I get a lot of requests for workshops or classes specifically for “body awareness.” I started asking the question, “What does body awareness mean to you?” These are some of the answers:
- I don’t know - awareness of their body
- How to move their body
- How to shift weight to all limbs
- How to lift limbs independently
- Awareness of where they are in space
I would argue that body awareness is all those things and more! How do I define it?
Body awareness equals an understanding of the position and movement of the body and - more specifically - where each limb is touching a surface to maintain balance.
From my definition above, you can see that my interpretation is very much about how the limbs are positioned and weight is being distributed. This is why in my classes I use the term “limb awareness.” But for the purposes of this blog post, we will stick to the generally accepted term “body awareness.”
Why do we care? Here are a few reasons:
- Helps with spacial sensitivity and coordination
- Improves posture, balance, strength and muscle engagement
- Decreases environmental sensitivity
So, the question is how do I teach a class that is advertised to be about “body awareness”?
For me, it comes down to developing a “language” between you and the dog to encourage movement on/off objects while improving balance and targeting specific muscle groups. Hmmmm...isn’t that what I do during all workshops, private lessons and classes?
I feel it should be noted that you are increasing your dog’s level of body awareness and strength every time you do a fitness workout whether that workout is on solid objects or inflatable ones. Regular workouts continue to strengthen a dog’s body awareness while intermittent workouts start the process over and over.
Every time your dog feels a different surface with her feet, she is increasing her proprioception (body awareness) and balance. Stimulating the nerves in your dog’s feet sends “signals” to her brain to shift weight this way or that way to stay upright.
With that all said, when fitness exercises are done correctly and targeting all areas of the body, in all planes of motion, you will be improving coordination, strength and balance or “body awareness.”
~ Bobbie Lyons, CCFT, KPA CTP