Your body is designed for movement. Even if you are standing or sitting, your body still moves a little… You constantly perform little movements to keep yourself balanced and aligned. Being upright and standing doesn’t mean you are rigid and stiff! Unless you have learned otherwise …
Many people have grown up hearing “stand up straight” or “be still”. Does it sound familiar? These commands teach us to apply tension and to hold ourselves in a fixed position. Stress and work demands also often cause muscle tension and imbalances in the body. The way we hold ourselves upright often even lead to back pain or neck and shoulder problems.
How do you stand? Do you have an awareness of your standing?
Let’s explore your standing a little bit:
Get up and stand, both feet on the floor about hip width apart. Let your arms hang at your sides. Start observing yourself:
Do you stand more on one leg or the other?
Or is your weight evenly distributed between your legs?
Are your knees locked?
Do you notice any tension in your body, any holding?
Do you feel a tension in your shoulders, your neck or your arms?
Do you curl your fingers or stiffen them?
Are you holding your breath?
Now let’s try something different:
Here are some directions I would like you to think, but not DO. Just trust that your body will be affected by your thoughts.
Allow your arms to be resting at your sides, with your fingers uncurled.
Allow your feet to be spread out on the floor.
Allow yourself to be supported by the floor.
Allow your weight travel down your body, through the feet into the floor.
Notice your whole body from the sole of the feet to the top of the head.
Notice the space between the top of the head and the ceiling.
Notice your breathing for a moment.
Let your knees soften. (Don’t bend them, but let them be unlocked.)
Let your ankles soften.
Let your hip joints soften.
Now close your eyes for the moment and notice a gentle swaying.
I call it the “small dance” (I adapted this term from Steve Paxton, Dancer and originator of Contact Improvisation.)
What do you feel? Are you aware of these movements?
Open your eyes again.
What you might have learned from this experiment is that you are more stable and balanced when you allow more mobility. As your leg joints free up, as you allow this gentle “small dance” to take place, your standing becomes more balanced and alive!