Ever feel like the weight of the entire world is on your shoulders? It’s like there is so much pressure on you that you want to, well, crawl into bed? I think we’ve all been there. What makes it even worse is when someone tells us to “just relax” because “being that tense isn’t useful.” Doesn’t that drive you crazy?
This is a movement principle called yielding. Yielding allows us to actively respond to gravity. When we are yielding we can feel and respond to the tone in our body, especially the tone of the surface of our body that is in contact with the floor. It underlies all of the movements that we do as adults. Yielding is a principle of developmental movement, which are movement sequences that we learn and hopefully integrate as we are growing up. Yielding can also help us relate to others, be more easy-going, and feel more support from the environment and our relationships.
When yielding, rather than “relax,” as some suggest, it can actually be much more useful to put MORE energy into our body. You want to squeeze your body super tight, putting tension everywhere, coming into deep contact with your joint receptors… and then slowly release that tension until we start to feel support from the surface below us. It doesn’t matter whether you are laying, sitting, or standing. It’s about gathering all of our energies together, tensing up, and then squeezing inwards, like we are a little seed. Then release.
If you want to experience this kind of movement and how it can help you manage your stress and tension, I have an exercise that you can do from home! All you need is a blanket or yoga mat. Put it on the floor, then lie on your belly. Start to tense up your entire body. Your toes and fingers. Your hips and your belly. Your back and your face. Tense it all, squeezing tight. And then, very slowly, release all of that tension to a count of 10. You eventually want to find yourself completely flat, with the surface of your hands, chest, the fronts of your legs and arms, and your face and cheek firmly against the floor.
Now, it’s time to ask yourself some questions. What does the surface of your hands feel like on the floor? What about the surface of your feet? Your belly? Can you feel all of that support below you? Can you feel how the floor is supporting all of that weight?
Once you’ve relaxed into that, have an image of the earth beneath the mat. Go down deep into the very core of the earth. Now, imagine dropping a ball down to the core. Imagine it rebounding up to come under the surface of your body and support you as you lie there. Enjoy that support
Finally, let that rebound go underneath your hands so they push into the surface of the mat to lift you up. Then push into the front of your legs and your belly until you are finally sitting up. Even now that you are sitting, try to feel the lower surface of your body against the floor and how that can yield into the earth.
This really flips the whole, “world on your shoulders” idea on its head. Rather than you supporting the earth, let the earth support you. Yield into it through this exercise and you will find that your day might just become a bit more manageable.
And this is only the first part of this exercise! Next week, I am going to be explaining how to balance your body tone if you are exhausted or are experiencing a lack of energy. Stay tuned!