„Would you please come to sit on the floor,” with your legs long, your knees extended. See if you can sit upright comfortably. „How far can you spread your legs apart from each other, comfortably?”
Point and roll to the left
And then lean on your left hand. Lean a bit back onto your left arm, as it was a bicycle kick stand, and you would park yourself like a bicycle. Then raise your right arm up at shoulder-height in front of you, as if you would point to the ice-cream truck in front of you. Not that there is one, but let’s just say. So, there we have ourselves the starting position for this movement.
And let’s just say that a movement is like a paragraph in an essay. „A paragraph should present a single idea. All of the paragraphs have to be arranged in a logical progression, from the beginning of the essay to the end.” to quote Professor Jordan B. Peterson’s Essay Writing Guide.
Then the ice-cream truck starts off to the left, around the corner to the left, to disappear behind you to the left. Think of all the delicious calories in ice-cream. Track the truck with your right hand, with your eyes, with your shoulders. Allow your right buttock to lift, allow yourself to roll onto your left buttock, allow your right knee to bend. All that.
And how does your movement change when the calories are not delicious, but malicious? Is this a different way of pointing and turning?
Point and roll to the right
Then do the same thing to the right. But this time there’s no ice-cream truck. Focus solely on yourself. On your movements. On your contact points to the floor and to the air all around you. On all that is happening and not happening in yourself, with yourself, on all the things you’re thinking of, the things you could notice… Where do you initiate the movement? What’s the kinematic linkage, the timed sequence of parts involved? How much and when does your spatial orientation change? Where do you feel safe and comfortable, and where do you feel strain?
Or don’t. Maybe just do the movements without thinking, in a sort of attentive, receptive blank space, the same space we’re in when watching Netflix. But you’re consciously with yourself. You’re aware and present of yourself. You’re the main show.
Lift the right foot
„Would you please hold your right foot with your right hand,” and you might want to lean on your left hand again, probably place the left hand slightly behind you, a bit to the left of your left buttock. And if you want to be super stable you would point its fingers away from you, and if you would be ready to jump up to standing or roll backwards onto your back you would point its fingers more towards yourself. It all depends, it all depends.
Lift your right foot, extend your leg. Find a way to do this, to organise yourself. Once your leg is straight and your right foot up at shoulder-height (or higher) in front of you, that’s the new starting position.
But somehow you need to get to the starting position first. Without pressure, without performance anxiety. Actually, if the knee doesn’t straighten out fully it’s ok too. It would be better for your lower back if you wouldn’t force it.
And then the movement: move your right foot a bit to the left, and to the right. See how far out to the right you can move your right leg. While it’s suspended in the air. You are still holding your right foot with your right hand. „And by the way, what’s the best way to hold your foot?” From inside your knee or from the outside? Would you hold your foot by its toes? By its big toe? By its arch or heel? What does make sense, what doesn’t? And why?
Lift the left leg, and both legs
Then do the same with your left leg. „What is it that we just did?” And then please lie down and rest on your back, get hold of both of your feet, and do the same thing with both legs.
Your left leg to the left, your right leg to the right. And if you would like to roll around and do all sorts of fun explorations, „Please be my guest.”
Remember to take rests in between. Whenever you need a rest lying on your back, for example. Or a rest by getting a glass of water. Something like that. Then continue.
Push and point and roll to the left
„Would you please come to sit on the floor,” with your legs long, your knees extended. Just this time lean on your right hand, as if your right arm was a bicycle kickstand. And lift your left hand up to shoulder height.
And again, turn to your left. Where’s the ice-cream truck? Where’s my ice-cream? This time the ice-cream is inside an Amazon drone, which is flying off to the left. Flying off. Up. Up!
Move your left hand to the left, up and around yourself, and your head, and your neck, and your sternum, the front side of your chest, all up and to the left. And again, your right buttock will lift, and you will roll on your left buttock. Your right knee might bend, and the instep of your right foot and some toe-nails might turn to touch the floor. Help with your right arm, push down against the floor with your right hand. Help yourself to roll. Where is the best place for your right hand? How do you have to organise yourself to do all that with ease?
Push and point and roll the the right
Do the same thing to the other side, to the right. This means: stand your left hand on the floor, lean on your left arm, push the floor with your left hand, and lift your right hand up, up and to the right. And all that.
So here you have it. A whole bunch of ideas to play with. Try to find meaning in all this, and how the movements, the paragraphs, the ideas, connect. There’s a bigger story to it. A story of spreading the legs, of sitting upright, of twisting and arching, of feeling, noticing, and discovering. Some other day we might use the same movements to have a look at the Yoga Pigeon pose, the Feldenkrais Scout lessons, and the splits.
„My intention is to provide a broad framework, to encourage the development of a thoughtful and psychologically flexible person, rather than a programmed one. I try to present ideas from which implications flow naturally. Perhaps the greatest difference between this and more conventional exercise instructions is the almost complete absence of »implications and applications«. This is not a collection of helpful hints.” – this paragraph inspired by and partially quoted from Frank Smith, „Comprehension and Learning”
Alongside all of this, if you play with these ideas on a regular basis (whatever that is) you will, little by little, start to notice that your upright sitting might get better. Your hip joints might feel better. You might feel a lot better in many ways. But don’t take my word for it. This is not a hypnosis session. Try. Practice. Look for yourself.
On all fours, lift one leg at a time
„Would you please come to stand on all fours, on your hands and knees,” like in the balanced-table position in Yoga, or cat-camel or bird-dog position in fitness classes. And lift one leg, and then the other. And there’s different ways of doing so. As long as you extend your hip joints, and as long as you don’t arch your lower back instead of using your hip joints, an unreasonable use of your lower back so to say, all is good.
Then get up and walk. Enjoy your day, or the thing you were about to do before you came by this post.