Seeking Knowledge from the Ministry of Silly Walks

Credit: Jazeen Hollings (User talk:JazHol) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71148240

Breaking down old habits that we sometimes don’t even know we have can be awkward at best, and downright uncomfortable too. We keep adapting and changing throughout life, sometimes to find ourselves walking funny (or sitting funny, or standing funny). Adaptation is GREAT – it keeps us growing and it’s what can make life exciting. It also brings challenges, especially when those adaptations don’t serve us in the healthiest of ways. It can be very uncomfortable to 1) discover that you have a habit that doesn’t serve you, and 2) start to really shift that habit into something else. That is the point when a lot of people throw their hands up, shake a fist at the sky, and decide it’s better to stay in the more familiar place rather than face any uncomfortable growing pains (oh man do I know this feeling!).

I have a colleague who has had a long road trying to figure out this tweak about her walking. She’s tried to unravel it – is it in the right hip? Oh – it may be the left hip. Is it how my shoulders are swinging? My head isn’t screwed on right! She has explored with a lot of stuff – which is what having a Somatics practice is all about: Using your life as a laboratory or sand box to experiment and play. She walked in different ways, different directions, tested the weight on her feet, felt how different muscles tighten on each side of her hips. It’s a process that sometimes takes a long time, or not much time at all. But it is all about exploring in a curious, non-judgmental way in order to open the opportunity to change.

This has been the challenge for me in the past week – not specifically with walking, but with other habits, both muscularly and emotionally. Staying curious, experimenting, playing. Accessing and learning from Silly Walks. What if we could all think of life this way? What’s in your lab or sand box?

For this week’s class, the 3rd in the Walking with Ease series, we’ll see how the length in the waist helps to free the hips & legs for more easeful walking. We’ll bring in the shoulders to “help” the hips move more freely. We’re going to contemplate “silly walks” by applying what you do on the floor to your upright walk too.

Here is the link for this week’s class: Walking with Ease, Lesson 3 – Thursday at 12pm noon eastern time. Register here for class.

Classes run 35-45 minutes. Make sure you have a yoga mat sized space for the practice. Your video and audio will be off when you first get in the “room”, you have the option to turn both on. I’d love to *see* you, but feel free to remain off if you’re more comfortable that way 🙂

Tat Tvam Asi – You Are That

One of my favorite bumper stickers

One of my favorite phrases is “Tat Tvam Asi”, or Thus thou art. A more common English way of saying this is “There but by the grace of god, go I”. I love this phrase so much, because it reminds me that I could be anyone. I could have been born into any circumstance, with different parents, in a different part of the world, with a different skin color, or a different economic place. This phrase has helped me to be less judgmental, and aided me when I completely and utterly cannot for the life of me figure out a viewpoint that I don’t agree with. “That could be me”, I say to myself. And at the very least, it helps me not be so shut off from hearing another point of view.

As a Somatics practitioner, I was trained to try to see things from the perspective of my students, not just from the outside. It helps to be able work with someone as a whole soma (body/mind/beyond) and consider what it’s like to walk in their shoes, rather than see them in one dimension. It’s a helpful practice, not just in my work, but in my daily life. These days, there are plenty of people to disagree with and polarize. Repeating “Tat Tvam Asi” could help bring more compassion and understanding to this current divisiveness we are experiencing right now.

Happy December (and upcoming classes, videos, sessions)

I have a great class series coming up in January at Happy Body in Asheville. It’s one of my favorites: a 6-week Functional Somatics Series. Each week we will have an everyday movement as our topic (listed below). We’ll begin with an assessment of that movement, and then spend the class exploring how to improve that movement. We end each class returning back to that original movement, and see how it’s changed for us. I get really excited about these classes – it’s so much fun to see how everyone has changed after such simple and gentle movements. Below find more information on the series, and how to register.

6-Week Functional Somatics Series

Starting January 10, 2017
Tuesdays, 9:30am

Week 1 Reaching to the Top Shelf
Week 2 Twisting to Look Behind Us
Week 3 Getting Up & Down Off the Floor
Week 4 Improved Walking
Week 5 Better Breathing
Week 6 Bending Over to Touch Your Toes

Happy Body, Biltmore Village
25 Reed St, Studio
$99 for the full series
Register Here.

I finally got around to making some videos:

After much procrastination, I have started a YouTube channel with video talks and some basic movement explorations. Check that out here.

Private Sessions

As always, I offer private sessions in my office at 25 Reed St in Biltmore Village, Asheville. If you’re in the Asheville area, I would love to meet you. More information about private sessions can be found here on my website.

Blessings to you and yours, and I look forward to seeing you next year.

Myths about Hip Pain

I have been seeing a few clients recently who have been told they needed a hip replacement. According to WebMD, the number of hip replacement procedures that have been performed in the US has doubled in the last ten years. The reason, doctors say, is an increase in osteoarthritis. And patients are getting younger and younger.

Martha Peterson recently posted “The Top 3 Myths About Hip Pain”, which are very helpful in helping our clients avoid possibly unnecessary surgery.

Myth Number 1: “You Hip Pain is due to arthritis” Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. Many clients tell me their doctors have said “it’s just apart of aging”. I find that hard to believe in otherwise healthy people under the age of 50. I find it hard to believe in otherwise healthy people of any age, actually. I do find that doctors are quick to dismiss pain as result of “aging”, but how can any condition be the result of simply getting older?

Myth Number 2: “Your hips are weak” If muscles are tight, they are habitually contracted. Habitually contracted muscles are already working too hard. Muscles that are working too hard are not weak, they cannot be released to be weak and unusable. Hanna Somatics helps to identify this habituated over-contraction, and helps clients to regain control over the full length of the muscles, not just the part that has been contracting.

Myth Number 3: “Surgery is the only option for hip pain” Although good intentioned, oftentimes doctors are looking at a problem to fix, rather than look at the bigger patterns that may have contributed to hip pain in the first place. Although habituated muscle function can lead to structural damage, I witness many people who are just not there yet. They still have time to deconstruct patterns in the body, correct, and improve movement in the hip joints and center of the body.

I also find that clients start to “protect” their hips by not moving them very much, leading to greater immobility and tighter joints in the center of the body as well as the hips. Then it is a case of the muscles of the center working harder and doing extra jobs, potentially leading to more pain. Once the center of the body is released, the brain can trust fuller movement again, and hip pain is relieved.

For Martha’s full article, and a great video on releasing the center of the body, click here.