Lesson of the Month #19 (6/98)

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

Carriage of the Torso

The central difficulty of upright carriage is the intricacy of the subtle alignments of the various parts of the body over the feet. Emotional stress, injuries, and imcomplete mastery of our movements all lead to the development of counterproductive tensions. In particular, we unconsciously carry excess tensions throughout our posterior musculature which impair motor function and manifest as pain, limited range of movement, and energy-draining postural imbalances.

Works with:
Relationship of feet to pelvis and pelvis to spine; widening and lengthening the back; calibrating the muscles which organize the chest, shoulders, and head for upright carriage.

1. Lie down on the floor on your back, with your arms near your sides and your legs stretched out…scan your body…notice the qualities of your sensations today…then slowly roll your head a little from side to side several times…and rest for a moment.

2. Again on your back as before…notice if your feet are turned in or out…explore a very tiny movement of flexing your feet from the ankles so your toes come more toward your head, and returning to neutral…it's barely perceptible…what other parts of you want to be involved..?… and then make the flexion of the feet a little bigger…do it slowly…let your legs roll outward as the ankles relax, and inward as the balls of the feet are drawn together and up toward your knees…and rest.

3. Place your hands on your pubic bone and continue the movement of the feet…you feel your pubic bone tilt upward as your toes come up, and downward as your legs open…do it several times…and then shift your intention to tilting your pelvis, so the tilting leads the movement, and the legs and feet cooperate…and rest.

4. Place the soles of your feet together, knees out to the sides toward the floor… tilt your pelvis as in #3…do it several times, see how this is different…do it a few times with your intention more focused on your feet, and then a few times with your intention more focused on your pelvis…feel the connections through your spine…and rest.

5. Again stretch out your legs…again tilt your pelvis from this position, flexing and extending your feet at the same time…then interlace your fingers behind your head and continue…as your tailbone goes toward the floor and your toes point down, arch and lengthen your back and lift your chest a little toward the ceiling… your chin will be drawn toward your chest a bit …when your lower back flattens into the floor, the balls of your feet are lifted up toward your knees, …do it like that several times…and rest.

6. Same as #5, but now change it so that after your waist presses into the floor, you stay there for a moment with the balls of the feet lifted toward you...from there, inhale into your chest, lifting it toward the ceiling a little, arching your upper back...it's a little different this way… and then as you lower your chest, press your waist to the floor, lift your head, and look down toward your toes, which are still drawn up…then let your head back to the floor, relax your pelvis and ankles, and return to neutral…(it's harder to say than to do) …repeat that cycle many times…and rest.

7. With your arms by your sides, and your legs outstretched with the legs loosely rolled out, alternately roll one leg inward and flex the foot so the ball of the foot lifts toward you while the other rolls out and points down, and then reverse it...go from side to side like that...let your whole body get involved...one side lengthens and then the other...which way does your head roll?..and rest.

8. Bend your knees so your feet are standing…put your right hand behind your head and your left hand under your right knee…several times bend your body to bring your elbow and knee toward each other…and rest.

9. Repeat #8 on the other side.

10. Bend your knees so your feet are standing…put your right hand behind your head and your left hand under your left knee… several times bend your body to bring your elbow and knee toward each other…and rest.

11. Repeat #10 on the opposite side.

12. Repeat #8…but this time each time you bring the elbow toward the knee, gently straighten your right leg toward the ceiling each time…you bend a different way from before…repeat it several times…then, resting as appropriate, repeat #8, #10, and #11 in similar fashion on the other side, straightening the leg you are holding toward the ceiling as you take the elbow and knee towards each other…and rest on your back.

13. Roll onto your stomach…lie with your face in the middle, resting on the backs of your hands, your legs stretched out…roll your pelvis a little from side to side...let the knee bend a little on the side with the lifting hip, and roll your head to look more toward that knee...then let that go, several times lift your head and shoulders a few inches away from your hands, as if to look at them, and then let yourself down…repeat it a number of times…and rest.

14. Same position as #13, forehead on the floor…but now place your hands under your pubic bone, one on top of the other, so your pubic bone rests in the palm of the top hand…turn your toes under, as in running, and lift your knees away from the floor several times, feeling how your pelvis moves…and then keep your knees off the floor, the legs straight, and flex and extend your feet from the ankles…your pelvis rocks in the cradle of your hands, and your spine slides up and down…lift your face a little away from the floor so your head is carried with the movement...do it several times…and then change it so as you push with your feet, you arch your back a little to lift your head and shoulders away from the floor and look up a little…do it that way several times…and let it go and rest.

15. Same position as #14...this time, being very careful not to strain, only doing what is very easy for you, arch your back to lift your legs and feet away from the floor as far as is comfortable...let your head and sholders lift at the same time...explore for the easiest and most comfortable way to do it...and rest.

16. Bend your knees so your feet are standing…put your right hand behind your head and your left hand under your left knee…several times bend your body to bring your elbow and knee toward each other, straightening the leg as in #12…but this time, after the elbow has come close to the knee, roll your body to the right, keeping the leg more or less straight, and more or less pointed toward the ceiling… your right elbow comes to the floor on the right…you rest there for a moment, back slightly arched, leg in the air like a ballerina…from there, roll back to the center, and repeat it…you can roll back with your head on the floor, or, if it's comfortable, go back along the same trajectory you followed to the right…and rest.

17. Repeat #16 on the other side.

18. Lie on your back, arms overhead on the floor, knees bent, feet standing…slowly take your knees from side to side…as the movement gets bigger, your pelvis rolls to the side…as it gets bigger still, let your upper body be carried in the same direction…and when you get to your right side, reach up with your left arm, lengthening your whole left side...your face rolls right and maybe toward the floor…and come back and roll left, reaching the right arm overhead on the floor, lengthening the right side as your face rolls toward the floor on the left…go back and forth like that, getting longer with each roll like a soft lump of clay, or like spaghetti dough…and let it all go and rest on your back.

19. Notice what has changed, in your body, in your contact with the floor, and in your breathing…bring yourself gently to standing…gradually shift your weight from side to side, from foot to foot…let your body turn a little right and left…let your head turn a little more right and left…and reach up to the right and and behind you a little with the right hand as you turn right, and up and behind you to the left a little with the left hand as you turn left, exploring feelings of being both long and grounded over your feet…and let it go and just stand…see how your chest and shoulders are affected over the next few days.