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Finding Grace in our Bodies
17 December 2015

Finding Grace in our Bodies
17 December 2015

Finding Grace in our Bodies

With her permission, I am sharing below a lovely blog post written by Kate Gamble, from Open Door Workshop. Open Door is our neighbor down the street, and Kate, a physical therapist and a dancer, offers a really interesting array of classes and workshops all devoted to increasing health and wellbeing through art and movement modalities. Her blog entry completely captivated and resonated with me; I will often start classes with students on their backs in constructive rest, at least for the mellower classes. The connection to the floor, and the earth beneath that, the organic process of beginning almost primordially supine and reconnecting with gravity, helps me create a more nuanced feeling of ease in my own body. Slowly building movement from that place of complete repose builds an awareness of deep intention and efficiency into the experience of posture and flow. Kate writes beautifully here about having her patients and students begin on their backs. I Hope you enjoy the read as much as I did, and be sure to check out all the wonderful offerings at Open Door Workshop, or stop in on your way down to Tuckerbox after class.

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"We start by lying on the ground in most of my PT sessions and dance classes. This position—supine—allows us to rest in the moment, focus on our breath, and reacquaint ourselves with gravity. It’s a good place to start to encourage curiosity about what the body holds and the useful and the unnecessary efforts that have become habit. It is also the position where we all began as infants—the beginning of what we call the developmental sequence. Our nervous system is wired to learn from this first stage. And the supine position is quite beautiful as it invites vulnerability while also ensuring stability. What an excellent place to begin.

I hope that from this beginning my students and clients can begin to listen to their bodies. My skills as a PT and dancer stem from a curiosity cultivated from years of observation and study of bodies. I continue to learn that grace sometimes requires less effort, more humility, and more surrender.

I also see that our bodies carry stories--sometimes painful, always interesting--which can show up in the body through an injury or in a place of tension. These stories can hide in the neck, jaw, gut—anywhere. Often we crave to release these stories, and sometimes movement can help with the process. With movement and awareness we can begin to hear our own stories. It is my hope that with my guidance, touch, and noticing, I can help facilitate this listening.

As we move from the supine position through more challenging positions and sequences that gradually engage with gravity, we add effort and energy but continue to assess what is essential and efficient. Out biomechanics are structured in a way that allows us to discover what we need to move and be supported. I watch the young person run with abandon and the older person walk tenderly on this earth and I know that these movements come from the same place.

Our work in these sessions and classes is not necessarily about setting goals, although goals are achieved (less pain, easier movement, greater coordination and strength). It is more about discovery, surprise, and realizing that ease and grace will come with right effort. Perhaps we are opening doors that we did not know were closed and in so doing are constantly evolving into what we want to be.

I am grateful to everyone that has walked and will walk in to Open Door and are receptive to what we offer. This receptiveness is the cornerstone of our strength as an organization. So, I ask you all to take some time, lay back on the earth, allow yourself to be held, and simply listen and feel.

Kate Gamble
November 2015 Lie back daughter, let your head be tipped back in the cup of my hand. Gently, and I will hold you. Spread your arms wide, lie out on the stream and look high at the gulls. A dead- man's float is face down. You will dive and swim soon enough where this tidewater ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe me, when you tire on the long thrash to your island, lie up, and survive. As you float now, where I held you and let go, remember when fear cramps your heart what I told you: lie gently and wide to the light-year stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.
—Philip Booth

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The building itself was renovated to be energy efficient, and the room is moderately heated in cooler seasons to promote a good, healthy sweat, but not heated to an excessive or wasteful degree. There are cubbies in our large office to store your personal belongings, a spacious changing room, a comfy sofa and a water cooler (please bring a water bottle to fill, to cut down on paper cup usage). Two nice, clean bathrooms are located just down the hall. There are also cubbies in the studio itself for valuables, which students are welcome to use. We have a full lending library of yoga books, and encourage students to borrow freely. Gift certificates are available for purchase in any amount.

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Please do not wear perfume or any strong scent

People with allergies can be very sensitive to scent. Also, lots of people sweating in a closed space is less stinky than lots of people all wearing different brands of perfume or deodorant.

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Keep your eyes on your own practice

The practice is richer when it happens from the inside out. It’s not about comparing yourself with the person next to you. Be present with your own experience.

Be kind and loving to yourself

Rest when you need to. Honor where you are in your practice. Use the energy of those around to inspire, not diminish, you. Remember: you are perfect just as you are now, and yoga is meant to enhance that understanding and let that perfection shine. Have fun!

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