Theme Pelvic Clock

Description of the theme:

In pelvic clock lessons, we work with the image of a clock lying on the floor behind the pelvis, and move the place of maximum contact of the pelvis with the floor around the circle of this clock. Lesson variations may include the image of a similar clock in front of the nose, which draws a circle related to that of the pelvis, or various positions of the legs and torso.

Pelvic Clock lessons on Feldy Notebook:

Moshe’s discussions of this theme:

Where in Moshe’s writings does he discuss this theme, explain his functional, neurological, or psychological thinking behind his development of this theme?
In The Potent Self, Moshe writes about control of the pelvis, while discussing induction and a flexor lesson. He says that in the course of lifting the head (while lying on the back):

  • “it becomes quite clear that the pelvic bone is a primary mover in anything we do. The head rests on the cervical vertebrae, which make up a flexible rod capable of bending in all directions and rotating or twisting around itself. The trunk as a whole rests on a similar rod formed by the lumbar vertebrae. Rotation (and twisting) of the body can be done smoothly and simply only if these two rods are fully used. The lower end of the lumbar rod must be fixed in any new position before it is capable of receiving the weight on the upper end. The same is true of the cervical rod carrying the head. All correct action starts with the movement of the pelvic bone, which displaces itself so as to carry the spine and the head through to the new position while allowing the head complete freedom of movement. The control of the head and of the pelvic bone are, therefore, absolutely essential to all correct action. One is not more important than the other. Both must be controlled correctly to obtain correct action. In some acts the position of the head is more telling and easier to notice, but it cannot be obtained without proper control of the pelvis.” (pp. 139-140, emphasis added; late in Chapter 13)

In the chapter “The Abdomen, the Pelvis, and the Head,” he says:

  • “The spine is carried by the pelvis. The head rides like a plate at the upper end of a Chinese juggler’s bamboo rod….The pelvis is, therefore, the carrier of the lot. No proper action is possible without good control of the pelvic joints. The strongest muscles of the body articulate the pelvic joints; the gluteals…and the quadriceps…have the largest cross sections of all the muscles. In short, the power of a body is determined by the power of the lower abdomen and more generally by the pelvic region. [Describes efficient distribution of work, and draws conclusions from size of muscles around pelvis that they do the greater share of the work.]… No correct posture or acture is possible without the pelvis being able to move freely in all its articulations; that is, in the hip joints and in the small of the back. As soon as one of the possible motions of the pelvis is restrained, the fluency of action is broken. Thereafter, greater efforts in the shoulder girdle or in the legs are necessary to accomplish what can be done with grace and ease when pelvic mobility is unhampered.” (p. 188, beginning of Chapter 17)

In Body and Mature Behaviour, he talks about the control of the pelvis in relation to any movement of the limbs:

  • “The trunk by itself is normally not rigid. It consists of two smaller parts, the almost rigid thorax and the pelvis. Thus, before any significant movement can be made, it as necessary that the thorax and pelvis should be more rigidly connected [so that, as a unit, they will be the heavy part and the action of the muscles joining limbs to trunk will move not the trunk but the limbs]. And the stability of the whole body relative to the ground should be increased in the plane in which work is to be done. Among all the numerous possible configurations of the segments of the body in each case there is a group in which the total amount of pull in all the muscles of the body is the smallest.” (p. 54, beginning of Chapter 7)

From this perspective, refinement of the pelvis and chest as they fix themselves relative to one another is going to profoundly impact the ability to use the limbs with the characteristic lightness and ease we seek, as we move in all planes.– Lynette Reid Feb 5, 2011



Add your thoughts and observations–ideas behind the lesson, history of Moshe’s development; Moshe’s discussions of this theme; your personal insights in experiencing, teaching or using ideas from the lessons in FI

  • Pelvic clock lessons of course increase control over the pelvis and head, and clarify the spine.
  • Always brilliant for reorganizing the head, neck, and shoulders (some versions more explicitly coordinate and differentiate the head).
  • I find that the pelvic clock with soles together and knees open has a much stronger impact on the middle and floating ribs to the side and back (in line with the open knees)–and these pelvic clock lessons can dramatically improve breathing through this means. This is reinforced and taken further by the variations in sitting, where he directs attention to how these ribs move relative to the elbows, and particularly the ones leaning back on the elbows. YMMV, as they say in the lingo. – Lynette Reid Jan 9, 2011
  • When I listen to recordings by various teachers, I think we don’t make as much use of the matching subjective/objective idea as we might. In some recordings it sounds like the clock is an embarrassment or a fetish (a trademark Feldenkrais(r) thing), and not like the teacher really believes it is an effective image to accomplish specific purposes. – Lynette Reid Feb 5, 2011
  • The Pelvic Clock gives some of the fundamental vocabulary for our work in FI. Every student will find some hours of the clock familiar, and some unfamiliar or difficult to reach. Steering from the ASIS, you can take the student to the easy part of the clock (and observe breathing), and then use any of the variations across different clock lessons to fill out the clock. What you sense in the easy and difficult hours for the student (in the spine, chest, legs, head…) will suggest directions to develop a lesson. In anything you do with movement starting from another direction, you observe to which hours the student takes their pelvis as they organize their response to/uptake of your idea. – Lynette Reid Feb 5, 2011

Key variations

  • Pelvic clock lessons sometimes work entirely with the knees bent, feet standing and sometimes entirely with the feet together and knees open –and sometimes with both, as in Clocks in Three Positions.

Soles together, knees open:

  • When a pelvic clock lesson has the legs open to the sides and feet together, not only are you circumventing the usual use of the legs and hip muscles to manage the pelvis, you are also managing the movement of the pelvis with a new weight drawing on it, from a new angle (2:30/10:30). So one element of what is going on here is that, rather than stabilizing the core as you move the limbs, you are actively engaging the core to move the limbs (legs in this case). Now, these limbs are also resting in a position at the end of their range of motion, so you have to consciously produce the movement from the pelvis and thorax as your way of manipulating the pelvis to achieve the clock movements–and with the weight of the leg open to the side drawing against it, you are challenged to do so (the second element) . I think with the knees open, you also have the pelvis/lower back passively in slight extension, and the flexors work differently and harder to produce the movement (this goes functionally/neurologically together with the ordinary mechanisms of action from feet standing being unavailable in this position.) –  LynetteReid Feb 5, 2011
  • When he starts in sitting, with soles together and knees open, he flips the clock–it’s natural to think you will be looking at the clock under your pelvis, so now 12 is towards your tailbone and 6 towards your belt. Otherwise, 12 is at the belt and 6 at the tailbone. –  LynetteReid Feb 5, 2011

Leaning on hands/elbows behind:

  • Powerful for organizing shoulders/neck/head and sternum.

Matching subjective and objective:

  • The clock image is used not just to give the idea of the movement, but to introduce/reinforce a very important theme in the method: do your sensations of yourself and your sensations of your environment match up? Are you aware of this? So he will emphasize that you move the place that feels heaviest on the ground around the circle of what would be the heaviest place in your sacrum when resting; and then also he asks you to have that image of the clock on the floor, and organize your circle so that the that heaviest place (in your internal perception) is travelling around the circle on the floor that you are imagining with the clock image. When you are doing the subjective but not the objective circle, he calls this “smushing” or something like that (in A Clock AY77, I think)–try the different variations and see. If you smush, you can do everything in the low back, and the axis of the movement is inside the pelvic basin. If you really travel around the external clock, you have to do more lengthening across the diagonals to the opposite shoulder/base of skull, and the axis of the movement is the center of the clock on the floor. –  LynetteReid Feb 5, 2011


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