position, and repeat the original movement, noting improvement...and rest on your back.

5. Again lie on right side, knees drawn up, left arm along left side as before...move shoulder forward and backward, allowing body and head to participate in only the forward half of the shoulder movement...then after several times like that, expand the movement and let head and body roll both backward and forward with shoulder...and rest.

6. Same position...now turn head and eyes toward left shoulder (and ceiling), and stay there as the initial position...then roll head forward while moving shoulder back... you face shoulder in middle each time...repeat easily until it feels natural...and then repeat the original movement of just taking shoulder forward and back, noticing improvement...and rest on your back...notice the difference between the two sides against the floor.

7. Roll again onto right side as before, left arm along left side...now lift shoulder gently toward left ear a number of times and return to neutral...keep left arm straight...notice that shoulder includes left arm, shoulder blade, collarbone, all moving together...donít force, go gently and slowly...then let go of that and explore movement of lifting head away from floor several times so left ear goes toward left shoulder...(if this is at all uncomfortable on your neck, support your head with right hand and forearm as you lift head)...then lift head and shoulder toward each other several times...and then repeat the original movement of just lifting the shoulder toward the ear...easier?...and rest.

8. Same position...now move left arm and shoulder down away from left ear several times...arm slides against body, hand slides against hip or thigh...elbow does not bend...notice involvement of ribs, collarbone, neck...then change it so each time shoulder is pulled down, you lift your head, as if ear and shoulder stay the same distance apart...and lower head to floor and go back to just the arm and shoulder moving down, letting head move if it wants to...keep points of contact of trunk with floor soft and supple, and notice the movement there...observe the moving pressure of side against the floor...and rest.

9. Same position, same movement...but now each time the arm reaches down, lift the left foot from the knee by rotating the left thigh inward...your knees and thighs stay connected as if tied to each other...the left corner of your pelvis rolls a bit forward and upward toward head each time the foot lifts, and back arches a bit...repeat it several times...and rest.

10. Same position, knees bent, arm on left side...take left shoulder in a slow circle, up, forward, down, back, and so on...like a wheel on an old locomotive, as if the arm and hand were driving the shoulder like a piston...the hand and wrist make a circle against thigh while the shoulder makes a circle in the air...seek to make the circles smooth...alternately let entire body participate and then just move shoulder...and reverse directions...and then several times fast and light...and opposite direction...roll onto back and rest...notice differences since beginning.

11. Same position, but this time place left palm on floor in front of chest so elbow is directly in front of shoulder...from this position, make circles with shoulder...and notice differences as you change hand orientation on floor..change your hand so the fingers point away from you...and upward in direction of head...and toward your chest...and change directions...and let it go and roll onto back and rest...compare the sensations on the two sides.

12. Same position as #9, hand on floor in front of chest, knees bent 90 degrees...slowly roll whole body forward and back a number of times, feeling softness in the moving points of contact with the floor...head rolls with the movement...left knee slides forward and back over right knee...and rest.

13. Same position, but now straighten left leg downward, foot bent as if in standing on an imaginary floor, and left arm stretched toward floor over head, upper arm next to left ear...from this position repeat rolling whole body slowly forward and back, letting head be involved...look for smooth, gradual, reversible movements...and rest.

14. Again on side, knees bent one on the other, left palm on floor in front of chest...lift left foot as in #9, while lifting left hip toward left shoulder, and taking left shoulder and head toward left hip (help lift head with right hand if more comfortable)...repeat a number of times...and then lift and stay like that, and several times take left shoulder up and down...and let it all go and rest on side.

15. Same position...lift shoulder up and down several times by itself...then lift only left hip up and down several times...then add lifting and lowering foot as hip moves...then just hip a few times again...and then exaggerate the downward movement of the hip a number of times, as if to pull yourself down toward sitting each time, noticing how that affects rest of body...and rest.

16. Same position...take hip in circles...notice how lying points move against floor and keep them soft and supple...and change direction...and straighten the left leg as in standing and take hip (and leg and foot) in circles...and change direction...and then once more, bend knees and take hip in circles...and rest.

17. Same position, on right side, knees bent and together, left palm on floor...take both left hip and left shoulder in circle together...many times till feels natural...and change directions...and rest.

18. Same position...this time take shoulder forward, letting face roll toward floor, and stay...take hip forward and back while shoulder stays forward...then change it by moving left leg in front of right so both knees are bent on floor, with left knee in front...from there take left shoulder forward and back, letting head come along as is comfortable...and come back to original neutral position, and take shoulder and knee in opposite directions, shoulder forward as hip goes back and vice versa...then just for fun, explore taking shoulder and hip in opposite circles, so shoulder is down while hip is up (there are several ways to do this, depending on whether circles are in same direction or opposite direction)...and then roll onto your back and rest...observe differences between the two sides, and since the beginning of lesson.

19. Repeat entire lesson on the other side...when completed, rest on back and notice differences in symmetry...then get up slowly, stand; then walk around and observe changes.