Last week, we took a look at a principle of developmental movement called yielding. It can be a remarkable way to process stress and gather our mental, physical, and emotional resources. Essentially, you are yielding to the support of the earth. You are laying down on your belly and feeling that support beneath you, giving you energy and drawing from it to help you get up.
This week, we’re going to be working with something similar, but a little different. Have you ever felt so tired that you just wanted to collapse into the floor like a ragdoll? When you just want to lay there, unmoving, because you don’t have the energy to get up? This isn’t yielding; this is collapsing. And it can be another effective method of restoring ourselves.
In this exercise, we are going to actually let ourselves to collapse. Like the last one, I want you to get a yoga mat or towel to put beneath us for comfort. Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted for a while and give this a try.
Lay down on your front, facing the floor. Instead of holding ourselves up at all, try to imagine that you collapsed, like you simply had no more energy to give. Once you are lying there, start feeling the physical sensations under you on the surfaces of your body. You want to feel the underside of your hands, your cheek, your forehead, your chest, your pelvis, and even the tops of your legs. Within that sensation, you want to feel the support of the earth underneath you, holding you up. You then want to allow yourself to be cradled and rocked by this support.
Once you’ve sensed this support under you, I want you to take three deep, slow breaths, in and out. By now, you might be able to feel the tone of the front of your body against the mat. As we did in the yielding exercise, you can use this tone to come up, releasing our arms into the floor, and bringing our legs underneath us.
This is only one of the ways that you can find your support under you through collapsing. Another way is to find the support that surrounds you that is always there even when you don’t realize it. Have you ever been in an argument with someone, and you know that you are 100% right, but you cannot convince the other person? Honestly, sometimes it’s best to try to just give up. If you’ve ever raised a teenager, you know what I’m talking about! Rather than continuing to pound your head against an unyielding wall, it can be best to stop to rebuild your support.
Again, lay down a towel or yoga mat and sit down on your knees. It’s time to “rebuild” yourself from the support that is all around you. I like to do it by playing a game of leaning to one side, putting my arm out to find support, then leaning to the other side. You want to continuously collapse, feel the support under your hand, then lean away to another side. I want you to try to feel that support all the way down to the core of the earth. I find the image of the “core of the earth” to be an especially useful one for me.
What is wonderful is, once you get the feel of this in your body, you can explore both of these somatic exercises in new positions: on your side, on your back, on your belly, sitting at your desk, and standing and moving.
These two exercises, both yielding and collapsing, can deliver amazing stress recovery benefits. If one doesn’t quite work for you, try the other. We are all different, and different types of stimuli and support can affect us in various ways. These are just two exercises, but you can find many, many more through our courses here at Whole Body Movement. Please, feel free to explore them!