The purpose of this blog is to expose this beautiful concept of restful and curious embodied movement (play) while attempting to decouple our habitual activities and postures from our daily routines. Before the advent of comfortable furnishings and particularly the “tyrannical 90 90” chair, man has been lounging around/resting in and about his environment for thousands of years. This has involved situating the body in multitudes of postures, with joints at various angles, muscles and fascias in various conformations (states of contraction, relaxation or stretch) to be comfortable and engage in the environment.
Dr Philip Beach an Osteopath and Author has elaborated on a few archetypal rest postures which are positions or alignments of our body which encourage full joint ranges of motion, useful co-contractions of muscles to hold postures which have a mobilising and stretching effect on joints, myofascia and viscera. Many of these movements or postures are part of our neuro-developmental movement sequences (The sequence that happens to and for every developing infant through the first year of their life). It is important to note that there is very little which is new in terms of movement and these postures or positions are ancient. Yoga practitioners may claim these to be yoga, martial artists may claim these to be martial arts conditioning, these claims are true and also partial.
In a sense Archetypal Rest Postures are a way of toning, tuning and resetting our body using the ancient deeply wise patterns or programs that we as humans have utilised for millennia. They are empowering in that they don’t require external agents (practitioners) or manipulations to create positive change in the body.
Some of the postures are:
The Deep Squat
Great for activating and mobilising the posterior chain. Deeply stretching and bending the knee, hip and ankles while allowing the spine the experience of comfortable forward bending.
Deeply stretching and mobilising the foot and ankles and quadriceps, while allowing the spine a calm centered uprightness.
Half Kneeling
Long Sitting and Tailor Sitting
Powerful stretch of the hamstrings and comfortable resting of spine in forward bend.
Side Saddle Posture
Cross Legged Sitting
Resting in or moving through one or many of these postures is a powerful way to mobilise, stretch, strengthen and vivify the body.
General rules for these moments are:
To be gradual and gentle in getting into them and out of them.
To breathe consciously and deeply (see upcoming Breathwork article) throughout the movement/posture.
To be mindful of where the movement touches, accesses and stretches.
To be playful with allowing other movements (e.g. stretch you arms overhead in a squat) while you are in an Archetypal Resting Posture.
To respect the experience of pain and recognising the edge of pain. Not forcing through but building tolerance to some mild discomfort.
To repeat them many times through the day (not as a chore but as if you were re-acquainting yourself with a long lost friend – kindly and respectfully).