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Chapter 3 :: Reaching Out        Scroll Down >>>


The purpose of the third section is to release tension in the shoulders, arms, and sides, and to bring vertical alignment to the sides of the torso.


The theme of this section is "Reaching Out." In the context of this section, reaching out has two meanings. The first meaning is that of making contact, giving and receiving, asserting yourself, and asking for what you need. The second meaning involves aggres- sion and the expression of anger. It is no accident that "arms" is another word for weapons. The arms are, therefore, the embodi- ment of both meanings. The sides support the arms in reaching out, and are expressive of support in relationship to others, as in "stand by my side." Do you reach out to others? Is it easier for you to ask for support or to lend it? After the second section - which is about self-sufficiency and being grounded on your own two feet - you now have a solid foundation from which to reach out a make contact with people.


Anatomy and Structure

Anatomically, the focus of this section is on the arms and the side. Note the illustration to the right, of the musculature of the side. An important landmark, the twelfth rib, is enlarged in the illustration. This rib is called a floating rib because one end is attached to the spine while the other end floats freely. The quadratus lumborum muscle goes from this rib to the crest of the pelvis. When this muscle is tight, it may pull the rib down toward the pelvis, causing the appearance of shortness in the waistline. We work to release this muscle and return the twelfth rib to its proper place.

side muscles

side alignment

Structurally, our purpose is to bring vertical alignment to the sides of the torso. This side can be visualized as a "seam" connect the front with the back, as illustrated to the left. Drawing A represents the seam before alignment and Drawing B shows the seam after it is aligned.



In movement, our goal is for you to have more freedom in lateral breathing, or sideways expansion of the rib cage. We also want your arms to hang effortlessly and move freely with gravity, like a pendulum, rather than being held in one position.

Movement Lesson :: Position of the Arms 

The image to the right illustrates three ways in which arms may hang: Drawing A shows arms rotated outward with palms forward, often characteristic of a "helpless" attitude; Drawing B shows palms inward, typical of a military stance; and Drawing C shows elbows out with palms backward. Experiment with letting your arms hang in these different positions. Drawing C shows the most functional way of the three, allowing the shoulder to be used most efficiently in its maximum range of motion. Do not force this change, but become aware of how your arms hang or are held during various activities, and begin to allow this more optimal position to occur.

arm patterns

release your arms

Movement Lesson :: Releasing the Arms and Shoulders

Shrug your shoulders and notice the feeling in your arms. When the shoulders are held in a shrugged position, the arms tend to feel weightless. Now, drop your shoulders and feel the weight of your arms. Allow this weight to relax and release your shoulders and elbows. As you do so, feel the connection of your arms to the trunk of your body. Notice that your torso supports your arms and shoulder blades - your shoulders and neck do not have to tighten to hold them up. As you walk or do desk work, practice feeling the weight of your arms and allowing your shoulders and elbows to relax. This is illustrated in the drawing to the left.

"One of the hardest things to convince people of, is that their arms were meant to hang."  - Joseph Heller
Between Sessions
  • Notice when you are not reaching out for what you want. Become aware of your arms and sides, and notice any tension. Release this tension and then reach out for what you want.
  • Notice when you are holding back anger or frustration. Feel into your arms and sides and notice any tension. Release this tension and see what happens.

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