Constraints reveal

Among the classic Awareness Through Movement® lessons that Moshe Feldenkrais created, there’s one often referred to as ROLLING FISTS and another that’s known as ERROL FLYNN. Both of these well-known classes, which are part of many teacher’s repertoires, are done with your straight arms outstretched, side to side, and your hands gently closed in fists while lying on your back, sitting, and on one knee.

Well, at least that’s how I thought of them until I encountered the versions found in the Alexander Yanai volumes. There you’ll find three ingenious related lessons that are all done while standing:

  • AY 271 EXTENDING THE ARMS FORWARD 1

  • AY 272 TURNING THE BACK WITH CLOSED FISTS (CONTINUATION)

  • AY 273 BENDING(S) WITH CLOSED FISTS 3

This past week I was reminded of these incredible lessons when we revisited them in the An AY a Day study group.

More than once, I felt as if Moshe, the consummate Judo master, was reaching out to pin me in what I can only call a constructive and informative manner. Instead of making me feel incapacitated, like what would happen in unarmed combat, each move did the exact opposite by divulging new abilities.

The constraints created by instructions — the odd positions and the gentle, precise actions explored in these places — closed off the avenues I habitually and unwittingly take. At the same time, they progressively revealed, step by careful step, the marvelous mobility and flexibility inherent in my spine and chest. With each lesson, I felt increasingly reawakened, refreshed, and renewed.

Do you know these lessons?


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Responses

    1. Hello Javier –
      Thanks for telling me that you’re excited to get to know these lessons. It’s great that you’re improving your English and that reading the blog is part of the process!
      Onward. Together,
      Larry

  1. I do know these lessons. Yes, indeed, they are terrific. As are the two that follow that you so skillfully adapted into one of your standing in a doorway lessons (whether or not you used 274-275 as sources for your exploration). Also, along the same lines as 271-273 is 480, even more sophisticated (IMHO) than the earlier standing lessons. Do you know that one? One of the primary constraints is having your butt on a chair, limiting the movements of your pelvis. And also 478, 479 and 481 (all chair lessons)? 479 which I taught for the first time ever this week is one of the best “carriage of the head” lessons I’ve ever encountered. While the instructions were a tad hard to decipher, the lesson is genius in its constraints. When explained well, the movements make it almost impossible not to find something along the way that is outside of anyone’s habitual patterns. Really an exciting lesson.

    I also want to say what an inspiration you’ve been to me. Your creativity in the lessons you’ve been making, your informative and insightful blog posts, your generosity and warmth that comes through in all your communications is truly inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing with us all..

    1. Hello Mark –
      It had been a long time since we’ve talked.
      Thank you for adding to what I wrote by pointing out related lessons. My first experience of these seated pecking lessons with Gaby Yaron in an advanced training she gave in Berkeley many moons ago.
      As for AY 274 & 275, they weren’t the direct inspiration for doorway lessons in The Human Frame lessons, though they certainly did influence me.
      Thanks so much for getting in touch and for your kind words about my lessons and writing.
      Gratefully,
      Larry

  2. yes–I studied those lessons a few years ago-but have not taught them yet,
    But–I told Larry this a while back–I was teaching Errol Flynn years ago to 20 somethings–and they did not know who he was–so I changed the name to Johnny Depp!

    1. Hello Leslie –
      Your story reminds me of one I heard back in the early 90s:
      An undergraduate responds to the professor, saying, “You mean Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?”
      As a Frenchman, I often refer to these lessons as D’artagnan