In the last few months we have given some rather intense workshops for beginners that included some prerequisite homework. Among them was a series of challenges to get our students into the proper frame of mind for the classes. Everyone came to class with an idea of what they were getting into, and a fresh view of themselves standing and walking through their days. This greatly facilitated the classes and allowed everyone the chance to really get a handle on this dance we love. This challenge is an expansion of the first challenge we gave as homework.
Walking is something we do every day without thinking. This challenge is about finding awareness as you walk and stand through out your day. Once you do, walking and standing may never be the same for you again.
To begin, we will start with a concentrated effort in finding awareness. You will want to revisit this concentrated exercise every so often. Over time, you will find your awareness of how you walk and stand invading your everyday movement, from standing up from your desk, to walking down the hall, to pushing a cart or standing in line at the grocery.
Finding awareness of your posture.
While standing, think about standing. Think about your balance, the pressure of the floor coming up through your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. Trace the shape of your spine in your mind. If you have a mirror take a look and see. Bring your awareness to your shoulder blades– how do they feel? Now your head? Where is it?
After you have “examined” your body from your feet to your head, now start making adjustments. Move your head around, forward and back, keeping your chin level. Find where your head balances on top of your spine. Think about how it feels.
Now, where are your shoulder blades? Bring them down and flat on your back. What did this do to your shoulders, chest and spine? How do your hips and sacrum feel now? Adjust your sacrum to make your spine feel better. How do your hips and legs feel? Are you on two feet or one? Try standing on each foot and both feet, bring your awareness up and down from your feet to hips and back again. Is everything from your sacrum up still comfortably stacked up?
Examine how your body feels as a whole, feel how everything works together.
Try standing on one leg, and let the other side of your body relax, while keeping your bones all stacked up and comfortable. Examine how your body feels as a whole and feel how everything works together. Change to the other foot, relax, and see how everything feels, again.
Finding awareness in your walk.
Take a walk, bringing your awareness with you. The key to this is to actually think about walking while you are walking. Think about your balance and feel how your legs push and swing forward. Are you leaning? Falling? Balanced? Powerful? Bouncy? Smooth? Awkward?
Bring your attention to every part of your body.
While you are walking, bring your attention to every part of your body, one at a time.
Think about how your feet contact and roll across the ground, and move your awareness upward from there– ankles, knees, hips, sacrum, spine, shoulder blades, neck, and head. Dwell at each place for a minute or more. How do all these body parts function and interact? Make adjustments as you go and see how your walk changes.
Think about stacking your bones up to remove tensions in your body. Take your awareness back down through your body and see if and how anything may have changed. Changes may effect neighboring or even far away parts of your body. Adjusting your head may well have changed your hips, or relaxing a hip may have given you more stability and power in the opposite foot.
See your body’s posture and movement as a whole.
Now that you are becoming aware of various parts of your body and their interaction at a micro level it is now time to bring your awareness out so that you may see your body’s posture and movement as a whole. Keep walking– relax, push from the ground, be aware of the movement through your body as you push forward, with a relaxed hip and leg extending, spine spiraling, arms relaxed and swinging in response. Finally, stacked nicely on top of your neck and spine, your head is floating on top of it all.
Finding awareness of our body’s posture and movement may take a little effort, but once you find it, the practice becomes easy. Practice is key, so practice awareness throughout your days. You may even find specific things you wish to pay attention to, like where your head is, or the tilt of your hips. Pick specific events to practice awareness, like every time you send an email, when you stand up from your desk, are standing in line, or walk down a certain hallway.
Being aware of your body takes practice
Being aware does not take much effort or time, but you may find that it consistently changes how you sit, stand, walk and move through your days. It will also bring awareness to other parts of your life, like the ergonomics of your desk, or the wear on your shoes. Being aware of your body takes practice, and the better you become at doing it, the easier it will be to find your healthy posture and movement when dancing tango, walking down the street, or sitting at your desk.