This phrase is attributed to the opera singer Jessye Norman who got trapped in swing doors on her way to a concert, and when advised to release herself by turning sideways, replied: “Honey, I ain’t got no sideways.” I guess she meant that her girth was the same in all directions. And in another way, its really true, we don’t really have a front or a back or sides.
I was working with a pupil this week who was looking at herself in side profile and pulled her shoulders back. I asked if she noticed what she had just done. She said that she didn’t want to be round shouldered and had better posture if she did this. We talked some more and I asked her to face the mirror. Looking face-on she realised she didn’t feel the same desire to pull her shoulders back as she didn’t see that they were forwards in the same way.
Its the idea or belief about how we should be that gets in the way of us being our natural full selves in every direction, in every way.
Sometimes we use words in quite a loose way, which may be fine if everything is going well. When our mind and body are being mis-used and stop functioning so well, our body tells us with aches and pains, stresses and strains – then we realise our use of language can be key.
Think about yourself and consider if you think you have a front, a back and a sideways? What would it be like to soften the edges to these made-up body region labels and remember that we are rounded in a 360 degree way in every direction. When we really understand this truth and embody it, then I’ll bet we can more readily release out into all our dimensions. We can take up our space and move more easily.
Lucy Ascham is an Alexander Technique teacher who enjoys being. Being full in all directions and all dimensions.