In the previous two lessons of this section, you learned how to lift your center of gravity while standing, moving and sitting.
In the final lesson of this “lifting series,” we’ll compare what happens when you “stand up straight” or “sit up straight” with what happens when you lift your center of gravity. We’ll also learn an interesting trick you can use to illustrate the power of center of gravity lifting.
As with the two previous lessons, if you have any concerns about the safety of doing these exercises – and certainly if you’ve had recent surgery – be sure to consult your doctor before attempting them.
Let’s start with something you may have heard when you were a child from your parents or teachers: “Stand up straight!”
The photo on the left illustrates a fairly typical response. Notice that the chest is lifted, the lower back is arched, and that there’s quite a bit of overall strain.
Experiment with “standing up straight” and see if you can sense these effects on yourself. You might need to exaggerate it a little to detect them at first.
What happens to your breathing, the overall level of tension in your body, and your balance?
Try walking while “standing up straight” and see how that feels compared to your ordinary walking.
Now let go of “standing up straight.” Then mentally connect with your center of gravity, using one of the images we’ve explored in earlier lessons, and lift it within yourself. As before, be very clear that your intention is to lift only your center of gravity. Do this for just a few seconds at a time until you have plenty of experience.
How does this compare with “standing up straight?” Is your breathing any different? Is there a difference in the amount of overall tension in your body? What’s the difference when you walk?
As with the experiments in previous lessons, you might want to alternate between the two a few times to get a better sense of the differences.
Most students notice that lifting their center of gravity does not generate excess tension elsewhere in the body in the way that “standing up straight” does. Breathing is usually easier, and they often sense an expansion in the chest. They feel taller when they move in this lifted state, and they move more easily.
Now, compare “sitting up straight” with lifting your seated center of gravity. Move back and forth on the chair with a lifted seated center of gravity. Compare this to same movement done while you “sit up straight”.
What did you notice?
Despite the harm they cause, variants of “stand up straight” or “sit up straight” are a mainstay of of popular posture advice. But what most people do when they “stand or sit up straight” is only to re-arrange their tensions. As the late Professor John Dewey (a student of F. Matthias Alexander, developer of the Alexander Technique) noted: “…something happens when a man acts upon his idea of standing straight. For a little while, he stands differently, but only a different kind of badly.”
Hopefully, your experiences in this series of lessons on lifting your center of gravity and your seated center of gravity have shown you that this is an effective way of improving the way you stand, sit and move.
Here’s a final experiment showing the power of lifting your center of gravity. You can do this experiment standing or sitting. We’ll use standing as the example here.
While standing, connect with your center of gravity. Now lift it, and only it, as much as you comfortably can. Then, while continuing to lift your center of gravity, try to go into a slump, pulling your chest down and into itself.
What did you notice?
Now, again while lifting your center of gravity, try to “stand up straight” in the manner illustrated earlier in this lesson.
What did you notice?
You probably found that it was impossible to do either, at least to any significant extent, as long as you were also lifting your center of gravity. That’s because both of those movements actually tend to lower your center of gravity and it’s not possible to lift and lower your center of gravity at the same time.
Students are generally amazed when they attempt this. It’s is a nice exercise to try with your family and friends.
This brings us to the end of the basic center of gravity lifting procedures. In the next series of lessons, you’ll learn to use center of gravity lifting in quite a different way – one that’s much easier, more precise, and more powerful.
As always, please use the comment box below to share your experiences with these exercises.
© 2012 Robert Rickover