Some Therapists Look at Prostrations
Lent is approaching, and our services call for making more prostrations.
We hope that you make prostrations, not with fear and doubt, but with joy and confidence, thanking God for this ancient form of prayer offered with body, mind, and soul.
Please perform any physical movement carefully. Stop if you feel pain. Follow the advice of your Priest and your health care provider about movement, especially if you’ve had injuries or surgeries. These prostration tips are for people without physical limitations. A prostration is only one of the traditional ways to pray.
We recommend that you do the “Two knees down and up” method. This keeps your spine and hips in good positions. But, you need to protect your knees with this method, especially when coming up!
Here’s one method:
When you start, your lower legs are vertical. Keep them vertical as you lower your upper body until your hands can rest on the floor. For most people, doing a low squat is the best way. Keep your lower legs vertical (more or less). Now let your hands “walk forward,” and let your knees come to the floor. (Your arms help support the weight of your upper body, and they take pressure off of your knees.)
When you come back up, use your hands to “walk back” and push back until your lower legs are vertical again. This is very important. You might be tempted to rise when your lower legs are at an angle. Wait until your lower legs are vertical. Now you can straighten up.
Why Are Prostrations Good for You?
St.Porphyrios says, “Prostrations are a sacrifice and an offering—an offering of love and worship. And the whole person participates in the worship, body and soul.”
You could call a prostration the perfect exercise for the body. A dynamic squat with a push-up, with blood flowing down from the heart to the head. Thanks to the Fathers for their wisdom!
A prostration strengthens the muscles. It stretches the muscles and tendons. It massages the inner organs. It rounds and straightens the back. It squeezes air out of the deep parts of the lungs, and it aids in a full inhale. It brings increased blood flow to the brain, especially the frontal lobe, because the head is below the heart. It increases the heart rate, just like interval aerobic training.
So, prostrations and other bowing positions of prayer—they are God’s gift of sacrifice, offering, humility, strength, and aerobic exercise. Follow the traditions of prayer with body, mind, and soul. Do your prayers!
By Lynne Attaway, OT, Marsha Raasch, OTA, Allison Suits, PT