Spreadsheet vocabulary

The spreadsheet contains a work in progress: my grouping of ATMs, idiosyncratic, personal, based on transcripts I happen to have and how my brain happens to put things together. My priority in describing lessons and grouping them is to capture the image of the movement worked with in each lesson–so that a Feldenkrais practitioner looking at the list could visualize what goes on in the lesson quickly. This is deliberately a very limited ambition, more about creating a basic vocabulary and map in my own sensation and grasp of the lessons. Detailed discussion about functional purposes can be built on top of that basic vocabulary.

In the community we've made a few efforts to catalog lessons systematically. In my opinion we get bogged down when we try to classify them based on our theories and opinions about "what they are really about." So this classification is about crawling before we walk or run: the eventual structure of the whole will emerge, but things are kept deliberately very simple.

Below is a list of the basic category terms used in the spreadsheet, with quick descriptions that should enable a practitioner to "get the gist"–to be reminded of families of lessons with which you are somatically familiar.

Please leave comments if there's anything that could be clarified better.

Bending elbows over knees

Sitting with long legs (or on bent), taking elbow towards knee or towards floor to side of knee; circles with long legs.


Advanced extensors: face down, looking up and behind to heel and reaching to and holding ankles behind.

Breathing, seesaw

Alternately expanding chest and abdomen.


Face up, knees bent feet standing, and hand between ear and shoulder fingers pointing down–develops to the classic bridge position.


Usually interpolated with the headstand series, lifting feet up into air into shoulder stand and letting them fall back to ground, bringing you into a bridge (but shoulders and feet, not hands and feet).

Coordinating flexors and extensors

Face up, legs crossed at knees, tilt to side. Title comes from book ATM: "Coordination of flexor muscles and extensors."

Dead bird

Sidesitting, lean on one hand and hold the other up in front of the face; turn.


Anything lying face down and lifting the head and/or limbs

Face down, tilt legs

Knees bent, feet to ceiling, and tilting the legs, together or apart or letting the lower legs separate. (Can continue to sitting.)

Five winds kata

From lying to sitting keeping legs long in the median plane (i.e. straight up through the middle, no rolling to the side).


Anything folding the core; basic is face up and knees to elbows, but including sitting, legs long, etc.

Folding over folded leg

Folding body forwards over leg folded in front, eventually develops to lengthening other leg behind and an extreme extensors lesson; also to split.

Four cardinal points

Sitting (or lying) to standing, passing through standing on hands and feet. The precise locations of the hands and feet that allow easy movement in all directions are the four cardinal points.

Frog legs

Face up, bending knees open to sides and drawing them up to standing feet or knees over chest.

Hands holding the head

Face down, hands holding the turned head while legs roll the pelvis.

Head rolling

Rolling the head between the palms.

Head under frame

On knees, elbows standing over hands, taking head through the space under the upper arm; develops from circles with cheek on floor to judo roll.

Lift hand to back

Side-lying, lifting the arm in an arc towards the floor behind.

Pelvic Clock

Rolling your pelvis around the hours of a clock

Pressure waves

Pressing in turns various parts of self into floor, developing to wave up and down

Rolling a ball

Lessons working with the image of rolling a small ball over the limbs and core

Rolling arms

Arms extended long, rolling (usually fists) up and down. "Candelabra" when elbows bent.

Rolling over elbows

Classic rolling from lying to sidesitting, to the side over the elbows. Holding feet or not. In Tumbleweeds version, to sitting soles of feet together or legs long.


Lessons with arms crossed over chest, taking shoulder girdle from side to side.

Shoulder stand

Aka "candle:" feet to the ceiling, pelvis propped up on elbows, weight on shoulders and back of head.

Sitting cross-legged

Lessons explicitly addressed to facilitating sitting cross-legged; often ankle resting on opposite knee or thigh, extending back to take knee to floor.

Some fundamental properties of movement

Title from ATM book, lesson 3; minimal lifting of long limbs face up and face down–lifting from the core, letting the extremities follow.


Lessons maintaining an awareness of the movement of breathing in the Dan Tien, spot just below the belly button and in front of the lumbar spine associated with the centre of gravity of the body.


When "Rolling over elbows" while holding the feet goes on and on …