The Arch Broken Down…
Start with rolling your pelvis down the mat, so that your tailbone presses into your mat. This will create an arching of your back, and an engagement of your paraspinal muscles (the ones that run along each side of the spine).
As you are arching allow your belly and front body muscles to lengthen and release.
You might try having one hand on your belly to feel the abdominal muscles lengthening, and one hand tucked under the small of your back to feel your back muscles contracting and shortening.
In the arch your chin will tilt downward towards your public bone, down the mat.
Slowly Release out of the movement, back to rest and pause breathing.
As you are releasing – “feel” the lengthening of your back muscles. Feel them go from contracted and hard to lengthened and soft.
Pause at the end of the release to allow your brain time to integrate.
The goal with the release is to “clean up” the movement, controlling smoothly the lengthening of the back line muscles so the are wobble free.
The Flatten Broken down…
Rolling your pubic bone upwards towards your chin as you draw or sink your ribcage towards your public bone. This action will create a flattening of your back.
This is an engagement of the abdominal muscles and a releasing of the back muscles.
It is very helpful to place both hands on your abdominals muscles to “sense and feel” them contracting.
There is not meant to be a pushing up into the flatten with the legs or bum muscles, those muscles should remain quiet so watch if you are “smuggling” engagement back there.
In the flatten, your chin will tilt backwards towards the top of your head.
Slowly release out of the flatten, controlling the lengthening of the front body muscles and deep inner line.
Release back to rest and pause breathing.
The Don’ts of Moving Somatically:
Do not have your brain distracted and thinking about other things.
Do not rush into and out of the movement like you are performing a gym movement.
Do not have loud music distracting your attention.
Do not hold your breath – this creates more muscular tension and will make the movement harder.
How You Will Know You are Making Progress:
You can feel your muscles contract and release and sensation increases with repetition and learning.
Your movement gets smoother and your range increases with practice.
You notice tension leaving your body.
Breathing gets easier.
You feel more length in your trunk muscles are rest.
You feel your weight more balanced in your feet when standing.
Standing upright requires less effort and
We know that adding these nuances of Arch and Flatten will take your practice to the next level. Practice this simple movement daily and notice how you move and feel better at work, rest and play. We’d love to hear from you.
Next week stay tuned for next week’s post where we will talk about pain and its deep roots.
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