BODY AWARENESS

What are your postural habits and movement behaviours? 

Habits and behaviours impact our state of mind, our overall health and our physical capabilities.

1. THE ROLLED TOWELS

This routine was designed to marry spinal alignment with a feeling of relaxation and peacefulness. Do it at least once a day, before falling asleep. Soon, you will be able to stand or sit straighter in a more relaxed way.

  • Overlap a couple of hand towels* and roll them. Position the rolled towels on your bed or on a yoga mat. Lie on the rolled towels. If necessary, adjust your position so that the roll feels comfortable under-along your spine. SEE PICTURES BELOW

  • Relax your arms but keep your palms up. If you prefer, you can flex your elbows and bring your hands close to your ears. The position of your arms is not as important, as long as you remember to keep your palms up.

  • While keeping your low back flat against the mat, slowly extend your knees. Are you loosing contact with the floor at the level of your low back or are you experiencing low back pain? Bring your knees closer to you, until the issue is resolved. Support your legs by placing some pillows or thick heavy blankets under your calves. Next time, we suggest you release and stretch your hip flexors before you try the rolled towels routine.

  • If you feel like you need a pillow under your head, you may use a folded towel. However, try to use as little support as possible. It is preferable to challenge a little bit your structures, as long as there is no pain, of course.

  • Place a small heating pad under your neck and a long one across your chest, on top of your Pectoralis major muscle. You can make your own heating pads by using the legs of an old jeans. Fill your home-made jean-heating-pads with dry beans, rice, chickpeas... Microwave both bean bags for 2 min. If necessary, continue heating by periods of 30 seconds.

  • Tuck your chin, then relax. Meditate, do some mindful breathing exercises. If you want, you can put some nice music on and drink some wine with a straw ;) or simply think of reasons to be grateful for. Enjoy... and perhaps, fall asleep. It's ok.


* Thicker towels will make a thicker roll, which is perfect for a more challenging routine. Try different hand towels until you find a pair that adjusts to your spine, your level of challenge and the surface you will be laying on. Example: I have two different rolls, a thiner for my yoga mat and a thicker for my bed (because it sinks, even if it's a fairly hard mattress).

NOTE: Once you find the right pair of towels, you can use some elastic bands to keep the roll from unrolling.

Overlap a couple of hand towels

Overlap a couple of hand towels

Roll them

Roll them

Rolled towels

Rolled towels

Position the towels on your bed or on a yoga mat

Position the towels on your bed or on a yoga mat

Lie on the rolled towels

Lie on the rolled towels

2. MINDFUL SITTING

Modern lifestyle and certain sitting habits contribute to weakness/atrophy at the level of the postural muscles of the spine. A mindful sitting helps improve this condition by enabling and compelling your postural muscles to do what they were designed to.

  • Sit on your sit bones at the edge of your chair. 

  • Position heels under knees, shoulder width apart, each foot aligned with its thigh (pointing to where the knee is pointing). Slightly press the plants of your feet on the floor. Press evenly, not just the heel, bowl of the feet or toes.

  • Try to find a state of balance by slightly rocking (back and forth) on your sit bones. You may feel your deep abdominals and the muscles of your pelvic floor activating while you rock backwards/forward (aka posterior/anterior pelvic tilt). 

  • Do your best to sit as tall as possible. In other words, try to lessen any excessive spinal curvature.

 

NOTE:​ Become familiar with this exercise. Maintain this position when you are at the dining table, waiting for the bus, working on your computer... 

 

3. THE THREAD

 - SEATED POSITION -

This routine contributes to a healthier posture and movement by improving muscle activation, stability and spinal alignment.

  • Sit mindfully. This is very important, please, see previous exercise.

  • Imagine there is a thread attached to the top-back of your head (see image below). Pull the thread up to the sky. 

  • Relax and repeat. Can you feel that pulling the thread is naturally accompanied by a chin-tuck and a slight rise of your head? Keep practicing until the movement feels easy and natural.

  • Again, activate the thread and then, relax. Do not shrug/elevate your shoulders, allow them to stay low and relaxed, at the same place. Can you feel that the "softening" of an excessive thoracic curvature is naturally accompanied by the movement of your whole thoracic cage (opening towards the front)? Keep practicing.

  • Time to incorporate the lumbar spine to the exercise. This time, allow the thread to help you soften any excessive curvature on the neck, thoracic spine and lumbar spine. This movement is naturally accompanied by the movement of your pelvis (sacrum, coccyx and hip bones) and by the activation of the deepest abdominals (Transverse abdominals) and the pelvic floor muscles. Can you feel your core and muscles of the pelvis floor activating?

At the beginning you might find this exercise exhausting. Do not worry if you just cannot feel relaxed. Once you regain control and strength at the level of the postural muscles of the spine, deep abdominals and muscles of the pelvic floor, you will be able to do this (and other exercises, such as Tai Chi moves) while experiencing a feeling of internal relaxation.

Once you become familiar with "The Thread" in a seated position, practice in a STANDING position. Don't forget to activate "The J" (see below), glutes activation is extremely important.

 


The Regions of the spine

  • Cervical spine

  • Thoracic spine
  • Lumbar spine
  • Sacrum
  • Coccyx

NOTE: See the place where the imaginary thread is attached to your head. The exact spot is not at the top of your head, but a little more to the back.

Screenshot 2020-04-06 at 5.49.41 PM.png
 

4. ACTIVATION OF "The J"

(postural muscles)

This routine contributes to a healthier posture and movement by improving muscle activation, stability and spinal alignment.

 Use The J activation every time you are standing, walking, going up/down stairs.

 

How does it work? 

Which martial artist will perform a stronger/more powerful kick or push, one standing on a grippy floor or the one standing on a super slippery surface? 

The foundation of mobility is stability. In other words, in order for some body structures to create strong, efficient, functional movement, other structures must create stability. Thus, in order for you to be able to raise your leg, your pelvis-hip-core-spine and even your diaphragm muscle must work as a team and create stability. If they fail to do so, raising your leg will not be as efficient or functional as it should. As a result, you may "feel" that one of your legs feels "heavier". This phenomenon is caused by a lack of proper "postural activation" at the level of the trunk.

The J improves trunk stability, fundamental to healthy/functional movement and by doing so, it reduces musculoskeletal imbalance and misalignment.

Note: "The J" and "The Thread" are two faces of the same coin. They support each other.

The J.png
 

5. MOTOR CONTROL

Are my postural muscles doing their job?

Would you like us to create other body awareness exercises? Contact us.