Or “How to practice motorcycle stunts at your desk”
When someone showed me a video of this French woman doing stunts on a motorcycle, I thought, why should I bother watching this, I’m not in to motorsports. As soon as I glanced at the video, though, I couldn’t stop watching and I started looking for others. I was immediately fascinated by how Sarah Lezito balanced her head and body in all kinds of positions on a speeding motorcycle doing wheelies.
Lezito demonstrates excellent use of her body and an optimal head-spine relationship. She understands, whether consciously or unconsciously, the importance of the poise of her head on top of her spine for the balance, resistance and mobility of her body. Check out what she does here. Notice how her back is lengthening, her helmeted head is in opposition to her pelvis and her limbs are free to move.
Back to the question of what this has to do with violinists or computer users. For a stuntswoman, an optimal head-spine relationship can be a life-saver! For the rest of us, too, it immensely improves the quality of life. If we tend to compress our cervical vertebra due to a less-than-optimal relationship of the head and spine, this will have consequences over the long term on our balance, mobility and ability to deal with the cards dealt to us by life. That’s because the balance of the head affects the spine, ribs, pelvis, arms and legs – yep, pretty much everything! When the head, spine and pelvis are out of balance, our muscles work overtime to compensate, and that leads to pain and strain injuries.
However, when we give our head an upward direction and the pelvis a downward direction, this frees up head, ribs and limbs. (If we’re in a position other than upright, we can still think of them as moving away from each other.) The important thing is to not assume a fixed position, because that’s when we get stuck and start feeling back pain, our arms don’t move as freely or we fall off the motorcycle.
What is an optimal head-spine relationship?
Well, it’s a little easier to think of it in terms of what it’s not. It’s not pushing your chin forward or raising your chin, and it’s not pushing your head up or pulling your chin in. When we are upright, the head balances on the top vertebra, and its center of gravity is in front of that resting point. This means that it wants to tip forward slightly, allowing the spine to elongate. The head and the pelvis move away from each other in opposite directions to optimize the length of the back and develop sufficient tone.
What can you do to improve your balance, mobility and comfort?
So next time you pick up your violin or sit down at your computer (like right now!) just pause and take stock of yourself. Pay attention to your neck. What’s going on there? Where is your head? Is it free to move? If your neck is tense and doesn’t want to let your head move, congratulate yourself for noticing! Yah! Just by noticing, you are creating a change in your nervous system. And when we congratulate ourselves for noticing, ease appears instead of tension associated with self-judgement.
Next, allow yourself to go into movement as you continue to notice your neck. If you lean forward in your chair, for example, notice where you are bending from. Are you bending from your waist? Look at the picture of Lezito again. Notice how she doesn’t bend at her waist; she bends at the hip joint, keeping her back long and strong.
Then carry on with your day! The more you pay attention to your self in this way, the more change will begin to occur all by itself. These small moments of putting this into practice will begin to make a difference as you play your instrument or do any other activity.
If you’d like to learn more, you can subscribe to my newsletter, read past articles here, join the Mind-Body Freedom & Balance with Alexander Technique group in Facebook to read occasional tips and ask questions, or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org to take an online constructive rest mini-lesson or a full online lesson.
Classes in Montana in December
I’ll be in Montana the last 2 weeks of December 2017 and am available for a limited number of classes in St. Ignatius on December 21, 26 and 28.
If you have any questions or issues you’d like me to write about, please write me at email@example.com or post something in the Facebook group! I look forward to hearing from you!If you have any questions or issues you’d like me to write about, please write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post something in the Facebook group! I look forward to hearing from you!