Co-ordinating Flexors and Extensors
1. Stand however you normally stand, without trying to do it "right". Feel what kind of contact your feet have with the floor. Notice where your pelvis is in relationship to your feet. How much effort does it take to simply stand? Does it feel like gravity is pulling you down or does it feel light and effortless to stand? How much tension are you carrying in your shoulders? Does your head feel upright and balanced on the end of your spine or does it take an effort to keep your head up? Twist your body left and right a few times and notice how far you can turn without straining and any differences between turning to the right and turning to the left.
2. Lie down on your back with your arms at your side and your eyes closed and spend some time observing your breath without changing the way you are breathing. Notice which parts of your body move with your breath. Then start observing the way your body is touching the floor, starting with your feet and moving up your body. Pay particular attention to how much space there is between the small of your back and the floor and how much of your pelvis and rib cage are touching the floor.
For the following movements, repeat them as many times as you like. A guideline might be 10 to 12 repetitions, but let your comfort and inclination guide you.
3. Bend both knees and put both feet flat on the floor. Cross your legs so that the back of the right knee is resting on your left thigh just above the left knee. Start tilting both legs to the right and back to the starting position. Begin with a very small movement and gradually increase the range of the movement until you are just short of the place where you would have to stretch or strain to go further. Observe the movement of your pelvis as your legs tilt. Does the left side lift a little and move down in the direction of the left thigh? What effect does this movement have on your spine and your rib cage? Does the left shoulder lift a little? How does this movement affect your head?
Uncross your legs and stretch them out. Rest and notice if the contact of your pelvis and your rib cage with the floor has changed.
4. Bend both knees again and tilt both legs to the right without crossing them and then bring them back up. How does this movement compare to the previous movement? Does the force travel through your pelvis and spine in a somewhat different trajectory? After a number of repetitions, try crossing the right knee over the left again and notice if the tilting has changed in quality or range of movement. Then straighten your legs and rest on your back again.
5. Bend your knees and place your feet standing as before. Raise your arms in the direction of the ceiling and place the palms of your hands against each other with the palms and fingers touching. Imagine that your elbow joint has disappeared and that you have one long bone from your shoulder to your wrist. Start tilting both arms to the left without bending either elbow and turn your head to the left along with your arms and then bring your arms and your head back to the starting point. Lift your right shoulder off the floor as you do this. Feel how your spine responds to this movement. If you find this movement demanding on your shoulders, rest frequently. With each repetition, have the intention of making the movement a little lighter and smoother. Bring your arms down to your sides and rest for a moment.
Then bring your arms to the same position. Open your eyes and fix your eyes on a spot on the ceiling. Continue tilting both arms to the left without bending your elbows, this time keeping your head still. Notice where you feel resistance to the movement and encourage that part of you to soften and participate a little in the movement. Then start gently turning your head to the right as you tilt your arms to the left. Notice how this changes the movement. Imagine your ribs softening as you do this. After a short rest, return to tilting both arms to the left and turning your head to the left at the same time and feel if the movement has changed in terms of range, effort, comfort, smoothness, etc.. Try to keep the legs more or less still as you do this. Then stretch out and take a good rest.
6. Cross your right knee over the left again and tilt both legs to the right and back a few times. Has this movement changed? Can your legs tilt further or more easily? Does your-spine participate more fully?
7. Now change over the crossing of your legs and start tilting both legs to the left. Do you do it differently on this side? Repeat steps 3 through 6, tilting your legs to the left and your arms to the right this time.
8. Cross your right knee over the left, tilt your legs easily to the right and leave them there. Bring your hands behind your head and interlace your fingers. Use your hands to help lift and lower your head a few times, bringing your elbows towards each other as you lift your head so that your arms are cradling your head. Exhale as you lift your head and inhale as you bring it back down. Try to do most of the work with your stomache muscles. Observe the changes in floor contact of the ribs, spine, and pelvis as you do this movement. Rest for a minute and notice if your torso has more contact with the floor.
9. This time, cross your left knee over the right, and tilt both legs to the left and leave them there. Interlace your fingers in the non-habitual way behind your head and continue lifting and lowering your head with the assistance of your arms. Again, observe carefully the effect of this movement on your ribs, spine, and pelvis.
10. After a short rest, bend your knees again and leave them uncrossed. Interlace your hands behind your head and lift and lower your head a few times. Try it with both interlacings of your fingers and notice which is easier. Stretch out and rest and notice if the relationship of your lower back to the floor has changed.
11. Bend your knees and spread your feet comfortably apart. Put your right hand under your left armpit on the left shoulder blade and bring your left arm across the right and get hold of your right shoulder blade. Start rolling your torso left and right turning your head in the same direction. Use your hands to help lift your shoulders. Keep your pelvis more or less still. Start slowly and, as you grow comfortable with the movement, gradually increase the speed without increasing the effort. Rest briefly and then try the same movement with your arms crossed the other way. Stretch out and rest.
12. Cross your arms over your chest as before (whichever way you like) and bend your knees again. Open your eyes and fix your eyes on the ceiling. Rock your torso from side to side without moving your head. Do a small enough movement that you can do it gently and easily. Rest and then try doing the movement turning your head gently in the opposite direction of your torso. After another rest, try rocking with your head moving in the same direction again and notice if it has changed. Do it with both crossing of the arms.
13. Stretch out and rest. Compare your contact with the floor to the contact you had at the beginning of the lesson. Is the lower back closer to the floor? Do your ribs and pelvis feel softer and touch more of the floor? Has your breathing changed?
14. Slowly roll to one side and sit up and, from there, stand up. Are you standing any differently? What does the contact of your feet with the floor feel like now? Does it take less effort to stand? How do your head and shoulders feel now? Try twisting your body left and right a few times and notice if this has changed.