A few years ago I put together a couple of pictures to illustrate the sequence of a lesson. This one started with lying supine, on the back, and lifting the head to look at the feet. That’s a so called “reference movement”, a movement we can try again in the end of the lesson and see how it has changed.
However, the problems with reference movements are plenty. For example, it might be difficult to feel, sense, get just anything from it. What am I supposed to feel? It’s like being asked to look at the stars in the sky… on a sunny afternoon with blindingly bright blue skies in California.
Yet, from an outside perspective, we might be able to see something. Please have a look at the first picture in the first picture. You might see that my trunk and legs are immobile like the trunk of a tree, and my poor neck acts like a little hinge joint trying to lift my head off the floor. So, what would be a first sensible step to improve that? What else could (or should, or might) move to support the little neck?
Yes, the ribs. The ribs! The ribs on the front side could come closer together, while the ribs on the backside could distance from each other.
And what about the pelvis? What about it? How could the pelvis move to support the poor little neck? How about a little roll, forwards? Backwards? Maybe we need to exaggerate the movements of the pelvis in order to feel, to register, to accept: so let’s do a roll and a lift!
So, there’s a story. Bit by bit more and more of the whole self is invited to participate. But that’s not the only strategy. Participation is fine, but there’s other strategies, aspects, as well. Timing, for example. Direction, angle, trajectory. Acceleration. Spring loading and tension. Experimentation, creativity, unsupervised time. Then there’s breath, a work of volume. Oxygen in the blood, blood saturation. There’s inflammation levels, too. Arthritis? Polyarthritis? Or as its opposite, maybe, genetic hyper-mobility? Are we still talking about movement learning?
So, returning to the most simple narrative, a story of participation, a simple comparison of Before and After. A simple story of bringing all parts to move together in harmony. In harmony there is ease, and new possibilities.
In the end, the reference movement again. The head is lifted in a very different way, and it feels so much better. Yet, nobody said how it should be done. How is it even possible to see the sun and the stars at the same time? If only they knew.