Structurally, the Alexander Yanai (AY) Lesson 305, “The line of Effort in the Back in Lifting on Stomach” is the same lesson as Lesson 11 “Becoming Aware of Parts of Which We are not Conscious with the Help of Those of Which We are Conscious” from the “Awareness Through Movement” (ATM) book, which, by the way, was originally titled, “Improving Abilities”. He was most likely working on the ATM book at the same time he was working this series of lessons. I am not sure of the exact time frame, but I expect someone like my esteemed colleague, Moti Nativ, would be able to clarify.
Introduction to Lesson 11 in the ATM Book
In the preface to Lesson 11 in his ATM book, Moshe discusses how we are all aware of some parts of our selves – our body and personality – more than others. He gives the lips and fingertips compared to the back of the head as an example. Moshe states that a complete and uniform self-image made up of body parts, sensations, thoughts, feelings is an ideal that is desirable yet difficult to achieve. He suggests this lesson is a way to bring about a more comprehensive self-image by comparing parts of ourselves that we are more aware of with those of which we are less aware. The intention, of course, to bring about a more whole self-image.
How does the AY Version Differ?
The themes are mostly the same, but Moshe puts more emphasis on them in the AY version of the lesson. One idea being the use of an imaginary ball to bring awareness to the parts of ourselves of which we are not conscious by enhancing our perception of those that we are. In the AY lesson, Moshe is reminding us throughout the experience to notice the areas of ourselves that are clear and those that are not and to make comparisons between them. He does not do this as much in Lesson 11.
The Importance of Imagining within the Field of Gravity
The other theme is discussing the importance of balancing the ball and guiding it to roll across ourselves in a way that is congruent within the field of gravity. We need to think about the pathway that the ball would travel and how to organize ourselves so that the ball will follow the intended trajectory and not fall to the floor. We all live within the field of gravity and know how it works. Moshe is asking us to be precise and honest with ourselves to make sure our bodily movements will accurately guide the ball along our limbs and across the torso keeping it moving and balanced.
The Structure of the Lessons
Both lessons are done on the stomach with the legs spread. In the beginning, one hand is on top of the other with the forehead resting on the back of the hands. We begin with the right heel and lower leg. Moshe asks us to imagine someone pressing their thumb from the heel up the back of the calf in such a way that the hardness of the bone is felt. He then switches to the imagined metal ball and asks us to roll it from the heel to the knee and back. Moshe gradually includes the thigh and the pelvis.
Next, he asks us to lengthen the left arm overhead on the floor where he takes us to the left hand and queries upon which fingers the ball will rest and not fall – asking us to think within the reality of gravity. He does not specify an orientation of the head at this point. From here we lift the palm, bending at the wrist to roll the ball from the fingers to the wrist and back. Gradually we include the forearm, the upper arm, and the shoulder blade.
Now we go back to the leg and roll the ball to the pelvis and start to fill in the pathway between the shoulder and pelvis by lifting the leg to move the ball up the leg and across the back to the shoulder blade and then to the arm. Then to raise the arm to roll the ball down the arm and across the back to return to the leg. It is about here in the lesson that Moshe specifies the left ear is on the floor. Moshe has us spend quite a bit of time working with this idea doing variations of lifting the leg and arm to roll the ball. Moshe has us stand and feel the new sensations.
On the stomach again we develop the movement of the ball from the left heel to the right hand. This pathway goes much more quickly, and he takes us into alternately lifting the arm and leg to roll the ball from hand to heel. Again we rest in standing.
Now on the stomach, we imagine the ball resting at the nape of the neck. Lift the head to roll the ball between the shoulder blades and back. Now lift the head higher and move the ball to the lower back and lift the pelvis to roll the ball back to the neck. Moshe has us spread and lengthen the arms in front and to move the ball by elevating the legs and then the head. He tells us that the arms extend forward on the floor when the legs lift. For me, this was a challenge as I tend to want to short when lifting the legs. From here Moshe has us try the diagonals one more time and then come to standing.
Moshe takes more time and adds much more specificity to the AY lesson concerning awareness and adding more subtle variations compared to Lesson 11.
The Lesson Concludes
At the end of Lesson 11, he suggests we lie on our backs and, using the same ideas, develop our self-image on our front side. Which, as we continue with our AY series of lessons, he does in AY 306 “The Line of Effort in the Stomach and the Chest,” and AY 307 “The Line of Effort in Lying on the Back.”