Buenas tardes Travellers,
I hope this day finds you well in this world wherever that may be. Whenever it may be…I saw this random flower when I was mowing earlier this morning. No idea what it is or where it came from. Just seemed to be popping thru the fence to say, “Hello there”…
Let’s talk about the brain and movement. I think the number one benefit of exercise is brain health. AND learning how to control the body with the mind, which helps you be present in the moments of your life. Which in case you didn’t know, those things are super important for everyone. There isn’t a human alive who shouldn’t be present or aware of their own body.
I know the brain isn’t very sexy looking, it’s kind of an odd alien type organ isn’t it? It looks moist and squishy to me. It’s not something you can wear a smaller sized jean on or fit it into a bikini and attract all the boys. Hello to that image, a brain in a bikini attracting men…I never hear anyone brag on their brain after a work out. Said no one EVER, “I did this amazing exercise and I feel like I just lifted and tightened my brain. It’s my new peach!!”
What the hell is that by the way with the butt and the peach emoji? Who is making these choices?
I tend to believe that all the things you can learn in a yoga practice could/should be applied to all movement. Specifically, the way you learn to be present in the movement. Uniting the mind to the body thru the breath. Yoga also moves at a pace where I think you can really grab onto all the inches of awareness from the tip of your toes, to the ends of your fingers to the crown of your head and all the juiciness in between. You can learn to use the mind to move the body, which in the end is what it’s all about. Believe it or not, I feel it’s the joy those of us who move daily thrive inside of, exploring what the body can do when unified with a willing and present mind.
I believe grounding, which is a yoga thing, applies to all movement, as in feeling where you are connected to this earth. To this moment and then the next moment. Stand on the floor, feel the ground beneath you, think about pushing down thru your feet and then lifting up through your body. But don’t move your feet, just feel that present sensation. Rooting down is the phrase I use and hear often, which I literally mean like a tree. Do you know how a tree works? The part you can see is obviously not standing there all by itself, right? It’s the extensive rooting underneath that supports it in a storm, sways in the wind, and helps it stand tall and upright. And then there’s the energy. The life in every inch of the tree. The tree is both pushing and pulling energy into the earth.
I think that’s also how we move, or how I like to teach moving, particularly plyometrics. If you think of jump training as a pushing energy both down and drawing up, then using the core to float and a catch, an absorption of sorts, moving the energy thru that movement in a inexhaustible way, I think you really get better engagement of the mind and the body. Feel every moment moving every inch. Using all the muscles in symphony.
Engagement that’s what we are talking about, the mind’s interaction with the body…let’s talk about walking. Walking is where everyone should begin a relationship with movement. I know it seems rudimentary and you feel like a kindergartner when I say that, but why start running when you have no awareness of the machine that you are behind the wheel of? Walk and think, do you pay attention to how you walk? Is your pelvis tilted in an anterior direction or posterior? Do you draw your belly in when you are walking or is everything hanging out? Are you using the core to support the movement? How’s your posture? Are you a heavy stepper? Because you can control all these things, with your mind. See, you are a Jedi, use your mind to control your foot step. Are you leaning forward, shoulders hunched? Use your mind to roll them back, and feel the movement…but now what just happened to your pelvis, do you see what I’m saying, there are so many things to think about while walking. It’s called neuromuscular control. See the reason to move is to learn to use your Jedi mind control over the nervous system, you know the highway in your body where signals travel from the mind to whatever muscle…it’s really pretty fucking amazing. And learning this stuff, it helps reduce injury as well, little sugar on the side there.
Strengthening the pathways AND growing new ones are the bread and butter of movement. The body without the mind is just an empty vessel. I tend to believe the body is quite willing it’s the mind where you are saying: I can’t, I’m too old, I’m too fat, I’m not coordinated enough, I’m not good enough, I’m tired, I don’t have time, it’s not that important…your body isn’t saying that, your mind is, but taking control of your thoughts is a topic for a different post. I always used to say in particularly difficult postures in class, “If you want to be strong, choose, it is a choice, so make it now and be strong.” I say that to myself everyday in my home studio. This is all a choice, the mind chooses, the body will follow.
I think the other thing that becomes more interesting the more you move is the idea of controlling the body when it’s moving rapidly and/or under momentum. I think that’s really where it’s at for me in terms of fascination. Can you focus so intently that speed doesn’t decrease your ability to be present in every inch?Did you ever see Michael Jordan play for the Bulls? I always felt like he was fully in control of his vehicle at a very high velocity and when he would jump, it was beautiful. It was a ballet of control, but I bet he felt free. Because there is freedom in mindful movement. And that can be all of us, okay, maybe not playing for the Bulls, but those moments where you are fully present, moving, living and being at home in yourself. Finding your strength, getting your sexy brain on. I genuinely believe it’s one of the reasons we are fortunate to live this life.