The gifts of crawling, learning and strengthening the hips and legs.
We learn so much from books, classes and schools, yet there is a wealth of information available to us right here, in our bodies. Going into the structure as well as to our natural states of "knowing" is a wonderful way to find balance between our body and mind. For instance, crawling is a stage that babies ideally go thru that both stimulates the brain as well as strengthens the body in a specific natural way. This stage is naturally occurring for most of us ( no one "teaches us to crawl") and lasts as long as it lasts as a segway into learning to walk. For many of us it's "hurried" up thru well meaning parents pushing the toddlers to walk and run. Some babies even skip this important stage of development on their own as they push and pull themselves belly down and hop right into squatting and "toddling". Skipping these stages can have effects of thinking, learning, and in the coordination the body needs later to move well. This stage of crawling may also be the "pot of gold" when it comes to functional healing movement one needs to unlock more power in their body and mind.
In this day and age as adults, crawling is not something we often think of to do as an exercise to heal or transform. There is an argument made by Mabel Todd who studied the relationship between thought and movement in 1937 in her book "The Thinking Body" that the day came when we began to value the mind and thoughts more than the instincts of the body. She believed this was when we became disassociated from our body. We lost the sensation wisdom within. She ties in this belief with our disconnect from our hips specifically and from this vital stage of crawling as a way to open and balance the pelvis, connect with our innate and primal sense of power to leap and jump. Crawling is our natural exercise to open and strengthen the spring like muscles in the thighs, pelvis and lower back. These muscles become the powerhouse ( as Joseph Pilates called them) when integrated with the abdominals. A hands and knees position takes out balancing upright, and puts our bodies in a more animal like position that is ideal for sense of smell, sight, and feeling sensory functions. Spending time in a relaxed hands and knees crawl is ideal for connection and guiding for more expansive locomotor skills like walking, running, jumping, dancing, playing!
Somewhere along the line the notions of "what is proper", "attractive", or "superior" has become part of our conditioning of what "works" when in fact it may not be. Mabel Todd says it's our becoming abosorbed in the upper portions of the body, our intellectual persuits, and the development of hand and speech skills that has been loss of connection, power and balance in the body.
By looking at our body, our thighs and hips have the strongest muscles, heaviest bones and fewest articulations, they are designed to carry the heaviest load of our body. Most humans carry far too much in the upper body. Similar to a horse that has strong hindquarters by pushing his weight and pulling a cart ( for instance), our hindquarters are designed to allow us to leap from a place of power. Our pelvis when balanced is a source of that power. It becomes balanced front to back and side to side when we crawl. There is no other exercise that connects us thru our natural way of moving as well.
From our brains standpoint, crawling is a repetitive meditation that stimulates and organizes neurons, controls cognitive processes like comprehension, concentration and memory. Crawling is the stage we learned to activate determination of moving where we want to go and developed hand and eye coordination. Crawling activates balance between the two hemispheres of our brain, as well as improved reading , writing and sports. There is also research to back up a theory that lack of crawling ( possibly from the movement to have babies sleep on their backs ( SIDS ) has had an effect of kids skipping stages and an increase in ADHD and Hyperactivity syndromes as a reflex in the brain that integrates top and bottom of the bottom doesn't get stimulated........until crawling is used as a therapy.
The really great news is that our brains are continually learning, based on what we experience via our body. This means you can begin NOW and get results. Here are some suggested ways to add it into your life: Make crawling a meditation. Clear and area that is carpeted or even your yoga mat. Get present. Focus on sensation. Relax as you move like a tiger.....Play with it, even growl, purr, undulate, shift weight, explore....and definately use your eyes and hands to see those things you'd like to leap and crawl towards. Activate primal, desire, passion, and play. When you tire of doing this alone, seek out others:)