April 20, 2013

Gravity & Optimism.

photo: Lana Bernberg


I recently read on a fitness blog a question about addressing rounding in the upper back.

The fitness ‘expert’ replied by saying,

“Gravity is not your friend. You have to keep those muscles strong so that you don’t let gravity win.”

Is gravity inherently out to get us?

To me this sounds quite pessimistic. Gravity is basic to our environment and inescapable (unless we go to outer space). If gravity is intrinsically unfriendly to us, then it means we ultimately live in an unfriendly world.

It’s true that our bodies can accumulate tension and destructive patterns which cause gravity’s effect on us to be undesirable and even harmful. But is the more desirable relationship to gravity one in which we are fighting hard and winning? That sounds exhausting!

“Only our relationship with gravity determines whether we experience it in a constructive way or destructive way. Depending on the structure of the body on which it acts, gravity can either support us and provide a springboard for our activities or it can pull at us and tear us down.”

~ Joseph Heller

Is your relationship with gravity ultimately a constructive or a destructive aspect of your embodiment?

The potential is there for it to be constructive—this is the paradigm shift that we need to adopt.

Just like the elements of our planet exquisitely support human life, gravity also is a basic aspect to earth that innately allows us to thrive. We are creatures of the earth and we are creatures of gravity.

illustration by Leif Backus

Gravity gives us bone density, verticality, command over movement, and the potential for effortless, expansive embodiment.

If gravity is expressing itself in our bodies as compressed, compromised joints and tissues, then there’s work that can be done.

In order to stay aligned, so that we are available to receive gravity’s gifts, we must engage in a process of unwinding and unraveling the tension and holding patterns that accumulate in our bodies as a result of all-too-commonplace stress, trauma, neglect and misuse.

We must journey towards structural and functional harmony through bodywork, corrective movement, balanced strengthening, releasing and healing.

“We want to get you to a place where gravity is your friend; a nourishing force.”

~ Dr. Ida Rolf

Isn’t it life affirming to think that this basic element in our environment has infinite potential to support us? Gravity is the ultimate free resource.

We can restore our natural state, one that is free from the residue of the past. We can evolve towards our own personal best: a state in which we thrive in our most natural and efficient physiology and in harmony with nature.

The opportunity for this kind of personal conscious evolution (a concept coined by Dr. Ida Rolf, creator of  Structural Integration bodywork) also has collective significance.

If we proceed with the symbiosis of ourselves and our world embedded in our tissues, what kind of optimism will emerge? What kind of reverence and gratitude for our home, Earth, will rise to the surface of our collective consciousness?

As we heal ourselves, we also heal the planet.



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Assistant Ed: Terri Tremblett/Ed: Bryonie Wise


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Don Higdon Jul 31, 2013 5:36am

What constitutes a "fitness expert", anyway?

Lee Williams May 2, 2013 6:45pm

Structural Integration allows us to stand into gravity with ease. Excellent article!

David D. Wronski Apr 20, 2013 1:06am

Yes. Gravity! Excellent presentation.

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Ruthie Fraser

Ruthie Fraser is a Structural Integration Practitioner and a yoga teacher in Brooklyn NY, specializing in therapeutics and creating structural and functional harmony in the body. She is the founder and director of both Decompression Project, which offers programs to improve body structure and promote awakened embodiment, and End of Knowing Yoga School, a unique learning sanctuary that fuses the ancient wisdom of yoga with the cultivation of structural balance. Through Decompression Project, Ruthie created an extensive Yoga Video Library, a collection of streamed therapeutic yoga sequences design to help people “practice right for their body types” at home. Ruthie writes regularly on her two blogs, TThe Primary Structure  and the End of Knowing Blog, as well as for many online wellness publications. Follow Ruthie on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest!