It is well documented on Youtube, just how tiny and small and tight my shimmies were until late last year (2015), when it finally all clicked in my shimmy journey. After making a DVD (Shimmies on The Downs?) where I share all about my technique and process for Creating a big shimmy, another main reason I was able to finally achieve big movement was by acute awareness and relaxation of my psoas.
This flexor was not new to me as I have been aware of it for years in its links to tight shimmies if unhealthy, but the “how” behind how to relax it had not yet come about. Sure I made sure to do various stretches before and after dance classes/workshops, but it wasn’t enough. So now what?
Here is a bit of useful information to help you unlock your potential and hopefully, feel what it is truly like to do a shimmy with the psoas in a much more relaxed state.
A Bit of Background:
- The Psoas is a flexor that runs from the thigh bone, through your stomach, and then behind you to your lower lumbar spine. What does this mean? Basically, the “tightness” in your shimmy is typically from overuse, where your psoas is unnecessarily being activated to neutralize your pelvis when it should be in relax mode for shimmies.
- Furthermore, this muscle seems to react in conjunction with your emotions! When I was told, “relax your legs”, my mind would go into hyper-drive as I attempted to find meaning in what that meant, and that hyper mentality would result in tight psoas, which means tight shimmies. That saying of “enjoy, exhale and relax your mind” while shimmying is for a reason. The mind truly affects so much, and of course, your psoas will be first to reflect that.So when a big shimmy moment is approaching in your piece of music, train yourself to think of the most relaxing, joyous thoughts possible, as you come to it from a mental standpoint. Don’t freak yourself out and keep saying negative thoughts in your head as the part approaches!
- Constant contraction of the psoas leads to limited range of movement. This is quite easy to do with belly dance as stress, repetitive activity, and frequent strain in the lumbar spine and knees are major causes. When we do a pelvic lift for example, and we drill this motion repetitively over time, with our knees chiming in to help, and our own mental stress…imagine how hard your psoas is working with just this one movement over so many years! That is only one movement of the many we do in just one choreography.
Becoming acutely aware of when you engage this flexor and when you don’t will be integral to Creating a big shimmy. If it shouldn’t be engaged, then you need to retrain yourself to execute the movement without this extra baggage.
There are a number of wonderful yoga stretches online all having to do with not only how to stretch, but how to strengthen your psoas. It is important to have a healthy and strong posts so that it can support all of the things we dancers do, but it is also equally important to learn to stretch and relax this flexor for shimmies or other movements when it hinders our range of motion.
Make it a point to stand and slowly release one knee at a time slowly until you feel that your entire pelvic region is relaxed. This will be where to start, from here, the sky is the limit! Consult with your doctor, read all about this often over-used muscle in oriental dance, and explore how it “feels” to engage and disengage it. You will be surprised just how crazy different the quality of your movement becomes!
If you would like to learn more about my Creating a big shimmy with my DVD “Shimmies On The Downs?” visit my DVD page.