An overseas student comes back to Feldenkrais basics

Ever wrestle with an ATM lesson that seemed impossible, only to later discover something new and wonderful? I enjoyed an email exchange with Maria Noel from Uruguay, who was struggling with one of my more challenging audio lessons, Legs Crossed, Freeing the Spine and Chest Part 1. She gave me permission to share our thread.

Notice I initially gave her a firm nudge toward simply not doing the lesson (safety first!) but she persisted in a beautiful, sensitive-to-herself way, and reaped the benefits. Too long, can’t read? Just skip to the bolded sentences below.

For all of us doing ATM lessons I find these kinds of study stories to be a helpful reminder of the value of going back to the Feldenkrais basics. Look what can happen when we explore from a place of kindness and curiosity towards ourselves!

Maria: Very difficult for me to tilt the legs while they are crossed and I do not improve although I have been doing it for a very long time. And impossible to leave them tilted to one side.

NSK: Hello!

Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment on this lesson.

These two (“Legs Crossed, Freeing the Spine and Chest” Part 1 and Part 2) are among the most physically challenging lessons on my website. With these lessons and all ATM, it is important to know that a lesson is not for you right now if you can’t get comfortable. I copied my lesson notes from this page below; see particularly #2!

  • It’s important to note that the primary configuration and movement of the lesson (lying on your back, legs crossed fully, one foot standing, tilting the tied legs across the midline from the standing foot) may be very small as you figure out what’s comfortable for you. Your knees may move a few inches, a few millimeters, or a few feet, whatever is most comfortable at the time. It’s likely the range will increase during the lesson, but that isn’t the goal of the lesson, so don’t be ambitious! The configuration is not about flexibility (though that will improve), it’s about the learning opportunities that can be created elsewhere while in this constraining configuration.
  • Also note that if this configuration is uncomfortable for you and doesn’t get easier in the first few minutes, you should explore other lessons and come back to it some other time. You might start with Tilting, Bending, and Straightening the Legs instead.

After 16 years of Feldenkrais I still come across lessons that I simply say “nope!” to, and I personally will stop a lesson (or just skip steps and listen, imagining) within a minute or two of discomfort. Listening to your limits and staying well within them is a valuable part of learning.

Please let me know if I can offer any further help.

Thanks for exploring my work!


Maria: You are very kind for responding me.

Last night I did that lesson (Legs Crossed, Freeing the Spine and Chest” Part 1) very millimetrical and was delicious!!!

I have a strong tendency to push myself too much and many times the lesson makes me feel worse. I know I have to be conscious.

I love practicing Feldenkrais. It has become my most effective, spiritual, psychological and body healing practice.

Thanks a lot.

Maria Noel from South America – Uruguay

Nick: Fantastic! It’s funny how the back-to-basics reminders about learning anything almost always help. It’s hard to dial back our trying to nothing and just explore within what’s actually a learning environment, but if we do, “millimetrical,” “delicious” things can happen! Awesome words, by the way!

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