Line of Effort

In Body and Mature Behaviour, Moshe writes about the “fixing” of the trunk for the movement of the limbs–not, as we imagine, the general immobility of “core stability,” but finely calibrated to the direction of action, and with the least possible sum total of work in the muscles:

“The trunk by itself is normally not rigid. It consists of two smaller parts, the almost rigid thorax and the pelvis. Thus, before any significant movement can be made, it as necessary that the thorax and pelvis should be more rigidly connected [so that, as a unit, they will be the heavy part and the action of the muscles joining limbs to trunk will move not the trunk but the limbs]. And the stability of the whole body relative to the ground should be increased in the plane in which work is to be done. Among all the numerous possible configurations of the segments of the body in each case there is a group in which the total amount of pull in all the muscles of the body is the smallest.” (p. 54, beginning of Chapter 7)

You can think of this lesson as an exploration of that idea.

Oscillations “Jello Pudding”

This lesson is a further exploration of the ideas we started with Skewering the spine in the chest.

I almost don’t want to post it–I made several mistakes in teaching it. I’ll list them here, and you can adapt around as well as possible while listening to a recording!

1) I talk about the flexing and extending of your right ankle “shifting your whole right side.” This is the wrong image. It’s still a lesson of “skewering the spine”, but from one foot. (It gives quite a different idea to think of shifting one side up, rather than thinking of shifting the whole torso, the spine–but just from the one foot.)

2) When you have your arm overhead, you should spend some time continuing the movement, and looking towards your hand as you push up from your heel so that your knuckles advance on the floor.

3) When you’re face down, also do the movement with your arm long overhead, so that the push from your toes advances your arm–and look up towards your hand as you lengthen it.

The latter two points will start to connect in some relationship to turning your head, which should help set the stage for the upcoming step of taking your head under the bridge.

Skewering the Spine in the Chest

This is the first of three amazing lessons that get right to core matters. There was an interesting conversation after class about how people found the “spine as skewer” image–did it connect or not? One student said he was imagining the meat (tofu?) on the shish kebab was sort of folded or bunched up, and it flattens as the spine “skewers” it. Play with the idea!

Dragging knees to the stomach

I haven’t decided whether this lesson is about attaining freedom from/using the floor, or the amazing things that happen if you refine a pathway for the lower leg that stays parallel to the spine through a range of folding and extending. Or what. It’s a follow-up on a missed recording two weeks ago, but don’t worry. We could have done this one first anyway.

Coordinating Flexors and Extensors

I’m surprised I haven’t recorded this one yet–a classic lesson, with a few quirks specific to the San Francisco Evening Class notes I recently acquired. In the first two weeks of the current series, we’ve done lessons heavy in one direction or the other (flexion, extension); this third lesson puts a twist into things–and gives us a whole new level of coordinating flexors and extensors.

This is a recording you can come back to and add your own embellishments: turn your head with and against; the same with your eyes (make four combinations of head/eyes….). Add some see-saw breathing. Stay with your knees to the side and lift/lower each shoulder, or lift your head with your interlaced hands, or slide your head and arms from side to side (side-bending). The challenging thing when making variations by yourself is to choose one or two simple ideas and stick with that, with the same patient pace of exploration you get in the recordings.

The recording quality is not the same as the last few weeks–I was missing my mic, so recording just with the internal mic on conference room setting.

On the Side, Bending and twisting the chest and spine

Oddly enough, this lesson takes place largely lying on the back. So “on the side” doesn’t refer to the position of the lesson. This lesson follows on the lesson On the side, the sternum becoming flexible, which “really is” on the side. That lesson achieves some amazing differentiation of the abdominal muscles in light of deep reflexes; this one continues around the torso, rebalancing the work of the abdominals and the back extensors. Between working on these two lessons this month, I got more for myself around Moshe’s idea of the chest hanging off the spine than I ever have from ATM before (it’s usually a post-FI feeling from a great practitioner, one that is tantalizingly transformational, but that I can’t find again after a few weeks). We embarked on a month of the spine, and I ended the month feeling I knew the function and freedom of the abdominal muscles beyond anything I’ve done before.

Making the spine flexible and integrating it

Albinus_t03Chronic tension of the lumbar and neck extensors is a fundamental pattern of limitation. This lesson addresses these areas actively and passively, with ingenious variations that address some key “hidden spots,” particularly in the upper back and neck.

The image from Albinus may help you visualize the bodies and spinous processes of the vertebrae.

You can read a discussion of some passages in Moshe’s books that relate to this lesson here: Commentary on AY 177: Making the spine flexible and integrating it.