Movement Theory Mini-Lesson: Proprioception with Weight Effort and Weight Sensing - Why is it important?
Weight effort and weight sensing are part of the larger umbrella of the Effort category that includes flow, time, and space. These concepts come from a somatic perspective from Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals, the quotes are from Peggy Hackney’s “Making Connections, Total Body Integration Through Bartenieff Fundamentals”
What is weight effort?
“Weight effort is an active attitude toward using the weight of the body.” For example, light and strong.
“Weight effort generally has to do with your sensations of self and your own intention in moving: whether that intention is to activate and assert weight, sense weight, or surrender to passive weight.”
What is weight sensing?
“The ability to sense the weight of your body underlies your ability to actively yield weight into the earth and push away with strength… It is also possible to have a passive attitude towards your weight. These attitudes have to do with letting gravity be the active force of surrendering.”
Weight sensing is proprioception and allows us to differentiate the movement quality to create the appropriate amount of initiation, coordination, phrasing and virtuosity for dynamic motion.
I recently worked with a teacher and she called it weight distribution. We started our session with balance work -- I asked her to sense her weight. It is part of the fascia patterning exercises I teach. She was so surprised at the dominance of the right side. It was so dominant that she needed support to balance on the left side.
We worked on creating weight sensing and non-judgement to invite the left side to participate more in the movement.
Another example of how I use weight sensing in sessions are with this cue:
In leg springs on the Cadillac or Tower, bend and stretch: Can you sense the amount of effort on each leg? Is the effort 50/50 or more like 70/30? Which leg leads to press out? Which leg wants to lag on the return? If you are 70/30 can you balance the weight effort to closer to 50/50?
Other cues on certain exercises I have said, “Can you give me 30 more effort in strength on the initiation? Or “Can you find 20 percent less effort and find more ease?”
Why does this matter?
Most of the time these types of compensations are subtle and hidden. In my experience these compensations affect the total body. Addressing the weight sensing helps the person connect to the earth. The groundedness of being in the universe. It also increases proprioceptive awareness - deepening connections to balance, coordination, and efficiency.
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