Lesson of the Month #15 (12/97)

For safety and best results, read instructions before doing lessons!

Calibrating Extensors

This is about awakening the posterior muscles to their functions in standing, walking, turning, and looking up. Expands the range of easy motion in backward bending movements, and provides stronger support for the carriage of the upper body by balancing the natural curves of the spine.

Works with:
Back, ribs, shoulders, pelvis, head and neck

1. Lie on your back on the floor. Check in with yourself today...notice the feelings and sensations in your body and in your contact with the floor...remember how it feels, then bring your knees over your chest, and hold one knee in each respective hand...gently draw your knees to your chest several times...then roll onto your stomach, with your hands near your head...are your toes turned in or out?...which side are you facing?...mindfully lift your head away from the floor, turn your face to the other side, and set it down...which side is more comfortable, and where in your body do you feel the differences?...then leave your head to the more comfortable side, and rest.

2. Same position, facing comfortable side...place the hand on the side you're facing on the floor, near your shoulder, with the elbow in the air as if to do a pushup, and have the other arm alongside your body on the floor...then several times explore a movement of rolling your pelvis away from the side you are facing...you feel your hip joint lift and roll, and you feel your pubic bone lift and roll...then each time you roll the pelvis, let your knee bend, and drag the knee out to the side, drag the foot behind it on the floor, and bend your body so you can look toward the knee under the arch of your elbow...and return...repeat it a number of times...your face stays close to the floor, and moves toward your hand on the floor, your upper body bending...after several repetitions, let it go and rest.

3. Same position, one hand like a pushup, but now place the other on lower back, fingertips on lower spine...you are facing the pushup hand...continue the rolling movement of the pelvis from this position, dragging the knee to the side, and feel how your back and spine rotate...does your lower back rise or sink as you roll the hip and drag the knee?...explore that numerous times...then extend the leg you've been dragging and bend the knee so the foot is toward the ceiling...lift the knee away from the floor several times...is it easy or difficult?...do you lift it straight up, or roll your pelvis to lift the knee?...try it several times while rolling your pelvis...and do it in such a way that your lower back presses toward the floor as you lift the knee...maybe your head wants to lift away from the floor at the same time...repeat it several times, and then rest.

4. On your stomach as before, but now place the hand that was on your back palm down on the floor under your cheek...you face away from this hand, toward the one that is on the floor like a pushup...leave your legs stretched out, and several times lift your face away from the back of your hand, and set it down again...then imagine your face is glued to your hand, and explore a movement of lifting your head, hand, shoulder and upper chest away from the floor and setting it down several times...and rest.

5. Continue as in #4, and then, lift and stay there, and slowly swing your upper body from side to side a number of times, softening your trunk, ribs, shoulders, and chest, even as you use your back also to hold your upper body away from the floor...don't strain, just explore it...and rest.

6. Move the hand from under your cheek back onto your lower back...bend the same knee as before, and repeat the movement of lifting the knee several times...do it a few times by rolling the pelvis, and then a few times lifting the knee straight up...it will be easier now than before...and then continue lifting the knee in the most comfortable way, but now let your face and upper body lift away from the floor at the same time you lift the knee...notice how your body presses into the floor and how back is involved in the movement...and rest.

7. Same as #6, but now lift head and leg together, stay there, and swing the leg slowly from side to side as far as is comfortable and easy...the movement is in rolling your pelvis, turning your waist, and arching your back...you swing the foot behind you as if to touch the floor with your heel, and then roll back and open the leg out to the side...where do you want to look with your face and your eyes?...let your upper body move in harmony with the movement of your hip and leg...then let it go, roll onto your back, and rest. Compare how your right and left sides contact the floor. Bend your knees, take one knee in each hand, rest your elbows on the floor, knees out to the sides comfortably, and rest like that for a few moments.

8. Repeat #2 through #7 on the other side.

9. Roll onto your stomach, legs comfortably apart on the floor, both hands like a pushup, face to the right...repeat a movement of rolling your pelvis to the left, dragging the right knee toward your right hand, and sliding your face toward the right hand as in #2...but now when you return, turn your face to the left with your chin away from your chest in the center, turn your face to the left, roll the pelvis right, drag the left knee, and look at it under the arch of the left elbow...go from side to side like that a number of times...and then rest.

10. Face right, right hand like a pushup, left arm alongside or on your lower back...roll the pelvis, drag the knee, look at it under the elbow as before...but now when you return, extend the right leg, turn your face toward the floor, and lift your face, throat, and shoulders away from the floor, lifting your eyes to look up easily toward the wall in front of you as you lift the right leg away from the floor...study how your body presses into the floor as you lift the leg and lift your head...then set them down and repeat the movement of rolling the pelvis, dragging the right knee toward the right hand, and your face toward the knee...repeat the sequence of flexing and extending a number of times, and then rest.

11. Repeat #10 to the other side.

12. Both hands like a pushup, face toward the floor...press body into floor and lift your head ,upper chest, and shoulders away from the floor...then keep going by pushing hands into the floor, like a pushup, but leaving your knees on the floor and letting your back arch comfortably...and continue the movement by lifting your pelvis away from the floor and all the way back toward your feet, your head near the floor near your knees (the "child's pose in yoga)...and reverse it, moving forward onto hands and knees, lowering pelvis to floor, softening back and melting down to the floor in reverse order...just repeat it two or three times...then roll onto your back and rest.

13. Gather your knees in your hands over your chest...relieve your lower back by separating your knees a number of times...then alternately draw one knee and then the other gently to your chest...rest with your feet standing for a few moments, and then stretch out and rest..how does your back feel against the floor? Slowly roll to your side, stand up, and walk around, noticing what has changed in your relationship with gravity. Over the next few days, be curious about what these movements have to do with walking.