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Chapter 6 :: Holding Back        Scroll Down >>>


The purpose of the sixth section is to lengthen the back of the core.


The theme of this section is "Holding Back," which literally describes tension or holding in one's back, and figuratively describes the ways we limit our self-expression, power, and creativity. These limits are physically embodied as tension in the extensor muscles along the spine. In the process of growing up, most of us develop patterns of holding back that may seem necessary, such as not speaking or moving during school or not fully expressing our excitement or sadness. Now these same patterns, chronically ingrained in our character, limit our expression of love, power, and creativity. What expression or emotion do you hold back? How do you hold back your power? As the tension in your back releases, whatever has been held back - love, anger, joy, sadness - can begin to emerge, giving you a new opportunity to express and communicate more freely.

spinal muscles

spinal balance

Anatomy and Structure

Anatomically, we focus on the back of the core, from the heels to the neck. The spine is the central feature of the back of the core. It is surrounded and supported by a netting of muscles called the erector spinae: powerful, intrinsic muscles which function to keep the spine erect. They are pictured above.

Structurally, the purpose of this section is to lengthen the back of the core. The spine can be likened to the mast of a ship, supporting the weight of the upper body in the way that a mast supports its sails. When the spine rests on a balanced pelvis, it stays vertical and the forces on each side are in equilibrium. This is shown as figure A in the illustration above. When the pelvis is uneven, the spine curves in response. If the imbalance persists, the connective tissue begins to glue the spine into an imbalanced and increasingly rigid position such as occurs in scoliosis (an "s" curve of the spine). This is shown in figure B. In this section, we work to release the tensions which produce these curves and thus bring more length to the spine.



In movement, our goal is for your spine to be fluid and flexible, and to release and lengthen in bending, walking, and swaying movements. We are looking for movement to originate in the core and then move out through the whole body.

whip movement
Movement Lesson :: Undulation

The undulation movement resembles the wave motion that moves along the length of a cracking whip, shown to the right. Undulation of the spine is a natural movement pattern that most of our bodies have forgotten. It requires the effective functioning of all of the core muscles along the spine. The undulation movement can be restored through practice. Begin by sitting on a chair on your sit bones (see Section 1). Let your spine sway from side to side like a willow in the wind, as shown in the illustration below. Imagine that you are being pulled from side to side by a string that attaches to the center of your chest. Let the rest of your body relax and simply respond to this movement. Remember to release your neck. How does this motion feel? Undulation brings great flexibility and fluidity to the spine.


Undulation can also be practiced moving from front to back. Work with your Practitioner on the undulation movement, and practice it between sessions.
Between Sessions

Notice how you hold back, when you don't want to be "up-front," and how that causes you to "put up a good front." Notice where you are holding back your emotions or not expressing yourself. Experiment with relaxing, taking a breath into your back, and allowing whatever emotion is present to emerge.

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