Patterns of movement and breath

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 6.07.54 PMHave you been able to observe your movement affinities and preferred patterns? For example, do you always walk with the same foot forward? Do your arms swing at the same pace when you walk? What plane of movement resonates with you the most? Do you catch yourself at times not conscious of your breath or not breathing at all? If so, what strategies do you employ to move with intention and greater integration of breath and action? Does it even matter?

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26 thoughts on “Patterns of movement and breath

  1. One particular pattern that I’ve noticed withing myself is that I tend to lead with my right foot whenever I walk and whenever I’m not carrying items in my hand, my arms will sway a bit at my side. I’m not that sure as to which movement pattern (transverse, sagittal, frontal) I identify with quite yet. If I had to guess, I think it’d be frontal movement. Since I sing, I try more and more everyday to be in tune/ aware of if and how I’m breathing. As crazy as it may sound, I’ve been finding that it’s bit difficult for me. I’m not sure why, but sometimes I’ll catch myself and realize that I’m not really breathing. I mainly try and slow down my movements and just relax. I think breathing through your mouth and breathing just through your nose can have a different affect on your body. I’ve realized that I need to take more deep breaths in order to feel like I’m actually breathing. I’m often short of breath a lot, I think that taking deep breaths help me out a bunch.

  2. I tend to walk with my left foot leading and my arms swinging cross-laterally at the same if not quicker pace than my feet. I resonate mainly with the Transverse and Frontal planes when I dance, I noticed that I don’t really like going forward and back and that it’s more comfortable for me to flow somewhere rather than move there with a purpose in dance (although the opposite is true for my regular travel movement i.e walking). My breathing is definitely stagnant. I find myself holding my breath during movement unless I intentionally breathe. Sometimes I end up gasping for air out of the blue because I didn’t realize how shallow my breathing had gotten. I need to practice breathing through my movements as well as breathing during movement even if it doesn’t flow. I feel hunched over so much of the time, sitting at a desk or i a lecture hall. This crushes my chest forward and makes my breaths shallow. If I open my chest it should improve my breathing.

  3. Firstly, thank you for the diagram because I am 100% a visual learner and truthfully retain more with 3rd-grader type pictures than I do college-level written or oral explanations. At first I felt super confident in that I would be some sort of weird outlier and not have any movement patterns that I rely on/am comfortable in, but after about .03 seconds of reflection I realized, uh no, wrong, I totally do. Years of training and conditioning as an actress and a “competition” dancer have led me to heavily gravitate toward the frontal plane, something I’m hyper-aware of when I choreograph dances. To this day, despite knowing that it’s okay and even interesting to face any direction but head-on, I still hear the voices of directors and teachers in my head yelling, “cheat front!” So I’m definitely conditioned on a super deep level to gravitate toward that plane. As far as breath and innate tempo goes, I’d probably say the same thing: old habits die hard and I live and die by 5-6-7-8.

  4. I have a bad habit, confirmed by my friends, that I definitely dance everywhere i go. I am constantly flailing my arms around, throwing my legs up in attitudes when jumping or picking things up off the floor. I try to explore different ways of move my body,but I do find myself usually moving my arms in opposite directions. Every time my arm moves forward, my other arm moves back. I definitely hae found that moving in a “right” direction is my tendency.

    • Sorry, I accidentally submitted too soon. When it comes to breathe, I usually find myself analyzing my breathe. I tend to have a rapid heart beat, so my tendency is to constantly monitor my breathing. However, when I am dancing, I tend to forget about my breathing more than usual. It is definitely important to monitor your breathing when moving the choreography or any type of movement so it feels as though you are transitioning from one move to the next more smoothly.

  5. It sounds odd to admit it, but I do sometimes spend time thinking about the way I move. Mostly I think about how I feel executing a series of movements, but I also like to analyze what doesn’t feel balanced, where I should shift my weight, where my muscles should make more contact with the ground (lines of weight?), etc. When I think deeply I do have a tendency to hold my breath, so oftentimes I come out of that deep thought with a sharp intake of air. When I realize I’m not breathing I try the same exercise again without thinking too much about it. I always walk with my right foot forward, at least, it feels that way probably because I am right handed. The plane of movement that resonates with me most is probably the frontal plane, just because it feels the most “normal” to me.

  6. I think that I often find myself using the same patterns in my movements that are ingrained into my dancing. Often times I consciously try to break away from the patterns that I’m constantly using to try and be more original and come up with new ideas or concepts. The patterns I have in my movement are those that are of comfort and when I try to break away from that, I feel good about it, but at the same time I’m not as comfortable. I try to stay conscious of my breath and how my breath can relate to how I feel when I dance. For example, breathing deeply has a calming nature and I think it shows when you execute deep breaths in your dance. The opposite goes for hyperventilated breathing. As for a plane of movement that I resonate with. I don’t think I resonate with any of them in particular. It’s a combination of the planes of movement that feels the best for me.

    • ( sorry! I accidentally clicked submit) anyways….
      My preferred movement patterns when I freestyle are generally in a transverse or sagittal plane. These movements resonate with me the most because I have more control or a better understanding of the way I like to move my arms. I like to carve the negative space around me but sometimes find it hard to breathe. It’s as if I become so focused on the way the movement should be that I hold my breath. I feel like my consciousness of breath can help improve the intention of my movements because I am more aware.

      One of the main strategies I use to build better body-awareness is to just close my eyes and listen to what my body feels, and try to hear my own breath. As I become more mindful of my body awareness, It becomes easier for me to move my body with more controlled grace an technique. I think it’s important to breathe more fully when I dance because dance is very physical and learning how to breathe is essential to improve the quality of movement.

  7. I definitely have patterns in the way I move, whether dancing or not, and a lot if it is due to my scoliosis. I favor the right side of my body in every way, I step with my right foot first, I carry things on my right side, when I’m sitting in a chair I always lean to my left in order to give my right side and limbs more “space” to use. I feel as if I am constantly reminding myself to “straighten” out my body and be more centered within my frontal plane. One way I combat this favoring is by trying to engage and think about my core as often as possible.
    I forget to breath a lot. Even in class, once my mind is not only focusing on “breathe in, breathe out” I hold my breath. However, it is important to harness it. Personally, when I have my breathing in check I feel much more centered, physically and emotionally. I think that moving and breathing with intention is important in being in control of your own body. For me, being in control of my body and breath equates to less back pain, less accidental injury, and less anxiety.

  8. I walk in the transverse sagittal plane. Now that I am conscious of these patterns of movement, I can conclude that I am comfortable with walking with the right foot first, as well as having my arms swing transversely. After last week’s classes, I am totally obsessed with how every inch of my body can be connected by another. I have never thought to move in different transverse, frontal, and sagittal ways, but being conscious to it allows me to explore new movements, as well as using new found muscles. During our lesson, I found myself thinking so much more so I lost the pattern of breath. I realized how much easier it is to move your body in a new way when you take your time and breathe. It definitely matters to be aware of your body.

  9. Whenever I walk around I feel like I am always on a mission. I am find myself moving at a quick pace with long strides. I notice that my arms do seem to swing at an even pace with my sagittal gait; only to help my momentum I suppose. Sometimes I switch up the leg that is leading, just to see if anyone would notice. If I am listening to some bomb music, I might as well be walking down the runaway. Breathing has always been weird for me, especially when I am moving around a lot. Even when I am sitting still, I’ll find myself taking random huge inhales as if I am annoyed or “done”, but really it could be that I wasn’t breathing that much to begin with. When I am dancing or walking in my mission-like way, I try to steady my breath and actually use it to its full capacity, but it is something I am still working on. If I can get better with breathing I am sure my body would appreciate it much more haha.

  10. I have noticed that I tend to step with the same foot forward, or turn over the same shoulder. The plane of movement that resonates with me the most would be the frontal/coronal plane; I tend to choreograph many movements along this plane. Many times I do catch myself not breathing. Sometimes I don’t even notice until someone reminds me to breathe because I am too focused on keeping my body tight or being precise with my movement. It happens in life as well; I often forget to stop the craziness and take a breath to calm/collect myself. I find that the moments where I do succeed in bringing my entire lung capacity into my movement, not only do my movements feel fuller, but they also feel more real.

  11. I have noticed that I tend to step with my left first first, or I like to turn over my left rather than right shoulder. I think the plane that I am most in tune with is the frontal plane, at least choreography wise. I think is the easiest plane to use for choreography, as you can choreograph with the audience in mind so you know the dance will read. I very rarely, if ever, consciously think about my breath until someone else reminds me. I would argue in most cases being conscious of your breath doesn’t really matter. Hence the reason why it’s an usually run by your subconscious. However, it does matter when performing feats of athleticism, or when trying to control emotions. Breath plays a big role in both.

  12. I have noticed during my dancing that I prefer movements in the frontal and sagittal planes more than the transverse plane. I think this pattern might be because I usually initiate movements towards the sides of my body and then follow the movement into either the frontal or sagittal plane. I have also noticed that I don’t like when my arms are simply at my side so, I typically walk with crossed arms or with my hands in my pockets. I definitely do forget to breathe throughout my dancing, especially when I am just learning a sequence because I focus more on the proper sequence than my own body doing the movements. A trick that my high school dance teacher taught me is that all you have to do is remember to breathe out because the in breath is automatic. I like to sort of choreograph breath into the movements because it makes the whole experience feel more natural rather than rigid. For example, if there is a big contraction or lift I will breathe out at the peak of the movement. I think that being aware of your breath is important because even just the tempo of your breathing can influence the mood of your dancing.

  13. This question reminds me of a weird fact that I am a right-hand person, but a left foot one. It does not bother me in daily life, but it is affecting me while dancing. I always like to step the left foot forward. And my right arm has stronger movement than my left arm. I prefer the sagittal type of movement, and I like to swing my arms and legs in diagonal. Breathing is a problem to me because I always forget to breathe while dancing and also doing some other exercise. Every time I am focusing on some movements, I would be too nervous to breathe. I would start breathing when someone else mentioned that to me. I found it really helpful that Gerald asked us to sing during dancing, that we can breath all the time. It is kind of hard, but it really helped me to breath. And breathing helps dancing.

  14. I haven’t felt particularly connected to my body moving around in everyday life–like Alexis, whenever I walk somewhere I’m always power walking like a soccer mom. I notice that I carry a lot of tension in my body, especially in my shoulders and I notice my breath most when I’m in the studio. But that’s frustrating to me! I feel like dance is such a meditative practice, and I think that’s why we as dancers experience euphoria in that space. But I don’t want my days to feel like sprints to the studio, or a series of to-do’s that I have to complete before I can dance, or relax, or be centered. I want to tune into my breath as I walk to class, or sit in front of a computer, or as I cram for a midterm. I want intention to permeate throughout my days, and I think it would feel so empowering to access a kinesthetic awareness of myself as I exist as a person (regardless of whether or not I’m dancing!). Instead of hunkering down, and trying to push through being stressed to get to some “end goal” I want to find stillness in the frenetic day-to-day. This is a bit of a tangent, but I am for real coming to this realization as I’m typing this! Which is soooo cool!!

  15. To be honest, I was never really attentive to the different movements my body unconsciously made. Nontheless, after analyzing the way my body moves throughout this past week, I’ve realized that although I’m dominant in my right hand, I tend to switch to the lead of my walk from right to left. This may be because I’ve always been comfortable doing things on both sides of my body. For example, I can just as steadily to do a cartwheel on my left side as I can on my right. In fact, a friend of mine had pointed out to me that when opening bottles lids, I open them with my left hand! How weird is that!? It feels off when I try opening things with my right hand. Another factor is that I can write really well with my left hand. I have no idea if being ambidextrous has any relevance to this topic but it’s only what I’ve observed. On another not, since I’m not sure, if I had to guess what plane of movement resonates with me, I would say the frontal plane. The way I swing my arms when I walk would also suggest that I resonate with the sagittal plane as well. I’ve always been aware of my breathing habits, especially when doing an active or physical activity. I do not think I’ve ever necessarily caught myself not breathing, but I will say that my breathing patterns are not as consistent as they could be. I do know that when I’m paying attention to my breathing and implementing control as I breath in through my nose and out through my mouth slowly, I find myself being able to channel that control through the movements of body more easily.

  16. On Friday at the UCSC ecstatic dance (every Friday ya’ll! Check it out!) I was lost in my typical ecstatic-dancing-with-complete-abandon when I started thinking about this question and suddenly became aware of these movements that I am normally just feeling and experiencing from within them. I realized that I like the Sagittal plane a lot, swinging my arms forward to come up over my head or rolling my body forward along the plane. However, I also noticed that predominantly I don’t use the planes in very literal ways, and that typically my free-form dance movement tends to be in the diagonal and in-between planes. I usually am shooting my limbs toward the corners and bending around and through planes, flowing rapidly from one to the other, or having different body parts moving in different planes at once. I tried to just move my body and limbs more in straight lines, aligned with the planes for a moments and it was very strange but interesting. As for breathing, I tend to want to do moves that I am not exactly in shape for (although I remember what they feel like from earlier, stronger times) and this is when I catch myself holding my breath. Obviously I don’t trust my body to completely support me and keep me safe and I need to work on that, which might mean redeveloping those muscles that will make me feel strong and capable, as well as trusting myself more holistically as I am now.

  17. I normally feel that I am unaware of certain movements and patterns that I make. However, I tend to particularly pay more attention to how I walk including the swinging of my arms and the connection it has to the steps I take. I prefer to walk with my right foot forward and at a constant pace, which is generally pretty fast. I know that when I’m rushing my arms swing more as compared to when I am walking alongside someone, so as not to accidentally hit them (which has happened..). I feel that I prefer the transverse plane where I can focus on the top half and bottom half of my body, yet when it comes to dancing I favor more of the sagittal plane. I actually am horrible at being conscious of my breath and I feel that it holds me back in a way. In strenuous movements I tend to hold my breath and I have a feeling it doesn’t allow me to fully release or fully be in control. Because I forget to breath at times of certain activities or movements I need to focus on being more conscious of breath and hopefully my body will cooperate!

  18. I have noticed that I am inclined to make circular movement on the right side of my body. I often lead with my right foot as well. I enjoy making transverse movements. When I am focusing on learning the choreography I notice that I often forget to breathe smoothly. It is very clear when a dancer is moving with intention and greater breath of action. This allows the mover to express emotion between movements and communicate the internal experience of the dance. I notice that once I finally let go and focus on each moment of the dance rather than thinking ahead into the choreography I can find more fluidity in my movement. I am looking forward to learning how to focus on balancing my ability to control my movements as well as relax into them.

  19. When I improv, there is a tendency to get comfortable moving in a frontal and transverse plane. In addition, it is these moments of consciousness that interest me and what triggers me to bring my attention inwards as opposed to keep my attention outwards. However, this does not imply that attention and energy should only be focused inwards for I believe there should be an equal balance between the two. There are also times where I find myself regaining an awareness of my breath suggesting I may or may not have been breathing previously. This is rather interesting because the moments I catch myself become conscious of my breath, I find myself not being able to remember if I had been breathing previously or not almost as if I had been in a trance. Strategies I would suggest for myself to move with more intention and breath would be to take the time to build a relationship with my body and reflect on what it has been through during the day and maybe use those external forces to internally tune myself into the environment and my body.

  20. Generally, I have become more aware of my body throughout this class. In regard to movement affinities, I find myself tensing up frequently especially in my shoulders- which is something I’ve always done because I’ve never known what to do with my arms growing up and I’m always tense. Swinging my arms oftentimes feels robotic at the start because I mentally have to match the proper arm and leg; eventually I pick up the swing of things. Also, I have noticed that my flexibility in my lower back has been increasing as a result of the transverse movements we have done. I feel like the sagittal movement has started to grind down my love-handles. It’s harder to breath during cross-lateral movements because you sort compress your abdomen.

  21. I most definitely lead with my left foot and I usually put my arms in my jacket which inhibits my movement. I enjoy the sagittal plane because that is what I am used to in my dance training, so it is just habitual at this point. I have become better about being aware of my breathing over time, yet I realize when I’m in a panic about not remembering choreography I choose to hold my breath to remember. This is not only nonsensical, but it also prevents my movements to be complete. It matters to be conscious of my breath. I try to make my breaths go on a certain count so that way no matter what I will breathe as part of the choreography.

  22. When walking, I mostly lead with my right foot and swing my arms a lot. Some of the time I notice an unevenness in my body especially walking, which I think is partly due to putting more weight on my right foot. The sagittal plane feels most natural to me, as it makes my body feel more even and in balance. I don’t particularly notice myself not breathing, but sometimes notice my breath being more shallow. I tend to hunch forward, which collapses my chest, and puts my neck forward, so by focusing on straightening my posture, I usually tend to improve my breathing.

  23. While dancing I tend to notice myself using my knees as little as possible which usually leads to me being more comfortable doing movement on my back and stomach. I also tend to use my back muscles to move the majority of my body which leads to me using my arms less. I only recently have been able to become more comfortable using my arms in physical expression. I also have issues doing movement on my left side because I am right side dominant.

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