I met Maya, Esther's daughter and the teacher of this weekend's workshop, yesterday. This is a good prompt to write more notes for Nagle - or rather, using Nagle as an excuse to write more notes for myself. Taking a note from Nagle, here are photographs. As going shirtless is not as socially appropriate for me, these photos are a little less informative. It'll come as no surprise that my default posture is... well, let's insert your favorite negative adjective here, shall we?
The right two pictures are same as the left two, with some annotations (line of hips, as indicated by the waistband of my jeans; vertical line drawn from my heels, tilt of head as inferred by the angle of my glasses (which weren't repositioned on my nose between photographs, so this should be relatively accurate). On the left of each two-photo set is my usual slump. On the right is me attempting to tallstand (a technique from Esther's book).
When I tallstand:
- I'm taller! (Not as much as the photo shows. The camera is also shifted a little.
- Weight shifts towards my heels; I feel more balanced, like there's less muscular effort holding me upright. There still is muscular effort, though, and plenty of it. A lot of that muscular effort seems to come from my quads.
- My pelvis is a little more anteverted...
- ...but I think I might be curving my lower back inwards and compressing it a little in order to antevert my pelvis. I've worked to minimize a lower back compression, and mostly gauge my progress by how tall I am, but I don't know if this is as good as it can get, or if there are other adjustments I should make (and how to get somatic feedback on them).
- My sternum definitely feels more open, even if my shoulders only roll back that far (they've gotten better in the last 2 weeks, so you can imagine how they started out).
- My head tilts back more, but not enough. My neck won't straighten more than that - the muscles are too tight. As best as I can identify them, the culprits are my sternocleidomastoids, levator scapulae, subclavius, maybe my scalenus anterior, and the traps and pecs in general (more pecs, I think). This note might be something to take to Abi. This is based on my observations that the stretch/tension when I tallstand (or roll my shoulders back in general) seems to lie below my clavicle, between my sternum and behind my ears (the back of the jaw), down the back sides of my neck radiating up into the base of my skull, and directly in front of my shoulder (the space between and directly below my glenohumeral and sternoclavicular joints).
So, more concretely, questions:
- Have I missed or misidentified any likely culprits on the long list of suspected tight muscles? What kind of self-care can I do to release them? (Definitely also an Abi question.)
- How do I get feedback/correction on not "crunching" my lower back while tallstanding?
- Since tight muscles mean there's a pronounced forward cantilevering jut in my neck (that shouldn't actually be there) for a little while longer, how can I best hold my head to help adjust it in the right direction as my muscles loosen? If I tried to make my chin level, it'd jut forward more; what's a good compromise?
- I've been having a hard time monitoring my neck alignment in general, since you can't see a mirror you're facing sideways to. Aside from having other people take photos, what can I do? I'd love for this to be kinesthetic rather than visual feedback. Note also that my shoulders are still tight enough that raising my hand to my neck to feel it changes the way I carry my neck, so that may not work so well.
- Should my quads be activated while standing? If not, how can I release them without feeling like I'm going to topple over?
I'm starting to get to the limitations of how far I can learn about this for myself, which is great, because tomorrow is the start of the workshop, and my questions list is slowly falling into place.