Sunday, April 20, 2014
Goal setting for mindful movement and the asana in progress project
One of the things that I love about movement is there is always something to work on. Regardless of one's physical endeavors, there is always room for increased efficiency, improved performance, or simply moving to the next level. Over the years, I have had many different goals, some extremely specific ("I will run up this 2.5 mile hill without stopping to walk in the next month," "I will learn how to do the Turkish Get-up,"), others specific to what I viewed as weakness ("I will learn to fire my lateral hip stabilizers on my right side during single leg squats," "I will learn to use my adductors while arm balancing"). Perhaps the most challenging change in my movement that I implemented was last year when I realized my deep core stability as it related to my breathing was not just less than optimal- it was non-existent. I spent three months re-training my neurological system and did so much diaphragmatic breathing that I bruised a little muscle under my sternum called the triangularis sterni. I get bored easily, and setting a goal keeps me interested and moving towards something.
In my quest to learn about movement, I spend time on Youtube watching people move really well. There are the yogis, that float gracefully from one pose to another, the Ido Portals of the world, that could seemingly spend hours in handstand variations, and the Scott Sonnons and Erwan LeCorres that move seamlessly, fluidly, as though there is no effort required at all to lift a giant log or swing a club bell. This is wonderful, inspiring, and can be a great learning tool; however, it never showcases all of the work it takes to get there. I truly believe that almost anyone can achieve whatever movement task they desire, as long as they work mindfully and intelligently on that task. The task will not come overnight; it takes months, sometimes years to accomplish a movement task that poses a large challenge to an individual, and often requires addressing a specific weakness, looking at the task from several different angles, or dedicating specific time to practice the task daily. The way I finally made it up the 2.5 mile hill, for instance, was running it in the dark. Because I couldn't see how much longer I had, I was able to trick myself and just keep running. In a world where movement tasks such as climbing trees for fruit, hunting down large prey for food, and carrying heavy logs to build shelter are no longer necessary, it is important to set movement goals periodically to keep the mind and body engaged and working together. The mind/body disconnect and lack of movement efficiency that exists in western society isn't healthy for our overall well-being. So, I invite you to join me. Pick a movement goal. It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it is something that you can't do currently. Examine it, practice it, figure out your sticking point, and get creative about moving past the sticking point. To measure your progress, once a month, either film yourself, time yourself, or have someone assess you, depending on what your goal is. My goal, as you will see below, it to link together some of these postures together on my yoga mat. I filmed myself in the middle of my practice, which is eventually where the task should be performed with ease. I will work on these tasks in a variety of ways, by performing some of my sticking points in isolation, in the gym after a strong core session, and in a less fatigued state. However, since the task is to be done during yoga, each month, I will film during a yoga practice and examine my progress. I am giving myself 12 months, and if I complete the task before then, I have two other asanas I am working on that I will devote my attention to. When I was debating graduate school, a client pointed out that in 24 months, I would be two years in the future, with or without the knowledge a master's degree would provide. Which version of myself did I want to be? The same is true with any challenge. Twelve months will pass regardless of whether I decide to improve my strength and mobility. I want to be a stronger me, and I hope you do too.
Yours in health and wellness,