This is an oldie but goodie from 2018. The topic came up again recently so…
Okay, I am not insinuating anyone attempt to get their leg up by their ear. Been there, it sucked (even after lots of ballet).
I do think that we spend too much time with both legs on the ground and yet not connecting with it. Sometimes, raising a leg can remind us of our balance and center. Reality check, yes I realize that single-legged balance is not easy (or possible) for everyone so first, baby steps. I am going to assume that if you are a person with a disability or other mobility challenge and reading this that you will adapt and experiment with the exercises to make it work as possible. If you need help with that, please send me an email and I will brainstorm solutions with you. Disclaimer: I am still not a doctor, so please know and take care of yourselves whenever you try exercises without supervision.
Okay, “Extension” for mortals.
- Start in your bare feet and with whatever support you may need nearby (I recommend a high-backed chair or a wall).
- Rock back and forth between your heels and your toes to get an idea of how your weight shifts.
- Lift your toes, splay them, and set them back down in a more spread formation.
- Bend your knees and feel how the relationship between body and the feet shifts.
- Do a full forward bend with knees bent.
- Start by just trying to lay your stomach onto your thighs.
- Let your head and your arms hang.
- Let your center of gravity shift forward.
- Super slo-mo start to straighten your legs. If they start to shake don’t just let them, hang out for a bit.
- Straighten your legs, shift your hips to be aligned (usually a forward shift) and then slowly roll to upright.
- Observe your feet again, lifting your toes to check on stability. Turn them out from the hip like a ballerina.
- Decide on a standing leg (whichever is dominant. If you don’t know, match with your handedness). From this step onwards stop wherever you like and do not try to go further than you can do without pain.
- Shift all of your weight to that leg and observe how that feels, keep a slight bend in the knee on your standing leg.
- Lift the opposite foot and place it against the ankle (you can do this from the knee if you are flexy) of the standing leg.
- Rest if you need to and then shift the foot backward at that level you so that the whole leg moves from the hip socket maybe 4-6 inches. Do not worry about height from the ground.
- Feel as though your leg muscles are stretching towards your foot and they extend outward from the hip. Keep energy moving in your standing leg as well. Your active leg may or may not be able to raise in height. Whatever feels comfortable is best.
- Note what muscles are working to stabilize you and what muscles are working to extend the leg. Focus on the sensation through your hip.
- Slowly reset the active leg, lower your foot, and switch sides. Rinse, repeat twice on each side.
- End with another forward bend with bonus points for finding a leg tremor (shake) in the wild. If you find one make sure to take a moment to observe it.
That’s it, no perfect arabesque required. This type of work is extremely helpful in developing core awareness and strength, teaching you to ground and working on both strengthening and releasing the psoas. As we know (we do know this by now I hope), happy psoas = happy voice use.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes. There are variants for doing this seated and for connecting to groundedness in differing relations to gravity so have fun with it. Have a support nearby, and don’t take it too seriously.
If you any questions and/or comments as always please feel free to leave a comment here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gina Razón is the principal voice specialist at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service voice and speech studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over 16 years of experience both as a teacher of voice and speech, and a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com