A Short Feldenkrais Warmup
This lesson is intended to be a short routine of 10 to 15 minutes that can be done to gently activate the body first thing in the morning or as a stress break at any time during the day. It can also be used instead of a stretching routine to prepare for strenuous physical activity. Whether you stretch or do some Feldenkrais, always make sure you start slowly when you do something strenuous so that your muscles are warm before you go all out.
For this lesson, repeat each movement 4 or 5 times (or more if you would like to do a longer routine). Do the movements slowly and gently, staying within a range of movement that feels comfortable and safe. Focus your awareness both on those parts of your body that are contributing to the movement and those that are interfering with the movement. If it is not possible to move even a small amount without pain or discomfort, just imagine doing the movement (placing yourself in the starting position for the movement if possible).
1. Lie down on your back with your legs stretched out and your arms alongside your body. Spend a moment focusing on your breathing, noticing which parts of your body move with your breath. Do you feel movement in the lower abdomen, in the solar plexus, in some parts of the rib cage? Then scan the way you are lying against the floor, feeling which parts of your body are in contact with the floor and which are lifted, and how comfortable the various parts of your body are against the floor. Pay particular attention to the back of your pelvis, your lower back, the rib cage, and your shoulders.
2. Draw both knees up and put both feet standing so that your feet are about hip width apart. Place your right palm on your forehead, with the fingers pointing to the left, and roll your head gently from side to side. Make sure that most of the work is done with your arm and hand rather than with your neck. Do it in such a way that the point of contact between your hand and your forehead shifts continuously from the heel of the to the palm and then to the fingertips and back again. Repeat the same movements using the left palm on your forehead.
3. Roll to lie on your left side. Have your knees bent with the right leg on top of the left. Extend your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height with the left arm resting on the floor and the right palm on top of the left. If your neck is uncomfortable, place a soft support under your head. Keeping your right elbow straight, slide your right hand a little bit forward onto the floor and then slide it back across the left palm and onto the left wrist or forearm. Allow your knees to make a similar motion in relationship to each other so that the right knee moves a little in front of the left knee and then a little behind the left knee. Observe the way your weight is shifting on the left side of your body and if your head is rolling a little on the floor.
Next start sliding your right hand away from you and then lifting your right arm in an arc towards the ceiling and perhaps a little behind you. Continue the arc as far as you can comfortably. Allow your head to roll on the floor and follow the movement of your right arm with your head and your eyes.
Rest briefly and then repeat both of these movements with your left arm while lying on your right side.
4. Roll to lie on your back and rest for a moment. Then draw your knees up and put your feet standing. Feel what happens in your lower back during the following movements. Start tilting your left knee to the left and back. Then tilt your right knee to the right and back and, finally, open and close both knees at the same time.
Then spread your feet a little wider apart and start tilting your left knee to the right in the direction of bringing your knee toward the floor. Then tilt the right knee to the left a few times and finish by tilting your knees toward the opposite side alternately.
5. Rest for a moment with your knees bent. Then start alternately arching your lower back (pressing your tailbone gently into the floor) and flattening your lower back (lifting your tailbone a little off the floor).
6. Place your left hand behind your head and your right hand on your left shin just below the knee. Bring your left elbow and left knee towards each other. Then place your right hand behind your head and the left hand on your right shin, and bring your right elbow and right knee towards each other. Try to move them equally. Then place your left hand behind your head and your right hand on your right shin and bring your left elbow and your right knee toward each other diagonally. Finally, place your right hand behind your head and your left hand on the left shin and bring the right elbow and left knee toward each other.
7. Stretch your legs out and rest on your back. Notice if the relationship to the floor of your pelvis and your lower back has changed. How do your shoulders feel against the floor now?
8. Once again bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Stretch your arms out on the floor at shoulder height with the backs of your hands resting on the floor. Start rotating one arm upward and the other one downward, turning your head in the direction of the arm that is rotating upwards. On the arm rotating upward, you are rolling the hand toward the thumb touching the floor and, on the arm rotating downward, you are rolling your hand toward the palm being on the floor. Continue rotating one arm up and the other down and turning your head toward the arm rotating upward and, at the same time, tilt both legs in the opposite direction from your head. Imagine that you are a cat stretching and luxuriate in the movement, feeling what happens all along your spine. Do as many repetitions of this as you feel like.
9. Stretch out on your back again and notice if the way you are lying against the floor has changed. Observe your breathing and notice if it has changed.
Slowly roll to one side and sit up and then stand up, and feel what it's like now to stand. Walk around a bit and feel the quality of your movement.