Posture in ropes

posture in ropes semenawa rope bottoming
Another question & answer to a fellow rope bottom i like to share with you here. You can send me your own questions on! 

The tying couple was experiencing the following problem. The bottom, as soon as feeling the ropes on their body, was relaxing completely, entirely, becoming extra heavy and difficult for the rigger to handle. So the rigger was complaining that they were relaxing “too much” and the rope bottom was wondering how that ever could be a problem 🙂

Indeed we promote the idea of relaxing, exhailing, when in ropes. But can we relax “too much”? Here are some thoughts:

Relaxation / Tension are complex states! There are many things that are happening in our bodies: muscle tone – obvious one, but there is more: breath – very important! …presence: where is your attention, where are you? 

Relaxation is not passive!

Let’s not confuse relaxation with passivity or inertness. Relaxation is an active state of non-doing, being both calm and awake and ready to react. We let our tissue follow the force of gravity, we “drop” it, instead of bracing, holding, but our spirit, our attention is awake and present. 

“…we keep our spirit, or attention, bright and alive throughout our entire body, while we allow our muscles, tissues, and cells to actively submit to the force of gravity…”

Richard Strozzi-Heckler

Inviting our awareness

Now, Relaxation / Tension is not something that “happens to us”, it is something we are “doing” with our bodies. We activate our muscles and hold the breath – we freeze! – in order to dissociate. We tense our jaws to control the anxiety. We close the throat to stop the tears from running down the cheeks. 

Our bodies are always doing something. Try to notice and observe:

What exactly is happening with you when you “relax” in ropes? Where is your attention? 

Where are you, when you are tied?! Where are your thoughts? Do you notice yourself? 

How do you breathe? 

What is with your muscle tone? Do you feel your body? 

Maybe you like to invite awareness about these moments next time when being tied. Play with that and try different states of being in ropes. You will see for yourself what feels satisfying. It is not about right or wrong, it is about developing your capacity and exploring different possibilities in ropes. 


In body disciplines, in tango, in aikido, there is a concept of “Axis” as a “notional vertical line made by your head, shoulders, hips, and foot, that has something to do with both balance point and with posture. I remember from my few tango classes that the teachers were inviting us to be balanced on our own axis, not falling over on our partner 🙂

It has both “down” vector as grounding and at the same time head & chest “up”. This is another illustration of the state that is relaxed and present (but not collapsing at the same time). It is much easier to maintain the body, when it has some tension in it. When we sink in ropes completely, it is more difficult to handle us, when the body has no “axis”, completely limp vs. vital… 

Body handling matters

There is a value in learning efficient body handling. Body has main pivotal points, like shoulders and hips (butt), the body can be manipulated efficiently using these points. The best way to learn these things is hands-on classes with a good rope teacher.

At all times, as you practice, keep your open mind and curiosity. It is not about right vs. wrong, but about developing your capacity and exploring different possibilities in ropes.