Lesson of the Month #8 (3/97)

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

Reaching Up

This is about reaching upward from standing, and making connections through the trunk and across the body from feet to hands. It also integrates the whole body into functions of standing, walking, and spinal rotation.

Works with:
Integrates hip joints, trunk, ribs, waist, shoulders, head, eyes, and neck into a coordinated whole.

Pacing is particularly important in this lesson. Go slowly, and take rest breaks to observe changes throughout the lesson. The tone for this entire lesson is gentle, easy, soothing. Take special care to use minimal physical effort, and to feel subtleties in your movements.

1. Begin in a standing position. Just stand. Let your arms hang by your sides. Don't do anything special, just stand. Notice the little adjustments and movements that keep you upright...

2. Now shift your weight right and left a little, and notice how you do that...how is your head carried over first one foot and then the other? What happens in your neck?...in your shoulders?

3. Explore a movement of reaching up with your right hand, and follow your hand with your head and eyes... then reach up with the left hand several times, follwing the hand with head and eyes...then go from side to side...how does your weight shift? Go from side to side several times shifting your weight onto the same side as the reaching hand....then several times going side to side shifting your weight onto the opposite foot from the reaching hand...then let it go and lie on your back on the floor.

4. Lie with your left leg stretched out, and your right knee in your left hand, your right foot dangling in the air. Take your right knee easily toward the right several times...what limits the movement?...what is your foot doing?...Now take your right knee to the left several times...then think of your foot moving to the left...does the knee move more easily?...does your head move?...stretch out and rest.

5. Right knee in left hand, take knee to left, in such a way that you feel your back widening...do it several times that way...what do your head and eyes want to do?

6. Same movement, but this time begin each movement by pressing your left heel into the floor...you begin to roll your body...Then gently stretch out your right arm overhead along the floor, somewhere comfortable, and take your right knee right several times, looking up toward your right hand each time your roll toward the right...repeat it a number of times...and then continue while becoming aware of a line of connection between your right little finger and your left little toe, and imagine making the distance between them a little further each time...then let it go, stretch out and rest.

7. Put your left hand on your left knee, right arm overhead on the floor...take your left knee to the right, imagining increasing the distance between your right heel and right hand each time...feel the connections across your back and through your body...and then rest.

8. Left hand on right knee again, right arm overhead on floor...take the knee to the right, and each time you roll right your right hand makes a fist...repeat it many times...and stretch out and rest.

9. Repeat the mirror image movements of #4 through #8 on the other side, beginining with the right leg stretched out, and the left knee in the right hand...

10. Stretch out both arms overhead on the floor, left leg stretched out, right foot standing...roll your right knee right and left ... when the right knee goes to the right, and being very careful not to strain your neck, look up toward your right hand with your head and eyes...then change your legs so the left foot stands, and take the left knee right and left, looking up toward the right hand each time you roll to the right...rest.

11. Both feet standing, both knees right...can you roll all the way around so you come up to sit, with your knees right and feet to your left?... and then reverse it and melt down onto your back. Do it several times, and then rest on your back.

12. Repeat #10 on the other side.

13. Stand up. Just stand for a few moments, observing. Then repeat the original movement from the beginning, of reaching up first with one hand and then the other, shifting your weight from side to side...and explore reaching up both from the weighted side and from the unweighted side. Are they both easier now?