The problem here is getting our support bones on a single line. Because in modern postures the pelvis (the center of the body) has moved away from the center, the center has to be recentered. To recenter your pelvis, do the following: stand with your heels five inches apart-farther apart if you are tall. (If you prefer anatomical directions, place your heels directly under the heads of your femurs.) The feet should not be parallel but slightly V'd, so place your big toes seven inches apart.



Move your pelvis back and the top of your torso forward, and look down at the front of your ankles. Pause. Feel the soles of your feet and notice where you feel the most pressure. Let 90 percent of your body weight sink into your heel bones. Relax your belly, and soften the muscles of your lower back. Relax your buttock muscles. Are your knees locked or bent? If they are locked, flex them slightly. If they are bent, straighten the knees until the muscles in the thighs relax.

Let's apply these guidelines to the young woman in Fig. 3. Her pelvis tilts posteriorly (backward), and the tops of her legs slant anteriorly (forward). Her legs are not vertical. The curves in her spine at the lower and upper back and the neck are too pronounced. Her knees are locked.

To move into balance, she must move the tops of her legs back and the top of her torso forward. Now she can look down at her ankles. She must relax her belly and flex her knees slightly. These moves redistribute her body weight toward balance. Her legs are vertical, as demonstrated by the plumb line (Fig. 6), which falls from the center of her hip through the center of her knee to the front of her ankle.

Conventional directions tell us to lift the chest to straighten the spine, but look at what happens when the model's chest lifts (Fig. 7). The mid-spine slants backward and moves away from the axis. Her spine becomes more curved, the opposite of the result we want. Her weight distribution changes, and her legs are no longer vertical, as evidenced by the plumb line. To straighten the spine, the chest has to drop. This brings length to her lower back and places much of the mid-spine onto the same axis as her pelvis and legs.

To summarize, to stand in balance: stand with your heels about five inches apart, your toes seven inches apart. Move the tops of your legs back, the top of your torso forward, and look down at the front of your ankles. Feel 90 percent of your body weight in your heels. This weight distribution indicates that your legs are vertical. If your knees are locked, bend them so the knees are slightly flexed. If your knees are bent, straighten them so the muscles in your thighs relax.

Relax your abdominal muscles. Release the muscles in your lower back. Relax your buttocks, and let your buttocks have weight (do not lift your buttocks up). In your chest, fold down under your breast. Allow the muscles in your back to completely relax. For contrast, go ahead and lift your chest up. Feel how this move compresses, squeezes your lower back. Feel how the muscles at your lower back tighten.

If you are following these directions right now, stop for a moment and let me explain something about the human spine that will help you give in to dropping your chest down. Look at the drawing of a lumbar vertebra. (Fig. 8) The vertebra is placed on the page in the same direction that it lies inside you. When you put your fingertips on your back and palpate your spine, what you feel is the spinous processes. These are the branches of bone that protrude at the back of the vertebral bodies, and as you can see they are not made for weight bearing. Where the spine bears weight is at the front of the vertebrae, in the vertebral bodies, which are shaped a bit like drums with flat surfaces at top and bottom. The vertebral bodies are almost at the core of your torso, and since they are flat on the top and the bottom, common sense tells us how to align them to bear weight most easily-flat surface upon flat surface upon flat surface.
Next Page: "Working with a Plumb Line to Measure Balance" 1, 2, 3, 4, 5