The Ultimate* Self-Hug

Back-lying, learning to use the feet--and later, the arms in a self-hug position--to roll the body and reach to the sides. Setting up later lessons in Series 2 (Freeing the Spine, Chest, Shoulders, and Neck) through developing suppleness of the torso and integration of the feet and eyes as they relate to smooth weight-shifting. "Walking" the hips and shoulders along the floor. Recorded in a series of classes about posture, balance, and grace.

  • When one or both knees are bent and the soles of your feet are standing on the floor, if you find your feet frequently slipping away from you it may be useful to change the friction situation: socks or bare feet, mat or carpet, etc. If you still struggle with finding ease for your legs in the beginning of this lesson, you might instead start with Tilting, Bending, and Straightening the Legs in Series 1.
  • The self-hug position used in this lesson never has the forearms crossed in an X position. To figure out the difference, cross your arms so you can touch the fronts of both shoulders. Notice how your forearms make an X? That’s not what’s intended. Instead, in the lesson one arm is wrapped around you underneath the other. The easiest way is to stick one hand in the other armpit and keep it there, then wrap the other arm completely over the top of the first, and put your hand around the outside of your upper arm or shoulder. Voila: self-hug with arms stacked, not crossed.
  • If the self-hug position is difficult for you as described (this can happen when shoulders are injured, arthritic, or otherwise have limited mobility), you can make the hug as loose as necessary to suit the comfort of your shoulders. Hold and draw on your ribs if you can’t reach your shoulders or shoulder blades. Just don’t cross your arms (if you do, they get in the way of each other when you reach to the side).
  • In the middle of the lesson as the self-hug reach and roll is developed there are a lot of left and right directional references. I’m leading you through a thorough exploration of all the variations possible for 1) how you embrace yourself, combined with 2) which way you roll, and 3) which knee is bent. It’s easy to get lost, but don’t worry if you do! Even if you repeat some combinations and miss others, proceed through the lesson. More important than going through every possible combination is your smoothness and graceful effort and weight transfer.
  • If you enjoy how the use of your legs gets better connected to movements of the whole torso in this lesson, try Your Navigational Pelvis next. If you value what this lesson does for your feet, knees, and hips, go on to Activating the Arches. Both of these lessons are in Series 1: Integrating the Legs for Standing, Walking, and Running.
  • * A tongue-in-cheek lesson title, since lessons are  always evolving in the Feldenkrais community and for individual teachers. The self-hug is one of my favorite common ATM lesson configurations, and for years I’ve been experimenting with putting together an “ultimate” version, assembling into one coherent lesson my favorite bits of versions other practitioners have taught. This is my first approximation. Feldies may notice influences from recordings by Mark Reese, Elizabeth Beringer, and Ruthy Alon, as well as Frederick Schjang’s classes. There are some things about pacing, clarity, and emphasis I’d like to improve on. I’m sure I’ll try for a second approximation in the future, so this recording may eventually be replaced.

10 thoughts on “The Ultimate* Self-Hug

  1. Hi Nick

    I am long time practitioner and I know this lesson and you made so it will look and feel as a different one, always a good sign of feeshness and I loved the way you built it


  2. thank you for this combined ATM, my walk became so easy, I didn’t feel the need to sit down and rest for hours.

  3. More ease ; expanding islands floating in the ocean. A soft flow of my hips as I walk.
    A lovely way to end the day. Namaste.

  4. Hello Nick for me it is not so clear when you talk of “grabbing your shoulders” and yet not crossing arms … Indeed it is feasible when you “stick one hand in the other armpit and keep it there, then wrap the other arm completely over the top of the first” but in the lesson you mention getting hold of your shoulder, and this is getting me confused.

    • Thank you, this is helpful. I caught the problem too when I just re-explored this lesson last week. I’m mostly careful, but at least once I said “hold your shoulder” when I should have said “hold whatever you can reach.”

      I’ve edited the lesson notes a little to try to make the distinction more clear. If you wouldn’t mind helping more, kindly take a look at the bulleted notes above, and let me know what you think. I’m open to suggestions.

      And one day, one day…I’ll try to re-record!



  5. February 27, 2018

    I found the lesson easy to follow, well-paced, and effective in its use of imagery. Despite a tender shoulder I was able to adapt. Felt aligned, relaxed after. Christa

  6. Compliments for very clear instructions. Great feeling afterwards! I hope you will keep on posting new exercises.

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