Lesson of the Month #5 11/22/96

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

Arm to the Back

This is about turning the waist, twisting the trunk, and differentiating the movement components of the upper body: shoulders, arms, spine, ribs, neck, head, and eyes. It is more subtly about the interplay of flexion and extension in a certain kind of twisting movement.

Works with:
Differentiating upper back, shoulders, and neck muscles. Clarifying the function of turning the upper body, as in reaching back or looking over the shoulder.

1. Lie on your back. Scan your body. How do you feel today? Pay particular attention to the feelings and sensations in your upper back, shoulders, and neck.

2. Roll onto your right side, with your hands near your face, one on top of the other, and your knees drawn up at ninety degrees or so, one on top of the other. Your position is somewhat fetal. If there is some strain in your neck, place a small firm support under your head; use the lowest support that reduces discomfort, and which keeps your neck more or less in line with the rest of your spine. Align yourself so that a line through the tips of both shoulders in essentially vertical, so you're not rolled either forward of backward. Now place your left palm on the floor in front of you, and gently slide the hand around on the floor, discovering how much area you can cover easily, and how you use yourself to do that...then rest with your hand flat on the floor in front of you.

3. In the same position, notice where your elbow is, and which direction your left fingers are pointing...then lift your hand a little off the floor, as if holding a doorknob mounted in the floor, and explore several times a movement of turning this imaginary knob...let your elbow and shoulder move...then return the hand to the floor and rest.

4. Place your left hand so the elbow is in front of you and your fingers are pointed toward your chest; if too uncomfortable, approximate. Then explore a slight movement of rolling your entire body a little forward and back. Your elbow moves forward and back along with your shoulder, torso, hip and knee... the feet stay connected to each other. Repeat it several times...let your head and neck move as they would like....then repeat #3, turning imaginary knob; is it easier?

5. Place your left palm against your belly, thumb near solar plexus, pinky near navel, and let your belly be round...roll your body slightly forward and back, feeling the roundness of your belly also roll forward and back...do it several times...then stop the rolling, and explore your ribns with your left hand...the ribs in front, then along your side, up toward your armpit...let your shoulders and neck move as they would like... then let it go and rest.

6. Move your arms so they are stretched out in front of you with the palms together. Gently slide the left palm forward and back over the right, keeping your arms straight...your body has to roll...then lift your left hand away from the right, up toward the ceiling, and toward the back, and follow the movement with your head and eyes...your nose points toward the hand, and you keep looking at it...start small, and gradually make the movement bigger...maintain a little roundness in your belly...don't be in a hurry to reach the floor, but rather notice where resistance begins...where in the movement do your knees want to separate? Repeat it several times, making it softer and easier each time...rest.

7. Raise your left arm overhead so the fingers are pointed toward the ceiling, your face forward...reach up and down several times...then rotate your arm back and forth about its axis...get your elbow involved...and your shoulder...then let your arm down and rest.

8. Again raise your arm and rotate as in #7, but this time, as your thumb rotates "down," let your shoulder and face roll forward toward the floor a little, and when your thumb rotates "up," you roll back a little....then return to having your palms together in front of you on the floor, and repeat lifting your arm toward the back and following it with your head and eyes... do it several times...then rest.

9. Take your arm to the back as before, and this time stay there... slowly roll your head from side to side...let your eyes go in the same direction....then roll your head but keep looking at the same spot overhead...then leave your head still, but gently swing your vision right and left...and again roll your head from side to side, now rolling the arm you are look toward palm up and the other palm down each time...and come back to your side and rest.

10. Lift your arm to the back as before; easier now? Repeat arm to the back, but this time, your face stays looking forward...take it easy...then go back to the original movement...and rest.

11. Lift arm to back and stay there. Gently explore movement of rolling your left hip forward...let your left shoulder lift a little...then put your right hand behind your head, and lift your head gently and slowly several times, looking toward your left hip...then, holding your head like that, roll forward and back several times, looking toward the floor as you roll forward and to the ceiling as you roll back...and again roll upper body to the left, and interlace both hands behind your head and again lift the head to look toward the hip...then let go, and gently roll back to your side....repeat the original movement, lifting the arm toward the back, and notice the improvement since the beginning. Roll onto your back, and compare the two sides. Which side is more comfortable?

12. Repeat #2 through #11 on the other side.

13. Lie on your back, and take a moment to feel the changes. Then slowly stand up, orient yourself, and walk around.