In all my years of dancing, yoga, athletics and other movement practices, I had never heard the term, base of support. In fact, it held no real significance to me until I took a two year advanced training in Seattle with Jeff Haller. Bit by bit, I began to understand my relationship with the ground and how it influenced every move I made. I was either falling off my base of support and catching myself over and over and over again, or, in a better world, I was poised over my base of support to make my next move without falling. This training set me on a course of unimaginable discoveries and insights into the unconscious and habitual movement patterns that were governing my every move. Over time and with practice, I learned to tune-in and listen closely to those patterns and when I did, my world began to change for the better. Not only in how I moved, but how I lived my life.
What and where is your base of support?
If you were to stand up and I asked you, where is your base of support, what would you say? Is it the floor? Is it the bottoms of your feet? Or is it the specific points of contact where the bottoms of your feet and the floor meet? It’s the latter. If you were sitting in a chair, where’s your base of support? It would be the contact the bottom of your pelvis makes with the chair and where your feet touch the floor. Believe it or not, whether you’re lying down, lying on your side or standing on your head, your base of support is a treasure trove of information that reflects a lifetime of living unique to you.
You can think of your base of support as the foundation of your house and that foundation supports the entire mass and weight of the structure that’s lives above it. If the foundation of the house has eroded or is faulty to begin with, rest assured, there will be issues down the road. For us humans, in standing, our base of support is precarious. It’s a very small piece of real estate that lives at the bottom of a towering mass of body weight in constant motion. The particular way your weight lives over your foundation and the asymmetries that take shape and habituate in your base of support, directly influences how much muscle tone is necessary to keep you upright, your potential to move and act spontaneously and your overall sense of stability and safety in your environment.
When I began to investigate my relationship to the ground, through my Awareness Through Movement practice, there was a certain kind of honesty I had to confront around how askew my foundation had become and how disjointed my house was erected. It was no wonder I had developed chronic hip pain. With time, patience, practice, compassion and curiosity, my foundation started to shift and so did my house. A new potential for movement, self expression and an internal sense of calm and ease materialized.
On the days that I experience discomfort, I feel distracted or ill at ease, I take a moment to lie down and listen to how the floor comes up to support me.