My 30 day GYROKINESIS® practice challenge.
Back in the fall of 2012, I decided to enhance my GYROKINESIS® practice by doing the work every day for a month. I wrote about my progress and experiences as I went along. Here is the first week:
Oct 31 – So lately I’ve been thinking alot about how to relate to people who come to GYROKINESIS® class that , like yoga, its a practice, not just a class. Here at CORE, we’ve strengthened that idea by making sure that all the classes on the schedule have a paired class in the same time slot two or more days a week. A once a week class (ie, Friday at 9 am) isn’t going to inspire people to build a strong Gyrokinesis practice. Adding a paired class on Wednesday at the same time will give more continuity to a developing practice and hopefully inspire students to take a deeper approach to GYROKINESIS® training and start a home practice.
Along those lines, aside from a full teacher training, which I was fortunate enough to enjoy in April of this year, I’ve done a Gyrokinesis practice regularly for 13 years, but not every single day for an extended period. I’ve done either GYROTONIC® training or a Gyrokinesis class 3 to 5 days a week for a really long time, but never daily, and never just one of them. So in energetic connectedness to my goal of increasing the number of my students who have a personal Gyrokinesis practice, I’m going to undertake a month of Gyrokinesis practice. That month starts tomorrow, November 1st.
One thing I can already say about this is that it’s going to be really REALLY weird to not be on the equipment for a month! I mean I’ll probably get on the equipment a bit here and there but my primary workout every day will be a full GYROKINESIS® workout. It’ll also be a fun opportunity to use every format that I’ve learned over the last 13 years. Saturdays will be my “body awesomeness” day as I’ll still be doing my 10:30 am Metal Yoga class at Tough Love Yoga because it’s fun as heck, but then later in the day… a home Gyrokinesis class.
Nov 1 – So for day 1, I decided to go straight back to the beginning.
I pulled out the very first format I received from Debra Rose when I did my first Gyrokinesis training. “GYROKINESIS® – Essentials of Body Kinetics – Nov ’99 Format A” (Remember back when it was called “Essentials of Body Kinetics”?)
So how do I feel after doing it? AWESOME! As soon as I was done I felt like singing the theme song to “Team American: World Police”. I’m so happy (prepare for double negative) that I’m never not amazed by the system.
As I was doing my practice today, I felt like I focused a lot on keeping the entire structure active throughout all the motions. In some sequences, like the floor wave series, it’s almost impossible to not keep the entire organism active. But when I was doing the kneeling psoas stretch, I really focused on making sure I kept the inner line of both legs very active. In that position, it’s easy to let the inner line go, as it isn’t a prime mover. But certainly, without keeping the inner line very active, the narrowing is diminished. I’ve been focusing on the same thing when doing the sphinx series for a few weeks now. When you’ve been doing something for so long, it’s easy to fall into habits of incompleteness, and when you’re teaching class, as opposed to your personal practice, you’ve got to focus on the students and it’s even easier to let some lines of activity sneak away.
Alrighty. Tomorrow is going to be interesting. I teach class twice and have to do my own practice! When I teach, I don’t do the class along with the students. I’m walking around, giving physical cuing and focusing on them. So Gyrokinesis class 3 times in a single day? Ought to be fun on a bun.
Nov 2 – Today’s format: 2004 60 Minute Format – HAPPY!!! (first impression)
Second impression: my right lateral hamstring (biceps femoris) is still a bit angry with me because of all the splits i did during the Little 5 Points Halloween Parade two weeks ago. (see picture below)
Third impression: There were SO MANY impressions. I felt great things during so many sequences that at some point I realized the main impression today is the meditative aspect of a Gyrokinesis practice.
Have you ever heard of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? It basically states that you cannot precisely know the exact position and velocity of a particle, because the more accurately you measure one, the more you affect the other. That’s what practice was like today.
I couldn’t be fully present in the moment of the motion if I was thinking about what I was going to write about! And I felt so many fantastic things. I had to observe then immediately dismiss/disregard the impressions.
In this way, today’s practice became meditative. Any time my mind wandered away from moment, (especially if I thought about writing this), I brought my mind back to the immediate moment. The funny thing about that stream of consciousness is that thinking “I’m in the moment” isn’t being in the moment! That’s still a thought that is outside the actual activity stream. So I both focused and relaxed. I felt without judgement. I adjusted without intellection. (OK… I worked TOWARDS those things. haha) And believe me, my mind wandered a whole lot.
This alone, doing the work in a meditative manner, regardless of the intensity of my practice, is something I could work on, more or less, forever. Right up to the moment of liberation.
The way I used to think about Gyrotonic training and Gyrokinesis classes as tools toward liberation was focused on the feeling of the work, becoming aware of the space between the joints and through this, thinking about the emptiness of the space, you become less attached to the physical. Through being physical, you become free from attachment to being physical. Today, however, I understood another side of Gyrotonic training and GYROKINESIS® methodology as tools toward liberation. They became more like my shamatha meditation practice. Any time my mind gets distracted from the moment, keep bringing the mind back to the moment/motion. Through this, it is possible to achieve samadhi, meditative stability.
Nov 3 – Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh… My entire body feels like the pleasurable breath.
No specific format today. This morning, I went to Metal Yoga at Tough Love Yoga and had a great class. (The picture is how the yoga space looked today in celebration of Dia de los Muertos.)
Originally, I was thinking that since I had already done yoga, I wouldn’t want to do a full Gyrokinesis practice. I was thinking I’d do the Homework Series, then play it by ear afterwards. But I felt so good this afternoon and felt like being freer and more playful, so I put on the Godflesh album “Pure” and did a full Gyrokinesis practice, including Awakening of the Senses. Like I said, I didn’t do a particular format. I was picking and choosing what felt fun. I kept everything in the right order, but when I got to a particular family, I just chose whatever the heck I wanted. The best parts were the Floor Connected Series – I did the wave series and the pulsation series, one after the other before changing leg positions. I also threw in a few of the more wild pulsing positions that I remember doing with Juliu back in 2000 when we would have a class downstairs in the City Aikido dojo. In the arches series, I did the awesome Heart Line Stretch and a spiraling, pulsing arch that I’m pretty sure I didn’t just make up. ha!
I know most people will never feel the same way, but I had fun doing the abs series. Good shivers.
Since I was still being nice to my right hamstrings, I didn’t do any standing work. Instead I ended with Hissing Breath. When I was done that, I just sat. I felt almost perfectly empty. Everything was so free and without restriction that there wasn’t anyplace in my body that my nervous system demanded attention to. Empty is the best word I can think of to describe it. A vessel unsullied and ready to be filled with something new. It was great.
It also really helped me be effortlessly focused when I did my shamatha meditation immediately afterwards.
All in all, a killer day!
Nov 4 – 60 minute format – Today I did my practice blindfolded.
So since I don’t have to go into work on Sundays, I’m free to do different variations on my Gyrokinesis practice. Like sometimes doing it outside in a beautiful park, sometimes listening to Iron Maiden.
I used one of those eye covers you’d use it you were on an airplane and wanted to sleep. (I closed my shades so no one looking in would go “What the hell??”) The first thing I noticed was the increased ability to really hear my breath, especially the ends of the exhale. I could really hear the sounds of my lungs and my bronchii. Again, it created a sense of emptiness, in the Buddhist sense.
Even though I didn’t do anything standing, being blindfolded helped me to realize how much I use my eyes to “spot” the motions. The eyes can become an external reference point. By taking them away, all the motions became more internalized and I could very easily focus on my skeleton. If you’ve never done a Gyrokinesis class blindfolded, I actually highly recommend it.
Nov 5 – Mondays I see my chiropractor and I’ll take an off day. But not this month!
So today’s practice was Homework Series followed by a loosely formatted floor workout.
While the workout was great, as always (and I felt great energy through the soles of my feet and palms of my hands after the Homework Series) what I really noticed today was the way I was feeling when I was training clients. Admittedly, it’s only day 5 but I definitely felt different training my clients.
Way way back in the day, when before I became certified as a personal trainer in 2004, and Gyrotonic training & Gyrokinesis classes were the only exercise I taught or practiced, there was a certain feeling I had when I was training clients. This was when I was working at/constantly loitering in SF GYROTONIC® (first known to me as White Cloud West) and then at my own studio in 2002. A good way to relate it is learning a language through full immersion. You can take Spanish for 3 years in high school but until you’re 100% surrounded by Spaniards, it doesn’t really permeate. Same feeling. I was around nothing but GYROTONIC® equipment and training, I was fully immersed, and that atmosphere created a certain mindset/feel when I taught. I really felt that feeling again for the first time since then today. And since the only variable that has changed in a really long time is that I’ve been doing the Gyrokinesis practice every single day, that’s what I’m giving credit to.
Nov 6 – Delicious discipline.
Today was a totally busy day. 8 sessions plus a one hour meeting meant my time to accomplish my daily practice was quite limited. I had one open hour for lunch and another open hour between clients at 4 pm. As soon as I was done with my 3 pm client, I changed into my workout clothes, grabbed a bench and mat then began my practice.
I think that for most people, there is at least a somewhat negative connotation to “discipline”. It means sacrifice. It means strictness. It means control. But what if your discipline is for doing something awesome? Believe me, I feel AWESOME right now. The energetic flow through my body right now is a powerful river. My status quo state of body awareness is increasing daily. I’m really happy. And I’m only at day 6. I don’t forsee my discipline for the practice this month suddenly turning a corner and making me cranky! haha
Discipline for a practice over a set period of time, be it meditation, yoga or Gyrokinesis classes, I think, will always be life changing. It creates a new status quo, a new ground your life will be built upon. It encourages other positive adjustments to your life.
And tomorrow will only be the end of week 1. I can’t wait to see what the end of week 2 feels like!
This story will continue in the near future.
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