When we’re very young we draw stick men and women. Even as children we know they’re not how we actually are, but they’re nice and simple and just drawings after all. As we grow up and go through enormous physical changes. Our legs, arms, spine – well everything – grow at different rates and ages, which can make us quite clumsy as teenagers. Thankfully the changes usually level off once we’re in our twenties. In the process we can become quite disconnected from our bodies, and we may not fully update our stick man drawings of ourselves once things plateau. The effect can be for us to do things with our bodies differently to how they actually are designed. Let’s look at the sketches to get explain.
Stuck with the Stickman
The sketches on the left there’s no neck and no width to the torso across the shoulders or the hips. It’s like they’re less than two dimensional, nearing one dimension! Imagine trying to walk with the idea that our legs join our torsos at a single point on our spine. Or when we’re sitting, the idea of balancing on the tip of a pencil, having to hold ourselves up as we feel we’re about to topple over.
Here’s a little experiment for you.
Sit down and imagine that you are actually balancing on the bottom of your spine, with your legs joining there too, like in the sketch.
How do you feel with this thought? How stable are you? Are you holding your breath? How true does this feel? Is there anything else you’re noticing?
Moving to the right of the sketches, I refined my chirpy chappy by kindly giving him a neck and curved hips. It’s still very rudimentary but he’s starting to fill out a bit. In the far right drawing I added circles for where there are major joints are. These refinements in effect add a collar bone across top of the chest and the legs join the hips which connect to the spine. The figure is now two Dimensional. Notice I’ve drawn the feet with the heels slightly behind the ankle joint, so the toes are coming forward in space and the heels back, which hints to the third dimension.
Try another experiment.
Again sit down and notice what part of your hips is supporting you on the chair. You may want to ‘sit on your hands’ to feel the bones pressing through, to make it easier. There’s a distance between those two bones, about the length of your index finger. So it’s not a point you’re balancing on, but more of a structure with width.
How do you feel having this support? How stable are you? Are you breathing differently? Is there anything else you’re noticing?
Go back to thinking that it is just the bottom of the spine supporting you and notice any differences with how you are.
Stay with that a moment.
Updating the Map
We all have an unconscious map of the relationship between all our body’s parts, which science calls a schema. It’s made up of all the information that pours into our brains and throughout our nervous systems. These comes from our sense organs, but also from the nerves sending the ever changing state of tension of our hundreds of muscles. However, if our body map is wrong, like when we think our legs join our torsos at a point like on the basic stick man, it can really effect the way we use ourselves. Doing this experiments above may have given you an insight into this. Look at the bones of the hips to the right, to find out where the sitting bones are that are supporting you. They’re part of the hip bones, which are the biggest bones in our body. Notice how the hip joints are above the sitting bones, so our legs are free to move, even when we’re sitting. Our bodies are very obliging, they obediently try and do what we tell them, however awkward or bizarre. So, the better our body map, the easier our bodies can carry out our requests (and demands!). When we actually start looking at a skeleton we can start to get to know ourselves, both it’s limitations but also it’s amazing possibilities.
Overlaying the Map
In the 2nd workshop of the course starting on 8th March, I’ll to give you a chance to experience your body maps, and to start updating them as necessary.
Looking at a skeleton is one thing, but integrating that knowledge into our of bodies can really empower. We can have more confidence in our bodies, by directly experiencing how our skeleton is capable of supporting us, muscles moving us and everything coming together to adapt to all the activities we want to achieve.
On my courses this is all done through fun, simple games and exercises.
Come along at 7:30pm on Wednesday and find out about your self, for yourself!
A nice little activity to find out about how we’re put together, is to learn to draw stick men and women. You find out about how we’re proportioned and where our joints are.
This tutorial give a good introduction: How to Draw a Stick Figure