Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Confession of an alignerd: I don't fly anymore: a Modern Miracle

Early in my alignment journey, after much studying, memorization, restorative exercising [thank you Nancy], and walking, (and walking!) I made my way to the RE 'holy city' of Ventura, CA, to see and be seen.  There, we would have private sessions with Restorative Exercise heavyweights and take group classes for nearly a week, at the end of which we'd take a test and practice teaching people who volunteered to learn something for which they'd pay nothing, and we'd be observed teaching alignment basics.  We were to be inspected.  Nay: certified.

Now, I've been certified before and found it nerve wracking.  Pilates on all the apparatus.  I worried I wasn't knowledgeable enough and would be found wanting.  Probably waited an extra year before "testing out."  And though the folks conducting the test were perfectly lovely people, I felt as if I were going into battle, and I was, but with my own demons, not anyone assessing my ability.
Of course, I could see that only after I'd passed (whew) but forgot the lesson and felt the same stuff (dang demons) in the private sessions prior to the Restorative Exercise Exam.  Gird your loins.

Bright lights. Big City.  To get this tall, alignment is KEY.

A few weeks prior, I'd taken a trip to my hometown, (NYC) and had the pleasure of staying in a friend's apartment on the lower East side (which is now incredibly hip).

There's a place on Orchard to get individually brewed cups of coffee w/designer beans in seconds.  The tube sucks just the right amount of which ever bean you desire, your cup's brewed, and they all have crema on top!  Man, the lower East Side ain't what it used to be.
(But the pickle guys are still there.  FYI)
The buildings haven't changed much at first blush (until one gets a load of a spacious marble shower stall) from the tenements of the old days and there are many flights of steps to climb.  No sweat.  I'm a fitness professional with a well-toned core and all that goes with that.

Leaving there one evening for a dinner date at another friend's place uptown, I slipped on the worn-down marble steps and flew down about a half a flight of steps and landed pretty hard.  Twisted an ankle and wrenched a knee, so that when I'd decided I was going to continue on to dinner uptown, I had to "monster walk" forward so I didn't have to bend knees or work ankles too much [which I perma-dorsi-flexed]. From the stares, I think I made a convincing monster.

I stayed on 57th Street for two days (ice, elevation, tender loving care of my oldest and dearest friends) and a week or two later, there I was in at my anxiety-producing event in Ventura.  I explained that my knee & ankle weren't doing that well, so I might not be able to make the right moves just then, when heavyweight A informed me that it was because I was basically falling all-the-time, not in control of my descending, that it went the way it had for me.  What???   I did not possess the grace (in the moment) to actually receive his message.  I thought, " You (blankety-blank), you have no idea why I fell down those stairs....#*!!+=(."

Fast forward (I know, not a moment too soon) to me leaving a movie theater earlier today.  I was about to descend a staircase and I think it was because of the interesting carpet replacement color choice I mis-read that the stairs were beginning when I thought I was placing my foot on the landing and it would be my NEXT step which would be the step down.

SURPRISE!  I was releasing my weight onto a foot which did not have anything underneath it to land upon, and I did fall a bit, but as I no longer leverage gravity as I once did, I didn't fall forward.  I was not accelerating.  Easy to recover, I just reached for the bannister.  I was in slow motion anyway, not hurtling anywhere. Shazzam :o)

So even though I did pass my exam at the end of that week, it has taken me another couple of years to realized and validate my fundamental operational transformation:  I'm back to using my own power.  As a matter of habit (because you know I was turning my smartphone back on when I mis-read that step) I hold my weight over my heels now, apparently whether I'm thinking about it or not.

So thank you, Katy and alignment community:  thanks to you, my tissues grow happier daily and I don't fly down staircases anymore, either.  Sweet.

If you'd like to stop flying, call me.  Or  Bodywisdom Studio or read about everything you ever needed to know about alignment here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sculptors Awaken

Whilst at the recent homecoming training for Restorative Exercise faithful I noticed that for most, sitting, [getting upright atop of their ischial tuberosities] folks need a block or a bolster for it to be easy and I do not.  And in stark contrast to so many in the room, I rate myself an under-achiever.  While many declare daily multiple hour devotion to our exercises, I do very little.  Well, I do walk a couple of miles almost daily and that walk is more and more aligned and posteriorly-driven.  I do teach a few classes too, so I get to demonstrate stuff, and hang a bunch, but I invest precious little time to our corrective exercises.  So it seemed to me I didn't deserve this, I'd done nothing much to earn my great range of motion.

Then it struck me. (I flash back six decades) I grew up in a house headed by a Native American.  It made sense to him that people naturally sit on the floor; (the minivan and lazyboy had not yet been invented) we had almost no furniture.  Made sense to him...  Hey, I didn't have furniture when I was growing up...

So I spent my earliest years sculpting MY body to raise and lower my butt to & from the ground, not from the couch or the barcalounger [how do you spell bark-a-lounger]?.  The operations department in MY head has a huge datafile relating to what people in the yoga classes I attend refer to as crazy flexible hips.  Mine just grew up with the experience of natural movement, and theirs, in the main, did not:  different cultural program working here.

Now, I expect my body to be able to do just about anything I'd like it to.  I have a "why not" attitude founded on my body responding with willingness to try new things because I am constantly aware of its potential, not constantly being reminded of its limitations.  It has ever been so.

I grew up thinking that everyone was just like me (!) and the rest of life has been a series of little ah-ha moments about just how different I am.  We're all unique, right? You can do stuff I can't because of who and how you are. Robustness of pelvic experience from floor-sitting right through formative years gave me a giant 'leg up' on this existence.  Hey, I got my PhD in floor-sitting when I was 7 :o)

I just plunked down so my spouse could take a picture

If you have read earlier posts, you know that I've sustained injuries that limit my knee flexion and those are improving daily, as I re-sculpt myself.  I don't know the number of degrees I've gained.  Becoming pain-free was my happiest milestone passed and the rest is just gravy.  If I live long enough I'll get my ten-year-old knee back. 

If you're a glass half-empty type, you think well, goody for you, missy, I grew up with furniture and am out of luck.  But that wouldn't be exactly true, as you're not dead yet, and expanding your range of motion and re-sculpting is something you can work on continuously throughout every day if you'll pay some attention to your alignment, walk some, hang from your hands some, and squat some. 

Start lowering your butt to the floor a few times a day.  Use a hand to begin with if you need to.  Celebrate your loudness of groan. That's your body saying, where have you been all my life!  And it will be grateful for every single millimeter of more opening, caused by more muscle tissue getting involved as you lower more and fall less.  If you're able to keep this going on even a fairly regular basis, you can become more functional (youthful) not less, over time.  And you're going to be around for a while, right?  You could make a start now.  Well, alright, maybe NOW.  Want help?

We're sculptors.  How and how much you move continuously (slump much?) molds and shapes our tissues.  We're sculptors working in the medium of our own human tissue.  How you move your body [or don't] is your tool for fashioning the masterwork.  And you can call a "do-over" any time at all. 

So get up and boogie as it is truly never too late to start and I think I'm almost old enough to be living proof.  Thanks, Pop for the floor sitting ability.  And Mom too, who was into the healthy, whole, healthy food long before it was defined as such by anyone.  (Even if she always did yearn for a comfortable couch)  And you were right Mom, one day I would be glad about having vegetables for snacks.  And it's been pretty much everyday for decades.  Didn't see that coming...