The postural method of the Bowspring provides any student with an alignment formula to bring balanced tone to all sides of the body for optimal functional movement. By learning this postural system a student endeavors to have the capacity to make any dynamic movement light and easeful. It is a mind-body practice which focuses on moving toward a specific geometric shape through 10 key areas of the body in a dynamic neutral position.
The Bowspring is a proportionally ideal curvy alignment between the head, neck, ribcage, waist, and pelvis, in which functional movement is optimized with the least amount of force required. As one approximates the ideal alignment template between the main segments of the body with their own unique postural alignment, the tonus of the connective tissue becomes more uniform on all sides of the body. It is a system in which every part of the body collaborates with every other part to create the harmonious function of the whole; a synergy greater than the sum of the parts. If any one part is overworking or underworking, the functionality and health of the whole is adversely affected.
The body form is a singular system of connective tissue, primarily fascia, organized geometrically with bilateral symmetry. Appendages – arms and legs – connect hands and feet to the vertical central axis of the body with the head on top of a neck, and the hips on the bottom. The ribcage is in the center of the central axis between head and tail. Lumbar vertebrae are shaped to accommodate an arched lower back. Bowspring is a system composed of segments – head, thorax, and hips, connected by the curvy segments of the neck and the lower back. The segments of the body along the central axis are connected to the myofascial subsystems of the hands and arms, and the feet and legs. All parts of the body affect all other parts. The alignment of the feet affects the alignment of the hips. The alignment of the hands affects the alignment of the shoulders. When the ribcage is deflated, the alignment of the shoulders and lower back are both negatively affected.
The Bowspring Shape
The Bowspring is an ideal template for dynamic posture, a wavy shape with a double-S curve on the back of the body, including the back of the head and the back of glutes. The proportional curvature between the 3-D rounded shapes of the hips, waist, ribcage, neck, and head, in which all sides of the body can be evenly engaged, is the balanced alignment of the Bowspring template. It allows a geometrical harmony in postural alignment in which uniform muscular tonus on both the front and the back of the body can occur. Balanced tone on all sides of a joint allows for its optimal functionality since no one side is overworking or straining. We endeavor to make all sides of the body evenly engaged with myofascial tone and balanced tension.
The primary curve of the spine is the thoracic curve and if it is misaligned, then the secondary curves of the lower back and the neck will be misaligned from their optimal capacity. In the Bowspring practice, we prioritize the circumferential expansion of the ribcage before curving the lower back and then the neck. This optimal relationship between the kyphosis or rounded shape of the thoracic spine and the lordosis or arched shape of the lumbar and cervical spines enables the capacity for a tremendous springy, powerful functionality of the posterior chain of myofascia.
The 10 Key Areas of the Body
The Bowspring method helps students awaken neurologically 10 key areas of the body: ribcage, shoulders, arms, hands, hips, legs, feet, waist, neck, and head. Once each of the 10 key areas of the body can be isometrically engaged, then the student can link all parts in a full-body synergy using a set sequence of alignments.
To simplify the steps of the Bowspring, the 10 key areas of the body are grouped into 5 subsystems: Heart (ribcage); Wings (shoulders, arms, and hands); Roots (hips, legs, and feet); Apple-cores (waist/lower back/belly, and neck/throat); and Crown (head).
In general, the alignment of the 10 key areas is in an open posture or a closed posture. Our closed posture is our unconscious default for protection and/or for restful rejuvenation. In contrast, our open posture is for movement and active functionality. The Bowspring aligns the body in an open posture.
These 10 different postural actions are progressively sequenced to integrate all parts of the body into a singular system for optimal functionality and graceful movement. Each action in one of the 10 key areas is specifically ordered into a formula or algorithm of specific alignment steps. The alignments a for each key area are clearly defined by universal shapes, and specific directionality of engagement and active extensions of myo-fascia. The sequence of alignment actions results in full-body coherence maximum functionality and optimal power of movement.
If any of the 10 key actions are not engaging or integrating with the other parts of the body in the Bowspring exercise, then the efficacy of the Bowspring alignment is greatly reduced. It is a integrated system, so the Bowspring doesn’t work if any main actions or steps are missing. Yet, beginner students can be skillfully led through the algorithm and they can experience lightness of the whole body, increased mobility and agility, and expanding vitality in their first practices of the basic Bowspring exercises.
These momentary experiences of freedom of pain and greater power encourage students to stay steady with the practice even though the Bowspring method is not easy or comfortable to learn at first. It takes regular practice to become competent to maintain the Bowspring algorithm while moving from one position to another, since our postural defaults are deeply programmed. The good news is that profoundly habituated patterns of mind-body can change with disciplined practice and highly effective techniques.
Through balanced breathing, both through the nose and the mouth, especially when linked to the dynamic posture of the Bowspring, the transformative effects of the practice are enhanced. The breath in the Bowspring should flow slowly and smoothly throughout each movement.
In the Bowspring the body is an open position, never closed, so it is not necessary for the breath to be coordinated with flexion or extension, the opening or closing of the front of the body like in a normal yoga backbend or forward bend. Instead, the pulse of the breath is coordinated with contraction and expansion of the whole body — the pulse of rooting and rising, while flowing gracefully from one position to another.