One-Minute Practice: Walking in Balance
Everyone knows walking is good for your health, but how you walk is crucial to the health of your feet, knees, hips and back. To walk with less tightness or compression and more ease and efficiency, try this:
First, sense your whole self standing in space. Sense your feet on the ground and let the soles of your feet widen into the floor, so that your weight is evenly distributed on the front, back and sides of both feet.
Then sense your head delicately balancing at the top of your spine. The top of the spine is way up between your ears, behind the roof of your mouth. Think of your long neck muscles, all the way from your upper torso to the base of your jaw and skull. Allow these muscles to release into their longest resting length.
Sense the length of you from your feet, up through your legs, pelvis, ribs, shoulders, and head. Bring your attention to deep inside your core, to the length of your spine, and it’s fluid-filled discs between each vertebrae.
Sense the width of you, across your lower back, across your middle back and ribs and across your shoulders. Imagine your collar-bones drifting away from each other.
As you begin to walk, can you allow your head to continue to float up on the top of your spine? Most often we compress the head/neck joint and begin walking with the legs out in front of us. Initiate your forward movement with the very clear intention that you will not tense your neck, but rather think of your head floating upwards as the beginning of your step. This allows your spine to keep its length and your legs can swing freely under you.
If you have had Alexander lessons, you have been kinesthetically guided by your teacher to move first up, with this very float-y sensation. If you have never been guided into walking by allowing your head to lead upwards from the ground, then you must be clear that you are not lifting your face, chin or ribs upward. Rather, you are continuing to not-compress your head onto your spine, while you allow the legs to swing. Think of doing very little with your front thigh muscles, the quads. Rather, allow the leg bones to move with easy joints, releasing the back of your leg to let your knee swing freely. Let your arms swing freely too.
Sometimes it helps to imagine you are taking something heavy off your head, and the release upwards takes you into movement. Upward, and then forward.
As you practice walking with less compression, think of moving a little into the air space above you, allowing the free flow of energy/movement out to the sides of you, and also softly rolling through your feet on the ground.
Remember to breath easily, being aware of your three-dimensional torso. Enjoy!
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