Lesson of the Month #21 (8/98)

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

Long Back

This lesson continues a theme of recent lessons, of lengthening the back, by reducing chronic tensions in the posterior musculature, enhancing the coordination of flexors and extensors. There is a direct connection from this lesson to more effective and powerful walking and running; you should notice these improvements after you have worked with the lesson a few times.

Works with:
Like all of these lessons, this one really works with the organization of the whole body; in particular here we are working with the relationships of the arms to the legs, through the trunk and spine, both along each side and across diagonals.

1. Lie down on your back on the floor...see how this is today...notice your contact with the floor...notice the qualities of your breathing...and gently flex and extend your feet a few times...and then place your fingers on your pubic bone and rock your pelvis up and down in harmony with the movement of your feet ...alternately your tailbone and then your waist presses into the floor...your whole spine participates...and rest.

2. Bend your knees so your feet are standing, and, leaving your hands on your pubic bone, continue rocking your pelvis up and down...about one cycle per cycle of breath...and move your hands successively to your belly, your chest, and your shoulders, and see how that affects the movement ...and let your hands down and rest for a moment.

3. Again bend your knees and put your hands one on each opposite elbow, and again slowly rock your pelvis up and down...where are your elbows?...try it several times with your elbows resting on your ribs and then try it with your elbows lifted over your chest ...notice how this is different ...then change your hands so the other elbow is on top ...it might feel strange... isn't it odd that we even have a habitual way of doing things we seldom do?... then lift your pelvis away from the floor while lowering your elbows toward the floor over your head, and reach upward along the floor with your arms and hands... and then let your pelvis down, while you slide your elbows out to the sides on the floor, and bring them back to your sides ...repeat the cycle several times...and rest.

4. Lie on your back, stretch out your legs, and let your arms be overhead with elbows bent comfortably, so your hands rest on the floor above your head ...then explore a movement of rolling your right leg a little to the right a number of times...then point the foot downward each time the leg rolls out ...then change it so each time you roll the leg outward and point the toes, roll your head to the right also ...does that make it easier? ...and change it again so you lift your right hip joint each time as well ...your right elbow is pulled down toward your right foot a little...do it several times like that...and rest.

5. Now again arms overhead on the floor, legs stretched out...and again roll the right leg outward while you point the toes...but now, when you roll the leg back to the center, with the toes toward the ceiling, flex the ankle and lift the toes and ball of the foot toward your face, and extend the heel down and away from you on the floor, and at the same time extend your right arm upward along the floor...your head rolls to the left...your back arches a little...and your right side lengthens...and come back to neutral and rest.

6. Same position...again roll the leg to the middle and extend the heel, and extend the arm upward on the floor...your head rolls left...then, roll your head back to the center, and lift the arm a little away from the floor ...at the maximum lengthening of the movement, change directions...lower the arm, roll your right leg to the right, and slide the right knee and the right elbow toward each other on the floor, in a natural arc that brings the elbow and the knee close together on floor, and then up over your body, still close to each other...your hand and foot dangle passively...from here, roll your head to the left while you lower the right knuckles to the floor behind your right ear...then roll your head to the right, open the elbow and knee out to the side, and slide back to neutral...repeat the cycle many times...begin each time by rolling the foot to the middle and extending the heel...and rest in a comfortable position.

7. Repeat #4. #5, and #6 on the other side.

8. And now again extend your arms on the floor over your head, and stretch out your legs...then very slightly arch your chest toward the ceiling, and roll your legs outward, slide your knees and elbows out to the sides and toward each other on the floor, and gather the knees and elbows near each other over your trunk...your hands and feet dangle passively from wrists and ankles....then reverse it by letting elbows and knees fall out to the side toward the floor, and following their natural trajectories to their original positions...after several times, stop in the middle, and lower first one hand and then the other to the floor beside your head and roll your head at the same time...which way do you roll your head?...and stretch out and rest.

9. Again, arms overhead, and stretch out your legs...and again extend your right arm and right leg, and lift the arm, only now, each time you lift the right arm, also lift the right leg away from the floor...let your body participate in a comfortable way...repeat it several times...imagine your limbs are very light...and let it go and rest.

10. Repeat #9 on the othr side, with left arm and left leg.

11. Same position...this time extend your right arm and left heel away from each other, and lift your right arm and left leg at the same time... how is that?...which way does your head roll?...do it several times...and rest.

12. Repeat #11 on the other diagonal, with right leg and left arm...which diagonal is easier?... and let it go, stretch out and rest.

12. Repeat #9, #10, #11, and #12, but now each time you lengthen and lift an arm and a leg together, lengthen along your back and lift the hand and foot toward the ceiling so the hand and foot come close to each other high over your body...you feel the length from the back of the hand to the foot, across your back...don't struggle to lift, think about lengthening...take your time with each hand/foot pair...and rest.

12. Observe how your contact with the floor has changed...is your breathing different?...stand up and walk around...you will see that something is better in your walking over the next few days.