Monthly Archives: September 2014

22 Where Are You Parking Your Hip Joints?

To follow this post I suggest that you get good and acquainted with your hip joints—where your legs connect to your pelvis. If you need help re-read post 8  before reading further.

Alexander teachers are very interested in the head-spine relationship. I would go so far as to say that the head—spine relationship is the Primary relationship in your body. It is the first relationship you want to pay some attention to but not the only relationship. Another very important relationship is that of the pelvis to the legs.

What you are habitually doing with your pelvis will affect your head—spine relationship and vice versa.

When you stand what do you do with your pelvis? Where do you park your hip joints? Do you even know?

Do this little experiment with me. You will need a chair with a relatively high back that you can place your hands on. Like this one:

P1010568I have taken the following pictures outside (I couldn’t resist the beautiful day!) but it will be best to do this experiment inside with a full length mirror at your side. Stand behind the back of the chair and review where your hip joints are

P1010580Now place your hands on the top rail of the chair like this

P1010571Tip the chair backwards (toward you) and at the same time push your hip joints forwards

P1010579Place the chair on the floor and now tip the chair forwards (away from you) and at the same time allow your hip joints to move backwards. This will cause you to fold or bend.

P1010576Try this a few times going back and forth, coordinating the pull of the chair backwards with pushing your hip joints forwards and the push of the chair forwards with allowing your hip joints to move backwards.

As you move through this range of motion is there a place that feels familiar? If so, stop in that place. Look in the mirror. This is probably how you tend to stand.

If the familiar place is with your hip joints pushed forwards you are in good company. There are lots of you out there. It seems to be a more and more common way for people to stand. But definitely not something to imitate.

For now I invite you to watch your family, friends, co-workers and just plain strangers and see where they tend to park their hip joints when they are standing. If you happen to be in a mall in the next two weeks, take a look at the mannequins as well.

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21 Take a Lesson from Ozzie

My friends have a wonderful dog named Ozzie who loves agility training. Ozzie has been participating in agility competitions for the past few years. If you are not familiar with dog agility competitions they are the events where dogs are led through a variety of obstacles, such as tunnels, teeter totters, poles and jumps. The goal is for the handler to lead the dog through the course as quickly and accurately as possible.

Ozzie in action!

Ozzie in action!

At one all day competition about a year ago Ozzie had been entered in several events—and as it turned out, one too many events. Part of the course is a long tube that lies on the floor that the dog must run through. I believe it was Ozzie’s fifth event of the day. When Ozzie got to the tube he went in, and didn’t come out. He was tired. He was done. He had lain down in the middle of the tube and was not going to compete any more. Our friend actually had to crawl into the tube to coax Ozzie to come out!

As my friends related this story to a group of us we all chuckled. But it got me thinking…we can really learn a lot from our animals.

When animals are tired they listen to their bodies and they typically stop what they are doing and usually lie down and rest.

One of my students likes to say we are human BE-ings not human DO-ings. And part of being each day is resting. And I don’t mean getting your 8 hours at night. Although that is very important.

Do you find yourself barreling through your day getting one thing done after another and tuning out what your body is telling you? When your body says, “Hey you, I’m tired. I’d like a little break”, what do you do? Do you even hear the message? If you do hear it, do you push it aside and keep on going? Do you convince yourself that you don’t have time to take a break…even for 5 or 10 minutes?

It is actually when you are trying to convince yourself you can’t afford even a short break that you probably most likely need to take one.

Use the simple procedure called Constructive Rest I introduced you to in Post 11. It’s amazing what 10 minutes free of physical and mental responsibility can do for your productivity level.
Your postural muscles get a respite and might work a bit more efficiently for a while afterwards, allowing you to be upright with more ease and less strain. If you collapsing or slumping less your breathing will be freer.

Freer and more efficient breathing brings more oxygen to your brain cells and you just might be able to think more clearly!

Take a lesson from Ozzie and take a break when you most need it.

Picture Credit: Picture of Ozzie courtesy of Kathy Walker

20 The To Do List

to do listDo you have a To Do List? I do! I do! I’ll be the first one to admit I love to get things done. It makes me feel accomplished. I love checking things off my list!

I will also be the first one to admit that many times my To Do List is a major source of stress for me.

What about you?

It is typically the sheer number of items I put on my list and the time restraints I put on those items to get done that create the stress.

When I look at the list and it is too full it creates stress. And how does your body typically react to stress? By tightening and tensing. Not good for my posture or yours.

So I haven’t even started in on my To Do List and I am already overly tight and tense!

What to Do?

Well, since most of the time I am the one who has put the items on the list and chosen the time restraints I can also undo it. Give this a try:

The next time you find yourself creating a To Do List allow yourself to initially make it as long as you want. Indulge yourself and put it all down!

Then categorize the things on your To Do List as either:

1) Have to Do Today or

2) Would Like To Get Done Today

If you are honest with yourself you will find that your Have to Do List is quite a bit shorter than your initial To Do List. How do you feel when you think about doing the items on your newly formulated Have to Do List?

If you feel comfortable and looking at it is not making you overly tense, add one of the Would like to Get Done Today items to your list. Leave the rest for tomorrow or the next day. Try this for a month and see if you still feel good about getting things done.

My guess is that you will enjoy doing your new To Do List a bit more and your body and your posture will thank you for it.