Today we’re going to work on turning over. As I said in the introduction, the basics will seem very simple at first. To see the fruits of these practices, it’s important to commit to doing them with regularity, and to engaging in an active inquiry into the task at hand with a genuine interest in discovery.
Here are some examples of the kind of questions you can ask yourself: How can I make my movement smoother? Am I relaxed? What resistance do I feel to moving on a hard surface? Is my breathing continuous or are there interruptions? How much residual tension am I holding from one movement to the next? Why do I feel bored or anxious?
We’re just getting started, but these basic exercises and the attitude of inquiry that goes with them are fundamental to the process as we go forward. Eventually, within these very simple activities, it’s possible to find infinite depth and great insight.
STEP BY STEP
1. Lie down on the ground and get comfortable.
2. On the inhale or exhale, turn over, front to back, side to side, by leading with different parts of the body. For example start the movement with a hand, elbow, shoulder, foot, knee, hip, or the head, chest, back, and so on. The rest of the body follows, like links in a chain being pulled by the part that initiates the movement.
3. Check yourself to make sure that small amounts of residual tension aren’t being held between movements, or building up over a series of movements. If necessary, slow down and take a few breaths at each stop to ensure maximum relaxation.
a. This exercise is an extension of Lesson 1 and the two exercises go together. One focuses on finding maximum relaxation in a variety of static positions, and the next focuses on moving smoothly between these positions without any buildup of tension.
b. Just like Ground Checks, it’s good to try this practice on different surfaces: hard wood, tile, concrete, carpet, mats, dirt, rocks, inclines, et cetera, and to add a variety of obstacles.
c. Mold your body to the ground, being careful to move in such a way that soft body part contact hard surfaces and bony parts are not knocked against hard surfaces. Any pain or discomfort is telling you something. Don’t ignore it.
d. Again this can be used as a bit of a warm-up or as the primary focus of practice.
Turning over smoothly is not just a matter of relaxation. Relaxation will help you to feel what’s going on inside yourself. But don’t stop there.
Usually, there are spikes in localized muscle tension throughout our movement. There are also spikes in psychological tension when we decide to move, initiate movement, and if we experience any discomfort or inhibition.
To turn over smoothly, all these various tensions have to be ironed out and redistributed throughout the body, the mind, and the movement. Relax and slow down so you can notice tension spikes and jerky movement. Allow any tensions that arise to spread out over larger and larger areas, even beyond the body and the mind. Eventually this can lead to insight into how to move and live without any tension at all.
Every day for 1 week, spend 10 minutes working on ground checks and turnovers. For deeper practice double the times to 20 or even again to 40 minutes.
Again, maintain focus on the work. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to the work at hand. Each time you turnover, check yourself to see that no tension is building up during or between movements. Inhale into tension and exhale release, just as in Lesson 1.
preview | introduction | 1 ground checks | 2 turnovers | 3 crawling | 4 push-ups | 5 rolls | 6 sit-ups | 7 transitions | 8 squats | 9 jogging | 10 free move | 11 walking | 12 recovery | comprehensive practice