Lesson of the Month #12 (8/97)

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Calibrating Flexors

Maintaining ourselves in the unstable equilibrium of upright posture places enormous demands on our nervous systems. Habitual, parasitic tensions interrupt the flowing balance between flexors and extensors, and we exert more effort than is necessary in all our activities. This lesson is about adjusting the balance between flexors and extensors.

Works with:
Relationships between muscles of the front and back of the body, with standing, bending forward, looking up and down, range of motion of the hips and legs, ease and balance in standing and walking.

1. Lie down on your back. Notice how this is for you today. Feel how your body makes the adjustments to lying down this way; feel what lets go, and notice what could let go that doesn't.

2. Roll toward your left side, and come up to sit with your knees to the left and your feet to your right. Your right foot is behind you on the right, and your left foot is on the floor near your right knee. Place your hands on the floor in front of you, and begin a movement of lowering your head forward toward the floor...repeat is slowly a number of times...feel the weight of your head and neck, and gradually soften your elbows, shoulders, and ribs to make the movement smoother and easier...let both your elbows come toward the floor along with your head, and let yourself exhale and soften your chest as you come forward...and let it go, come back to sitting , and rest.

3. Continue as in #2, but this time as your head comes closer to the floor, let your pelvis lift away from the floor as the top of your head comes to touch the floor, and rest there a moment before you come back to sit; repeat it many times...then each time you go forward, let your left foot slide from the center out to the left, behind you, so both feet are behind you, your lower legs parallel...your lower leg traces out a quarter of a circle on the floor...and the reverse it and come all the way back to sitting...repeat it many times, and then return to sitting and rest.

4. Continue as in #3, and add awareness of your head and eyes...when you come forward, you look down toward your knees...when you come back, your eyes look for the ceiling...each time you go forward your left foot swings out...each time you come back, you look up and your left foot comes in front of you near your right knee...repeat it many times, until the pattern in your back is familiar, and then gradually diminish the part of lowering the head to the floor, but retain the connection, so your head drops forward as you begin from sitting, and you look up as you come onto all fours...then you look down as you begin to sit back, and look up as you come back to sitting, sliding your hands back to you and up off the floor...do it a number of times, establishing a rhythm...roll onto your back and rest. Bring your awareness to the top of your head, where it touched the floor, and feel your breath there...

5. Roll toward your right side, and come up to sitting with your right foot in front of you on the floor next to your left knee, and with your left foot behind you to the left...then, repeat #2 through #4 on this side.

6. Come to sit as in #5...then come forward as before, swinging the right foot behind you, and looking up...then fold the left foot underneath you as you go back on the other side...and alternate like that, sitting back on first one foot and then the other...find an easy rhythm, letting the two sides learn from each other this way...and rest.

7. Come onto your hands and knees and position yourself more comfortably, with your hands and knees closer together, and from that position, rock your weight a little forward and back, keeping your face more or less toward the floor...then emphasize the push with your hands and arms toward sitting, and gently returning forward, like winding a spring...then emphasize the push with your knees and hips as you move forward, and gently returning to sit...as the movement gets larger, add looking up when you come forward, and looking down as you sit back toward your heels, then up again when you are sitting...and reverse it...you look up at the ends of the cycle, and down in between...and sit back on your heels and rest.

8. Return to your hands and knees, and go again from sitting on your heels to all fours...and after several times, change the movement so you jump your knees forward to sit from all fours, and look up easily, then look down, slide your hands forward on the floor, and jump forward again to sit... then turn the toes of your left foot under, as in running, and rock your body forward and back...each time you come forward, leave your left foot where it is, but lift your left knee off the floor...repeat it many times...and let it go and rest on your back.

9. Gently roll your head to the left and back to center...what is your comfortable range to the left?...then roll your head to the left a little less than before, and imagine the last part of the movement...and the next time a little less actual movement , and a little more imagined...and continue like that until the whole movement is imaginary...and then once again actually roll to the left, feeling how the quality of the movement has changed. Rest.

10. Come onto all fours as before, but this time slide the right knee a little ahead of the left, as if taking a little step with your right knee, and from that position, rock forward and back a number of times...see what this requests of your pelvis and hip joints and spine...and after many times like that, change the movement to the little jump as in #8, only now the right knee is always a little ahead of the left...and stop and rest.

11. Same position, left knee behind, left toes turned under...now when you move forward, slide the left knee forward toward the left hand, as if taking a step with the left knee, past the right knee...repeat it many times...then each time you move your left knee, simultaneously pick up your right hand and set it down a step forward of its initial position...repeat it a number times, letting your body discover how to balance on the left hand and right knee while you move...and let it go and rest on your back.

12. Repeat #8 through #11 on the opposite side.

13. Take a moment to notice your sense of yourself, illuminated by your contact with the floor...then gently roll to one side to sitting, and stand up and explore walking around. Notice changes in your balance over the next few days.