Tuesday, 12 July 2011

You just sit back and watch...

Some time ago I went to a yoga workshop with a teacher who started the class by saying something like this: 'So, I could make you do all of these really difficult poses. I could put you all into headstands. Or I could just stand there and repeat: harder, harder, harder, more, more, more...and you would all do it. But then at the end of the class would you understand any of what's just happened to your body?'

I also once went to a dance class where the teacher was making us do a whole lot of really cool stuff. Really showy, difficult stuff. Right from the start. I never went back. Sure, it was kind of fun. But I really like understanding what's going on with my body. That's just me.

People interested in movement (at least people I talk to) spend a lot of time trying to unlearn things they have acquired throughout their lives. I'm trying really hard to unlearn a number of habits that my body developed over the years. I'm working on sitting, standing and walking comfortably and with awareness (some thought on 'undoing' from a wonderful Alexander teacher here). And I remember that a lot of times wen I was talking to people about movement, the advice you often hear is: look at the children. So I do.

I look at my son how he is learning to feel comfortable in his body. I look how he is developing all the amazing skills, necessary for him to roll over, crawl, sit up, pull himself up... I wait (im)patientkly for the first step he will take (when, oh when?!). I watch all this, but I bite my nails and almost never interfere.

I remember the learning to crawl phase - it was long. It lasted and lasted and lasted, and we really could not wait for him to finally get it (yes, we know all about the being here and now and enjoying the moment, but...). He would get on all fours, move his pelvis back and forth, back and forth, back and forth... look at the toy in front of him he was trying to get to, then fall down and complain. Back up. Back to all fours. And the pelvis... oh dear.

When he finally got it, he was the happiest person on the planet, and so were we.

We could have helped out. We could have followed the advice we hear all too often: come on, help him out. If you show him he'll get there faster. Look, he's struggling...

Yes, he's struggling. But if you think struggling is all bad, have a look at this great post from Janet Lansbury!

So here is how I see it: imagine you're doing a crossword (sudoku, solving a problem - whatever it is that you do). Imagine you have gone through all those moves, words, you have looked them up. You've tried all combinations. In fact, this is a hard one, you've been working on it for days. You KNOW success is near. Sure, you are frustrated, but you KNOW it will feel so good when you finally do it. You're almost there. There is just one word missing. It's on the tip of your tongue, you almost have it...when a helpful friend creeps behind you and whispers the word you have been trying to figure out.

How does this make you feel?


  1. I really like this analogy! My son is just 4 months. He recently learned to roll himself to his side. He gets in this position, then cranes his neck - at times he seems so close to propelling himself to his stomach, though I'm sure it's still weeks away. My husband asks "can't we just... show him?" and I encourage him to just step back and watch the struggle because it will eventually pay off. He learned to roll to his side without our help, after all! :) When I lose my nerve and want to give him a push, I'll remember this analogy!

  2. Dear Kara,

    that is wonderful :) so cool that you believe in your son and trust he is capable of getting there on his own. It's hard watching them 'almost there', but like you said - it will eventually pay off. And it will be fully his success :)

    thank you for reading and relating to it :)