Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Word about "Dynamic Alignment" and Therapeutic Exercise

Many events came together to inspire this post. One is this post on Movement's Research's blog by my favorite dance teacher, Jennifer Nugent. Another is the yoga class I took last night with all-around beauty and BMC practitioner, Julee Snyder. These two things highlighted something I have been thinking about and experiencing a lot lately.

In Pilates and yoga and such we talk about "dynamic alignment" -- that alignment is not a static thing, the body is always in motion, trying to right and balance itself with reference to gravity. But we easily (at least for me and my attention span) abandon our dimensional, dynamic being responding to gravity in favor of the rules of forward-focused alignment and specific muscular engagement. At the end of Julee's class, we sat. During class we got to keep in mind our organs and our depth so that movement undulated from deep inside with respect to our contents. In sitting, I had a sense of a dripping feeling down the back of my skull which reminded me that, even though my eyes are on the "front" of my head, I am a cylindrical being who does not necessarily have to orient front-ward. So often in the beginning of a yoga class we hear what we are supposed to do to sit upright; how this and that should engage and how our chin should be placed to have proper alignment. But these rules or suggestions come about because we naturally do just sit and balance in all directions with gravity...it's like a constant dance...oh my god, how beautiful. (I've said before to my yoga classes and others, I secretly just want everyone to be dancing all the time. Well, guess what, we are.) And in Pilates we engage this in the front and that in the back to bring the spine into a neutral alignment so we can be "at the ready." Again, the body does this on its own because it is. It lives with forces that it constantly balances.

This is not to say I do not enjoy Pilates and yoga nor find them fun and helpful. I've just been thinking about bodies in space without the rules. And I guess the point of this post is that for me, dance (or the kinds I like to practice based on weight and momentum and proprioception) asks for an acceptance of the force of gravity and a willingness to feel how the body can balance them in movement. Dance asks to forget forward orientation through its disorientation and to let go of the rules a little bit to simply experience the body's ability to balance, as the movement asks you to go off balance. Without this context, postural guidelines and muscular exercises lose their meaning.

That's about it for now. Enjoy gravity and pretend you have eyes on the back of your head.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry about typos...I don't really edit since this is a blog. I will work on that in the future.