The Bodywork Perspective - the Chest, Sternum, and Pelvis - page 5
Just a note—if you'd like more information on working with the sternum / heart,
I've posted a Heart Meditation (text and mp3) for you to use.
The page also contains information about the Heart Chakra.
Note: When we do Bodywork on the chest, we use downward pressure on the sternum to determine the tension of the chest muscles. When we "simply look," we discover that the sternum can be popped, neutral or indented.
Neutral Sternum – We observe the tightness and position of only one area of the chest – the sternum, or breast bone.
In a neutral position, the sternum sits comfortably in the chest, neither forward nor back.
Interestingly, downward pressure on a neutral sternum causes the breast bone to move slightly down, and to move back to neutral when the pressure is removed. In other words, a mark of a neutral sternum is that it moves freely—it is not constricted by tight ligaments.
The Popped (forward) sternum
Popped Sternum – The sternum is connected to the ribs by ligaments. It is thus able to "float."
Picture the sternum connected to the front ribs by rubber bands. As I said above, neutral sternum will move slightly inward when pressed, perhaps a 1/16 of an inch.
If there is tension in the connective tissue, the rubber bands tighten and tighten, until the sternum seems to be welded to the ribs. Then, something interesting happens.
The sternum pops, or moves, forward. At its most exaggerated, it looks like a shield-shaped bone, protecting the heart.
The Collapsed Sternum
Collapsed Sternum – in some cases, the sternum collapses in, creating a crease or indent where the sternum should be flat.
The meaning of this is clear—it indicates a situation where the person has "had their heart broken." While a popped sternum happens as they "harden their hearts" (actually the ligaments tighten, and the sternum sticks out, protecting the heart from further hurt,) the collapsed sternum shows a giving up (a collapsing inward on themselves.)
In both cases, the person is fearful of loving again.
Of course, to see this, you need to be able to see the upper chest. I recommend looking at people at the beach, to get a sense of the variety of what is possible in this area of the body. Or look in magazines. (I find it amazing how many female actors have a popped or collapsed sternum—acting is a difficult, ego damaging and heart hurting game. It shows.)
As a personal test, beyond looking, place your fingers on your sternum, using both hands. Be sure to be on the sternum, not on the ribs. Gently push in and release. You should feel the sternum move in and out under your fingers, and there should be no discomfort.
In this picture, the person on the left has
a "neutral" small of the back curve.
The person on the right has an excessive curve.
The seat of passion for life is found in the small of the back. In Chinese medicine, the kidneys, located in this region, are seen as the "feet" that propel the body forward. This area, then, is a major centre for "life vitality and pleasure."
The small of the back should have a neutral curve. Too "straight" and passion is blocked through force of will. Too curved and passion is blocked by giving up – collapsing.
We suggest, as we've mentioned, backing up to a wall. Touch your heels, butt, shoulder blades, and back of your head to the wall.
Cross your hands in front of you, as per the photos to the left.
If you (or someone else) reaches behind you, there should be a 1 inch gap between the wall and the small of your back. Too tight, and you might think of yourself as being a bit rigid, as far a s passion for life goes. A large gap might indicate either that you've been studying ballet ;-) or are excessive in your passion for life.
Again, these are hints or guidelines, not rigid facts.
The pelvic area is the source of passion. The back pelvic area, as per above, is the home of passion for life. The front of the pelvis is home for sexual passion. The heat of the pelvis needs somewhere to go; you always, in Bodywork, open the pelvis last. More on that later.
I indicated in Body Tilt (see this section) that the pelvis should be in a neutral position front to back. The pelvis should also move freely. You can observe this by watching the person walk.
There should be an easy flow of movement, not rigidity, in the pelvis.
Tilt of the Pelvis, high to right or left, viewed from front
Tipped – as above, for the shoulder.
If the right side is high, this would indicate an excess of yang, male sexual energy. If the left side is high, an excess of yin or female sexual energy.
Again, every tilt is compared to "neutral," so knowing what a neutral pelvis looks like is a starting place.
The Pelvis, tilted either back or front, when viewed from the side
Pelvis Tilted Back
As to tilt, you can determine position two ways – by looking at the front of the pelvis or the butt.
If the butt is back, creating a round derriere, we know that the genitals are also back. It’s as if the person is hiding their genitals by pulling them back.
This is a marker of sexual insecurity, shyness or embarrassment, and is the typical pelvis position for Westerners.
Pelvis Tilted Forward
The opposite tilt will cause the butt to look small, "boy-like," and of course, the genitals are thrust forward. This is a position of sexual comfort and perhaps aggressiveness sexually.
Fashion magazines featuring both North American and European models will often show these tilts. North Americans tend to be from "Puritan stock" – even those who immigrate, over a generation, will begin to pull the pelvis back. In North America, the pelvis is often tipped back.
In Europe, where there is more comfort with the body and sexuality is freer, the pelvis is often tilted forward.
The Pelvis is completely relaxed. The genitals are in a neutral position, and there is freedom of movement in the pelvic region. You can test this in the next section!
Moving The Pelvis - testing for freedom of movement
As a test, move your pelvis. Rock it forward and back. The movement should feel even; as if your pelvis can move in either direction equally.
If you notice more movement forward than back, you can rest assured your pelvis is normally back.
If you notice more movement back than forward, your pelvis is normally forward.
Rock your pelvis in a circle, like doing a hula. Also rock it from side to side. Again, use the pelvic muscles, not the legs to make this movement. You're looking for ease and flow of movement.