Listening To The Body

The body says what words cannot.” Martha Graham

Photo by Kelvin Valerio on

Try this: stand with your feet about hip width apart, not too wide and not right next to each other. Close your eyes if you are comfortable and lean forward onto the balls of your feet until you feel you’re at the edge of your balance. Feel the tension in the back of your legs? Now lean backward and do the same thing. Find the edge of your balance and notice the tension in the front of your legs or maybe your ankles. Wherever you feel it is fine. Just notice it.  Now lean forward again, a little less this time and then back again a little less. Continue moving gently forward and back, less and less until you come to a place where you feel balanced over your feet with no tension in the front or back of your legs. Notice how your feet feel. You’ve just listened to your body.

Next, choose one of your arms and let your hand float up and away from your shoulder making a circle as if you were swimming the back stroke. Go slowly and notice how it feels as it moves through the arc. If you feel any pain or discomfort shorten your arc, change the angle of your arm.You may feel is a little light tension as you move through some spots. Allow your head and eyes to follow your hand as it moves and keep your eyes closed. Now reverse the circle and move as if you were swimming forward. Again just notice and adjust until you find a path that provides a gently tension but no pain or discomfort. You’ve just listened to your body.

Now, with your feet still hip width apart, place one hand on your belly button and one hand on your back. Breathe, gently and notice the movement in the space between your hands. Take a few breaths. Put your hands either side of your torso at the bottom of your rib cage and continue to breath gently. Notice what happens to the space between your hands now. You’re listening to your body 

Learning to listen to our bodies is fundamental to creating health and well-being and even sustainable performance. We pay attention to how much weight we lift or how far or fast we run but without listening to the body we have no context in which to interpret what we’re doing or how we’re doing. 

One of the surprising benefits of working with clients online in their homes the past month has been the way it removes so many of the distractions of a club or gym setting. No loud music, no background chatter, no one asking if you’re done with the equipment or just interrupting to say hi. Those aren’t bad things but when we remove them we can begin to pay attention to what’s actually happening in our body as we move. We become aware and in tune in new ways. I find many clients much more aware. Slowly we can adjust to expand, adapt, and get even more from our movement.  

As we move through our current reality, where the old spaces and places and routines are momentarily unavailable, I invite you to pause, breathe, even close your eyes where that’s possible. Let your attention rest on and in your body and see what you notice. The great American dancer and choreographer Martha Graham said, “ The body says what words cannot.” What is your body telling you? 

Photo by Engin Akyurt on


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