Reading Time: 3.5 Mins
As the water flows over rocks in a river, you can see the wave rise above it. In a still pond, a pebble disturbing the surface will cause a ripple which will continue outward until it hits something solid and then the vibration reflects backwards. As waves travel through your body, you can feel for areas of tension. Use large waves and shorter waves and alter the frequency and pitch of the vibrations to find areas of hidden tension. As you begin to loosen up, your body will seek an efficient alignment. It is normal to feel some slight tension keeping you out of alignment. You may notice certain muscle groups pulling your body toward the unhealthy postures you might be accustomed to. For those who sit down a lot, the hip flexors tend to be tense, while the abdominal muscles are loose. This tips your hips forward and brings your tailbone back into a posture called lordosis which causes undue strain on the knees and lumbar spine. Everyone has a different lifestyle and unique ways of moving. There are times when you are in a state of poor posture and your body learns to hold these positions. As you return to your natural poise, you will discover that some areas may be too tense, while others are too slack. Once you discover these areas, you can then stretch them or strengthen them depending on what you need. Shaking is a great low impact exercise that loosens, relaxes, sooths and aligns the body.
Exercise: Wind Shakes the Tree
The Chinese say that pain is stagnation: move the stagnation, and the pain goes away. This is an ideal warm up. Even people who are bedridden, but can move a single finger can use this idea to help keep blood circulating. It also lets you release pent up energy. When people feel angry, their instinct is to punch, scratch or climb up a tree. This is why their shoulders develop tension when stressed. They hold this tension in their shoulders which leads to having a stiff neck and a hunched posture. Fear makes people want to run away. That kind of behavior would cause very awkward social situations. As a result, people hold tension in our legs. This leads to muscle tension associated with joint and back problems. After years of unexpressed tension in the legs, people begin to walk like most elderly people. To get a new lease on mobility, free yourself of chronic tension by sighing and shaking.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and straighten your spine. Imagine that the top of your head is suspended from above and that a weight is pulling your tailbone downward. This visual exercise can help to align the spine. Feel your shoulders hang on your spine and slowly begin shaking your arms. Slow down or stop if you feel pain and work your way into it. The purpose is to relax and loosen. Continue until you feel a warm sensation spreading over your upper back and shoulders.
- You can continue shaking your arms and now begin shaking your legs as though you are scared. Tremble and shake the tension out of your legs. If you feel tension stuck in some part of your leg, breath like you are sighing and let the tension so. Continue to shake your legs until the tension is gone and a warm sensation spreads over your lower back.
- Stop shaking your arms and legs for a moment and begin bouncing up and down very gently at a low vibration, increasing the frequency and magnitude as you feel comfortable. As you get used to this you can return to shaking your arms and legs as you see fit. Feel yourself get taller as your spine lengthens. This will help to increase communication between your central and peripheral nervous systems and greatly improve your alignment. Continue with this until you get bored.
- Start to rotate your hips back and forth, beginning slowly and working yourself into a shimmy. Don’t try to shake your arms and legs. By moving from the center, your whole body will move by itself.
- Continue shaking from the waist. Pay attention to the arch of the foot and combine bouncing with shaking. You will notice spirals of force moving through your body. Let them travel through and move you at will. Have fun with it. If you need inspiration, watch video clips of West African religious ceremonies or go to a Southern Baptist church. Move like that, and you won’t have any tension in your body. Slow it down and speed it up as needed. Play with the whole range to better understand relaxation and alignment.
Tree in the wind by Elf-8
Dog shaking by Shehan Peruma
Bear shaking by Tambako The Jaguar
Wind Shakes the Tree-A Good Exercise for Pain and Warm-up by Andrew Miles & Xuelan Qiu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at enlightenweight.com.