Friday, 21 March 2014
In my last blog I posed the following problem:
Going from your actual posture to your better posture is as simple as taking a step… but that single step can be so monumental in its transformative powers that we might be left standing with our foot dangling in the air, unsure if we want to take the plunge at all.
¿What to do then?
Today I’ll give you the solution.
What you need are 4 basic things:
· a compass
· a map
· a guide.
Let’s look at each point separately.
Living with a new sense of posture (no matter how comfortable and elegant it is) is like moving neighbourhoods. At first you will be a little disoriented. If you’re not paying attention while you drive your car from work to home, you’ll end up in your old neighbourhood. It’s a habit, you’re just used to taking the old route without thinking.
This, believe it or not, is the hardest bit about change. Rembering to pay attention. When I’m working with pupils on their posture and movement, I remind them again and again before they move to: 1) stop (keep calm), 2) remember their general direction (creating space for movement), 3) release habitual tension in key areas (feet, around the sitting bones, armpits, eyes, jaw). Only then can movement start in a new direction, because only then are they able to pay attention to what is happening along the way.
If you’ve moved into a new neighbourhood, you’re going to need at least a minimal notion of the layout of the place in order to move around confidently. A map allows you to know where the most important places are, which buildings and other landmarks can act as markers for you to orient yourself in space.
With regards to your posture, there are certain key bony structures and other areas of your body that are worth to know and recognize in yourself. They are your markers, and will give you an idea of where your different bits are in relation to each other. They are also key areas where tension tends to accumulate without us realizing. This unnecessary tension greatly affects your chances of comfortably keeping your poise.
The key areas I teach my pupils to recognise are:
- the feet (your toes have their roots half-way down the soles of your feet, you can release them from there, instead of thinking only of the last two phalanges)
- the sitting bones (those are meant to be sat on, as opposed to your coxis which is meant to be free to wag like a dogs tail. While you’re at it, release the space between your sitting bones)
- the armpits (which is in reality your shoulder joint, and it needs space. Check this post where I guide you through an exercise for releasing the area)
- the eyes (get back some of your peripheral vision, soften the focus for instant upper neck release)
- the jaw (its joint is right in front of your ear. Think of releasing your jaw all the way from there)
I’ll be exploring specific ways to release these areas in future blogs. Don’t miss them!
If you’re in a new place, and you want to go from your house to the mall, you need to know in which direction the mall is in the the first place. A compass allows you to define a direction that relates one point with another on your map.
When it comes to your posture, what you need is to learn to perceive not only where each key structure is, but, above all, what space relationship there is between key structures. As you enhance your perception of the spaces within your body, your sense of orientation within it gets better: you start to recognize and perceive your true length and width and depth.
Imagine now that you have moved to this new neighbourhood, but the map you were given is written in a language you don’t recognize, and your compass (unbeknownst to you) is not correctly calibrated. You’re already all moved in and cozy in your new hood, but you have no idea how to move around in the place. ¿What do you do then?
You look for a friendly neighbour, one who speaks your language and who can help you navigate the new place.
A good guide fulfills some key functions:
· Helps you recognise key features of the terrain so you can orient yourself better within it.
· Can tell if your compass is off, and can help you adjust it, and teach you to use it.
· Can give you clear and concrete instructions to get from one point to another.
· If your destination is imposible to explain in words, your guide can guide you non-verbally towards it, perhaps even by walking with you the first few times. He or she might do it several times, until you can build your own mental map of the place, with your own references… Until one day you may find yourself giving directions to some new lost-neighbour!
Same thing happens when you’re trying to change your posture. It’s like your moving into a new definition of YOU. It’s not a completely unknown place, it is still your body (you’ve moved neighbourhood, not countries or planets), but you perceive it as different and strange enough to have you disoriented for a while. What you need is the possibility of asking someone who already inhabits that place to guide you through the basics.
All in all, if you feel like a change of postural habits is long due, and you don’t mind the added benefits of elegance and freedom of movement, you’re going to need to change some ideas, learn new things about you, and have a lot of patience with yourself, because adaptation can take some time.
Good news is you don’t need to go through this transition alone. The road is a lot more enjoyable if you have good (and knowledgeable) company. There’s people who have already travelled the road you’re only starting, and they have great insights to share with you that will get you to your destination quicker and safer.
Next blog, I’ll give you the tips to recognise these ideal neighbour-guides, so you can befriend one… because there’s no need to know on the door of the block’s resident grouch, and have his massive vicious dog come after you.
See you next week.
- ▼ March (4)
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