Flexion lessons are a go-to pattern for me when I’m feeling hunched over or contracted, especially in my low back. Afterward I feel longer and my belly lets go. They help with breathing, digestion, balance, and weight shifting. Plus, when the musculature in front and back is more coordinated, we feel stronger. Why? Because we gain access to muscles that had no more contraction left to move our bones. But, as I tell all my students, don’t listen to me, find out for yourself.
Extension lessons help you feel upright and balanced. I love them because they wake up connections in my back I don’t always access, bringing more of my whole self to every movement. Efficient human movement stems from a proportional distribution of work. If the signal is jammed at the source, so to speak, the power does not reach the limbs and we overuse the limbs to compensate. Many people feel they overwork in their shoulders and hips! Accessing better and better ways to use your back distributes the work and reduces fatigue.
Rotation lessons unwind our spine in amazing ways. If you do this lesson with delicacy and monitor the constraints, like keeping your head and hand in the same plane, you will improve dramatically. Just let the lesson “do you” rather than try to impose what you think you “should” be doing onto the lesson!
Note: this lesson is on the side so have a folded towel nearby for your head.
This version of seesaw breathing invites you to see your breathing as dynamic and responsive. I will never tell you the “correct” way to breathe because every situation in life is different, requiring a dynamic adjustment in the moment. Therefore, Feldenkrais breathing lessons are about uncoupling the codependent habit we can all get into with the diaphragm, chest, and abdomen. The more dynamic and responsive your breathing is, the more resilient you can be in any situation in life!
This lesson is one of the “jelly pudding” lessons. Weird, I know! Dr. Feldenkrais lived in England during WWII where dessert is called pudding and because jelly jiggles, he started calling these jelly pudding. It makes sense as it’s a kind of oscillating through the bones, which brilliantly sneaks around conscious self-direction (often flawed) and elicits the natural support mechanisms of the musculature along the spine—without you getting in your own way. I suggest testing it out. My students love “jelly pudding!” It’s especially good if you have any upper back or shoulder issues, or you want to unravel tension along the spine.
I love this lesson because it unravels places where I didn’t even know I was holding, and it has such in impact on breathing! Plus, side bending is a fundamental aspect of human movement. Keeping your spine supple in every plane—side bending, rotation, and flexion/extension—is vital for high-functioning movement.
This lesson rolls you up to sit with a lovely sense of spiraling over the hip. (Spiraling is the most efficient trajectory for moving through space: Throwing a baseball has an elbow spiral, a football spiraling through the air is more precise, a bullet spins as it shoots, plus spirals are all over the natural world.) The principle of counter-balancing the head and pelvis can be applied to everything from getting out of bed to getting off the couch, and to every Feldenkrais lesson as you come to sit and stand. The cool thing is that once you sense the pivot point of the spiral, you can apply it throughout your life. In fact, it is a fundamental skill repeated over and over in Feldenkrais training.