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Awareness Through Movement (ATM) is a group lesson consisting of verbally-directed lessons involving gentle movements and directed sensory attention organized in a meaningful sequence. ATM lessons are used to recover from injury, improve athletic or artistic performance, prevent injury, and improve the quality of everyday movements. People often experience improvement in posture and breathing, relief from pain, reduction in tension, and enjoy new flexibility and ease of movement.

One obstacle to easy, efficient action is our habitual, unconscious movement patterns. These patterns are deeply embedded in our nervous system and often become outmoded or dysfunctional. An ATM lesson allows the student to move beyond habitual movement patterns, and harness the ability of the nervous system to learn additional choices for easy, effective movement. A typical lesson lasts about 45 minutes, and is organized around a functional action, such as breathing, twisting, or exploring the kinetic possibilities for movement in a particular joint or muscle group. For example, a dancer might wonder why a hip circle to the left is easy, but a hip circle to the right is more difficult.  An ATM lesson can explore how all of the dancer contributes to the movement, bringing awareness to why the movement is easier in one direction, and giving new possibilities for a more fluid movement in both directions. 

A Sample ATM


Here is a short Awareness Through Movement® that can be performed sitting in a chair to allow you to experience how this method of movement education works: Sit in a chair with your back away from the back of the chair, your hands flat on your thighs, and your feet flat on the ground, about shoulder width apart. Do each of the following movements slowly and easily 4-8 times. Stop when the movement becomes a little more difficult instead of pushing the movement as far as possible. Discover ways to make the movement easier and more fluid, and notice where you find movement in your skeleton.

  1. Turn to the right keeping your feet flat on the floor and notice how far you turn easily. Come back to facing forward.
  2. Turn to the left keeping your feet flat on the floor and notice how far you turn easily. Come back to facing forward.
  3. Which direction is easier, turning to the right or turning to the left?
  4. Keep your eyes still while turning your head and upper body to the right and back to facing forward. Notice you don’t turn as far to the right because your eyes are still.
  5. Keep your head and eyes facing forward, and turn your shoulders and upper body to the right and back to forward. Notice if you’re holding tension in your jaw, and relax your jaw.
  6. Keep your foot still and flat on floor, but move your left knee forward slightly, and back to the starting position. Notice your head and shoulders are turning slightly to the right.
  7. Simultaneously, move your left knee forward while turning upper body to the right. Feel how your pelvis moves a little.
  8. Turn to the right again and notice how far you turn easily. Is it further than when you started? Turn to the left again and notice if you turn further than when you started.

If you like, you can repeat this ATM turning to the left instead of the right. You’re able to turn more easily after doing the ATM because you’ve organized your body differently, after taking all the movements throughout the skeleton required to turn, breaking them down into pieces, and moving each part of your body individually. Your body learned that it is more functional to use your whole body to turn.