This week’s tip is inspired by a tangent my “practice brain” went on after Alex Schell (one of our Mind Body Dancer teachers) presented a spine theme this week. Alex encouraged us to remember what the spine looked like inside the body. While cues often are given for length, she reminded us that we must honor the spine’s curves in finding such length rather than trying to erase them.
This simple theme got me thinking about some more complex applications of the lesson. Part I of my “practice brain” tangent will be in this segment and Part II will be shared with my weekend post.
We were all taught in math class that the shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line. If our spine was the focus of this formula, the head would be point A and the hips would be point B and our spine would be rigid. We could never bend or arch or twist or stretch. We would all be upright, and walking quite stiffly. Our spine’s curves assist movement, absorb natural forces, and accommodate human expression. Our spines have evolved into beautifully balanced, curving structures to provide both support and potential for movement as bipeds.
Next time you are on the mat, sit cross-legged on some padding and allow your mind’s eye to start at the head and move down the route of the spine to the pelvis, navigating each spinal curve along the way:
Visualize how the back of the skull curves to the back body,
how the cervical spine curves forward towards the front body,
the thoracic curves towards the back,
the lumbar curves towards the front,
and finally the sacral curve into the pelvis curves once more to the back.
You’ll see that your spine is a wise, winding system of both stability and ease!
Once you trace the path with your mind’s eye begin to add your breath to this pathway. You will imagine your inhale starting at the head and following the curves to the pelvis then imagine the exhale reversing the curved journey back to the head.
Repeating this breath intention with the spine visualization can be very transformative. You will find that the breath can support you from within, ridding the body of extra muscular tension you don’t need to sit up straight. You might also notice that you grow a little taller in the process, and possibly bring an awakened quality to your body and mind!