No Hands, Ma!

I ask my students to try getting up and down off the floor without using their hands quite often.

It’s a fun thing to try.

It’s playful!

They chatter, they waver, they puzzle, they laugh, they try new things.

Even after they figure out how to do it, I find that there is a default pattern, as there is with most things.

Our brains like to take the superhighways, the routes that are most comfortable, because we know them so well and we don’t have to think about them. This is what we do when we’re getting LIFE done.

When we’re playing with our kids, or we’re active at work, or we’re doing some “floor laptop” work, we have a way we do this, without even planning it.

And this is good!

We don’t want to have to think about how we are moving every second of every day. That would be impossible.

But if we ALWAYS move in the same way, we start to shut down possibilities.

I realized just this week that my default pattern of getting up off the floor without using my hands (because I’ve been practicing this for awhile) is to put my right foot on the floor and fold my left shin underneath me, then come into a half-kneeling position with my right foot forward, and then stand all the way up.

I never do it with my left foot leading in the front of the lunge.

Just for kicks, I tried it this week and found that I got a little stuck. I was really surprised. Yet another skill to work on!

I’ve been putting this into the “end” of my breath and movement practice lately and it’s getting better! {the end is where you close your practice, roll up your mat and put props away, and move on with your day…more on “closing rituals” another time}

Yoga, to me, is a great opportunity to shift default patterns.

In yoga philosophy, there are volumes written about this. Samskaras, (patterns of consciousness or, simply, habits), are something we strive to free ourselves of.

I think that the idea of recognizing your patterns and habits and working to shift those that need shifting is quite useful, even without getting into the philosophical ideas behind all of this.

We all have habits that don’t serve us or don’t serve others, right?

I love the analogy of a samskara being like a groove in a dirt road that you’ve driven down many times before. To smooth out the road, the answer is not to drive in a perpendicular pattern to the groove that’s already there because (1) that won’t get you where you need to go and (2) you’re just creating a NEW groove to get stuck in later on.

It’s like if you grew up really poor and didn’t have many toys and vowed that when you became a parent, your kids would never want for anything. The old pattern of deprivation shifted to a new pattern of gluttony. Neither works.

The way to change the groove is to drive just a little bit to the side of it. It’s kind of like a lean. A slight shift.

Doing these mini shifts into new territory works well for our life AND for our bodies.

Moving our bodies in all kinds of patterns and pathways, through different ranges of motion, with different hands and feet leading the way, in playful and unexpected ways keep our brains engaged and our bodies mobile and strong.

Able to handle the challenges of life.

That’s why I teach things like getting up off the floor and down again with no hands. AND to do it in different ways every time you try it, as much as possible.

It doesn’t have to be a drastic change from what you were doing before. Maybe it’s just leading with your non-habitual foot, or coming to your fingertips instead of your whole hand to help you, or rolling to the opposite side than the side you normally roll to.

This getting-up-and-down-with-no-hands fits well into a yoga practice.

It’s not the pure stretching kind of yoga, but it IS mindfulness. It is awareness. It is embodiment. It is flow. It is transformation.

Go here if you’d like to know more about my approach to movement and how it can help you quiet chronic pain so you can enjoy your business and your life more fully, go here.

Or, if this resonates with how you want to move and feel, book a Movement Breakthrough Session with me to see if we’re a good match to work together on your bodymind.

What’s your default pattern of getting up and down off the floor? Using a hand? Which one? Going through a squat? What works best? What challenges you? What makes you laugh? I’d love to know. Tell me about in the comments below.

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