Quite a few of my GYROTONIC® clients came to the practice because they want to keep their bodies moving well as they age. For these clients three skills are the hub around which everything else I teach turns: rising from lying to standing; walking; and reaching high. Even when a client is seeing me for a wholly different reason, such as a specific injury recovery, there is still a degree to which the healthy movement I want to return them to revolves around these three things.
Dancers call this “getting out of the floor.” What a great expression. An accidental-deliberate reorganization of “get off the floor!” as suffered by kids in kitchens and homeless people in bus stations. The floor is at least as good a place to be as anywhere else, so when dancers are there we are in it not just “on” it. Supportive, it’s Earth. I’ve noticed a lot of my clients tend to be gardeners, a people more connected to nature, slow time, and earth. Gardeners are getting in and out of the floor all the time. Also, you don’t want to become the old lady in the old “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercials, right?
Learning to get in and out of the floor with grace is about learning how to spiral. Watch the video if you want to learn more about that. For a slower, more conservative approach than the one in my video, this Feldenkrais practitioner also does a great job of working with spiral.
Walking is the central skill in the triad. It’s something we all do, every day. The average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day. Many of us are walking 10,000 steps or more – a million every three months or so! It is the unifying, identity of being a human. The primary mode of transport, and the start of a run.
Because we are doing it every day, it is the thing we can always and easily return to as our foundation for awareness in movement. Organizing the body’s balance around that action is everything.
The way I think about and teach walking is heavily influenced by my studies of Klein Technique™ with Barbara Mahler. Klein Technique works from the bones first. In particular placing the pelvis in a balanced, upright position on the legs through awareness of and balanced use of hamstrings, psoas, rotators, and the pelvic floor.
The act of reaching shows up in infants long before walking: between 3 and 5 months of age. It plays a strong role in developmental movement, and therefore in future movement patterns. If you can’t reach well you are likely to feel, vaguely or acutely, dis-abled. I focus especially on reaching upward with the arm, because this is the form of reaching most impacted by aging: your naturally shortening spine compounds with reduced mobility until you find your better china literally out of reach.
The shoulder is profoundly more complex than any other joint in the body. There is so much you can learn by navigating the many pathways available from here to reach.