On 1 January 2019, I taught a brand-new Awareness Through Movement® (ATM®) lesson. What better way to say thank you to my colleagues and students for their participation, engagement, and support last year, right?!
Because I wanted to make it possible for folks from all over the world to participate, I offered a live online ATM class using the Zoom video conferencing platform. Like the old telephone commercial used to declare, “It’s the next best thing to being there.” The participants can see and hear me . . . and I can see them, well, at least everyone who chooses to leave their cameras on.
What I was after was a lesson that would help students tune to the world around them while feeling upright, supported, and . . . relieved of at least some of the tensions and burdens that we’d been carrying with us from last year. I needed a lesson about holding your head up, seeing the horizon, looking around, and being aware of the environment. Thinking about Moshe's amazing article, The Primacy of Hearing, I also wanted the ears to have a central role.
Whenever I teach a lesson knowing that my colleagues will be participating, I’m in quandary. Do I teach a classic lesson? Or something entirely new?
This time I decided to start somewhere familiar, introduce some unexpected variations on the theme, and end up somewhere new. So I went with teaching a variation on one of Moshe Feldenkrais’ greatest hits: THE SPHINX.
I still remember how the lessons in this family touched me deeply the first times I did them. Over the years, I’ve investigated this lesson, playing around with the SPHINX position to better understand the constraints it creates and what, on the other hand, it makes possible. I found what happened when I brought in movements from other lessons and experimented with the multiplanar actions. At first, I did this on the floor during my exploration time, and then, eventually, with my students and trainees.
Because it can be difficult for some students to lie on the floor propped up on the elbows, forearms, and hands, I decided to teach an ATM that could also be done while sitting with the arms on a table (in an analogous configuration). In fact, I wasn’t satisfied until I had worked out how to give the instructions so participants could do the lesson either on the belly or sitting.
Offering a lesson like this is kind of like throwing a party. You never know who, if anyone, will come. As it turns out, 230 people signed up, 88 of whom made it to class on New Year’s Day!
What’s really cool is that people signed up not knowing which lesson I was going to teach. The response to the one I taught has been great. Here’s what one of the participants had to say:
”This lesson was exactly what I needed . . .
forward shoulders doing small screens . . .
forgetting how to bring my sternum forward . . .
and carry my head on top of the skeleton . . .
the results of my terrible smartphone bad habits . . .
erased in one fun lesson!”
Bayfield, WI, USA
“Literally, it took the load off my shoulders.
What a great feeling!”
Pardes-Hanna-Karkur, Haifa, Israel
Someone else wrote:
"I am recovering from a neck injury and
began the lesson barely able to turn my head to the right
without a grinding, painful sensation.
My mobility increased and the pain decreased!"
If you missed the chance to do this lesson on the first of the year and you’d like to listen to it now — or if you were there and you’d like to find out what it’s like to experience it in the other position — the raw, unedited audio (MP3) file is available online to everyone who has an account on the Mind in Motion online (MIMO) website. And, just like when I first taught it, it’s a gift. You won’t have to pay for it.
We offer three different kinds of free MIMO accounts:
- Improve My Abilities for anyone interested in using Moshe’s method in their personal lives.
- Becoming a Teacher for folks interested in applying it professionally.
- Become a Better Teacher for Feldenkrais® teachers and trainees.
These no-cost accounts come from our commitment to foster communities of learners. Just because they’re free doesn’t mean that they’re worthless. Quite the opposite, in fact. When you sign up, you receive access to the Lesson Locator, the digital card catalog of the ATM lessons Moshe Feldenkrais taught (starting with the 550 Alexandar Yanai classes), the ebook version of Articulating Changes, my Masters Thesis, and other valuable learning resources, all at absolutely no cost whatsoever to you.
If you don’t have a MIMO account yet, you can sign up for one here. Once you have an account, accessing the unedited MP3 audio file of THE SPHINX SIDEWAYS AND AROUND is as easy as 1-2-3:
- Log into your MIMO account.
(If you don't remember your password, you can create one by going to the MIMO login page and clicking on "Lost your password?" now.)
- Click here to go directly.
- Stream or download the recording:
Since this isn’t the first time I’ve taught a free lesson online, we’ve collected some of the ATMs that I’ve taught for the AY group or elsewhere recently — along with a few versions of the classic ATM known as the PARTS AND FUNCTIONS OF BREATHING (from my advanced training about teaching ATM called RETURNING TO THE SOURCE) — in a brand new section of Library/My Files called FREE ATMs.
You can also find THE SPHINX SIDEWAYS AND AROUND in the FREE ATMs section.
This section is a new benefit of being a member of the MIMO site. If you already have an account, you may already have noticed that (once you’ve logged into the website) this section has been in your account since the beginning of the year.
As always, I’m curious to find out about your experience of THE SPHINX SIDEWAYS AND AROUND. If you’re a teacher, I’m interested in what learn from sharing it with your students as well as what they learn. If you’d please log into your MIMO account? Once you’ve done that, you will be able to share your comments below.
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