The human body is a wonder, carrying us through the decades allowing us to fully express a life lived. However, in order to keep moving, body requires maintenance, proper care, and feeding.
Becoming a parent is the most spiritually profound thing I have ever done. I am not talking about the pregnancy or the birth. It is looking at this human that you are responsible for and wanting to be the best possible version of yourself so that you can show them how beautiful life is. I want to teach my baby that by living to serve others we can help heal the wounds of this world.
So your butt forgot how to butt.
The first time I heard the term "gluteal amnesia" was in a barre class at Physiqa in Oakland California. I believe I chuckled to myself at the phrase, thinking that was an effective way to state that our glutes weren't working hard enough. Annabel Castaldo, owner of Physiqa, friend, and someone I consider a mentor, happened to be teaching this class that had a lasting impact on my own personal movement as well as how I approach teaching movement to others. Her phrase, "gluteal amnesia" just stuck with me and made me think about the cultural movement habits we have all adapted since the era of technology and convenience. Let's think about it;
We sit, A LOT.
Despite an active lifestyle, chances are we sit more than our grandparents did at our age. We sit in our cars, perhaps at a desk at work, and at home. It's not just the sitting that causes issues, it's how we sit.
We sit in chairs.
Unlike many other cultures, we sit off the floor, supported in highback chairs, comfy couches, and body-hugging bucket seats. This comfort has its price. Unfortunately the way we sit directly affects our back, glutes, and abdominals. When the legs are fixed at a 90 degree angle, the hip flexors shorten thus tilting the pelvis forward. Think of it like a chain reaction, pelvis tilts forward, abdominals disengage, glutes release, and the low back starts to tighten. Over time, this posture allows the glutes to go dormant and their job of stabilizing the hips is now taken over by the back. Once this happens, pain may begin to set in at the lower back, hips, and down the legs.
Wake those buns up!
There are many exercises that you can do to get you butt to butt again but one thing is a constant, you have to be MENTALLY present. While your glutes have physically stopped firing, that means the signals from your brain to your butt have weakened too. This is where the brain/body reconnection is so important. Some say that they workout to not think, to which I reply, "a mindless workout is an open invitation to injury and you are only getting 50% of what you could be getting if your brain were involved."
Become more present in your workout.
Personally, yoga introduced me to the concept of mindful movement and Pilates helps me go deeper physically and mentally. Barre, bridged to two together, not to mention it was where I had my first "gluteal awakening." For me, a successful barre class is a dance of the mind and body, a perfect balance of grace, strength, and flow. There are many different Barre Methods however, Flux Barre is dedicated to my client's personal postural needs and of course getting that behind to fire again.
Today a friend of mine and I were discussing how yoga has been instrumental in offering clarity to our everyday lives. We talked about how people seek and find different things from yoga and that everyone takes away something different from their practice. Some come to yoga to manage pain, deal with stress, some come to cultivate flexibility, balance, and strength. Whatever brings you to your mat, there is no "right" reason to practice yoga. The call to the practice is just as personal as the practice itself.
Over the years my practice has changed, not in some linear way, more of an ebb and flow like the ocean tides. At times it was driven by vanity or my desire to be thinner, stronger, better than the person next to me. At times, my asana practice was nonexistent as I made excuses as to why my mat was collecting dust even though my body and mind begged me to move and breathe in harmony. Through my 13 year relationship with yoga one thing has remained constant in my practice, AWARENESS. Even though I may not like to admit that in my younger 20s my practice was about body image and in my mid 20s it was about showing off on my mat, yoga has allowed me to be AWARE of all that. I am able to admit these not so flattering personality flaws because yoga has shown me to embrace the good and the bad, the light and the dark. These qualities are what make me who I am, a flawed human being.
At this point in my life, my practice is deeply personal. As my friend said today "it's like religion," and for me that resonated. My body, the temple, my practice, the prayer. I think every single yogi can understand that. No, yoga is not a religion but it requires faith, discipline, and love, like religion. As an instructor I know now that my path isn't to share my practice with you, yet to help lead you to your own. I aspire to create a warm, nonjudgmental, safe space for you to cultivate your inner and outer awareness.
My husband and I recently welcomed our first child and life has been forever changed. During my pregnancy I began another life changing endeavor, starting a business. In the early stages of framing out what I wanted out of my business, I was wrought with doubt, fear and guilt. I was constantly in my head, ( thank you, pregnancy hormones). I would ask myself "is this the right time?" "What if I fail?" And the doozy, "does this make me a selfishly bad mother?" My husband and family's words of support and encouragement helped me press on but I knew that deep down I had to be sure this was right. Like most pregnant women, I retreated a bit. I found my yoga and Pilates practices became more self reflective than they ever had been. Perhaps it was because I had to slow down and take it easy but I was also reminded of a principle that I strive to teach in my classes and private sessions, BALANCE. I work everyday to find it, some days I am more successful at it than others but the key is that it is work. For me, this work towards or to maintain balance is life affirming.
So now, when I hold my baby girl, I know that going forth in building my business is right. Those questions and feelings of doubt, fear, and guilt still rear their heads occasionally but they are quickly silenced by the deep knowing that this is right for us. I am a mother, a wife, and a daughter but I am also so much more. I want to share this feeling of balance with my clients. Just like in our yoga practice, asanas look different for every body and I believe the idea of a balanced life is the same, balance is personal, and life is always in flux.