„Please sit and have your two legs spread long. Bend your right knee and place your right foot on your left thigh. Your left leg remains long. Pull your right foot toward your body using your left hand. Lean on your right hand [..]”
This is a quote from Moshé Feldenkrais, from the very beginning of a class he was teaching in his Studio in Tel Aviv, presumably around the year 1950 (lesson title „AY 4 Sitting Indian fashion”). He’s 46 years old at the time, has already published two books with movement instructions „Hadaka Jime (1942)” and „Judo (1944)” and was already working on another book with very precisely worded movement instructions „Higher Judo (1952)”. I love the clarity of him teaching at that time, the very straight forward instructions with bare bones suggestions (and comparably little insulting and belittling of students and other teachers). At that time he still seemed to have high aspirations and great expectations, his passion and purpose are almost tangible.
Let’s step through this short stride step by step:
„Please sit and have your two legs spread long. Bend your right knee and place your right foot on your left thigh. Your left leg remains long.”
He prepares the starting position, in story mode. Instead of taking a shortcut with , „Sit with your left leg long and your right foot on your left thigh”, he walks you through a few steps that will lead up to this position. I see it as a lead into pacing, to create trust, and to reduce stress as well as overeagerness to perform.
„There’s enough time. Do not rush. Just sit. Please sit. Take your time. Then extend both legs, out in front of you. Spread them out casually. Yes, that’s good. Ok. Then bend your right knee, and place your right foot onto your left thigh. Your left leg remains long. Nice!”, my treat.
The instructions of Moshé Feldenkrais, the engineer, are densely structured. I admire that. It’s the work of a mathematician, who can safely skip several steps in calculus without confusing an x for an y, and without losing his audience.
„Have your two legs spread long”, means to extend both legs out in front of you, but also to spread them out, as opposed to have them tightly held together. So simple, and yet so precise!
Adjustments and prerequisites
„Pull your right foot toward your body using your left hand.”
As the main movement — which is not revealed yet — will gradually become better, the right foot will move up closer to your left groin, the junction between the torso and leg. That’s going to happen naturally as the movement improves and the lesson progresses. Vice-versa, by pulling your right foot towards your left groin, the movement will become better. One hand loves the other. But there’s limits to the flexibility of your right knee and your right hip, so it’s best if it happens gradually, without coercion. And actually there’s no need to mention all that, because it will happen on its own anyways, as long as you keep going.
„Lean on your right hand [..]”
Leaning on your right hand will help to free up your pelvis, so it will be able to roll better. Also, your torso will be able to side-bend better to the right, which will take off pressure from your right knee, which in turn will create more movement possibilities and wellbeing for your right knee.
But again, why mention all this? Who watches movies with „English with Audio Description” turned on, so that everything you see is explained, instead of „English [Original]”?
No conclusion. I hope my musings are of inspiration to you. Alfons to Starbase One, clear skies today, end of blog post, talk to you later! 😅😎❤️