The Three Cardinal Directions of Movement

In sitting you can slouch or straighten up, bend sideways, or twist to look behind you. All your torso movements in sitting are either one of these in pure form or some combination of these three cardinal directions of movement. This lesson refines an improves each of them to give you a more balanced, calm feeling in sitting. You will also be more alert because your skeleton will be doing more of the anti-gravity work as you sit, leaving your muscles freer for movement and your brain freer to think.

Flexion-Extension

Sit in the chair and gently rock your pelvis forward and back. Does your head move forward and back as well?

Now change the way you do this so your head just moves up and down. What parts of your spine have to bend now that weren’t before? Answer this question by sensing. Repeat many times, never the same way twice. Always making it a sensory investigation.

Feel how the sacrum pushes the sternum up and how the sternum sinks to push the sacrum back. Put one hand on your sternum, the other on your sacrum to clarify this.

Do all this again but sitting on one of your hands to feel the shape of your sitz bone in 3 dimensions. Clarify as much as possible this shape, massage your fingers with your sitz bone many times. When you take away your hand, the muscles around the sitz bone seem to have disappeared. Unbeknownst to you, your brain made them ‘dissolve’  so you could senseyour sitz bone better.

Do this with the other hand and sitz bone… then maybe both…

Go back to the original rocking, does it feel different now? Do you sit differently? More erect? More forward? More back? Where is your head now in relation to your pelvis?

Side bending

Put your right ear a little towards your right shoulder. Generally this pulls you to the right; your weight goes onto your right sitz bone and if you kept leaning in this direction you would fall over.

Try it a different way. How could you put your right ear towards your right shoulder but keep your weight in the middle? Something somewhere has to go left – what is it?

When you discover it, then increase the range of this new movement by imagining your right ear approaching your right hip – your hip leaves the seat and comes up to approach your ear. This makes your right ribs bend even more.

Learn this on the other side, slowly, gently, small-y, and finally go back and forth, easily, sinuously – like the eel you naturally are!

Rotation

Look a little left and right, easily, slowly. Try to feel which vertebrae in your neck turn – where is there the most freedom?

Imagine my hands on your shoulders. Suddenly they feel included in the movement and its range expands – but the head itself doesn’t twist any more in relation to the shoulders. The movement is bigger because more of your body is involved.

Now my hands are on your upper ribs. Which parts of your spine twist now? Where can you feel movement? How did the movement expand?

My hands on your lower ribs – same set of questions.

Finally my hands on your iliac crest – one leg moves forward while the other goes back – keep the knees pointing forward. This is the largest, most delicious expansion of the twisting motion – it should still feel effortless and elegant.

After each one of these, return to the reference move, the original rocking of your pelvis, and see what has changed in the sensation and organization of the movement. When you sit, is your neutral sitting position the same or has something shifted?

Elbows on Knees: the Airport ATM

A Standing ATM

3 Comments

  1. Posted 18 February 2015 at 01:52 | Permalink

    Thank you for posting Feldenkreis exercises for the proper way to balance when playing at low and high ends of the piano. I was rolling my weight with only one “bun” on the bench. I ended up with sciatic nerve pain. With the exercises posted I get it. I will do the exercises to develop a new healthier habit. I understand now how to keep both sitz bones planted while going to each end of the keyboard.

    Eric Nilsson

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