Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #60 (12/05)

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

Energizing your center

The strong muscles of the trunk are vital to add strength to all of our movements, however delicate; this lesson awakens and refines how you mobilize your center.

Works with:
Large muscles of the trunk.

   1. Lie on back, arms at sides, legs extended…imagine legs joined together at knees and ankles…slide legs a little right and left…it means you have use your pelvis…then change it so you place hands on your belly, elbows away from the floor, and continue to slide the legs…how is this different?...then change it again by lifting the head away from the floor, and from that position, continue the movement and notice how it changes it…and go back to the original movement a few times…easier?...and let it go and rest.

2. Same position, now slide just head a little right and left on the floor…face stays oriented toward ceiling, head does not roll, just slowly slides side to side many time…then leave the head in the middle and explore ways to slide the shoulder girdle right and left…the smallest movement possible…your head stays put…and let it go and repeat the original movement, of sliding the legs side to side, as if bound together…notice any changes…and rest.

3. Bend knees so feet are standing…explore tilting both knees over to the left, and then back to center…do it many times, slowly down and slowly return…then change it so the knees go down slowly and come back quickly, but smoothly…and repeat it that way many times…coming back quickly makes something clear about the movement, about how you use yourself…and try it sometimes as if the knees are tied together, and sometimes letting them be apart…what difference does that make?...and let it go, stretch out and rest.

4. Repeat #3 to the other side.

5. Again feet standing…now take the knees to the right and then to the left but this time do not allow the pelvis to move…place your hands on the floor next to pelvis so the thumbs will feel if the pelvis rolls at all, and don’t let it roll…notice how that feels, and how it makes different demands of the two knees…so the knees move side to side but the pelvis stays still…then change it to the opposite, so you keep the knees more or less still in space, and roll the pelvis from side to side…do that a number of times…notice how moving the pelvis asks the upper body to participate…and then finally combine them so both the knees and pelvis are free to move, and just take the knees right and left without restriction, and see how that feels…the knees move in a much bigger arc, but without more effort…and stretch out and rest.

6. Same position, feet standing…imagine knees joined together, and take knees from side to side…let the knees fall to the side easily, and bring them back through the center quickly…repeat it many times…notice how the right side differs from the left side…and change it so the hands rest on the belly with the elbows in the air so they don’t touch the floor, and continue the movement of the knees from side to side…how is this different?...and than change it again so the hands are on the floor under the waist, with the waist resting on the backs of the hands, and continue with the knees from side to side, with the knees joined like this…and let it go and rest.

7. Bend knees, and let feet and knees be spread apart…from this position take the knees slowly to the right…back quickly to the middle…slowly to the left…and back quickly to the middle…and continue like that a number of times…notice how this affects arms, shoulders, and ribs…and rest.

8. On back, feet standing…tilt pelvis slowly a little so waist presses into floor, and pubic bone lifts slightly…then let it go and go back quickly to neutral…and again slowly lifting the tailbone…and quickly back to neutral…and repeat that cycle many times…notice how whole body resonates with it…notice the expression on your face…can you let go of the effort there?...and change it so you lift just the right side of the pelvis, a small amount, and slowly, and let it go quickly to come back to neutral…and repeat that many times…and finally tilt the pelvis a little to the left, slowly, and let it come back quickly…and let it go and rest.

9. Repeat #8 movements a few times with knees together, and then allowing knees to be apart several times…what is the difference?

10. Then combine #8 and #9 by tilting the pelvis from one side to the other, right and left…go down slowly and come back quickly…you don’t stop in the middle, just change speeds from fast to slow in the middle…try it with knees and ankles held together, and also with knees separated the whole time, noticing if you have a preference…can it be equally comfortable both ways?...what are the different demands on the rest of your body?...and rest.

11. Stretch out the legs, with the feet resting on the heels…from this position repeat the movement of tilting the pelvis so the tailbone lifts a little, then let it go quickly…maybe the feet press the floor a little, but make it small and very little effort, so no strain is placed on the knees…the feet a an anchor as you tilt the pelvis slowly, and let it go back quickly…something changes in your chest from before…and rest.

12. Same position, but now spread the legs…and using the heels gently to help, lift the pelvis slightly away from the floor and carry it slightly to the left slowly, and back to the middle quickly…do that many times…then to the other side a number of times…and from side to side many times…slowly to the side, and quickly back…and notice differences between the two sides…and let it go and rest.

13. Bend the knees so the feet stand, and from this position lift the pelvis a little away from the floor and take it from side to side…slowly to each side, and quickly back to the middle…and change it so the movement is very light and fast…the pelvis doesn’t roll from side to side, it swings parallel to the floor…notice how this asks the knees to move…and rest.

14. Stretch out legs…press backs of knees to floor to make same movement as #11 of tilting tailbone up…do it many times, easily and slowly, noticing how pelvis responds…then just the right knee…press slowly, and return quickly…a number of times…and then just the left knee…press slowly, and return quickly…compare what happens in the ribs and shoulder blades on the two sides…and rest.

15. Rest hands on the stomach, and elbows on the floor, so you could push them into the floor...and again press backs of knees, tilting pelvis…press back of head a bit into floor if that helps at first…or tilting shoulder girdle at first may be necessary…you want to engage the shoulder girdle in the movement…go easy without effort…and then just pressing the right knee, and coming back quickly…and noticing the effect on the shoulder blades…and then just the left knee…and rest.

16. Same position…bring elbows close to body on floor…hands in the air over elbows, palms turn toward ceiling, allowing more direct push into floor with elbows…and lift shoulders and move them right and left many times…and slowly away from center, quickly back toward center…then let yourself down and just lift the right shoulder slowly and let if fall quickly many times…and the left shoulder the same thing…after a while the elbows aren’t pushing…and then lift both shoulders toward the ceiling and therefore closer to each other a number of times, lifting slowly and coming back quickly…this moves the upper spine and neck, and the head will move, tilting so the chin lifts with the shoulders, and comes down toward the chest as the shoulders come to the floor or press the floor…and let it go and rest.

17. Spread legs fairly wide apart…left arm palm up alongside…reach down toward left thigh by bending left…head and shoulders slide to left and come back (it’s sliding not rolling)…asks for flexibility of torso…and gradually make it bigger…the hand is pushed as if to go under the left thigh…and then change the timing to go down slowly and return quickly, and repeat that a number of times…body stays loose…the back arches and bends each time you bend left…and rest…compare two sides of back and chest.

18. Repeat #17 on the other side.

19. Same position…now just lift right shoulder (toward ceiling) and let it fall, several times…and then the left shoulder…has anything changed?...is it easier somehow?...and then lift both shoulders again together and see how that is…notice how the movement of the head is engaged…and rest.

20. Same position, same movement, lifting both shoulders, but now also press back of head into floor as shoulders lift…not with effort, but for strength and balance…just small movements…and change it by pressing the backs of the knees into the floor and letting go a number of times…and then press with the heels several times and let go…and then repeat a few times the original movement of leaning elbows on the floor and lifting shoulders, and notice how head and upper spine engage and respond now…and rest.

21. Same position…now lift the head away from the floor and stay…and from there press knees to tilt the pelvis as earlier…lift slowly and come back to neutral quickly…loosely and casually…and then the same thing just pressing the back of the right knee, tilting the pelvis asymmetrically…and again both together several times…and rest.

22. Feet standing…slide pelvis right and left…slowly to the side, quickly to the center…from side to to side like that…which side is easier?...and then extend the legs wide and repeat #17 to the right, bending body to reach the right hand toward right knee…head and shoulders slide right…face stays oriented to ceiling…and then again stand the feet as before, and tilt the knees first to one side and then the other…going down slowly, back quickly, as we have done earlier…and rest.

22. Extend the legs, and press the heels into the floor…from here, find a way to lift the pelvis a little and slide it from side to side in the air…go quickly and easily, like a rope making a wave, back and forth, back and forth…like a bow…and let it go and rest…noticing the qualities of your sensations of yourself now, and what is different from the beginning…and slowly roll to your side, sit up, and come to standing…move around quietly for awhile, noticing the changes.