The human pelvis, seen from above. The back of the body is on top, the front, on bottom. (The spine, if pictured, would come up from the platform labeled 2.)

The human pelvis, seen from above. The back of the body is on top, the front, on bottom. (The spine, if pictured, would come up from the platform labeled 2.)

See that little bone in the middle of the pelvis (labeled 7 in the picture)? That’s a tailbone (coccyx), and contemplating its forward curve recently spawned a whole series of realizations and explorations in my life and teaching. Over the course of about a month, I have revised considerably my conception of posture and movement. All from paying attention to a body part I had always considered inconsequential!

I have developed a particular way of including the tailbone in my whole-body awareness that, despite its simplicity, reorganizes my body instantaneously for increased power, ease, and efficiency of movement. Using the new protocol, I have noticed more balance and stability in my posture—sitting, standing, and moving. I have enjoyed decreased tension in my neck, the elimination of a long-standing knee pain and instability issue, and even increased confidence. My breaths are coming in spontaneously—my lungs filling to capacity in an instant and silently. I can access a new sense of calm, imperturbability, and presence. Also, my shirts no longer fit well because of the increased breadth of my back and shoulders.

Lucky for me my partner is a master at sewing. New shirts, please!

I think it took this long for me to arrive at what feels like a physiological truth because, when I employ the new protocol, I feel bizarrely hunched in my posture. I keep stealing glances of myself in every available mirror to reassure myself that I do not in fact look like a Neanderthal. I’m starting to actually enjoy the sensation of being a burly boxer or wrestler. (You are likely to recognize me when we next meet: I still look like a non-burly bookworm or clarinet player.)

The students I have initiated into my new way of thinking have also come up against the strangeness of the sensations that arise. But they immediately understand how the new way of using their bodies benefits them in many ways. People have mostly responded with a giddy sense of new possibility. And I am giddy from discovering how easy it has been for me to convey something so profound to others.

In that sense, this new discovery differs greatly from the Alexander Technique, the principles of which I’ve often found difficult to describe and elusive to bring about in new students. (I’m wondering if what I am working out these days is not actually what F.M. Alexander discovered over 100 years ago, but which got garbled over time by his followers. Including me.)

In my next post I will discuss the effects of my new tailbone awareness on breathing, which has been for me the most exciting development.

6 Comments

  1. Great, exploratory post Michael!

    • Michael Hanko says:

      Thanks! It reflects the greatness and exploratoriness (I just made up a word, apparently) of our collegial exchanges, Mark. So much of what we accomplish in our separate practices can be traced to the regular exploring you and I do together. What a gift!

  2. Beth Kling says:

    Michael, I have been attentive to this new orientation since our lesson this past week and also have noticed the increased ease and strength it has afforded me. It feels so natural — breathing is easier, movements flow more easily. It seems to be the way my body wants to be, and if I just go with it, I have less strain and more power. Thank you!

    • Michael Hanko says:

      That’s great feedback, Beth! Thanks for providing support for these concepts. I look forward to seeing where you’ve gone with this by the time you come to your next lesson.

  3. Can’t wait to hear even more. For a person about to start in the field of occupational therapy where ‘activities of daily living’, basically everything we do, is impacted by the way we are upright-standing, this is truly fascinating.

    • Michael Hanko says:

      I love how we’re both—though in very different fields—engaged in helping people find their best selves. Thanks for reading….and stay tuned for more!

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