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Vitality Tip: Roll Like a Bear

November 2, 2011

Once upon a time, years ago when I lived in Seattle, I worked in a physical therapy clinic with a man who was severely injured from a fall on the basement stairs as he went down to repair the furnace. He was barely able to walk, let alone sit or stand for any length of time. His pain level was so severe, he was depressed and despaired of ever feeling normal again. We spent several lessons easing the discomfort in his shoulders and neck and finding flexibility and agility again in his legs and feet. One day he came in and I felt he was ready for more. I chose this lesson for him, and it’s a great lesson for anyone . . . enjoy!

Baby Bear Rolling  

Audio of Baby Bear Rolling

(you can pause the audio anywhere along the way to spend more time with each stage of the activities)


  1. Lie on your back and get a sense of your ability to let the floor support you. Take many breaths and wait until you can feel the inhale and the exhale become easy and smooth. When there is ease in your breathing and ease in your spine, hips, legs, and entire self, then begin.
  2. Bend your knees and take hold of the front of your left knee with your left hand and the right knee with your right hand. You will have your palms on your kneecap. Think of gluing the palm to the kneecap. In fact, nothing else in the lesson matters as much as keeping your hands on your knees. Do not let go.
  3. Begin to roll slowly to the right and the left. Slowly. And just a little. Don’t roll too far. Notice if you hold your breath or use your belly muscles to keep your balance. And, what do you do with your head as you roll, does it stay still or is it moving? Rest.
    Brown Bear

    Image via Wikipedia

  4. Hold your knees again in the same way and this time see if you can roll over to lie on your right side or your left side. Keep holding your knees, even while you lie on your side and rest down. Do not let go of your knees.
  5. Figure out how you will roll back to your back without using your elbow to push or your belly muscles to pull. What do you need to do with your organization to gently roll without effort from side to side and from your side to your back or your back to your side? Rest.
  6. Finally, compare the difference between rolling from side-to-side when your knees are touching, versus when they are far apart from one another. Roll a few times with each version and note that your back and belly don’t have to work as hard when you have space between your knees. Your sacrum can open and the back of your pelvis begins to feel rounded instead of square. Note that it’s less effort and you dont’ have to push with your arms. Rest.
  7. Practice this holding knees and rolling side to side until you can go so slowly and so softly that you use gravity to pull you over. You’ll learn that if you look where you are going the movement flows as well.

This lesson is great for equalizing your efforting in the front and back of you, at loosening the grip of your eyes on your movement and of easing your comfort after a long car or plane ride. If you’re a writer, this lesson helps you counteract the effects of sitting at your workstation for many hours.

Let me know how it goes . . .
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  1. Nice post Kim! I tried this and it is surprisingly difficult to relax and roll. I’ll keep practicing…

    • Now that you’ve practiced for a couple of days, how’s it going, Anne? Have you found that if you relax your hips and let your knees fall open, the movement is more about your spine turning. I’ll put a YouTube post up in a few days…..

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