Feldenkrais Lesson of the Month #62 (8/07)

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

Mobilizing the sternum

Softening the chest, relaxing the shoulders, and functionally connecting the head and shoulders to the chest.

Works with:
Chest, shoulders, collarbone, neck

   1. Lie down on your back, rest into the floor, and oberve the sensations in your body...notice what kind of relationship your body is making with the floor...and notice how the relationship changes as you lie there.

2. Bend your knees and bring your feet to standing, about shoulder width apart...gently and slowly explore a movement of taking your knees toward the right...start with a very small movement, and gradually let it get bigger...see if you can let the movement be bigger without adding effort, but just by improving your skill...what stops the movement?...what parts of your body participate in the movement and which do not?...do it a number of times, and then rest.

3. Same position, repeat #2 on the other side.

4. Combine #2 and #3 so you slowly take the knees from side to side...do it slowly a number of times...how is your body involved?...Does your head move?...is one side easier?...and let it go and rest.

5. Repeat #4, but now roll your head opposite your knees...so as the knees go to the right, roll your head easily to the left...and as your knees go left, let your head and neck roll right...repeat it many times, exploring how to make it softer and more fluid each time...and rest.

6. Same position...leave your knees upright and slowly roll your head side to side...do it a number of times...notice what your eyes do...are they relaxed or "hard"..? How about your tongue?...relaxed or tense?...jaw?...it's interesting how the mobility of the head is so affected by tension in the eyes, tongue, and jaw...and rest.

7. Same position...now place your right hand on your forehead, and use your arm and hand to roll your head from side to side...let your neck be soft...notice the arc your head traces out on the floor...your arm and shoulder are active, and your neck is more passive...just explore it a number of times...and then change hands and continue the movement with the left hand on your forehead...do that a number of times...and then both hands on the forehead...and rest.

8. Repeat #5.

9. Same position, on your back, feet standing, arms by your sides...now explore a very small movement of lifting your right shoulder away from the floor, and setting it down...do it several times...then place your right hand on your sternum (breastbone) so the little finger edge of the hand rests on your sternum and some fingertips touch your right collarbone a little near the base of your throat where it attaches to the sternum...then repeat the movement of lifting the shoulder as before...notice how the collarbone lifts as the shoulder lifts, and the sternum moves a little to the left...repeat it a number of times...and rest.

10. Repeat #9, but now each time you lift the shoulder, let your head roll to the left...repeat it several times...and then change it so as the head rolls left, you roll your hand on your chest so the wrist moves over your sternum toward the left shoulder and your right elbow moves across your body to the left...repeat it a number of times...and each time you do the movement, at the same time let your head roll to the left...do it slowly and easily many times..and change it so you let your jaw drop open as head rolls to the left, and closes as you come back to neutral...practice it many times, getting softer and more relaxed each time...and bring the hand back to the floor on the right side and continue several times...and rest.

11. Repeat #10 on the other side.

12. Leave both arms on the floor, and combine #10 and #11, going from side to side, first lifting the right shoulder, head rolling to left and jaw opening, and then lifting the left shoulder, head rolling to right, jaw opening...go back and forth, sensitively and sensuously, a number of times.

13. Same position...this time gently press your right shoulder into the floor, and let it go...do it a number of times, letting your head roll toward the right each time...and then each time you do it, gently clench your jaw as the chin approaches the shoulder, and relax it as you go back to neutral...and rest.

14. Repeat #13 to the other side.

15. Same position, now combine #13 and #14 and go from side to side...first lift one shoulder while you press with other, and your face rolls toward the pressing shoulder; your sternum and collarbones move right and left with your head...you use the movement of the shoulders and chest to roll your upper spine from side to side, and your head is carried along softly and passively, like a ball on the floor...go slowly and smoothly...and rest.

16. Same movement, but now faster and lighter, eventually tapering off and becoming smaller and smaller and then imaginary...and just rest, and notice the sensations in your body, breath, and contact with the floor.

17. Repeat #5, and then rest on your back before coming to standing and mindfully walking about.