Lately (well actually for a long time!) I’ve been fascinated with improving body movement and function through alignment. About a year ago I came across Katy Bowman. She created an eponymous blog called “Katy Says” and posted about various movement and alignment topics for over seven years. Katy is a writing machine with nine books published and more on the way.
In my “now reading” pile are these two gems; the first tome may be considered a bit radical by some who may not have considered how our lifestyle of ease impacts more than just our personal heath. The second is a collection of Katy’s blogs over the first five years and sections them into specific topics, such as “Feet and Shoes” and “Your Body – the Big Picture” to name just two.
I strongly recommend checking out these titles and her website for many more posts, videos, and books. Click here to get to the main page for Nutritious Movement.
So, you’re learning Pilates, or yoga, or Tai Chi, or ________ (insert your own new challenging skill here). The directions from your teacher are to move your arms/legs, draw in your abs, do another movement,*and* breathe, then repeat. What?! How can you possibly complete this new skill that has at least five different parts? Perhaps this is the first time since you were a baby that you’ve had to figure out how to make your body work/move a particular way.
Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful in all mind/body exercise systems:
1. Leave the “outside world” at the door. If you bring your world with you when you’re trying
to connect with your body, well then your body is competing with the rest of your life and
will likely lose.
2. Breathe. As cliché as it sounds your controlled,steady, and even breathing
helps calm your nervous system, making it easier to focus your mind.
3. Forget Multitasking. The instructor knows you can’t check everything at once.
Create a short mental checklist for each exercise that you do.
For example: Inhale, alignment, legs, Exhale, alignment, relax neck.
Repeat checklist for each repetition.
4. Mastery is a process. The first time, second time, fiftieth time, even the
thousandth time you do an exercise it is a practice. We are not the same
every day. Learn from your whole body what the exercise reveals to you that
5. Exhaustion is not the end goal of every workout. I’ll be blunt – pushing
yourself during every workout to a place that may put you at risk for injury is
too much. Your body also benefits from workouts that focus on alignment,
deeper engagement, and even restoration. If you’ve been using your
workouts for stress relief gift your body, mind and spirit with a different
perspective. Try meditation (sitting or walking), journaling, restorative yoga, or
recreational reading for a change.
Give at least one of these tips a try and see if it enhances your next workout.