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A year has come and gone and The NewYork Bowspring Project seems to have gone silent. Heavy sigh. Well, I’m still here. I haven’t forgotten about my one year, personal goal to help grow the Bowspring community within New York City. The desire to help people heal themselves from physical and emotional trauma through accessible, functional movement seemed like such a tangible task.. .You know, just go into the concrete jungle and change some lives! You know, just create an Instagram account, post some great pictures and get 1,000 followers! You know, just like, apply for a grant, get it, then write a book about the process… riiiiiiight. I’m not saying I thought it would be easy, although I will admit my self expectations were lofty.
I’ve been feeling absolutely guilt ridden that I haven’t made more progress in the 12 months since I started this project. I look back at my previous posts and marvel at my ambitious desire to conquer various social media platforms and tackle the New York health and wellness scene with the Bowspring Methodology. The reality of my lack of progress hits hard however, I need to acknowledge the previous obligations I’ve made to my family and to my already established career of choice.
I sincerely love everything about Bowspring. It has opened my eyes to a new way living and being. I really do want to share it with everyone! I want so badly to help people understand how wonderful they can feel with accessible self care! I want this for others but I want this for myself as well. My current life schedule requires me to practice what I preach.
I am so inspired to see so many other Bowspring Ambassadors represent this powerful movement through their own social media outlets. They are beautifully strong, they exemplify all things Bowspring! These ambassadors encourage me to continue striving for positive self growth, empowerment, and enlightenment. To establish, expand, and extend myself toward new opportunities on the mat and off.
The New York Bowspring Project has shown me that a one year timeline isn’t necessary because this self practice is forever evolving. It continues to press the mind and body to search for untapped potential. This project was created to inspire people to literally and figuratively stand tall but the process cannot be forced. Timing is everything. The universe wants me to build a stronger foundation for myself as a student. When the right time presents itself as an opportunity to lead and teach, I’ll know. Until then, I’ll continue to spring forward.
Here I am, 6 months into the New York Bowspring project only to find myself bombarded with life. I spent the last couple months of 2016 obsessing over every written word for what’s to be my Bowspring “workshop proposal”. Then I lost my job, then I got a new one, then I became a MELT Method hand and foot instructor (more on this later), all while calculating family road trips in between. I’ve been busy, y’all! I’m always busy. However, even though I lead a busy lifestyle, Bowspring is always on my mind. Ever since I started the New York Bowspring project, I’ve preached Be the change! Stand up! Practice mindfulness! FREE YOUR MIND! Well, I’m about to take it to the next level. It’s time to talk food… Yes, I’m going there.
Partaking in some sort of cleanse was always part of the plan for this project although, this doesn’t mean I’m excited about doing it. I’ve never done a cleanse. I’ve never really detoxed before. Why? BECAUSE I LOVE FOOD! The thought of doing a juice cleanse, or any kind of lemon cayenne situation makes me sad. Eliminating all the crap I love is slightly heartbreaking. This response proves that, in addition to the obvious physical need of food, I’m emotionally invested in what I chew. The time has come for me to incorporate mindfulness into my diet. If I’m going to practice what I preach, I need to pay more attention to the food I’m ingesting.
The next level of Bowspring is embodying a Sridaivia lifestyle. What is Sridaivia, you ask? It’s an all encompassing mindful lifestyle which considers the well being of our planet and all living beings, then hug some trees. I do like hugging trees, and I recycle whenever I can (die plastic!) but vegan, I am not. However, I am willing to venture toward digestive freedom and enlightenment. I’ve decided upon a perfectly manageable process to clean my insides called the Whole30. This dietary program is more like a lifestyle shift rather than a quick fix. The purpose of Whole30 is to reset you digestive track by removing all inflammatory based foods for 30 days, thus, inspiring you to break up with your food addictions.
I am a sugar addict. I love it! Plus it’s in almost everything. Seriously. Some of you reading this may roll your eyes and think ya, ya, blah, blah, but you may under estimate your sugar consumption. It’s abusive, but ya just keep going back for more. The cheapest crack deal and crack is whack. It’s time to part ways from my sugar love affair, at least for a while. Apparently, it takes 28 days to break a physical addiction, so why not do 30? I’m encouraged that Whole30 will introduce a new, more healthy attitude toward all things sugar. A better lifestyle.
SO… I begin my food adventure April 24th. Thirty days of no nonsense. Where will this detox take my practice, my job, my home life, my aspirations? I guess I’ll find out. Stayed tuned…. #letsdothis2017
A Letter of Civility from a Civilian
It’s been about two weeks since our presidential election. It’s taken me about two weeks to collect my bearings. I’ve reflected, researched and, holy shit, I’ve obsessed. I surrounded myself with like minded people, outcasting opposing viewpoints. I chose the path of least resistance, ignoring the cries of my fellow countrymen and fell victim to the division of us verses them. Anger, confusion, disappointment, and much disillusionment, heavily rest upon the hearts and heads of many Americans. Where do we go from here? How do we heal the wounds of our great divide?
These questions remind me of why I began The New York Bowspring Project: To study the effects of the Bowspring Method (targeting fight or flight postural tendencies) and honor victims of tragedy and loss, the downtrodden, and disenfranchised. My goal is to use this new postural methodology as a tool to inspire people, and myself, to literally and figuratively stand up for themselves. The course of realignment reinforces absolute accountability on behalf of the practitioner. You and me, we’re all in control of our thoughts, actions, and our voice. When we stand up for ourselves, and together, we are more productive and are more likely to move forward. Common values are protected. Great change occurs.
For four days post election, I was physically and psychologically effected by the intense collective emotion exceeding my own personal experience. I wanted to run away and hide. It was overwhelming. This response triggered an interesting biological reaction, postural default patterning, also known as the rubber band effect in the Bowspring community. The body viscerally responds to emotion and each sensation is stored in the connective tissue (muscle memory). When remnants of a past physical or emotional memory emerges, such as fear related to an old injury or social habits induced while visiting family during the holidays, the body recognizes and conforms to that old postural pattern. Fight or flight. In order to re-pattern these deeply engrained movements, consistent mindfulness is required..
With an open mind lending itself to a compassionate heart, anyone may rise to meet their greatest potential. Radiant Heart, a key element of Bowspring alignment, exposes the solar plexus and sternum and engages the entire shoulder girdle. Proprioceptors, the nerve sensors, fire and ignite both inner and outer focus. This particular area of the body becomes a tuning fork, consuming and emitting charged particle vibrations (physics high five). This is why you “vibe” with one person over another. You are consuming a common, familiar vibrational emission. Radiant Heart projection increases hormone levels that amplify confidence and awareness. The body is positioned in a state of readiness and the mind is more responsive when dealing with unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations. If you are the company you keep, consider putting yourself in someone else shoes.
So… what’s wrong with hanging out with people I agree with? Why would I want to surrounded myself with people I disagree with? That’s dumb. Not really. Immersing yourself in diversity is enlightening. Extremely uncomfortable, but enlightening. Enlightenment is self educating and complacency is considered to be the death of the soul (according to Dante’s Inferno). Also, being surrounded by the same people with the same views all the time is BORING!
We, as humans, are inherently curious. Ask yourself, What/ who makes me happy? What/ who makes me tick? Perhaps the answers surpass your comfort zone. Will doing and thinking outside the box be difficult? Probably, although some things in life are worth fighting for. Success is measured by determination. Maneuver around closed doors then crawl through an open window. If Donald Trump is the right person we need to ignite the fire of collective proprioception and communication, bring it. Let’s acknowledge everyone’s concerns and hash it out. Be the change you want to see in this world!
As we greet this holiday season, I implore you to practice mindfulness. A wish of good tidings and good cheer reach beyond the lyrics of a song and shouldn’t be exclusive. Small acts of kindness may be as simple as a smile or nod. Take a moment to remove bias judgement toward others. We are ALL humans beings at the end of the day, despite political advertisement, or any advertisement. We are one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
I have a 2 year old son, Max. He’s the most beautiful and most interesting thing I’ve ever created and I’m so incredibly proud to be his mom. With that being said, I certainly did not enjoy being pregnant with him. This statement does not devalue the biological miracle that took place within me, it simply describes the discomfort I experienced inside my own skin and the fluctuating circumstances of my external life. Please understand that each and every pregnancy is unique and complicated in its own way, and mine was… eccentric. I was so fortunate to have had a relatively smooth pregnancy but there were definite varying degrees of emotion: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
At the time, my husband and I both traveled with our jobs; he was a big name concert roadie and I was a hairdresser on a Broadway national tour. From the time we married, we only saw each other every 6 weeks for an average of 3-4 days at a time. This included the duration of my pregnancy. To say the experience was difficult is an understatement. Every week or so I would hop on a flight to Somewhere, USA, arrive at Hotel fill in the blank, quasi unpack, sleep, then head into work early the next morning. At the beginning of my tour life I floated from city to city in an exciting bubble of new adventure and little responsibility. It was awesome. However after 2 years of floating, I got pregnant and the luster of my transient lifestyle quickly dulled my adventurous spirit. My unusual circumstance tested my being in every way imaginable but I needed to work as long as possible to accrue the required days/hours needed to continue health care coverage for my growing family.
Speaking of health care, monthly check ups are necessary for mom and baby. Max and I were no exception to the rule. As a traveling, working mom-to-be, this requirement added stress and headache to my daily life. Coordinating my routine appointments (along with a rotating roster of doctors) depending on my show and city schedule put me in a constant state of anxiety. Monday was my only day away from the theater so I had to figure out which city we’d be in that was close enough to rent a car and drive to my hometown for the next appointment. To ensure a safe trip, I occasionally bribed one of my tour friends to give up their one day off to travel with me, stay the night at my parents’ house, then drive back early the next morning to make our show call. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to score a driving buddy and had to drive for multiple hours alone. Where was my husband? Missing me in some foreign country while he loaded or unloaded trucks for his next gig. We were a mess.
Needless to say, from my previous descriptions, I did not revel in the beauty of pregnancy. I realize that there are far more pregnancy tales of woe, 10 times worse than mine, and I’ve since developed a sense of guilt when I look back on those 9 months of baby baking. I should have been blissfully glowing in what could have been my finest hours of living and creating, but instead I felt all consumed garnished with limitation. It’s all baby, baby, baby and all the do’s and don’ts affiliated with baby. I was just as much a part of Max as he was a part of me but I felt ignored, I felt isolated and lost my sense of self. All I could focus on was how this Max parasite (like it or not, a fetus IS scientifically a parasite) was sucking me dry.
Once Max was born, I was relieved and eager to begin the next chapter, Motherhood. However, being a new mom brings a whole new set of troubles and concerns; I won’t bore you by listing them all. I will say that, aside from caring for my newborn, I was determined to regain control over my body. So cute, the idea of regaining control of a raging hormonal postpartum body. On average, it takes a new mother anywhere from 9- 24 months to “feel like herself” again. Think about it, the body undergoes a multitude of physiological changes in the 9 months it takes to make the baby, expecting those changes to immediately disappear postpartum is a bit fantastical. Unless you’re a celebrity who wants a tummy tuck and a boob job 2 days after birth. I digress. ANYWAY, five months after Max was born I experienced Bowspring for the first time and in a way, it was an awakening. I had become so disconnected from my body mentally and physically. I was so focused on everyone and everything outside of me and I allowed my intrinsic sensibilities to shut down. I was exhausted. Something had to change. Something was already changing.
Bowspring is an incredible physical practice but it also infiltrates your psyche. It moves and activates the connective tissue, our muscle memory, deep beneath the skin. It rocks the mind and confronts the heart by rehashing past movement patterns. It’s wild! In my 2 years of practice, I’ve embraced new movement and analyzed the old in the attempt to become more informed of my capabilities and self imposed limitation. I am often reminded of my pregnancy. Why was I so disconnected from my most intimate connection? This question continuously lingers. It inspires me to develop a deeper understanding of the biological, physiological, and emotional impact of the pregnant body. Something I lacked in my own. Through a myriad OBGYN specialists, most with little to no bed side manner, I never knew the right questions to ask that would help me appreciate the growing body within my own. Hey, what’s happening to my pelvis? What hormones are making me stretch and lose my mind?
I recently took a pre/postnatal Pilates certification course through the Center for Women’s Fitness. Although it wasn’t Bowspring, Pilates was my foundation and it’s a method I truly respect and admire. It was everything I needed to direct me toward a new, more enlightened career path. The anatomy we studied and the exercises we practiced and discussed resonated with me so deeply. This is it! This is what I see myself doing in 5-10 years, working with pregnant and postpartum women! I may not be able to change my past actions, reactions, or detachment from my own pregnancy but my unusual situation is encouraging me to help other women prepare for and repair themselves from the birthing process. My mentor explained how one of her pregnant, well seasoned Bowspring students delivered her first child with 12 minutes of pushing, then received a nod of approval from her doctor to begin exercise 2 weeks after the birth because it was so seamless!!! She attributes this extraordinary chain of events to her Bowspring practice! I believe I can accomplish great things by melding Bowspring us alignment and Pilates principles together. Work that pelvis!
Of course, I have much more to learn about Bowspring and the pregnant body but I feel certain that I’m on the right track. This is big! This could possibly be the perfect blend of physicality and psychology needed to bring the modern mother back to her roots to celebrate the ritual of birth that’s been practiced for hundreds of thousands of years. Her primal right and connection, encompassing the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Photo credit: Francesca Russel Photography
New York City. What can I say to describe the monstrosity that is New York City? The electric energy that pulses through the streets of this thriving metropolis shocks you to the bone. Diversity pours out of every building and sky scraper, flooding the cement valleys below. The concrete jungle where dreams are forged into a reality or broken like shattered glass. Organized chaos at its finest, The Big Fuckin’ Apple.
Any New Yorker will tell you that this city is relentlessly hard and dream chasing can be like being thrown into a boxing ring and getting knocked out with the first blow. If you want to succeed badly enough, you get up and you keep moving, bobbing and weaving between heartbreak and triumph. A certain hardness develops by default and it’s used as a protective shield against sensory overload. Fighting the masses becomes a daily event. In order to save yourself from becoming a nameless statistic, determination must be your driving force to beat the odds. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!
I work in Times Square, a tourist Mecca, and it’s far from glamorous. Exasperated suits and ties battle through the maze of picture taking wanderers, inconsiderately buzzing about. It is frustrating to manage time efficiency when the flow of foot traffic comes to a halt when a family of 6 decides to stop in their tracks and point their cameras at this, that, or the other. I try to remind myself that they are simply enjoying their vacation and creating memories but, practicing patience only takes me so far because I’ve got things to do and places to be.
People living and working in Manhattan are notoriously busy, juggling and balancing multiple jobs or projects at the same time. It’s hard work and it reminds me of a conversation I recently had with a close friend; no matter how dirty and crowded and strenuous this city is, there’s something so magical about its opposing magnetic forces. It lures you in while pushing you to a your breaking point while you strive for greatness… At all times. New York City isn’t for the the faint of heart. It beats you down, calls you out, and can be extremely emotionally abusive. The glitz and glamour of the Big Fuckin’ Apple is very much like a Broadway show. The curtain opens and the razzle dazzle tricks explode, captivating its high paying audiences. Meanwhile, the backstage production crew collectively hides in the shadows creating the illusionary miracle. BAM! New York!
Fight or flight is an excellent example of the New York state of mind. One must confront the thankless efforts that this city so easily consumes and rise to the occasional challenges of everyday life! How you deal with it is a matter of perspective. How you carry yourself effects your perspective and physiology. Whichever reactionary choice you chose, you shape your perspective which, shapes your attitude. Seriously, that’s a biological fact.
I was doing research while preparing my Bowspring workshop proposal, and I stumbled across a TED Conference lecture by psycologist and Harvard Professor, Amy Cuddy. A former ballet dancer, Cuddy was attracted to the study of body language. Her postural research lead her to pursue the effects of power poses vs closed poses. She recruited a group of people entering a job interview scenario and presented them with the task of performing either a power pose or a closed pose for 2 minutes prior to the interview. She recorded their hormone levels pre and post interview. The results collected from those who performed the power poses displayed increased levels of testosterone (dominant confidence hormone) and reduced levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and vise versa for the opposing poses. Your body physically responds to your attitude, in fact, you can completely fake yourself out by simply PRETENDING like you’re going to #nailit.
Brilliant! Power poses?! Shit, Bowspring is completely comprised of power poses! I think a lot about power poses as I walk and observe the crowded streets of New York City. Everyone’s always hunkered down, carrying so much shit! And I am one of them! I’m always balancing a back pack, or multiple bags, filled to the brim with whatever. Although, the problem isn’t that I’m carrying so much added weight, the problem is that I’m carrying it disproportionately. Norm Hegland and his team of researchers performed an experiment on the effects of the body when excess weight is carried. Energy consumption, oxygen levels, were measured from a group of military soldiers loaded up with heavy back packs and supplies, the same measurement was taken on the Kikuyu women of Sub Saharan Africa, where additional weight rests primarily on top the head . The soldiers’ oxygen consumption increased, where the levels of the Kikuyu women dropped! Why? Alignment. Now, I’m not proposing that we start carrying things on our heads, but I am proposing that we, as New Yorkers, as Americans, take into consideration our alignment while we carry all of our shit. Be your own super man or woman and strike that power pose!
Easier said than done, I know. I’m entering my 4th week with the New York Bowspring Project and as much as I’d love to say that I’m kicking ass and taking names, my life schedule has caused me to reevaluate the great expectations I placed upon myself. My original goal was to practice Bowspring 5 days a week for 20 minutes, well, that’s not happening. Finding the balance between self compassion, compromise, and accountability is a tricky matter. The excuses I make for lacking time to commit to this practice limits my perspective and my potential. When a door closes, a window opens. Remember, Bowspring is functionally based so, in theory, I can do Bowspring anywhere, at any time.
Bike riding= Bowspring
I can work my power poses from any angle because, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Now that I’m embodying this practice a little more each day, I don’t mind the mass hysteria of Time Square as much. I consider my movement as I carry loads of crap into the city, observing my alignment as I commute 45 minutes each day on the train. I try to avoid desensitization when I can. I am a strong, sensitive being. I am student of life and movement. I am Super Katie and I am a hero, in my own right.
Photo credit: DeLon Grant @thecelebrd #celebrdphotography
Tall iced decaf, with one pump of mocha and one pump of raspberry, and coconut milk. That’s my Starbucks order. I walk into this mega franchise, ask for my customized beverage, pay some money in exchange for my personalized drink, and leave. Here I am, a product of 80’s and 90’s pop culture. Raised in Mainstream Suburbia, USA, I’m a fore runner for the American millennial tribe. I’m submerged in the internet culture, decorated with mobile devices, social media, and all the merchandise attached. “I want it, now,” has been deeply wired into my stream of consciousness. The act of instant gratification is performed as a daily ritual for most of the “Me” generation, me included. We like what we like and we have the support of mass-media-capitalism influencing us to obtain those external, material desires. You can be a better you, if you look this way and buy all this stuff.
The exterior image of Self exemplifies how we are perceived, which is very important to multiple generations. The look. So often we lose ourselves in looking a certain way to conform to some kind of social niche or profession. As a hair and makeup artist, I enjoy personifying my craft. I’ve always loved playing dress up to express my individuality. I’m so grateful to have had the freedom to do so. However, I am notorious for switching my innocent pleasure into competitive judgement. I used to walk into yoga classes, filled with yogis draped in Lululemon and think, man, I need that top! Then I’d spend half my pay check on Lululemon, only to sell it on eBay for half the cost. Or I’d intently watch the more advanced yogi while he/she performed all kinds of crazy poses or finish his/her chaturanga with a one arm handstand, or something, and I’d think, Gross. What a show off! Then I‘d go home and clumsily attempt the same sequence. This usually ended with me falling flat on my face. Chances are, that yogi was simply trying to express their highest potential on their mat; that yogi most likely came to class to deepen their own practice and not be judged. I cannot count the times a yoga instructor has told me to focus on what’s happening in my own body and not to pay attention to anyone else around me. I can’t help it! I want to work hard, sweat hard, and do all the cool looking tricks, and, I want to look cute while I’m doing them… Right now! It didn’t matter that the super yogi patiently practiced for years to acquire the strength needed to execute those crazy poses and avoid injury. I’m positive that I am not the only person who has followed this train of thought. Also, I’m positive that I’m not the only person who has injured themselves as a result of thinking this way.
Competitive yoga isn’t a thing, at least, I don’t think it is? If it is, it shouldn’t be. Yoga isn’t about Lululemon or cool tricks or being the best. It’s about the breath. It’s about our individual life force and focus. The calm amidst the chaos. Yoga can bring about the true message of Self, a connection and expression of the mind and body, where an inward focus floods the body and drains through the skin. The breath eases the mind and pulses the body and you become you. Thanks yoga instructors, wish I would’ve listened to ya sooner!
The breath of The Bowspring Method tests the limits of contemporary cuing as well as practitioner comprehension. I practiced this method for one and a half years and just recently embodied Bowspring breath work, which is diaphragmatic and elongated. It asks that you breath circumferentially, filling the lungs in all directions. It takes all kinds of patience to achieve.
The concept of allowing the belly expand and lengthen on the inhale, then continue to expand while you root into the ground on the exhale was foreign to me. As a Pilates instructor, I was trained to breath laterally, to not flare the ribs, to imagine the navel kissing the spine. There was so much lengthening and contracting happening, it felt very constructive, like I was wearing a corset. Where as, Bowspring is like, Yo baby, I’m ‘bout to blow your mind while you blow in and out. You gonna let it all, girl.
My preconditioned mind was quite resistant to this concept, and it felt uncomfortable. Not painful, just uncomfortable, like, I’m sorry, what? You want me to make my belly BIGGER? You want me to inhale and have my belly take up more space, which means it’s not getting smaller? You’re insane. I fought the Bowspring breath pattern for a long time, it seemed inappropriate. I decided to release my social stigma and was amazed! The thing is, this breath work is really quite empowering and strangely, emotionally liberating! Seriously. I have never felt more supported core strength as when I expanded to extend. Mind fuck.
Society has conditioned my generation, and many generations prior, to rely too heavily on appearance and judgment. Although, I am observing a very gradual upward shift in compromise and compassion. Social progress seems to take two steps forward and one step back.
Many millennials project a sense of entitlement to elder generations, but we actually represent the next social evolution of self pride and freedom. Every generation has a collected group of free thinkers, those who refuse to conform to rules and regulations. They made waves and made everyone else step outside their comfort zone. The “Me” generation is no exception, we’re just starting to make waves with “Me”.
I once asked a friend if she thought I could gain momentum in reaching others with this new alignment system. She said, Sure, but you’ll have to sell it! I was disheartened to hear that promoting functional movement had to be sold. In all honesty though, I could sell and persuade and do a little song and dance if you like (I have experience), but if my subject audience isn’t ready or able to invest, no sale, or rather, no exchange can be made.
For now, I see this project as a personal experiment. One, where I learn to slow down, listen, absorb, PRACTICE. I desperately seek temperance. I want to release judgement. And instead of living as a high maintenance yogi, I hope to learn patience, flow, and presence within each now moment…. like, right now.
Dedicated to the little dancer in all of us
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a ballerina. I would dress up in my make-shift tutu and house slippers then twirl and spiral into my perfect, innocent imagination. Most times, I wouldn’t play music while I danced because the music I played in my mind was far more engaging. I would float away on a cloud of breath and fluid limbs then lose myself to sensational movement. I would fly! I begged my parents to put me in dance class but, unlike my overflowing imagination, their financial limitations forced me to pursue other forms of creative movement. Examples of such mobility included freestyle ballet and the ability to “fly” up AND down the extended staircase of my childhood home. I had so many bruises on my legs, as a child, that my parents received a phone call from my daycare inquiring about domestic violence! Horrified, my mother exclaimed, “You don’t understand! She thinks she can fly!”
As I grew into an awkward adolescent, I was still enthralled with the magic of dance. I would perform my freestyle moves whenever and wherever the opportunity presented itself: talent shows at school or summer camp, back yard performances for visiting family members, weddings, birthday parties, etc. I’m not sure when, exactly, the charm of the adorable, free spirited dancing little girl turned into a mockery of giggles and hidden whispers, I definitely became “that girl” (please don’t get caught up in a the semantics of that phrase because you know EXACTLY what I mean.) My child like features rounded out and left me with a chubby exterior and an insecure heart. Growing up can be so stressful and confusing. All I wanted was to fit in and to be liked by my peers, I experienced quite the opposite. I over compensated for my insecurities by trying too hard to be popular, which worked like Murphy’s Law and resulted in disheartening ridicule. Kids are mean! Any adult who has endured childhood bullying will tell you that although they moved past those unpleasant moments; tiny, ugly emotional scars were left to remember them by. The desire to express my eclectic love of dance dissolved. I turned my focus toward other expressive interests to satisfy my creative mind, ones that received more artistic appreciation. Like, all things relating to live theater. You should know that I have a flare for the dramatic.
The little dancer reemerged again when I was 17 and was introduced to the rave culture… and all its stereotypes. Once I was able to remove myself from other people’s perceptions of me, I moved more freely and I could fly once more. It’s was deliciously liberating. Feeling the music pulse through my veins triggered a new sense of rhythm combining robotic popping and locking to fluid freestyle ballet. Magic. Dance permeated my body and soul.
Pursuing a career in makeup, hair dressing, and wig making left me with TERRIBLE posture. In 2007 I decided to investigate the whole Pilates craze; I mean Madonna did it, she looked pretty damn good (2007.) The Pilates experience was a HUGE eye opener for me. I discovered that working day in and day out, building wigs and applying makeup, left my cervical and thoracic spine extremely kyphotic, or rounded- I was basically getting a hump back at age 25! That was happening. It was time for me to Pilates the shit out of my spine! I devoted myself to Pilates. It’s an incredible, rehabilitative, core strengthening, fluid way to move- and talk about the lines! The graceful body lines of Pilates are so elegantly strong! The Pilates Method allowed me to tap into my, oh so cherished, inner ballerina. Please allow me to take a moment of your time while I dedicate this letter I wrote to Mr. Joseph President :
Dear Mr. Pilates,
Thank you so much for introducing your name sake method to modern civilization. Even though your machines look like a bunch of torture devises, they are quite useful, and seem to work. That’s really helpful. You’re a real gem.
What this letter doesn’t say is that Mr. Pilates’ burned a big hole in my wallet, real quick. I had a brilliant idea, a more cost effective idea; I decided to spend all of my money at once to become a certified Pilates instructor! I wouldn’t have to pay for another Pilates class again! That made way more sense!! Wrong… so wrong. My naivety got bitch slapped. Jumping into a certification course like that was a huge time commitment, focusing on an anatomical vocabulary, a language I don’t speak. Never the less, I was determined to successfully complete my expensive whim in becoming a Pilates instructor. My word is my bond. I will admit, however, there were many times during my training where I definitely stuck out like a sore thumb, as I so often do. Everyone in my class had some sort of physically educative background, whether it was dance, physical therapy, or personal training. I was like, “Ummm, hi. I style wigs… I can totally tell you which hair products would work best on your hair! I can also freestyle ballet, like, really well… On drugs.”
For the most part, my interaction with the instructor and other students was positive. I was receptive and inquisitive and genuinely appreciated constructive criticism. My hazy understanding of bio mechanics quickly took shape. Literally and physically. One of the certification requirements was to perform all levels of the BASI (Body Arts and Sciences international) Pilates course curriculum, which influenced a number of students to forfeit their training. However, I loved how hard it pushed me; right out of my comfort zone. I constantly reminded myself that I was capable of succeeding and whenever the ghosts of bullies past pulled me down, I told them to fuck off!
By the time I finally completed the course, I had fallen in love with postural alignment. I found myself geeking out over discussions about slipped discs and sciatica; even better, I was contributing to those discussions with thoughtful insight. I obsessed over the idea that our bodies were organic machines. It was mind blowing! I couldn’t wait to share my knowledge with others but, unfortunately, I didn’t. My theatrical career consumed my life, once again, and although I was happily traveling and working in my chosen professional field, my Pilates aspirations were put on the back burner.
By 2014 I’d practically forgotten about Pilates all together, until I met Susan Schroeder. Susan was teaching at a small yoga studio in my home town. I had experimented with various types of yoga, but nothing prepared me for the diverse challenges of her yoga class.
She asked me to manipulate my body in the most counterintuitive ways. My Pilates trained mind was skeptical of her strange cuing. “Stick your butt out. Let the belly release and lengthen open as you breath. Float the ribs away from your pelvis. Dome the fingers.”… Excuse me, what?? What you’re asking me to do is different from everything I know, therefore it’s wrong. I would know, because I know everything. When class ended, I was so pissed off, I immediately packed my things and stormed out of the studio. That was not the “vinyasa flow” class I signed up for. What the hell was that? Wait… Why do I feel so unexpectedly amazing? My spine felt electrically charged, strong and free! My energy levels sky rocketed! I felt a smile curl my lips. What the hell was that?
I proceeded to virtually stalk Susan after that class, trying to figure out where and when she’d teach next, so I could preregister the next time I was in town. At one point my mother asked me when I thought Susan would file a restraining order against me. I was truly obsessed. It was kind of creepy. Whatever, I didn’t care, I wanted that crazy weird yoga in my body and she was the only one who could teach it to me. After reaching out to her multiple times, I finally locked in on a class with her. I couldn’t wait to make her uncomfortable with my dramatic overeagerness and relentless question asking. She was on to something big, I wanted in.
When I approached her after class, in my spastic, excited way, she greeted me with a warm, genuine smile. “What IS this? Where did it come from? Tell me everything. I want your brain,” I paraphrased. Susan introduced me to the Bowspring Alignment Method. (BAM!) A relatively new dynamic postural practice developed by Desi Springer and John Friend, who are based in Denver. She threw a lot of new terms at me regarding the alignment system and I left the studio with my head spinning and swimming. Fascia, Radiant Heart, dig/drag, tensegrity… what does it all mean? Well, I’m still working on that, but I can tell you how it feels.
My heart is bright and my limbs burst light,
I am connected to the earth and my toes root beneath me.
My chin is high, my force is strong.
I spread my wings and stretch for flight,
Gravity spring loads my frame
To catapult my next breath.
And it settles me home
The Little Dancer
Accountability- Get into it.
The desire to change comes from a very small place inside; it nags and pokes you and sometimes, it really annoys you. This one particle of an idea sparks an unconscious flame and it grows stronger until the fire works its way out of you. That is when actions speak louder than words, and change ensues.
I’m at a point in my life where it’s time to start giving instead of taking. I’m 34 years old with a great family and a succesful career, doing what I love, styling wigs on Broadway. So, why this? Why now? Well, it’s pretty much always been about ME. I’ve always asked the questions, “ what do I want to do?”, “where do I want to go?”, “how am I going to benefit from whatever?”. And ya know what? It’s not about ME (shocker)… I mean, it’s kind of about me, but not really.
At work, I’m surrounded by mirrors all day, almost everyday. I basically live with mirrors, and I stare at myself. All. Day. Long. You can imagine how boring that can be. Luckily for me, there are a lot of actors where I work and sometimes they entertain people. When you work in a small room filled with mirrors and you throw a few actors into the mix, the reflections tell a much different story. There’s a lot of mirror talking, mirror listening (but not REALLY listening), and of course, mirror shenanigans (I am guilty of all these things.) However, the mirror is quite the illusionist! It offers up only a 2 dimensional representation of the observers’ exterior and yet, it can lure us into uninvited false self examinations… that’s so awkward. Let me exemplify a generic scene for an average mirror conversation.
Me: Hey self!
Mirror: Hey! You look SUPER terrible today!
Me: Oh… I guess I didn’t get enough sleep? Or maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that desert after dinner?
Mirror: Yeah, that was dumb. Are you going to wear that? You look kind of crazy.
Me: Shit! Really? I think it looks good.
Mirror: Nope. You’re wrong. It’s weird. You’re weird. You better go look at a fashion magazine and get a clue about what everyone else is doing.
An example of an atypical mirror conversation:
Me: Hey self!
Mirror: Hey gorgeous! You look great!
Me: Wow, thanks! I feel pretty good today. (Big smile)
Mirror: Well, you’re going to nail it today- no matter what you do. You’re a rock star! Have a nice day!
**NEWSFLASH** mirrors are inanimate objects, they do not actually represent our 3 dimensional reality. They don’t. It’s all in your head!
Listen, we’ve all struggled with talking to the man in the mirror. It’s challenging to face yourself, figuratively and literally. The ability to embrace the absolute true self with no excuses, no complaints, no delusions , is really fucking hard! There’s a lot of responsibility attached to acknowledging that you, and only you, are held accountable for what you say and do. Too often, people blame external circumstances, rather than themselves, when things go wrong. But, when things go right, “mmmmm…” delicious egocentric goodness, and a selfie! No one likes being wrong because self acceptance is a one way street.
I suspect I’ll be forced to have many conversations with the man in the mirror as I travel the path of self discovery through Bowspring alignment. It’s a physically demanding practice that requires A LOT of mental engagement through abstract imagery. The curvy fluid shape of “the bow” is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It contradicts everything I know and understand about biomechanics, because the practice itself IS a huge contradiction. Root/ rise, lengthen/ expand, push/pull. AH! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME??? The truth is, Bowspring wants it all! It enforces balance through a principle called tensegrity. Wikipedia defines tensegrity as tensional integrity or floating compression; a structural principle based on use of isolated components in compression, inside a net of continuous tension… followed with more words. When tensegrity is applied to movement, the body is capable of performing at its maximum capacity with the least amount of effort.
The second you step onto your mat, Bowspring asks that you take accountability for the choices you make during class and apply them in daily life. Postural reform and ergonomics require a level of personal commitment that defies gravity. One must be willing to honestly face the man in the mirror, before any internal or external changes can be made. As Michael Jackson said it best, “… no message could have been any clearer, if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change…” Nah nah nah nah na naaaaamaste.
Be the Change