Driving and Dynamic Sitting Workshop

The number one request I get from online listeners is to publish complete workshop recordings and materials. Here’s the first one! It was a short form, 90-minute workshop I led in June, 2018.

The full workshop recording linked below features two brief talks and two lessons, as well as the workshop’s handouts and follow-up information for home study. These lessons have unique material and a different emphasis than my other lessons about sitting. They can be used either to introduce or complement it.

This workshop recording and my whole “Feldenkrais for all” project is offered freely. It’s my ongoing pro bono project to promote the life-changing benefits of Feldenkrais study as widely as possible, and I need your help!

Click on an audio title below to go to its player and lesson notes. Descriptions of each lesson give you a sense of its aim, though everyone’s learning process is unique and you may find other benefits.

Desk-seated, free

Desk seated. Note the height of his knees, the simple use of the chair (not leaning back), and his freedom to move. As I searched through stock photos of people at desks, this was the only one of hundreds with the person actually supporting himself pretty well, skeletally. It’s that rare, culturally!

Before you begin click here to read Studying ATM at Home, which explains your responsibilities as an ATM student and provides practical tips to help you learn and improve.

Safety first: As stated clearly in the recordings, if you’re working on how you sit and move in your car seat, please practice only when the car is parked.

The handout that the workshop students received as they entered, referenced in the first talk, is here: A Student FAQ for Feldenkrais workshops with Nick Strauss-Klein

1. Driving and Dynamic Sitting Workshop Talk 1 »

A five-minute talk. Nick introduces the workshop, and discusses how to stay comfortable in the lessons, and why we're often tempted to try harder than is useful for the learning and improvement process Feldenkrais harnesses. The sitbones are discussed. The workshop's handout graphics are in the lesson notes below the audio player.

2. Driving and Dynamic Sitting Workshop Lesson 1 (chair-seated and back-lying) »

Chair-seated, with a middle portion in back-lying. Identifying the sitbones and enriching your awareness of them, then developing the relationships between the head, sitbones, and spine as they relate to plumb (the line of gravity through the vertical skeleton). Introduces the classic Feldenkrais pelvic clock image as a way to refine and expand dynamic support possibilities for the sitbones, pelvis, and whole self.

3. Driving and Dynamic Sitting Workshop Talk 2 »

A second brief talk in the workshop. Nick discusses the value of sitting dynamically and moving as an integrated whole, no matter what constraining situation is expected of you. Modern cultural expectations and chair design are discussed as the major factor in our sitting challenges. The underlying principles of the workshop are briefly named and discussed (they're described in more detail on the workshop main page).

4. Driving and Dynamic Sitting Workshop Lesson 2 (chair-seated) »

Chair-seated. This brief lesson directly follows up on the previous one and is intended to be explored after a short break, after doing the prerequisite lesson, Driving and Dynamic Sitting Workshop Lesson 1. Turning relationships of the head, eyes, chest, pelvis, knees, and sitbones are explored, using imagery of sitting in the driver's seat.

Workshop principles and discussion

Here are the workshop’s principles from the group email sent to participants which was mentioned in the recordings. It was sent after the workshop, so please work through the audio above first so you feel the embodiment of these ideas, then spend some time with the principles below.

These ideas are presented as directions of inquiry and development in your relationship with sitting, long term. None are expected to be changes you make overnight, or new “shoulds” to beat yourself up about! Rather the Feldenkrais learning process seeks to enrich your sensory life and self awareness, and to present you with options you may not have considered before, so that it becomes more and more interesting and pleasant to try out non-habitual choices when the habitual ones are painful or unsatisfying. Comfort first! If you don’t like the sensation that an idea, principle, or movement experiment creates in you, don’t force it.

  1. Skeletally neutral sitting has a “center” or “home position” where the sitbones and pelvis, the spine, and the head are all arranged long and tall vertically, plumb with gravity. From this home position we are free to look, move, lean, turn, shift, and act with our arms and hands as life requires, but we’re seeking to learn to feel the comfort and value of returning “home,” and to cultivate this position’s desirability by getting free of our long held habits that compete with it. When we’re “home” we’re mostly supported by bones, which evolved for the anti-gravity job and don’t get tired like our soft tissue does.
  2. There are a lot of options and valuable games to be played in sitting where the pelvis and head remain on a single a plumb line, even as the spine between them bows out in any direction. We did this in both the sagittal plane (rounding and arching) and the frontal plane (side-bending), and then in circling the weight of the pelvis (which moves the spine among those two planes). We can learn to become aware of this from either end of the axis (head and pelvis), or both ends simultaneously. We can even focus on the bowing out movements of the middle of the axis when the ends are tipping together (the middle of the spine moving L, for example, while the R ear drops down as R sitbone lifts up).
  3. To enable 1 & 2, we need to cultivate the lively, dynamic relationship our sitbones can have with our seat and our seated posture and movements. Seats that are level and relatively firm make these sitbone sensations much easier to feel and provide better support for the skeleton. Obviously you’ll need to take a break from firm seats from time to time, especially if you’re not used to them.
  4. It’s also a lot easier to explore 1-3 if our seats allow our pelvis to be slightly above our knees and our feet are on the floor in front of us. If you are tall or have long lower legs, this often requires augmenting the height of the chair with folded towels or mats, or a yoga block…or even phone books. Plus, the slightly-wider-than-your-hips knee width and freedom is skeletally neutral even if it’s culturally/habitually unfamiliar. (When I lived out east I often asked New Yorkers to picture “a dude on a subway, taking up more than his fair share of room.”)
  5. Level and firm seats pass the chair test, which is “Don’t sit on it if you wouldn’t stand on it!” A lot of seats in our life don’t pass this test, and complicate or prevent any of the freedom of 1-4. It’s not that we can’t use these chairs, but we should minimize their use and/or use pillows or folded towels or other support to make them work better for us, and get things a little closer to plumb.

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