Art in Action is a weekly post: a simple, practical guide to applying the ideas and principles in the Focus Pocus posts to your body and life. As always, I love to hear from you about how you use them and how you translate the ideas into action.
The power and support in your body is at the back. Check it out: the biggest bone is in the back of your foot, the biggest muscles are along the back of your legs and hips and back, the strength of your shoulders is at the back.
Given our forward orientation, though, we tend to lean in and away from the support that is naturally there for us. As head and chin and shoulders come forward, the smaller muscles in the front body tighten and contract while they attempt to hold the body upright. Meanwhile, all those big muscles at the back get over-stretched or tight from disuse.
Here are 6 practical ways to build back power in the body plus a bonus for another way of getting support from behind.
1. Pay attention to how you stand and sit. Are you leaning forward (even a little) so the back of your body can’t support you? Get next to a mirror and sit or stand as you usually do (while looking away from the mirror), and then without moving your body, gently turn your head so you can see your position. It’s important to know how you do what you do. This information can bring awareness and help to make choices for ease in your body.
2. Notice how you walk. The power of the human walk comes from pushing off the ball of the foot and letting that push propel you forward. Pay attention to how you walk normally and see if you can play with feeling the push off from your foot and leg as your shoulders and arms relax back.
3. Sink and rise. I mean, really sink and rise. We tend to hesitate to sink into the strength we have in our legs. Play with using your legs to get down with your bad self. Drop something? Squat down to pick it up. Use the big muscles of your legs whenever you can.
4. Engage your back. Some days, get on the rowing machine instead of the stairstepper. Get in Plank position (either toes down or knees down) and feel the support from your back. And while you’re in Plank, do a few push ups (even if you go down just a little way)!
5. Open your chest by lying with a foam roller lined up along your spine and your feet flat on the floor. Let your arms open to the sides and gently let gravity open tight chest muscles.
6. Release your hips. The hip flexor muscles at the front of the hip tend to tighten with repetitive walking and sitting. Open those muscles by stepping one foot back (bow stance) and gently tucking your tail under as you sink. Go gently and let the muscles lengthen.
Bonus – Build a Team of Allies
Think of people who inspire you, people whose lives guide yours. Whether they are people you know or have never met, people who support you directly or by their example, even animals who have helped you, recruit them to your team of allies. Imagine them standing behind you when you need encouragement or guidance. Call on them when you need strength or support. Ask them for wisdom when you’re not sure what to do next. Your team of allies gotcher back.