This month’s focus, the upper arm bones, is particularly fascinating. The upper arm bones attached to the shoulder and elbow joints are structurally designed to serve you in practical and creative ways. There’s nothing more beautiful than a man or a woman expressing physical grace. Read on to learn how awareness of your upper arm bones can turn moving into the sensation of dynamic flying.
We’re excited to feature articles by Debbie Rosas and Megan MacArthur.
Debbie Rosas, Nia Co-Creator, says:
This month we focus on the upper arm bone. It’s a part of the body I got to know well as a teenager playing the flute as a member in the orchestra and marching band. Yes, I said “marching band.”
Marching in a band requires stamina, skill, timing, and for a flute player, it requires the skill of knowing how to functionally hold and support your instrument with ease. As a flute player, it means using the upper arm bones correctly. I was lucky. I had a great teacher who taught me about relaxed holding, core support, support from underneath, and dynamic ease.
Relaxed holding taught me to use my hands and “touch, not clutch.” Core support taught me to sense the layers of my abdominal, back, and side tissues radially moving in an in-out motion. Support from underneath taught me to use my feet, pelvis and spine to support my arms and to perceive the sound coming out of my flute as if from my whole body as a flute, not as something separate, allowing me to maintain the sensation of dynamic ease. I’ve transferred this learned body knowledge into moving my upper arm bones and using the voice of sensation to guide power and grace.
When it comes to moving my upper arm bones, I tap into the sensation of mobility, sensed as my upper arm bones hanging, swinging, fluidly rotating in many directions, and smoothly moving about through space at various speeds. I tap into stability sensed as my upper arm bones snuggly held in a stationary fixed position without tension by finding the places where my body says, “yes.” Achieve this and you’re on your way to sustaining health in your upper arm bones, shoulder joints, and in all the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support the upper arm bone.
Body Literacy Tips
- Begin to sense direction when moving your upper arm bone. Notice how different arm positions create varying degrees of mobility and flexibility in both the shoulder and elbow joint.
- Move from your bones, not your muscles. Allowing the upper arm bone to ‘go on a ride’ and swing freely creates ease in your body, while still providing conditioning for the muscles of your arms.
- To create relaxation in your whole body, allow your upper arm bones to hang when standing, letting go of your shoulder muscles. You can even imagine your upper arm bones hanging down from your jaw.
- Use everyday tasks to create awareness. Witness what your upper arm bone does while you brush your teeth, shampoo your hair, or while driving.
- To help free the upper arm bone and shoulder muscles from the neck, do this exercise: Sit in a chair and grab under the seat of the chair with your hands to secure your upper arm bone in the down position. Then move your neck in all directions while also opening and closing your jaw. You’ll feel a gentle pull under the collarbone and scapula that will open up the connective tissues between the shoulder and neck.
Megan Macarthur, Nia Trainer, says:
The Mystery of the Body
The true and body centered “mystery” of White Belt Principle #5: Awareness of my self-healing body was a bit of a mentally known and logically dictated process for me. I could do some stretches and feel a change for more space, or I’d shake and shimmy and my mood would change. Movement felt great. I have been doing it all my life, and I am a huge advocate of the whole move, dance, and live world. Nia was my practice, and I walked, danced, and worked it. Somehow I still didn’t quite fully embody the understanding of White Belt Principle #5 until about five years ago when I suddenly felt the most intense spinal pain I had ever experienced in my life. It was beyond the pain of childbirth, which was still relatively fresh in my world at the time. It was truly an adventure in off-the-chart screaming pain. “DO NOT MOVE” was my deep mantra to self.
My husband was leaving town for a long scheduled family event with the children; and I was going to be on my own, in bed, using all my limbs to the best of my ability to secretly shift my body weight without letting my spine know anything was happening. Well, if you have a spine, you may be aware that it runs from top to bottom of the really important parts and is almost impossible to avoid disturbing when mobilizing most parts of the body. I was in pain with each breath I took.
I spent two days infirming over something I knew nothing about. I didn’t even know what to look for online or call about to any doctor for help. Pain killers were no help.
In the evening around 6:00 pm of the third day of this experience, which brought huge compassion into my world for those who experience back pain, I dropped into a new zone. It was like my mind switch went off and body switch flipped on – like a bright room I’d not yet entered or recognized. In this space, I asked, “Body, what can I do?” After about three minutes of waiting, I noticed my pelvis beginning to twist; then my chest began to shift with a type of strength I never expected to be sensing; then my upper spine and head tilted back to their fullest arch. My spine began to pull and arch and push and twist with strength and twisting –wringing out – carving out from the inside. I could sense fibers being stretched and pulled, releasing and unwinding. What was this? I hadn’t a clue. I didn’t care. It was my body in charge. I was on a ride, and the pain was now a new pain, a vital sensation of healing pulls, tugs, extensions, and tears. This went on for what felt like an hour. It was probably a few minutes.
When my body finally settled, there was a change. Tingles everywhere. In my mind’s eye, I could almost see a new light along the channel of my spine where there had been darkness for days. I carefully rolled to one side. I rolled! This was huge! I was mobile! And although the pain was still there, it was a new pain, like tingles. It was one I felt more confident to explore. It was unlike the terrifying layers I’d been hiding under prior to the mysterious body-driven therapeutic tangle session. This was all new. I was able to get up and begin to mobilize vertically with more freedom and energy running up and down my spine. I knew healing was now occurring.
It was a very weird and wonderful experience and was truly the most amazing example, for me, of the mystery of my body and trusting that it knew what to do in a time when my mind was screaming, “DO NOT MOVE!” I allowed my body to show me what it needed, and it did.
Thank you body. Thank you for trusting yourself so that I may trust you to show me the way to the deepest and most beautiful self-healing available to me in this lifetime. I know you know. You are the wisest of all. You are awareness.
Principle #5 of the White Belt: Awareness.
Logic had run its course, and I dove into the mystery for self-healing where my body revealed itself. We all have this wisdom. Listen. Get very good at listening. All the secrets will be revealed. Your body knows. Listen deeply. It may be a whisper. There will be a knock. Sense it and trust the unknown. It may be the most unexpected occurrence of your life.
Enjoy the ride and dance.
With so much love,