Floor Play – Playing with Mobility

This morning’s focus for class was Systemic Integration which is just another way to say ‘moving all your parts as though they’re connected’.

My classes at the Indian Boundary YMCA are in the Fieldhouse – on the basketball courts. This affords us alot of space in which to move.

We began on the floor at one end of the courts using the song One Good Dub. With a piece of music that’s 8 minutes and 15 seconds in length, we had plenty of time to roll, wiggle, shift, undulate, rock, push, pull, ooze, and reach our way to the other end. Before the song was over, we got to our feet and continued to move – in the same way.

I love Floor Play. I love the floor – particularly wood floors and I spend quite a bit of time on the floor in and out of class. I am a devoted student and child of Floor play. My body tells me that the possibilities for fitness, wellness and overall functionality are greater than I’m taking advantage of.

We are built to move on the floor.

The fact that many people over 50 struggle and many over 60 “can’t” is not due to our design. It is due to our culture.

First, we’re an either/or culture. We are conditioned to believe that we only have 2 choices – yes no, black white, creative or not creative, athlete or non-athlete, smart or not smart, dancer non-dancer, strong weak, masculine feminine, young old, red or yellow. Really? Nothing in between? Dance professionally or go home?!?! Create a da Vinci or put away your art supplies!

Each of us is a remarkable blend of traits, characteristics, strengths, and works-in-progress. How does this get back around to Floor Play? Culture took us off the floor and sat us in chairs and other pieces of furniture that doesn’t truly honor our body design. Culture told us that only children sit and play on the floor – and either/or – I am a child and I can sit and play on the floor or I am an adult and I do not. Once deemed an “adult” I begin the slow painful journey to certain loss of mobility and potential illness as a result of poor circulation (since muscles contraction is often directly responsible for blood moving through veins)

I’m very, very fond of the color orange and I think I’ll be an adult who sits and plays on the floor.

I received information through my body during Floor Play today that I had not received this way before. The contrast of moving up on my feet had never been quit so stark. So stark that I guided the class back down to the floor. I felt limited on my feet. I have felt vertical limitation before, as a relatively normal human managing the affects of gravity. I’m not a gymnast or acrobat for Cirque de Soleil so I have some pretty distinct limitations. It was my awareness and sense of my body moving through the usual space that was different.

Floor Play definitely feeds what I do on my feet. If I did not have the relationship with the Earth that I do, I would not be the mover I am on my feet.

Moving on the floor takes a different awareness, perhaps a shift in awareness. My feet are no longer the foundation from which I am moving. This changes how I am in relationship with all of my body parts. When I am on my feet, my feet and legs are under me, my femurs/thighbones suspended from my hip joints and my shin bones (tibia and fibula) rise out of my ankles toward my knee joints. On the floor the relation-ship changes. My leg bones are resting on the earth. The muscles that surround, support and are responsible for vertical leg function now have to adapt. It isn’t strength that is needed for walking, it’s flexibility as muscles are stretched. To create strength requires that I think of my relation-ship with gravity in a different way.

Now my pelvis may be my new foundation, or my hands or perhaps my spine.

After a few minutes, I rediscovered the comfort of moving on my feet and the momentary awkwardness gone.

More deeply I wonder about the correlation between the social expectations of being permanently vertical, our waning relationship with the Earth and the tendency of ours to disconnect mind from body. Considerations for another post…

We began on the Earth and to lose the sense of the Earth as our foundation is to lose ourselves and our ability to move freely on our feet.

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