Seeking Knowledge from the Ministry of Silly Walks

Credit: Jazeen Hollings (User talk:JazHol) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Breaking down old habits that we sometimes don’t even know we have can be awkward at best, and downright uncomfortable too. We keep adapting and changing throughout life, sometimes to find ourselves walking funny (or sitting funny, or standing funny). Adaptation is GREAT – it keeps us growing and it’s what can make life exciting. It also brings challenges, especially when those adaptations don’t serve us in the healthiest of ways. It can be very uncomfortable to 1) discover that you have a habit that doesn’t serve you, and 2) start to really shift that habit into something else. That is the point when a lot of people throw their hands up, shake a fist at the sky, and decide it’s better to stay in the more familiar place rather than face any uncomfortable growing pains (oh man do I know this feeling!).

I have a colleague who has had a long road trying to figure out this tweak about her walking. She’s tried to unravel it – is it in the right hip? Oh – it may be the left hip. Is it how my shoulders are swinging? My head isn’t screwed on right! She has explored with a lot of stuff – which is what having a Somatics practice is all about: Using your life as a laboratory or sand box to experiment and play. She walked in different ways, different directions, tested the weight on her feet, felt how different muscles tighten on each side of her hips. It’s a process that sometimes takes a long time, or not much time at all. But it is all about exploring in a curious, non-judgmental way in order to open the opportunity to change.

This has been the challenge for me in the past week – not specifically with walking, but with other habits, both muscularly and emotionally. Staying curious, experimenting, playing. Accessing and learning from Silly Walks. What if we could all think of life this way? What’s in your lab or sand box?

For this week’s class, the 3rd in the Walking with Ease series, we’ll see how the length in the waist helps to free the hips & legs for more easeful walking. We’ll bring in the shoulders to “help” the hips move more freely. We’re going to contemplate “silly walks” by applying what you do on the floor to your upright walk too.

Here is the link for this week’s class: Walking with Ease, Lesson 3 – Thursday at 12pm noon eastern time. Register here for class.

Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

Gaining Height with Somatics?

I’ve had clients tell me they gained inches in height after working with somatic explorations. Blows the whole “we shrink as we age” thing out of the water, I think! In addition to the explanation in this link below, there is also Thomas Hanna’s description of a “dark vise”. That is the imbalance between our natural green light and red light responses in the front and back of the body. Years of emotional stress can pull us forward, impeding our breath, depressing our shoulders and chests, rounding the spine forward. On the other side, we are constantly being called to action, moving forward, tightening our back in green light (or Landau) response. The body likes to be in balance against gravity, so if we are too pulled back or too far forward, the other side says “whoa whoa whoa!! I don’t want to fall over!”, and so contracts to pull the body back. This can cause significant pain from overuse in both sides of the body. If each side of the body, front and back, keeps arguing over which one needs to pull upright out of gravity, this can create compression of the spine, leading to shortening of the muscles between vertebrae, “shrinking” the body in height. Now, there are conditions that actually do deteriorate the connective tissue between the vertebrae, but I think we have ignored a very important piece by dismissing the muscles and function of the center of our body.

Continue reading Colm McDonnnell’s easy anatomical description here.