Alot of body work, yoga and exercise largely focuses on the soft tissues of the body – stretching and strengthening the muscles, releasing the fascia and even massaging the internal organs. Whereas the bones, the underlying structure of the body often get less attention. They can be more difficult to sense, often deeper under the skin and often culturally considered inert, associated with death as opposed to the lively nature of flesh. An awareness of the skeleton however, in particular the joints and the blurry boundary between muscle, connective tissue and bone can have huge benefits for health and movement.
The bones provide the counter point in a dualistic perspective of movement; the muscles are the movers, the bones are the moved. Imagine trying to move an object around with little idea of its shape, weight and proportions, perhaps it would not be the most gracefully executed task? Taking the time to build an awareness of your skeleton can mean that every movement is carried out with more precision. This reduces the stress on joints and muscles, it means that force travels safely through the structure of your body rather than getting blocked in vulnerable areas like the knees and back. Just take a moment to feel into your hands, can you make any distinction between the flesh of your palm and the bones of your fingers that run through it?
Our skeleton is by far the largest mineral component of our body and a great doorway to exploring the connection to the earth we move around on. Lying on your back on the earth, bring an awareness to how your skeleton meets the ground. Which bones press against it through your skin? Maybe the back your you skull, your shoulder blades, the back of your hips and sacrum or maybe other areas. How much of your spine touches the earth? In the places where your skeleton is not making contact, can you get a sense of how much space is between you and the ground, and how much of that space is the flesh of your body? Really let the feeling of gravity take hold of you, let go and feel your bones really press against the earth. Allow yourself to become as heavy as possible the earth pulling you down as if it wanted to pull you right under the soil. If you can, try and get a sense of the centre of the earth’s gravity, the point to which you are unerringly drawn, way down below you. Does changing your focus in this way effect your body at all? Have the places where you body presses against the earth changed at all, are those spaces between your bones and the ground any different?
This is a great exercise whenever you feel in need of grounding and it helps to start to build a sense of how your skeleton relates to the constant pull of gravity. Once you’ve got a feel for it, trying bringing a light awareness to your skeleton as you move about in the day and see if this has any effects on the way you want to move…