Friday, June 10, 2011

While paleohface is on hiatus, here is something...

The point of this blog right now is to talk about the struggle of becoming bodily aware and happy in my posture. Because I am not. Movement people (seasoned yogis, dancers, etc.) know all of these things well. But I'm going to talk about it from a place of having a body that is not functioning very happily. Movement practices, exercise regimens like Pilates, yoga, and dance, I believe are all predicated on having a working and open pelvis with relationship to its legs. But most of us do not have that. We sit, so this area of our bodies is turned off. It doesn't move or experience itself balancing and bearing weight. But in my past, I remember that all of the joy in movement and being alive is housed in having a happy pelvis that can feel how it relates to the legs and spine. So here's to the struggle.

Being upright some this morning and taking a barefoot walk outdoors prompted me to write this post. Yoga, dance and Pilates people talk at length about standing and the alignment of the spine and the role of the psoas to posture and walking. But all of that is moot if the hips and low spine don't really move in an upright relationship to gravity to know what they're up to. I agree with Jonathan FitzGordon that walking is a great way to begin to unravel and repattern posture. He and others like Liz Koch talk about walking as a "core event." I experienced that a little bit today. I experienced my pelvis, or the core of my body (whether you want to view that muscularly or in terms of organs/the uterus for women, or energy, whatever) moving through space and it was the beautiful and amazing responsibility of my legs and spine to unfurl from there and reach and undulate in space. In a well-aligned body, the core of the body moves or "falls" through space, the spine is free to balance like a willow up into the air around you, and the psoas among other structures flows down to the legs and catches the body with every step. I love dance and am grateful to it and all my past teachers for being the thing that taught me these lessons, even though I am removed from it now. Like I said, this blog is dedicated to those who are not there yet.

So that was my ode to the core in walking and standing upright. Another thing I remembered this morning is my love of open joints. I know a lot about anatomy from studying for dance in school and yoga and Pilates teacher trainings. But I have not studied a lot about neurology and what is happening physiologically and in the brain in our experience of sensation and sensing movement in our muscles and joints. But somatic practitioners talk about proprioception especially in the joints. For a while I got into athletic pursuits, trying to lift a lot of weight and perform feats with my body. That is not my love or my goal, though. I was probably too embarrassed to admit that all I really want in this life is to have some experience of movement in and around my hip joint. I don't know what happens physiologically when you go from not really sensing or feeling movement in a joint to actually feeling it and feeling a freedom there. This is one of the things we reach for when we practice somatic awareness or embodiment. The feeling is wonderful. I'm speaking a lot from memory of when I was dancing and doing a lot of Body-Mind Centering-focused yoga. But two of my favorite places to experience free joints are the ankle, and the region of the cervical spine, jaw, and skull. There is something really intimate, delicate and raw about having a free and open throat area. I have found that when the cervical spine is free, because of a well-functioning pelvis and leg distributing weight, lots of sensation come from the throat and it gives a feeling of being really exposed in a very tender and brave way to the world and to yourself. In one of her books I believe Donna Farhi talks about being upright as a very courageous act. I firmly believe this because I have experienced that feeling. It is my hope that we all become more aware of our hips and their relationship to our spine to put strength and confidence in our legs so that we are more free to enjoy the sensations of our bodies. And open ankles relate to a feeling of freedom and elasticity in the pelvic floor. And that is a beautiful thing.

These are just some musings of mine. But I wish to spread the good word about being on your legs if you can and beginning to feel your body from the inside out. Find some woods, a trail, some grass, or a beach, kick off your shoes, start walking, and report back.

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