A Short Feldenkrais Exercise

Try this short Feldenkrais exercise to improve your body’s ability to turn comfortably and easily. The results of doing this simple exercise may surprise you, as turning is an important aspect of almost every movement you make, including walking, reaching, and bending. By improving your ability to turn, you can improve your body’s comfort and function in a wide range of situations.

When you do a Feldenkrais exercise, it is important to remember the following:

  • Do each movement in a way that is easy and comfortable.
  • Use as little muscular effort as possible.
  • Do each movement slowly.
  • Make each movement small.
  • Relax and exhale as you do each movement.
  • Do not stretch or strain.
  • Rest between each movement.

1. Sitting on the forward edge of a chair with a flat seat, slowly turn your upper body, as if to look to the right a little bit. Then return slowly to face forward and rest for a moment before doing the movement again. Keep your feet flat on the floor, and repeat this movement 6–10 times. Notice exactly how far to the right you can see easily, without feeling any strain.


2. Focus your eyes on an object or spot straight ahead of you. While your eyes continue to look at the spot or object, slowly turn your head and upper body a little bit to the right. Then slowly return to facing forward and pause. Repeat this movement 6–10 times. Don’t stretch or strain, use force, or turn farther than is truly comfortable. Notice how keeping your eyes fixed restricts your turning. Relax your neck, jaw, shoulders, chest, abdomen, and legs.


3. Do movement #1 again: Slowly turn your upper body, as if to look to the right. Then slowly return to facing forward and rest. Repeat this movement 2–4 times. Is there any improvement in your ease of movement as you turn? Can you see a little farther to the right? Rest in the middle, and notice whether your left shoulder and the left side of your neck feel more relaxed.


4. Now do the movement again, but keep both your head and eyes facing forward. Repeat this movement very slowly 6–10 times. As you turn, notice how your left shoulder moves forward, and your right shoulder moves back. Relax your face, neck, shoulders, and stomach. Try to reduce any unnecessary muscular effort.


5. Do movement #1 again: Slowly turn your upper body, as if to look to the right. Then slowly return to facing forward and rest. Repeat this movement 2–4 times. Is there any improvement in your ease of movement as you turn? Can you see a little farther to the right? Rest a moment and notice: Does your left side feel more relaxed than your right side?


6. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, simply move your left knee forward slightly. Repeat this movement very slowly 6–10 times. After each movement, let your knee return to the starting position and rest. Relax your leg and reduce any unnecessary muscular effort. Notice how your left buttock and hip move forward a little. Feel how your head, eyes, and shoulders turn slightly to the right as the left knee moves forward.


7. Move your left knee forward while turning your head, eyes, and upper body to the right a little bit. Repeat this movement very slowly 6–10 times. Reduce unnecessary muscular effort and notice how your left hip moves forward as you turn. Do you feel any improvement in your ease of movement while turning? Can you see farther to the right? For comparison, turn to the right and then turn to the left. Feel the difference?


8. Standing up, turn toward the right, and then to the left. Is turning to the right easier? Do you feel other differences? You can achieve the same improvement in your ease of turning to the left by reversing directions in the instructions above.


Note: This exercise is adapted from the book, Relaxercise: The Easy New Way to Health and Fitness, by David and Kaethe Zemach-Bersin and Mark Reese, published by HarperCollins, New York, 1990.


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