Contemporary exercise is primarily about taking on form. We think about taking on form as getting “in shape.” To get “in shape,” we do exercises such as lifting weights, yoga poses, running, walking, TRX, dancing, etc.
But what do we do to dissolve form? In terms of creating a responsive and balanced organism, shouldn’t dissolving form be equally as important as taking on form? This is the topic of today’s post:
Our physical bodies build tissue in response to our movements and lack of movements. Denser and thicker tissue is formed by repetitive movements and movements that have long periods of duration. When you want to rehabilitate an injury or build strength this is a good thing! It’s why specialists recommend you do your exercises between one to three times per day. Our bodies are amazingly responsive and adapt quickly to our activity.
But what about all the repetitive and durational movement that we do- not intending to get in shape? Such as typing, sitting, chewing, speaking, carrying children or bags, standing in lines, strolling in museums, or being immobile for long hours at a time? All of these actions build up in our tissues. These are the actions that truly shape us.
Over time, we start to look exactly like what we spend our time doing. Our tissue builds and we become somewhat fortified in our patterns. It becomes harder to do things out of our ordinary movement diet. Small challenges arise: like walking down the stairs, and tiny pains start to creep into areas of the body. Too much forming can limit the modulation necessary to move well and feel well. So, how do we counteract the repetitive and taxing actions that overly form us?
By dissolving them.
Dissolving can be equally important exercise for the body in terms of being “in shape,” creating vitality, balance, and a pain-free lifestyle.
Remarkably, the body is able to separate itself from the stress and patterns it takes on in the process of living.
Think about it this way:
Meditation is a practice of getting out of mental patterns. While meditating, one creates a state of open mindedness, mental space, and moves closer to the essence of consciousness. Ideally, over time, this affords the meditator a different state of mind in ordinary life.
We can practice the same physically. When we add dissolving into our exercise or movement plan, we can return our tissues to their vital essence, which may have a tremendous effect on our tissue’s ability to adapt, respond, form new patterns, and relinquish unnecessary strain. Dissolving allows the mover, like the meditator, an opportunity to sense what is timeless and present within the biology of our body: the pulse within our every cell; the cycle of life, death, and life; and the ability to regenerate, renew, respire, and repair.
Enter the miracle of dissolving.
Last month on a dark evening, I was walking home, carrying a heavy bag on my shoulders and fully exhausted from a long day of teaching, dancing, and commuting (Queens- Staten Island- the UWS- Queens). My body strained underneath the weight of my bag, and hardened above the unforgiving concrete. I could feel the physical work of my day built up in my muscles. I took a breath or two and was soon aware that I was beginning to feel as light as air. My bag felt weightless. My steps became buoyant, my back shifted from dense and hard to open, calm, and soothing. My eyes and head became free and quietly energized, my heart softened and gently fanned open. It was a rapturous feeling.
I have been integrating the art of dissolving form into my self-care practice for nearly a year, practicing for this kind of situation. For me, this occurrence revealed exactly what a dissolving practice can do for a body under pressure. In this instance, I did not will anything to happen; I merely noticed the strain and then experienced my biology adjust itself!
Emilie Conrad, the creator of Continuum Movement, writes: “My understanding of the human condition is that when one door closes another opens. A mishap can turn into advantage if one knows how to dissolve into undulating waves.”
The undulating wave represents the ability to be open, receptive, and adaptable to the movement of life. Isn’t this what we should be exercising for: to enhance our ability to move through the unpredictable nature of life?
Six Ways You Can Dissolve into December:
1. Add Variety to Your Movement:
Walk at a slower speed, vary the distance you go, change your route. Walk backwards and sideways. Use you less dominate side when doing things around the house or at work. And take a walk with me to learn how to add variety into the act of simply walking.
2. MELT Method:
MELT Method uses self-massage with soft props to decreases stuck stress in your body. You can learn how to unwind chronic strain so that it doesn’t build up in your tissues and lead to pain or injury. MELT with Me.
3. Shavasana (Corpse Pose):
Shavasana is a rest and restorative yoga pose. The pose is based on the prostration of a resting corpse. Shavasana is a perfect place to practice dissolving and relinquishing effort and strain. Here you can even honor the lifecycle with a “death meditation” and return to the Earth to become re-energized. To practice, lie on your back with legs extended and arms resting crossed over your chest or out along the sides of your body. Here, become aware of your breath. Sense the touch of gravity. And let go.
4. The Being Pose:
My other favorite way to release excessive nerve excitation and nourish the psoas muscle. Click here for a step-by-step guide.
5. Somatic Practice.
Many somatic practices, such as Continuum Movement and Body Mind Centering offer ways to unwind repetitive strain, sense different body systems, add variety, and build somatic awareness.
6. Soothing Psoas and Belly Massage
In my special blend of bodywork, I gently ease and dissolve tension in the belly and psoas that may be the crux of other body pain. These sessions can dissolve hard tangles and lumps in the belly, help digestive function, and restore your vital center to its natural free-flowing abundance. Influences in these sessions come from Thai Bodywork, Abdominal Belly Massage, and Liz Koch's Psoas Work- Core Awareness. Book a Session.