• This asymmetric lesson focuses on differentiating the reaching functions of the left shoulder while lying on the right side. Through reaching and “un-reaching” in many directions and with various constraints at the scapula, ribs, and hips, the student ultimately learns that they have choice to use the whole body as part of reaching.

Lesson Outline

  • Unless resting, all of the below is done positioned on the right side with the right arm folded and used to pillow the head.
  • Reference movement: Arbitrarily place your hand on the floor in front of you. Move the left shoulder forward and back. Is your shoulder truly moving in a path forward and backwards? Experiment with hand placement to clarify.
  • Test movement: Long straight arm stretched out at shoulder height. Palm flat on floor, stroke the hand slowly forward and back.
  • Do various permutations of this motion with and without body rolling, head rolling. Does test movement get easier?
  • Take left hip back as you reach straight forward with hand caressing floor in front of you. This is a smaller twisty motion. Does it get easier to now reach forward without this constraint?
  • Rest on your back.
  • Explore taking the left shoulder backward.
  • Reach behind yourself to touch the floor. Explore sliding your left hand to reach further behind you. Initiate from the hand, initiate from your shoulder (Clearly feel entire shoulder blade gliding back and forward to accommodate reaching). Does your body move on the floor? Do the reaching with and without constraining your body from rolling.
  • Reach above your head and behind yourself. (As opposed to the above, where you reached down and then backwards). It may be that only your fingers graze the floor, initially. Or, having a bent elbow, allow the palm to touch the floor. With some amount of above and backwards reaching, see how you can comfortable reach farther backwards. How do you have to move your shoulder blade? How do you move the right side of your body against the floor to reach comfortably and return forward?
  • Slide your straight arm forward and back on the floor with the palm flat on the floor. How has this movement changed?
  • Rest on your back.
  • Lying on right side with left arm placed comfortably, move your left shoulder up towards your ear and back down. Reach straight above your head with the left hand to touch the floor above you. Continue the pattern of differentiating 1) reaching “just” with the arm/shoulder and 2) involving the rest of your body. Reaching above at the farthest point above you on the floor, swipe left and right like a windshield wiper. Let your body assist you. (in other words, don’t work just from the shoulder)
  • Return arm to a neutral place. Lift head to meet the left shoulder. Lift left shoulder towards your head and towards your left hip. Has the ease and/or distance increased?
  • Slide your left hand down your left hip and below your left thigh. Do this with only the shoulder (locking your body to the floor) and with your whole self. Feel the difference.
  • Put your hand in front of you on the floor and slide it on the floor down towards your feet and back. This is a slightly more forward movement in the shoulder.
  • Put your hand behind you on the floor and slide the hand down towards the feet and return. Notice how far you go as movement of just the shoulder. There are two ways to reach a bit further involving your torso. 1) Rolling a bit forward with the head, sternum, and left shoulder, 2) look a bit left towards the ceiling and allow your left shoulder to go a bit back (and down).
  • Slide your left hand down and below your left hip and see how you do it now.
  • Rest on your back.
  • Put left hand on hip (left iliac crest). Do shoulder circles, starting with four cardinal directions. Reverse direction. Slow, then fast and light.
  • Touch the floor behind and reach from shoulder doing shoulder circles similar to above.
  • Place hand on floor somewhere in front away from your body and do the same as above.
  • Rest on your back.
  • Reach straight above your head and touch the floor with the back of your fingers, palm facing the ceiling. Sweep your hand in a large windshield wiper arch on the floor, first from the shoulder, then add movements from lower in the body that help you to go further easier.
  • Reference movement: place your hand anywhere comfortable on the floor. Move left shoulder forward and return. How is this different from when we started.
  • Test movement: Slide your palm forward and back with a straight arm, straight elbow. How far does your left arm reach now?
  • Walk around compare right and left sides. Reach for ceiling with each arm as you walk. Stop and reach for the floor with each arm.

Focus of Moshe’s Teaching

  • Differentiating the possible movements of the shoulder. This involves differentiating how the ribs, pelvis, legs, can articulate as part of reaching easily. Our shoulders can help us more if they are not held unnecessarily. Our reach can be easier, softer, more comfortable if the rest of our body is also involved at the right time and with the right effort.

Related ATMs



Cardinal directions of the shoulder:


Share Your Insights (ideas, principles, strategies, experiences, …)

  • I asked my students at the end of class, rhetorically, where does the function of the reaching arm begin? The big toe? The knee? The pelvis?
  • I consider this lesson part of the hip and shoulder circles lesson family, with specific focus on reaching.
  • The lesson before and after in the Esalen notes form a progression. The lesson preceding in the Esalen notes (#21 Pushing Hip Joints, Sliding Spine) although largely about clarifying hip function through oscillations, also includes some differentiation of the shoulder and ribs, especially towards the end, while weighting the shoulder blades and oscillating. And the lesson after (#23 Integrating the Whole Body With the Improved Shoulder from Lesson 22) speaks for itself. – MichaelWesson MichaelWesson Feb 27, 2015

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