So I have a whole toolkit of different postural adjustments now: things to try when I’m feeling a little unbalanced on my left side, a little too far forward on my left foot, a little off my left hip.
Things like rotating my core counter-clockwise, trying to feel as though my entire left blade is on the ice (this is an illusion, since the blade itself is not flat, but has a rock to it), engaging my adductor muscles so that my left femur feels like it is rotating inwards, and turning my head (not just my eyes) in the direction of travel.
But by far, the thing I’ve been telling myself the most is “tailbone down.”
Let me reaffirm that this does not mean tilting the pelvis backwards (tucking under); “tailbone down” means having a neutral pelvis with engaged abdominal muscles. There are a lot of ballet resources out there that explain the difference, and talk about the benefits of “tailbone down”: how it develops core strength and helps to activate the correct muscles. My latest favorite is a 2007 Dance Magazine interview with Edward Ellison. Other ways to think of it are lengthening the lower back, or lifting the navel.
Tailbone down. Laurie has said this to me. Ari has said this to me. I’ve said it to myself so many times in the past three weeks that it has become a kind of mantra. I’m practicing it while walking as well as skating. Luckily, I don’t move my lips as I’m saying it. And I don’t say it to total strangers, though I’ve been tempted.
What’s new is that I’m now practicing this while standing on one leg at a time. I realized that I am still having considerable trouble with one basic position: standing on the left leg with the right extended behind (like the very first part of taking a step forward on the left foot). If I raise my left arm, it’s even worse. I can feel muscles tensing and stretching and wobbling all through the left side.
So now I have my exercise that I’m calling my “Statue of Liberty” position, although Liberty uses her right arm to lift her lamp beside the golden door, and I can’t quite tell if she is stepping forward on her left foot or just standing there. Okay, it’s a stretch (ha, ha).
I just did this in the living room and my son said, “Nice yoga, Mom.” I’ve been doing it at each practice session for the past week. Other skaters are starting to look at me in a strange way. No one can figure out what I’m doing! But I think I’m getting somewhere. At very least, there must be an interpretive dance in there somewhere. (Hmmm, one of those foam crowns, a couple of sheets draped creatively, green spray paint. . . and since it is skating after all, a sparkly torch!)
I have really enjoyed skating in Portland, Maine. Everyone is so friendly and there is clearly an active adult skating community. I hope I can come back sometime. In the meantime, here’s some pictures of folks who clearly know how to have a good time on the ice.