Mind in Motion: Feldenkrais Lesson Rolling your head

Rolling your head between your hands

Day before yesterday, I taught ROLLING THE HEAD BETWEEN THE HANDS, one of Moshe Feldenkrais’ early Awareness Through Movement® lessons, for the online peer study group An AY a Day. So I could record the ATM® and share the audio recording without violating the lesson’s copyright, I paraphrased the transcript instead of reading it verbatim.

Well, exactly right. TBH, I did a bit more than that.

While MF jumped right into the lesson without preparation or prolog, I didn’t. Wanting to make it easier for students to take what they were going to learn with them, class started with them sitting on the floor and exploring how they turned their heads. The idea was that this action created a bridge from everyday life in the lesson, one they could cross back over at the end by applying the lesson to the action.

After lying down, they noticed how their limbs and the line of the spine were resting on the floor, individually and in relation to each other. Then, so they’d have a baseline when attending to their breath later while moving and during rest periods, I asked them to follow the tide of their breath, sensing the relative smoothness, or lack thereof, of each phase.

Mind in Motion: Feldenkrais Lesson Rolling the HeadHaving taught this class more than a few times, I knew that it could be challenging to figure out how to roll your head with your hands. Even though the instructions are remarkably accurate and specific — or, maybe, because they are detailed and nuanced — they prove to be surprisingly easy to misinterpret. MF dealt with this about a quarter of the way in, when the students are sitting, by asking them to look at people who were doing the movement well, meaning in the manner he was after. While this teaching tactic might have been expedient in a live class, it certainly wasn’t going to work for an audio recording.

That meant I couldn’t follow the exact steps of the lesson. Even so, I wanted to stay true to MF’s material. That’s why I added a few teaching tactics from his later versions of the lesson, ones I thought would make evident what, exactly, he meant by rolling the head between the hands. Students would explore different ways of turning the head with the hands, distinguish between them, get what he meant by rolling, and, thereby, be able to do what’s asked for. Once you’re able to make this movement, it becomes a door to discovery, to recovering small but incredibly significant motion in the spine of the neck.

Mind in Motion: Feldenkrais Lesson Rolling the HeadIf you’re curious to find out what you can learn from ROLLING YOUR HEAD BETWEEN YOUR HANDS, please first log into your Mind in Motion online (MIMO) account and then click here. So you know ahead of time, my modifications made the lesson longer that MF’s. While his class ran 50 minutes from the moment the students came in the room up until the time they’d left, my version lasted an hour and six minutes.

Before you do the lesson, please note that the lesson is neither medical care nor treatment. If you have any concerns about whether you should do it or not, consult with your physician. If you might want support under your chest when lying on your belly or behind your arm when you’re on your back and you place your hand behind your head, please have a small pillow or a towel within easy reach.

You’ll be able to find the lesson later, by signing into your account, going to Library/My Files, selecting Free ATMs and Alexander Yanai. Clicking on Lesson 008 will bring you to the page where you’ll be able to listen to the recording immediately or download the file for later.

If you haven’t joined the website yet, it’s quick and easy to create your free account here.

P.S. If you have a Become A Better Teacher (BABT) account, you’ll also find the audio recording of the conversation we had after I taught, which turned into a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion touching on many topics, including how this ATM relates to hands-on technique.

P.P.S. If you don’t have a BABT account, you can apply for one when you first sign up or, after you’ve logged into your existing account, request an upgrade from your My Account page. (Please note that only Feldenkrais® teachers and trainees are eligible for this level of membership.)


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