The instructor, Mary Sinclair captured my interest immediately when she said the goal is to develop a sensory experience with your body, to find the line in your body that best connects you to gravity's force, resulting in comfort, ease and natural strength. I felt another quickening when she relayed that the birth of this movement was in Paris, France at the Institute D'Aplomb. I've just returned from ten days in Paris and have been studying French for about a year. Un autre signe, non?
Mary began with a fascinating series of slides where she pointed out the differences in posture of people in developing countries where about ten to twenty percent of the population have lower back problems, and the posture of people in highly industrialized countries, including the United States, where more than eighty per cent of us have some degree of lower back pain. She used a plumb, a red vertical line, on the slides to emphasize how out of balance we are. Eye opening! She gently reminded us that posture is learned. In other words, habits can be changed. She used models of the pelvic region and a full spinal cord to demonstrate the effect on our spine of out of balance posture. But the best model of balance was Mary herself. She stood with beautiful ease.
In the second part of the session, after talking us through the most beneficial way to stand, rise and return to a chair, and sit, Mary adjusted each person's sitting posture. This was not like a chiropractic adjustment but rather a gentle guiding of the body. She completed the session with a series of movements we could do to gently align the body back to balance or aplomb.
I researched the word aplomb. It came from the French a plomb, literally according to the plummet. Broader definitions include: the vertical position, balance, poise, assurance. What a lovely versatile word.
I am already so much more aware of my position in space, already feeling more connected to the earth's pull, more centered, and yes, more in balance! Thank you Mary.
I'd also like to thank the folks at Yoga Springs Studio for this offering and of course my friend, Lori, for inviting me to join her there. It's lovely to have such a friend.
The following is an excerpt from the Tips section on Mary Sinclair's website:
Have you ever estimated or even thought about how many times you bend forward in one day? The moment your feet hit the floor at the start of your day begins an endless succession of bending just to move through life. We do it so much in fact that we are hardly aware of doing it at all. Most of us even know someone who has “thrown their back out” while bending over.
The next time you need to bend over to pick something up, slow down. Notice your belly, are you holding it in? If you are, let it soften, relax your belly. That’s right, relax your belly. Let that relaxation seep down into your groins and pelvic region, if you need a mental image here think about where your underwear touch the top of your thighs, that’s part of your pelvic region and groins. Right there, relax. Begin to let your pubic bone release through your legs. You want to let the relaxation in your belly transfer to a deep relaxation in your hip joints so that the pelvis may rotate freely over the tops of your thigh bones. When you begin to notice pulling sensations (stretching) on the backs of your thighs, soften your knees forward. Let the weight stay towards the back of your feet in your heels. To put this simply, whatever you are bending towards, your rump moves away from it.