Up With GravitySM Lesson 1 – Locating your Center of Gravity

Imagine a line connecting your two finger tips.  Your center of gravity is right in the middle.

Although we normally think of gravity as a force pulling us down, it also can be a powerful tool that enables us to sit, stand and move more easily, while reducting effort and tension.

The first step in learning to use the power of gravity is to to locate your center of gravity.

Start by standing up and placing the tip of your index finger just below your navel.  The height of your center of gravity is three finger widths (about two inches) below that point.  Move your index finger to that point. Then, using the index finger of your other hand, trace a line around one side of your torso at the same height until you come to the midpoint of your back. Your center of gravity is midway between between your two index fingers.When gravity applies its force on you it acts on your entire weight, concentrated at your center of gravity. Your individual body parts (head, arms, and legs, etc.) also have centers of gravity, and we’ll learn about them in later lessons.

Although there isn’t a physical marker for your center of gravity, such as a bone you can feel or joint you can move, it’s not difficult to find.

An imaginary front to back line, two inches below your navel helps you to mentally access your center of gravity,

You can use some very simple mental imagery to do this and, as we’ll learn in later lessons, to actively use your center of gravity to bring greater ease to your body.  Here are three images that are helpful

The first is the back-to-front line located at the height of your center of gravity, which we explored at the start of this lesson.  As before, the height of your center of gravity is three finger widths below your navel. Place one index finger there. Place your other index finger at the same height on the center of your back.  Using your two index fingers, draw an imaginary line connecting the two. Your center of gravity is in the middle of that line.

The second image, a side-to-side line, nicely complements the first. To locate it, start by placing an index finger three finger widths below your navel to locate the height of your center of gravity.  Then, trace lines around your torso at the same level to your left and right sides and imagine a line going sideways through your body which connects those two points.  Your center of gravity is in the middle of that line.

An imaginary side to side line, at a height of two inches below your navel, is another way to access your center of gravity.

A third method is an imaginary circle going around your abdomen at the height of your center of gravity.  Your center of gravity is at the center of that circle.

Of course these images are not real; there are no lines going through your body, but they help you access a point that acts as an important aid in helping you to function better.

Here’s an experiment you can perform with a partner that illustrates the power of simply being in touch with your center of gravity.  Stand near your partner and, with advance warning, give him or her a little push forward or sideways in their shoulder area.  Be sure it’s just a little push, enough to slightly and temporarily disrupt their equilibrium.  Notice how far they move and how easily they recover their upright position.

Now, show them where their center of gravity is located and ask them to simply be conscious of it.  Then give the same little push and see what happens.  You might want to have them do the same to you.

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Placing the palm of your hand on your belly with it’s center about two inches below your navel is an quick and easy way to remind yourself that your center of gravity is below your navel.

What did you notice?  Most people are far more stable when their attention is lightly placed on their center of gravity.  Notice that this increased stability requires no physical work whatsoever – no stiffening, holding, or tensing – just an awareness of where your center of gravity is located.

As time passes, many students have a tendency to forget the location of their center of gravity, incorrectly shifting it upward. It’s very important to correct this and remember where your center of gravity is actually located  – two inches below your navel.

Reminding yourself a few times a day of where your center of gravity is located can make a significant difference in how you function. The mental images I’ve suggested can greatly assist in that process. Simply placing the palm of one hand on your belly, centered about three finger widths below your navel, is another quick and easy way to do that.

In the Lesson 2, you’ll start exploring how to use those images to make active use of your center of gravity.

***

For the anatomically inclined, your center of gravity is approximately at the level of your 2nd sacral vertebra, and just in front of it.

I’ve talked a great many students through this process, in person or over the phone, but this is the first time I’ve described the process in writing and I want to make the explanation as clear as possible.  So please use the comments box to let me know how well my explanation has worked for you.

 ©  2012 Robert Rickover

Image credit: hfsimaging / 123RF Stock Photo

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

Up With GravitySM Lesson 1 – Locating your Center of Gravity — 26 Comments

  1. Hello,
    Would the formula change for folks whose legs/torso are shorter or longer? Why or why not? I am debating th e physics of this with a friend.
    Thank you!
    Kim

    • It might change things a bit, but there seems to be surprising little variation, even between men and women.

      Robert

  2. hello. this imagery is interesting and working. i am aware of this lines right now, and something is shifting, my weight, mental states, etc..

    my questions are simple.

    1. how this location point was drawing out?

    2. i was thinking about “torus” since the beginning of 2013.
    do you know this geometrical form and do you think any connection between them?

    thank you for interesting and helpful instruction.

  3. Hello Robert. Thank you for your time and wisdom. My question is, are all humans unconsciously aware of a CG in themselves whether the location is correct or not?

    I.E. For a person who’s never read about this before, has never been told where their CG is, must the unconscious mind still be aware of a “center of gravity” in the body in order to walk and move?

    Likewise, is what you’ve just explained about the CG location merely a way of making ourselves conscious of what the unconscious already knows? When babies are born, and first learn to walk, is awareness of the CG instinctual – and only through the years of poor posture habits does it become lost from conscious awareness or skewed inefficiently?

    I hope I make sense. Thank you.

    • Hi Wes,

      Good questions Wes. I doubt that most people have any explicit idea of where the CG is located. And I don’t think one has to have any awareness of one’s CG in order to move – but of course there has not been any research about this!

      I had a student last week who, when I asked him where he thought his CG was, pointed to his navel and said it was right there, on the front surface of his body. I told him it was a little lower and deep inside him and he immediately lost part of his habitual forward leaning stance.

      Make of that what you will!

      Robert

      • I feel to that my cg is in the navel area, in my front surface…
        Inside and deep does not seem to make sense to me,.. Why I don’t know… But I have asked other people and they all agree that CG is on the surface..
        Why is that?

        • It may feel that way, but unless you are leaning very far forward, it’s in the center, 2 inches below the navel. That’s the physics of it!

          Robert

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  5. Thanks for sharing this website Robert.

    Do you know if this centre of gravity point is the same point Tai Chi practicioners talk about?

    All the best
    Jacek

    • Hi Jecek, If they have it mapped correctly, it’s exactly the same point. They may talk about “moving from your center” whereas I’m talking about “move your center” – much more direct and, I think, practical.

      Robert

  6. Robert,

    I would also be interested in knowing how Alexander Techqnique can help stage fright, anxiety, panic attacks etc.. Do you have any good sources on that address those topics? Any specific sources you could recommend? (I’ve read a chapter in Indirect Procedures but I would like to know more) Given your breadth of knowledge on A.T. and A.T. resources I’m sure you can recommend something.

    Thanks,
    Jon

  7. Hello Robert,

    I would just make a small addition in your written instructions let people know the center of gravity is a very small point.

    Also, I look forward to your next lessons. How does this dovetail into Alexander Technique? How does it relate to neck free, head forward and up, and back lengthening and widening (ie the primary control directions?)

    Thanks,
    Jon

    • Yes the center of gravity is indeed an infintesimally (sp?) tiny point – which is why, as a practical matter, it’s very useful to use mental imagery of the sort described in these lessons to access it.

  8. Hello,

    First I want to tell you I’m enjoying your site. It explains things well and I’ll be trying out these ideas. Second, I have a question about semi-supine and where the center of gravity is located when in that position. Is it 2 inches under the navel or located more towards the sternum or some where in between?

    Thanks

    • Thanks Jon – and good question! Your center of gravity doesn’t change when you lie down, but your whole relationship with gravity does – and this is one of the great advantages of Constructive Rest – http://alexandertechnique.com/constructive rest

      In terms of using your CG when lying down, that’s a topic for exploration at this point. Tentatively, I think you can usefully explore using it the same way you do when standing as a kind of “pre activity” preparation. Of course the direction in space is rotated 90 degrees.

      Let me know what you discover – this is brand new experimental territory!

      Robert

  9. Pingback: Up With GravitySM Lesson 2 – Using your Center of Gravity while Moving | Up With Gravity

  10. Hi robert,
    thanks for this remarkable experimentation satisfying the alexander thoughts.

    Iam sure thinking and imagining the static postural images in a movement leads to doing and end-gain. This i had experience.

    But, you are saying dynamic images in an activity following meanswhereby?

    Please collect as many details and experiences from the total alexander teachers, and post it here.

    I think your concept can be done by only experienced fm students and teachers.

    For doing your concept of gravity requires, principles of FM.

    I wont think a common man with out a teacher achieves this by doing on his own.

    I cant say my experiences of your such a difficult concept of gravity based on dynamic images as a whole thinking ‘one after the other all together in sequence with stimulus’.

    But, i will try this and i say thanks to you and i hope and wish that it works for any one.

    ..,

    • Hi Jadadish,

      Thanks for commenting – but I’m afraid I don’t understand your question. Perhaps after you experiment with all 3 of the first set of lessons, it will make better sense to you.

      Robert

  11. Hi,

    Thank you for answering my question. It’s very interesting how for example walking changes quite radically when being aware of the center of gravity. Standing also becomes more stable. It’s very useful thought when people feel themselves wobbly after freeing their legs, I suppose.

    Marja

  12. Thanks a lot for this Robert. This first lesson is really useful, and I’m looking forward to more. I like the experiential aspect to this. You’re providing another great service. I’ll try the experiment tomorrow with my students. Up With Gravity!
    Mark

  13. Hi Marja,

    I haven’t encountered this myself. I would think think that unless the difference is very large, they can still use this process. Start by using it yourself a bit first. Then, when you work with the student, feel free to modify the location for their center of gravity towards the side that is larger if that seems useful. It’s all about experimenting!

  14. Hi,
    What about, when a person has this conditon named “hemihyperplasia”, where the other half of the body is bigger than the other?I’m asking this, because I’m going to have such a pupil soon.

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