Tilting the wrong way

It’s a tradition that each day of the annual conference of the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America starts with Awareness Through Movement® classes. Members of the FGNA teach a series of ATM® lessons that follow a specific theme before any of the workshops, advanced seminars, or forums get underway, giving the conference attendees a chance to connect with themselves and the personal practice of the method before engaging in professional development and politics. It’s a wonderful chance to experience how colleagues from all over teach and to find out what’s intriguing them.

Well before the 2012 conference, my friend and colleague, Anastasi Siotas, and I were discussing whether either of us was going to submit a workshop proposal. After kicking some possible ideas back and forth, I had a CAI. (I’m sure you know the CIA, but a CAI is something else altogether: a Crazy Ass Idea.) Since we enjoy developing curricula as much as we love teaching together, why not teach one of the morning ATM series together? 

Anastasi liked the idea, so we began brainstorming possible themes. That’s when I had yet another CAI: why not teach the ATMs that Feldenkrais had taught in the summer of 1977 for the third year of his San Francisco teacher training? Granted this would be a highly condensed version of the series but this rather wacky idea was inspired by the Reduced Shakespeare company, which is world-famous for performing all of 37 of the bard’s plays — The Complete Works of William Shakespeare — in 97 minutes! (Check out their 2020 US tour dates here.)

For nearly 20 years, I’d been teaching this series around the world in the programs I directed and in other trainings. I’d fallen in love with the ATMs the very first time I experienced them. Most of the lessons definitely revolved around one main idea, one functional action: being able to go from lying on your back to standing — and then coming back from standing to lying supine — keeping one leg straight the entire time. 

To teach the series during a two-week segment, I’d already distilled this series into 18 or 19 ATMs lessons. But could we teach an even more condensed version of only five classes? We were bolstered by the fact that in the lesson, DRAWING A CIRCLE WITH THE ARM ABOVE THE HEAD SIDE-SITTING, which is ATM 62 in the Alexander Yanai series, Feldenkrais taught a lesson that gets to a version of the same final action in only one lesson.

To us, the summer’s program of 42 lessons seemed to be composed as an interwoven braid.*  Though there were a few other incidental lessons along the way, it was clear, from our careful investigation of the summer’s series, that there were four main strands leading up to a finale. Each strand was a series of its own, built around what we now consider a classic ATM structure:

      1. SAWING ARMS

      2. STANDING ON THE CROSSED OVER LEG

      3. SPINE LIKE A CHAIN

      4. TILTING THE LEGS PRONE

After our initial review of the curriculum we realized that a fifth series was nestled within what had initially seemed like a mostly miscellaneous collection of final lessons. This series expanded on another of Moshe’s best known and most effective compositions: COORDINATING FLEXORS AND EXTENSORS. In this lesson and its multitude of variations, the student is asked to cross one leg over the other and then to tilt both legs together in the direction of the top leg.

We were fascinated by the moments, in the midst of Moshe’s long original SF sequence of lessons, when the students tilt their legs in the opposite direction, that is, in the direction of the bottom leg. Though this certainly is not the only place in the canon of Awareness Through Movement lessons where this happens, it’s rare enough that the instruction can easily seem like a mistake, like you’re tilting the wrong way. This turned out was the inspiration for the title of our incredibly condensed series: TILTING YOUR LEGS IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. 

To thank every member of the Mind in Motion Online (MIMO) community for the many ways you support of our work, we are making these ATMs available to everyone who has a MIMO account. I hope you’ll get to enjoy our 2019 holiday gift of gratitude. 

When you log into your MIMO account, the Library option appears in the main menu (on the left side of the page). Click on it and then Search for FREE LESSONS > ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS. The five TILTING YOUR LEGS IN THE WRONG DIRECTION ATMs are the last lessons in that section. You can download the audio (MP3) files to listen to to the lessons whenever or wherever you like. Or you can stream the lessons directly from MIMO to your internet-connected smartphone, tablet, computer, etc. 

Spoiler alert: Anastasi and I taught this final lesson together, each of us taking turns teaching sections right up until the grand finale. 

If you have a professional Become a Better Teacher MIMO account, you’ll also get to access two supplemental documents that Anastasi created: the color-coded list of the ATMs taught during the third year in SF and his abbreviated teaching summary of the fifth and final lesson. 

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

* During the summer of 1977, Feldenkrais focused on teaching the trainees how to give hands-on Functional Integration® lessons, which is why there are relatively few ATMs compared to the previous years of the program and to the Amherst training.

Did you miss the deadline for shipping packages?

Are you fretting over last-minute presents?

Even if you answer, “No,” you might like to know we offer the option to purchase any MIM digital product as a gift to the person(s) of your choice.

But wait. There’s more! 

We’re offering 20% off every digital product until the end of the year. That means you have until 11:59 PM Pacific time next Tuesday, 31 December 2019, to save. 

And, yes, the discount works even if you’re buying a gift for yourself.


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