Freedom of Movement
Yoga in the fitness culture we live in today has become both aggressive and mechanical and because of that it is no longer a healing art. I even hesitate to call what I do yoga because the word itself has become so corrupted.
I was injured in a yoga class because I was forced to move at a pace that eventually exacerbated an old injury. I finished my yoga training on pain killers. How much sense does that make?
Yoga has become identified with an extreme form of athleticism as exemplified by peak fitness or Ashtanga yoga, which work the body even to the point of exhaustion. Angela Farmer draws an analogy of beating a tired horse to death eventually. Classes are often fast-paced which forces the individual to move at a speed with which an individual may or may not be able to keep up. Fast pacing deep exercise can and has injured many students of yoga whose tissue is too rigid to be forced.
Deep breathing is helpful but if it too is rigidly mechanical and repetitive rather than organic and emotionally releasing, tension in the body can be reinforced rather than released.
Angela Farmer style yoga teaches that yoga should be an energetic and emotional experience rather than purely physical experience. Just moving the body without engaging the emotions and the mind becomes mindless exercise. Forcing yourself into poses you have to strain to get into is guaranteed to hurt. It is fine to sweat and release toxins but again, what is in the body are not only toxins but emotions, old injuries and habits that should not be forced open. To do so is counter-productive.
The fitness culture and calisthenics sees the body as a machine built along straight lines as all machines are but the muscles of the body move along diagonal lines.
I was once involved with a dance studio where the mantra was 'dance from within'. Don’t get hung up on the outer form but feel the joy of movement.
If you’re after the perfect pose, buns of steel, or fab abs, steer clear. This is not for you.
So that is why what I do, I call it Freedom of Movement. I have been inspired by Angela Farmer style of yoga, synergy dance, and cranial sacral therapy.
What is central to my approach is the basic concept that the body is not a machine. It is a vital living organism through which your mind and emotions and your spirit express. Forcing your body into difficult poses can be damaging: forcing yourself, period, just isn’t much fun.
The breath is at the core; the body rides the wave of the breath as it moves or it should. I believe that the endless repetitive, mechanical movement is not only boring; it is actually damaging. The idea is to release the long held tensions of the body slowly and with respect to your vehicle and to feel empowered, actively engaged, and even joyful in movement.
Movement should be fun, like kids playing, not another chore.
Mechanical movement is boring. If you’re not really engaged, what’s the point? Body, mind and emotion together!
The body can ride the wave of breath, not move like a little tin soldier.
The goal is to feel better.
Flexibility and comfort in your own skin is what we’re after.
Flat abs can be a danger. The belly should be mobile for the rest of the body to be free.
Imagery is better than directions.