Did you know that as an embryo your arms developed before your legs did? Or that your heart was beating and developing before your brain was even on the horizon?
I didn't until I studied this video the other week. It's fascinating stuff. Have a look!
It gave me a new perspective on movement and my interest in bringing our own patterns back to the essence of who we are.
The arms essentially originate from the heart, and come straight out of the body and around it. It looks like a big hug to me! A huge big hug from the heart saying "Here I am world". This really interested me as I thought about how we use, or don't use, our arms to express our heart.
Arms are a tremendous source of our expression. When I see someone talking passionately I often notice the use of their arms to add more vigour and depth to their subject. As they get more involved in their subject the gesticulations can get bigger, involving the whole of their arms, the space around them and eventually the whole of their body. I see it as a real symbol of talking from the heart. I often admire this sight as I 'found' my arms quite late in life. I never crawled, so never developed the full function of weight bearing on them. That coupled with being a shy, unconfident and fearful child meant that I either kept my arms by my side, or hanging onto my mother's hand for reassurance. Even during my pilates training I hated learning the upper body exercises with the group as I felt so exposed and vulnerable. Rationally I knew this was ridiculous, but emotionally it was very real for me.
I think that in some ways many of us have lost the full expression of our arms. We spend a lot of time with little gadgets in our hands, working away with great finger dexterity, but keeping our arms quite close in to our body and expressing through our gadgets rather than with our body. Very often I hear people telling me that their shoulders or arms are weak. My feeling is that arms and shoulders are often restricted from movement, natural movement, and simply moving them more to begin with starts to unlock some of the strength within, which can then be channelled into more specific movements and activities as they start to find some freedom.*
For me, an 'arm-shy' mover, I took things slowly to begin with and I became curious to the movement. I pushed things and I pulled things. I tried swinging my arms more when I walked and using them a little more when explaining things. I also threw them about a bit in the privacy of my own room while playing music (I believe it's called dancing!).
What I did discover is that moving my arms gave me a real sense of joy. Give me a down dog in yoga and I'm a happy bunny. Let me hug those I love and I sigh with bliss. When I exercise my arms now I have a sense of strength that my legs have never given me.
What I love more than anything about this embryology video therefore is the very real and original connection that our arms have with our heart. The arms' movement comes from the heart, both literally and metaphorically. And when I close my eyes and imagine my movement as an embryo, discovering and then extending my arms from my centre, before I was even conscious of it, I can't help but feel a deep sense of internal power, growth and potential. It connects me deeply with my essence and taps into a part of me that I very rarely consider. I find that exciting!
If you're arm-shy in any sense, close your eyes and picture yourself as this embryo (you WERE an embryo once!), feel your arms developing and giving you form. Feel them growing from your heart and your essence. What do those arms say? What do you want them to do? Where are they being restricted?
You may come up with some amazing new insights about yourself! I know I did!
CT :-) x
* certain shoulder pathologies may need more formal and individualised guidance to movement
I am Caroline Toshack. Movement is my passion, my mirror, my creative source and outlet. I am a therapist, coach, educator, geek, yogi, mover and creative who loves getting muddy on her bike, running in the hills and having pyjama days.