I’ve been trying to write a post all weekend about how awesome Minneapolis was. And it was really awesome. I learned a tonne about teaching and about my own movement. I laughed so much my Tranversalis muscle started to hurt. I geeked out with a bunch of people just as passionate about Restorative Exercise™ (RE) as me, and I stretched and moved constantly. It was, frankly, a bit of a shock to my system to come back from this:
and return to this:
Here’s a picture of me and Katy. This is right after she blew our minds by showing us where our pectoralis muscles really live. Hint: not where you think they do.
Katy read from her new book, Move Your DNA (which you should read STAT, because it’s awesome):
and then she got a room full of ordinary people to stand up and externally rotate their femurs.
All the teachers pushed the boundaries of what I thought I knew. There were at least 5 individual moments of realization that were so good that any one of them, alone, would have made the trip worthwhile. I saw a monarch butterfly and stayed next to the Mississippi (and a tiki bar)! My room-mates were all amazing and it was great to hang out and get to know them all.
My most memorable class? a toss up between the one with Katy where we discovered our pecs for the first time, and the 3.5 hour walking session with Michael Kaffel, where among other things, we stretched each foot for a full half hour. Maybe the most nauseating, challenging stretch I’ve ever done, but it was so cool when we finished. After doing the first foot, we went outside and walked on gravel. The stretched foot felt totally fine, and the other one hurt because it was walking on super pokey gravel. I always thought that sore feet on gravel were from tender skin, but it became abundantly clear that it’s got a lot to do with tight, stiff muscles. I’ve been spending a lot of time stepping on balls and rocks since then!
Despite it all being so great, for some reason it’s been tough to actually sit down and write about the week. I think it’s probably because it’s such an intense experience, and frankly it’s a pretty nerdy one as well (and probably also because I’ve spent more time at Ikea and Home Depot over the last 6 days than I ever expected to in my whole life).
The way our training works is basically like this: you arrive on the morning of the first day and you have a two and a half hour class with Katy. Then you watch other people have private lessons (or have some yourself) all day until 4, when there are two more hours of group classes. Repeat 5 more days until you are super sore and your head has exploded, in a good way. You take in so much information and move so much each day, and then in the evenings, you head home with your awesome house-mates to talk about it all and stretch even more. It’s like summer camp, I suppose, but for grown-ups who are passionate about health and natural movement.
As a result of the intense immersion, most of my takeaways are pretty technical. A new way to externally rotate your femurs! Better ways to release your psoas! A deeper understanding of hip flexion! Super awesome for me to know about – definitely will make an impact on my approach to my own practice and to my teaching – but maybe not so interesting to anyone who’s not a giant body nerd 🙂 But fortunately, I do have one giant takeaway that I would like to share:
It’s super simple, but it has profound implications:
Your body is the way it is because of how you move the most often. If you want to change your body, you need to change the way you move.
All the corrective exercises that form Restorative Exercise™ are super awesome, and will help you understand where you should be in space and help you get the muscle length and strength to go there, but the most profound changes in your health will come from how you move throughout your daily life. Do you hunch over a computer? Do you stand with a hip sticking out? Do you cross your legs when you sit? Do you wear high heels? Lean on the sink when you do dishes? Do you sit in a chair when you could squat or sit on the floor instead? Over time, these are things that make you sick. The good part is that you don’t need to make any extra time in your day to change them – just start noticing. Each time you notice, give yourself a gold star and move into a position that’s less wonky.
And with that, it’s time to get back to working on the house. It turns out that stripping radiators is a great way to practice squatting.