This is the second in a series of articles on alignment and safe body mechanics by Ashland physical therapist and Nia instructor, Rachael R. Resch.
In last month’s Locals Guide, we looked at how we can use body awareness and imagery when we are sitting to activate the body’s natural ability and desire for healthy, dynamic alignment. I described how the body functions best when we allow the spine to lengthen and move upward out of the flowerpot of the pelvis, the head like a flower reaching toward the sun.
In this issue, we’ll expand on that practice so that you can take that same sensation and literally move it into the rest of your life.
Here’s secret of doing so: Remember your animal tail.
The sensation of your animal tail will help you:
- Keep your base strong and grounded
- Dynamically sustain your pelvis in a neutral position
- Dynamically sustain your lumbar spine in a neutral position
- Strengthen your body center physically and energetically
- Provide support for your spine from behind and underneath
- Allow your spine to grow long and strong
What if somehow, your itty-bitty little human tail, in its desire to remember its ancestral magnificence, in its desire to express your shimmering uniqueness, in its desire to bless and be blessed, grows long, and touches the Earth?
Maybe it’s a dinosaur tail. Maybe it’s a hummingbird tail. Or a tiger tail. Maybe it’s a never-before-seen tail; made of colorful furs, feathers or scales; aromatic grasses, winds and rains; or made of sultry growls, songs or roars.
What if you are in conscious relationship with your tail? What if you sense your tail, dragging on the ground behind you, accompanying you wherever you go? What if you sustain this awareness working in the kitchen and walking down the street? What if you feel your tail leisurely wrapped around you when you sit on the couch?
Feel your tail’s wild friendliness connecting you to the Earth, to your animal nature, and to your body’s natural way of moving; which are actually all the same thing.
What if, as you move through your life — stooping to pick up shoes, getting on your bike or in your car, weeding the garden, tucking in the kids, brushing your teeth, feeding the cat, cleaning the tub, loading the car, emptying the garbage, what if when you dance, stretch, run, do yoga and do all the things you do in your body — what if as you do all these things, you sense both your animal body and your plant body?
What if you sense the flower of your spine growing up out of the flowerpot of your pelvis and your tail connecting you to the Earth at the same time? What if you sustain this sensation? Our bodies are made of plants and animals, flowers, roots and flesh. Even if you’re a vegan, you yourself are an animal.
The plant body, like a tree or flower, loves the vertical axis. It helps us ground and ascend, root and flower, to simultaneously move energy dynamically along the spine and throughout the entire body.
The animal body is great at helping us to move out into the world in the horizontal plane, so that we can move forward and back, side to side and all around, playing, running, walking, skipping and snoozing over the surface of the planet.
Together, the vertical axis and the horizontal plane create the dynamic experience of living in a three-dimensional body. Energetically, the above and below and the inner and the outer are in continual motion through our systems. The boat-like ballast of the pelvis provides a dynamic center for energy moving though the body in all directions: up, down, horizontally, and radially.
The practice of tail, flowerpot and flower are very effective in activating the neuromuscular pathways we need for good alignment in motion, in this case, a neutral curve of the lumbar spine. A healthy lumbar curve is sustained by a dynamic relationship between the weight of the pelvis and the tail, and the upward motion of the spine and head.
This practice is also one of remembering — in body and in mind — our deep relationship every day with all beings: animal, plant, soil, water, sun, and air.
Rachael R. Resch is a physical therapist in private practice, owner of Synergy Physical Therapy in Ashland, and an instructor in The Nia Technique. She can be reached at 541/482-8333.