I grew up at the mercy of two Manspreaders. In the back seat of our family car, I was smooshed on the hump, while my brothers made themselves comfortable, spreading their legs wide and taking up as much of the back seat as they wanted for their sprawling limbs…
In a private yoga session, I was guiding one of my students in a basic movement. As you lie down, holding your knees into your chest, you circle your knees. These gentle circles can be a real relief for tired, stiff or sore hips and low back. My student moved his knees in a sort of twisting, side-to-side action, while his pelvis rocked around, up and down off the floor. This movement was confusing to him. I slowed down, demonstrated and then did some hands on to help direct him. Finally he asked, “So, it’s ok to move my hips?” It dawned on me in that moment that my student was missing some basic and hugely important information. The basic concept of allowing his hips to move was was missing. This small circling action is meant to loosen and relax the hip joints, so YES there will be movement in the hips. In ongoing sessions, we worked to stabilize his body, feet, legs and pelvis to find comfort and allow more freedom of movement of his hips.
What else were other students missing? What was I missing? Here are some examples that I found:
Truth of Gravity – Missing
Another student has a challenging time keeping his head on top of his spine. In Triangle pose, his head spills down and forward. The basic directions of down and up are somehow mixed up with his idea of shoulders back, move this and manipulate that. The homework for him: toss a ball down on the floor and watch it go up.
Stand Simply – Missing
Instead of simply standing on the floor, do you grip the soles of your feet to hold on? Releasing your body weight onto your feet so that you can connect to the ground is something I see and feel missing in some students. Excess tension can create a ricochet effect of misuse in the whole body. “If it’s somewhere in the body, it’s everywhere in the body.” Dr Ida Rolf
Sit with Ease – Missing
When you sit cross-legged do you push your knees downward? Pressure at the knees displaces the hips, pelvis and the lumbar spine in dramatic ways. Some people sit easily with their knees on the floor. Other people mistakenly try to copy that. The whole body compensates for this pressure at the knees. The pelvis must release down first before the knees will go down.
I’m sitting on a tiny cushion that you can’t see. Elevating the pelvis can ease pressure in the hips and lift the spine.
How do you identify places in your body and mind where holding can create patterns of stiffness and pain? It’s easy to get stuck into ways of moving and thinking. I help my students discover habits and blind spots which lead to awareness, healthy support and less tightness. It’s possible to learn about something that might be missing.
So, What Am I Missing?
I auditioned for a chamber chorus this past fall and didn’t make it in. I’m a longtime member of the Brooklyn Community Chorus and have been studying singing for years. I was crushed. My heartache catapulted me into deep self-learning through therapy, bodywork and other alternative healing. We all need support and guidance.
I’ve had some great voice teachers. But, I was still struggling with my confidence and my breath. My student’s ‘hips not moving’ moment really made me think. Maybe I had missed some very basic, foundational element in my vocal development?
Was there a voice teacher who could help me find out what I was missing?
Yes! In my first lesson with Christine Moore, I found out that too much air was escaping between my vocal cords. My cords weren’t closing. I was lacking Cord Closure. When my cords don’t close properly too much air passes through them. It’s that breathy sound. Plus as the air escapes, I often felt empty and hungry for breath.
Christine knew exactly what exercises would help me develop cord closure. I vocalized with a snarly, witchy sounding E. It was SOOoooo piercing. Really, a sound I’ve always avoided making – loud, bitchy, shrill, earsplitting and biting. I couldn’t believe that I was coached to make the one sound that I would NEVER allow myself to make! And it’s what I must now do to develop cord closure. Christine continues to remind me that it’s a process. I do feel a slightly smaller stream of breath flowing through my sound and it’s a relief not to be starving for breath.
Cell and Soul Nourishment
Frustration is natural when we seem to ‘fail’ at the things we care about. It’s easy to tell ourselves, “I’m not good at this” or that. Our inner dictator can easily push us down with self-imposed limitations. But facing these challenging moments can set us again on the ongoing learning of life and getting support is always good. Caring about your body, your habits and your interests is nourishment for your cells and your soul.
Find a teacher, a guide, a group, a therapist or someone who can help to guide you on your path to find out what you’re missing.
If you’re interested in working with me, in person or remotely, this summer is a great time. Contact me to schedule a session – Jennifer@JenniferBrilliant.com