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Moving While Standing Still: An Awareness Through Movement® lesson

By Robbie Ofir, PhD, PT

Find a short stool, a thick phone book, or use a stairway step about 6 inches high and stand in front of it. Place your right foot on the stool/book/step and place your hands lightly on a credenza, or some other supporting surface, such as the back of a sturdy chair, for balance. Imagine that you have a small hula hoop surrounding your left knee, close to it but not touching it. Now start moving your knee in a circular fashion as if to touch the inner circumference of the little hoop. Round and round, slowly and gently, and gradually more accurately as a circle. Keep going, and notice if you selected a circle counterclockwise or clockwise.

After a minute or two, or less if you have any discomfort, stop briefly for a short 20-30 second rest and reverse the direction of the circles you had been doing. Do this for about another minute while paying attention to the motion of your pelvis, then of the length of your spine, including your head. Ask yourself if you are breathing continuously. When you stop, take your foot off the stool and walk around the room for a minute paying attention to whatever you may be sensing/feeling that is in any way different from what you are accustomed to feeling when you walk.

Return to the same starting position. Now focus on the sole of your left foot and see if you can visualize the circumference of the sole of your foot, its outline so to speak. Now think that the bottom rim of the sole of your foot has chalk on it, and you want to imprint that outline on the floor without smudging. Start pressing the bottom pads of your toes, one after the other, onto the floor (lightly) and continue the imprinting round the rest of the rim of the foot, round and round, without lifting any part of your foot off the floor. All you are doing is changing the pressure gradient. As you do this, continue visualizing your foot, sensing the relation of the foot movement to your ankle movement, and to your knee and hip, and pelvis. Sense each toe separately. Can you sense the roundness of your heel, the outside lateral aspect of your foot at the bottom? Did you choose to make clockwise or counterclockwise circles? Please stop, remove your foot from the stool and walk about for a minute, here again comparing what you sense now to what you sensed earlier. Is anything different? If so, what is different?

Now return to the same position and repeat the foot imprinting, but in the reverse direction from the earlier one. Pay attention to all the earlier mentioned details. Are you holding your breath at any phase of the circling?

When you are done, step off, walk around, and sense what is different in your walk. Is there a difference between your left and right sides? How is your sense of balance? How grounded do you feel? Do you feel shorter/taller/lighter/heavier? Finally, go back to the same position and make the same circles with your knee as you did originally, just a few circles in one direction, then reverse. What’s different?

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