Let’s play catch up…Spinal Roll and Head and Eye Movements

Well, here I am apologizing for neglecting my blog yet again. It is summer, and it is my favorite time of year. The sun is out, the plants are blooming and growing, and the swimming pool is calling my name. It is also the time of year when I make the eight-hour drive to visit my family for a week. All of these things have conspired against me and my upkeep on my Nia blog. So, here is what I have been up to for the last (almost) four weeks.

I have played with three new moves in my 52 week challenge. In the interest of making my blog a little more reader friendly, I will split these moves into two blog  posts. Here are the first two moves I played with:

Spinal Roll: Standing in “A” Stance, inhale deeply and look up and sense the front of your body lengthening and opening. Use your hands for support and slide them down your legs, sinking to a point at which your body says, “Enough, I can’t go farther.” As if you were a rag doll falling asleep, exhale and look toward the earth; then round up, pushing your feet into the floor, while sliding your hands back up your legs to return to a standing posture. Do the whole movement smoothly, and coordinate your leg and spine mobility. IMagine your spine waving like seaweed in the ocean. Sound the word hummm quietly, as your round up, feeling the vibration in your jaw and skull. Focus mentally on energy leaving you as you go downward, and then filling you again as you rise. Benefits: Practicing Spinal Roll keeps your spine strong and flexible. It’s terrific for self-healing the spine and back. 

Head and Eye Movements: Look in any direction with your eyes, as if you were following a butterfly, and then follow that direction with a move of your head. Use your eyes to “seduce” your head, through natural curiosity, into moving. Look, and then move, in all directions. Next, follow a body part, such as your hand, with your eyes. To enhance relaxation, keep your lower jaw slightly open, and let the tip of your tongue press lightly into the roof of your mouth. Now, nod your head, shake it, and roll it. Your head is the heaviest of your body weights, and this move helps you find the proper balance for it, eradicating the tension that comes from holding it upright all day long. As you do the moves, sound yes, no, and maybe exuberantly, tying them to the body language gestures of nodding and shaking your head. Benefits: Practicing Head and Eye Movements teaches you to look wherever you go.
(From The Nia Technique Debbie Rosas and Carlos Rosas).

If you choose to play with me, here are the goals: incorporate the move(s) into one’s daily routine. Use the three planes of movement, high, middle, and low, and the three levels of intensity to gain insight into one’s relationships with this move. Allowing sensation to be our guide, let us seek comfort as we play with agility, mobility, flexibility, stability, and strength. At the end of the week report back on your experiences with this movement or journal about your experiences. Have fun!

So, I last left off with Undulations. I really like this move, and it always reminds me of how important mobility and stability are to the spine. One of my Nia teachers used to end each class with Undulations during floor play, and I loved it so much that I have incorporated Undulations into my own classes during floor play. For years I had lower back pain, and whenever I undulate my spine I remember how thankful I am that back pain is no longer part of my daily life. It is just an added bonus that I get to ask my class to undulate.

Spinal Roll also brings back very vivid memories of my days at Dance Underground in Seattle with my first Nia teachers Dara, Dina, and Barb. I remember how good it felt to roll up my spine one vertebrae at a time, and every time I practice this move, I imagine myself in the twinkly lights of DU. In addition to holding sweet memories for me, this move has also helped me strengthen the muscles that support my spine. As I push through the floor with my feet and roll up one vertebrae at a time, I sense space in my spine and strength in my abdomen. I incorporate this move into most of my classes because it feels so good to me. I used Spinal Roll to pick up items from the floor all week long. It may not be the fastest way to pick up your laundry, but I am certain that it is the most comfortable way.

Finally, we come to Head and Eye Movements. I enjoyed slowing down and sitting in awareness as I let my eyes lead. I spent a week watching my hands complete tasks, following birds with my eyes, and thinking about the subtle difference between letting my eyes move my head and just moving my head. I found that I had to remember to let my eyes lead. So, I add this move to the list of moves that I will intentionally work on and think about.

On to the next few weeks worth of moves!

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