More than performing the movements

Last Friday, I taught Alexandar Yanai lesson 101  — ON SIDE – LIFTING THE LEG AND STRAIGHTENING IT — for the 8:00 AM (Pacific time) An AY a day group lesson. Since the advent of the global coronavirus pandemic, participation has increased dramatically; there were 177 people online for this Awareness Through Movement® class!

This lesson builds from fairly easy actions to ones that are more demanding and are done in a more precarious position. It recalls a movement that you may recognize from the HOOKING THE BIG TOE series.

The challenge of teaching this ATM® lesson is that it asks for fairly large movements, ones that can prove difficult for some students. The ways that it asks you to hold your foot can also be outside of people’s comfort zone. Since it consists of mostly action instructions, it’s up to the teacher to make sure it doesn’t devolve into some kind of calisthenics or the performance of choreography. In preparing to teach the ATM, I thought a lot about how to teach in a way that avoided this potential pitfall. As usual, I paraphrased the transcript so that I could record the lesson and make it available respecting Moshe’s copyright; I also wanted to modify the language in a way that made the lesson about more than performing the movements. I’m curious what you think about how I did this challenge, if it worked for you, and, if you’re a Feldenkrais® colleague or the teacher of another one of the moving arts and sciences, if my approach gave you some food for thought.

One more thing about how I presented this ATM: I figured the lesson is hard enough that I didn’t want to have folks starting on their more difficult side, as I like to say, “The easy way is hard enough.” 

That’s why I also took some liberty with how the lesson unfolded. Instead of instructing students to start on a particular side, I began by asking them to compare the initial movement on both sides. Then I told them each to start on the side that was easier for them. Teaching lessons this way means I don’t use right and left in my instructions. Instead, I have referred to the arm that’s on the floor and the ceiling side or upper leg. This keeps me alert to my language. It also challenges my attention because not everyone is doing the movement is the same way. Though it’s more demanding for me, I think it’s worth it because of how it invites the participants to listen to themselves and honor the path of least resistance.

The audio recording of the lesson is now accessible to anyone who has a Mind in Motion Online (MIMO) account. Log into your MIMO account and click on the Library option that appears in the main menu (on the left side of the page). Search for FREE LESSONS > ALEXANDER YANAI. You’ll see ON SIDE – LIFTING THE LEG AND STRAIGHTENING IT listed as the last lesson on the last page of this section. Click on the title to go to the page where you can either download the audio (MP3) file to listen to the lesson whenever and wherever you like or, if you prefer, stream the lesson immediately and directly to your internet-connected smartphone, tablet, computer, etc. 

If you have a professional Become a Better Teacher account, you’ll also get to access the post-lesson discussion that followed. We talked about the structure of the lesson, the way I taught it, and about the challenge of teaching large classes.

If you have yet to claim your free MIMO account, you can sign up for it now.

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  1. Hi Larry, I thought the way you taught the lesson was incredible. I definitely got the sense that I was free to explore in a safe, interesting way. That being said, I wonder if I gave myself too many “constraints” based on the images in this blog post!