I’m sure we’ve all experienced being in some kind of exercise or movement class and being told we’re doing it wrong and that we should be doing it this way or that way. It can sometimes be done in an empowering way and can sometimes just feel like nagging. But when does a nag become empowering and what are the benefits of being taught ‘perfect’ technique as opposed to just going with the bodies ‘natural’ way of moving?
Now I’m all for perfecting technique. I really am. It may not sound like it but for beginners this is a crucial part of learning about our bodies. When we move in a certain way and get told we’re doing it ‘wrong’, a benefit of that is hopefully learning how our body is moving ‘incorrectly’ (that is if we’re taught in an empowering way). We get to learn how our body is different; maybe highlighting our strengths, our biases to move in a certain way and probably our weaknesses. Learning technique also encourages us to actually move and participate. Without these rules we’d probably find ourselves overwhelmed by choice of poses and movements and lose motivation. So, moving with perfect technique really does have its place when it comes to learning a new skill and actually participating.
However, as beginners we can sometimes start to overgeneralise this rule (much like kids learning a language when everything becomes -ed…’I sleeped so well last night, instead of I slept so well last night’). It is then that this obsession with perfecting technique can become a hinderance. We start to realise that the technique that so perfectly motivated and inspired us and taught us so much, actually begins to limit our progress and limit our understanding of our body. We’re moving in the same way and so learning the same things.
So, what can we do when this happens? Well, for me I started to take a step back and tune in to how I was feeling in each movement. I took a few courses and learnt some snazzy phrases (embodied movement, somatic experiencing) but it really came down to how do you feel when you do these movements. What is your experience of the movement?
When we shift the focus from what are you doing to how are you feeling, we can start to test the boundaries again (again kids are a perfect example of this). We can use those ‘perfect techniques’ as a blueprint to explore from and start learning what works for our body not just the general human body blueprint. We’re all made differently after all and so we’ll all move differently. This is when we can start to move with ease! Having learnt how our body is different (hopefully also having strengthened and improved mobility and flexibility along the way) we can start to move in ways that work for our body (and truly work not just things we like to do or things we’re good at…I’m guilty of this one!). It’s this that makes movement graceful! True grace! True ease and truly present- not stuck in your head wondering if you’re technique is right or wrong- true mindful movement.
So, for those of you somewhere at the beginning of your journey, take the time to learn the technique but remember this is just a framework, something for you to explore from. And if you’re stuck in a rut with your movement practises then this is the time to explore your somatic experience (how you feel) with the movement and hopefully start to relax and enjoy the movement in the present.
Come learn technique and easeful movement with our TreeHouse Membership. Each month is designed around a theme, giving us time to learn and focus on one thing, taking us from technique through easeful movement each month. Click here to learn more.