I’m enjoying watching The Great Pottery Throw Down. In one episode the potters were trying ingenious methods to try to support their two-feet high Greek style statues. The soft clay of the legs was unable to support the weight of the torso. The legs needed to be dried until they became stiff enough to hold up the body. But as living beings, do we need our legs to be stiff in order to stay upright?
I had an Alexander Technique lesson with Elisabeth Walker when she was in her eighties. Apart from the tremulous yet powerful contact of her hands, the thing I remember is something she said.
Don’t think that your legs are supporting the weight of your back. Instead think that your back is holding you up and your legs are dangling underneath.
Floating face down in the water gives us a good opportunity to experience this. When we trust the buoyancy of our torso, we can allow everything else to dangle – head, arms and legs. You can appreciate this best if you play around with a mushroom or jellyfish float.
And face up, if you offer your back for the water to support, your head and limbs can float out and upwards from this buoyancy. Try a bit of lazy Old English backstroke to experience this.
Finding this freedom on land may not be so easy but practising in the water – connecting with the back in order to free up head, arms and legs – can help you get in touch with the support the back naturally provides.
Then you can tune into the energy (life) running upwards through your spine to find some buoyancy on land, or at least a bit of a spring in your step.