The Practice

A basic NSR lesson consists of a fairly structured format. A lesson typically
lasts about an hour, with 15 minutes devoted to each limb. The lesson
proceeds in a circular motion around the body, starting with the left leg,
then moving to the right leg, right arm, and left arm. You can also move in
the opposite direction, starting with the right leg, followed by the left leg,
left arm and right arm.

NSR sessions are usually done on a table with the client lying on his back,
although alternate positions are also possible.

The specifics are slightly different depending on whether you are working
with a leg or an arm, but the general pattern is the same. Working with a
limb is divided into three segments. Note that you move through all three
segments with one limb before moving onto the next.

1. The preparation

First, you awaken the extremities—the hands or the feet. You do this by
massaging the fingers or toes and the rest of the hand or foot with a fair
amount of vigor. The intent is to simply awaken the extremity, the part of
the body where energy reverses its flow through the body. The hands and
feet also bear a disproportionate amount of work for the body and usually
need and want clear stimulation to bring awareness and sensation into them.
Waking up the hands and feet sensitizes the body for the rest of the process,
which is much more subtle.

Next, in this initial preparation of the limb, you move it through its natural
range of motion. When working with the leg, stand at the end of the table,
and raise and lower the outstretched leg just as far as it can move without
any strain. Then slide the leg out to the side as far as it can easily slide and
then bring it back to the center. Finally, move the leg in a circular motion—
that is, out to the side, arcing up the top, and back down to the center—
again, without any strain. The intent is not to provide a stretch but simply to
inform the body of its natural ability for movement in the range that is
currently available to it.

(The process for the arms is similar, except that you move the arm through a
smaller range of motion, mainly by rotating the forearm in a circle with the
upper arm laying flat on the table.)

2. The support

Now you’re ready for the main body of the work. This is where the neutral
supportive relaxation actually occurs. For the legs, it consists of raising each
leg into a position where the knee is bent and pointing up, with the foot
standing on the table. Once the knee is bent, support the leg as it drops to the
side as far as it naturally goes. Then lift it very slightly against gravity and
support it in this low position, simply holding it there, and allowing it to
relax, having had all the need for supporting itself taken over by the
practitioner. Then you can move it to a slightly higher position and support
it again in this position. Usually, you’ll have time for 3 or 4 of these
positions, as you gradually bring the knee so that it is pointing upward

Next repeat this same basic process, but this time, rather than letting the foot
stand on the table, lift it so that you’re supporting both the knee and foot as
you let the leg drop to the side. The knee is still bent now in the air. Again,
support 3 or 4 positions as you gradually bring the knee up toward the

When working with the arm, begin by lifting it slightly but keeping it
basically parallel with the table. Hold it under the elbow, with the upper arm
out from the body and the forearm bent at the elbow and supported
vertically. Then move to the second arm position by placing the forearm
across the upper chest, with the upper arm supported under the elbow. For
the third position, keeping the client’s arm bent at the elbow, place his hand
on the crown of his head and again lift and support the arm at the elbow.
Finally, straighten the arm and extend it to the side, perpendicular to the
body, and support it at the elbow and wrist with just a slight lift.

A more experienced practitioner can advance from simply holding the limbs
in a series of position to slowly and continuously moving the limbs from
their lowest position to the highest position, using subtle micro-movements.
For example, with the leg, instead of dropping the knee to the side and then
supporting it in three or four discrete position, very slowly support it first at
the lowest position and then move it up over the course of about five
minutes. The movement should be slow enough that the actual movement is
not perceptible to the client.

An advanced practitioner working on the arms will likewise move them
through the same positions as above, but with micro-movements instead of
simply supporting in one position.

3. The pull

The final segment of work on the limbs consists of a slow pull. For the leg,
you grip the foot and gently but firmly pull it along its long axis as it lies flat
on the table. The pull should have the quality of pulling through the entire
body. For the arm, you pull up, straightening the arm and lifting the
shoulder slightly off the table. Again you do this slowly and gently.

The purpose of the pull is to give the limb a sense of fullness and physical
continuity. There is a stretch involved, but the main point is not to stretch
the limb, but to allow it to take on its full length after the relaxation has