Lise Enochsson: Let's dive in. Find your comfortable, free breathing. Check your posture while standing. Now, it's time to explore the limits of your balance, what happens when our balance is challenged, and also try to stimulate symmetry. Being out of balance will otherwise steal valuable energy and create strain. Being out of symmetry - as we often are while playing certain instruments including the harp - doesn't necessarily create the same strain, if our foundation is stable. But we should know what asymmetry feels like compared to symmetry.
Exercise: Find your balance
In standing with your feet firmly planted, let your whole body lean first forward, then slowly, as if tracing a circle, to one side, backwards, to the other side, and forward again. Make big circles, as big as you can and still keep your balance. Then let the circles become smaller, until you find a centre point, where your weight is resting slightly more on the forefoot.
Your weight should now comfortably be going down through your aligned body, within your area of balance, into the ground. This position ideally takes the least amount of energy to maintain while still allowing for both stability and potential for movement. If you don't feel you've achieved this, check your alignment again. Ask a friend to give you a slight shove on your breastbone - if you can resist it, you've found that stable, active stance.
Exercise: Find and stimulate your symmetry
In sitting, check your posture. Your feet should be slightly apart. Then, sway forward and backward, as if rolling back and forth on your sitting bones. Find a comfortable but slightly forward/active position. Now, press one foot hard into the ground, while keeping yourself straight. What happens? Let go. Press the other foot into the ground. Change sides a few times, challenging your symmetry, then relax into a balanced, symmetrical and active position. (Note: This exercise is from the method taught by Jacques Dropsy and is also taught in Basic Body Awareness Therapy).
These exercises are not about going through the motions. They are about building your experience in what it is like to be in balance and in symmetry, and awakening awareness of where you are in relation to your area of balance and in relation to your alignment. Also, if you have been practising your alignment, staying stable while your symmetry is being challenged should be easier.
For the next article by yours truly in this series, we'll bring together what these previous exercises have really been about - what it is we've been building up to all along.