CAUTIONS: Do all the movements slowly and gently and don’t do anything that causes pain, strain or discomfort.
If you have a medical condition, injury or disability that may cause you to be adversely affected by the movements described in the lessons, then seek the advice of a Feldenkrais practitioner or suitable health practitioner before proceeding.
Similarly seek advice before proceeding if you have a condition, or are taking medication, that affects your ability to sense pain or discomfort or affects your ability to control your position and movement.
A quick solution to the perennial "slump in the chair" posture - once you have learned this easy, natural co-ordination of hand, head and ribcage you can use it anytime to instantly pull yourself out of your slump.
Sit in a chair, one with a firm, flat seat (e.g. office chair/stool/dining chair), not a soft, saggy armchair. Your hips are level with (or slightly higher than) your knees. Sit facing forwards and more to the front of the chair, so that the chair back won't interfere sith your movements. Start with your hands resting on your thighs/in your lap. (When you rest between movements you may like to shift back in the chair to lean on the chair back. Then return to the front of the chair for the next movement.)
Observe yourself - are you comfortably upright or is it an effort to hold yourself up? Where do you feel yourself making an effort? Can you feel your "sit bones" (the ischial tuberosities, at the base of the pelvis - see chair article and picture inside)? Observe the length of your front, from top of ribcage to base of abdomen; observe the length of your back, from base of neck to tail bone (sacrum and coccyx). Do you feel longer along your front or along your back? (If you are slumping you will be shorter along your front.) Observe your breathing.
Always move slowly, easily, only doing what feels comfortable.
2. Put the palm of your left hand on the front of your chest, soft, fingers spread wide, lightly feeling your breastbone (sternum) and ribs. Repeat the previous movement of looking up and reaching high with your right hand. Can you feel movement in your ribcage as you reach and look up - the chest lifting, the ribs spreading apart?
3. Do a similar movement, but this time without the right hand - leave it resting in your lap. Spread the left palm and fingers lightly on your chest and look up, letting the chest lift and spread (fig.2). Look down, eyes and face turning down towards the floor, lower the chest, let yourself slump. Repeat several times: look up, raise chest / look down, lower chest.
4. The next time the chest is lowered and you're looking down, stay there. Keep head and chest down and lift the right hand up high. Repeat several times, raising and lowering the right hand, while head and chest remain immobile and turned downwards. You will probably find it's harder to lift the hand up (fig.3).
5. Now look up, raising the chest and stay that way - head and chest raised. Raise and lower the right hand several times - how is this different (for you) to movement 4?
6. "Opposites": Again spread the left hand on your chest and now as you raise the right hand, lower the head and chest to look down. Then when you return the right hand to your lap, look up and raise the chest. Repeat several times, the right arm going in an opposite direction to the head and chest - it will feel a little strange at first as different parts of you are going in opposite directions, but move slowly and easily until it becomes more familiar and possible.
7. (RE-TEST): with the left hand on the ribcage, reach up with the right hand, looking up and letting the ribcage lift and spread. Repeat once or twice, then let the left hand rest in your lap and continue several more times. Does it feel easier, clearer, smoother now? Perhaps you can reach higher / look up more comfortably? Do you feel less effort? Perhaps your right arm feels lighter as you lift it? Pause, rest.
Sit at the front of the chair again - is it easier to sit upright? Are you doing less work? Observe the length of your front and your back. Observe your breathing. Notice any changes. Another time, when you feel like it, do the whole sequence again, this time with the left hand reaching up. Then try alternating hands and finally both hands together. Feel how the reaching up draws your trunk into a natural, easy upright posture. Once you've practised the whole sequence a few times you won't need to do all the steps to bring yourself into easy uprightness. Any time you feel yourself sagging and slumping in the chair (at your office desk, for example) simply reach up and look up and you will instantly recover your sense of a light, easy, upright position.