I came across this article in the New York Times last week. It describes the life transforming benefits of working with a particular physical therapist. The therapist referred to her work as;
"'unwinding' and likens the process to taking apart a big ball of tangled necklaces. Each tangle has come about through some emotional or physical injury from which our body has attempted to heal. But the body compensates in areas where it is weak, and those compensations turn into habits. The pain we feel is largely due to a once efficient system no longer working the way it should."
This struck me as being so similar to our own journey - the difference being that we are doing it to ourselves - from the inside out. You, by stages, can become your own physical therapist. Mind you, if we could get in touch with Ann that would be fantastic too. There is no reason you can't enjoy both modalities!
Is There Anybody Out There?
The whole point of what we do together is listening to our bodies, really listening. Then we need to respond. You wouldn't not brush your teeth, so when you do recognise habits and tensions here in class - make it your mission to keep exploring them out in the world.
Daily Self-Care Makes A Huge Difference
I'm running out of time to lovingly suggest (also nag) that whatever effort you put into your body will return a multitude of benefits. I see this and hear about it every day. When people commit to some home practice (and that really might just mean more awareness and shifting ways of doing daily tasks.....along with calf stretching) they start to feel so much better. Just yesterday a lady who did one of my workshops played her first netball game in years, and she loved it.
If we get used to doing 10 to 15 minutes of unwinding every day, and we do it slowly and luxuriously - giving ourselves permission to enjoy it - we might find ourselves transforming. A few people have told me they have a tendency to rush through any exercises and unfortunately that may be reinforcing old tensions. So take the phone off the hook (sorry that's a bit prehistoric, put it on silent!) and enjoy your unwinding. Once you start feeling better it becomes a healthy addiction.
I Feel So Clumsy?
It is really common to feel awkward when you are doing somatic movement - especially in the early months. This is even true for people very used to doing physical activity with their bodies. It's actually a wonderful thing to recognise though - because it means you are becoming conscious of the lack of mind/muscle connection and cooperation. In other words, Sensory Motor Amnesia.
As the father of Somatics, Thomas Hanna said:
"If you can sense it and feel it, you can change it."
If you persevere with your daily exercises - you may be amazed at how quickly you start to smooth out those bumps and reestablish the healthy connections that are part of smooth, fluid movement.
With so much emphasis on listening, slowing down and self-care this week - we will incorporate some additional psoas releasing exercises. This makes it so much easier to walk well. Especially when we add some inner thigh (adductor) awareness, strengthening and releasing exercises. Last week we talked about the importance of the external hip muscles, the TFL - this week we look at their inner thigh counterpart. Together they help us move well and find great balance.
Home Focus Week 7:
Here is a beautiful exercise sequence for a Healthy Psoas from Susan McLaughlin, Physical Therapist and Restorative Exercise Specialist™. You will recognise many of them from class today and over the term. You might aim to do a few of these each day.
Calf Stretch (30 seconds to 1 minute each side) x 2 or more times a day
Pelvic List (30 seconds to 1 minute each side)
It is very important to slowly move into wearing minimalist shoes. Potentially, with patience and supporting exercises, there are many benefits to be had. I highly recommend you arm yourself with knowledge about your movement health and make finding the right footwear a part of that journey. If you would like to know more have a look at the Research Links page of my website.