Friday, January 23, 2015

Body talk: Moving swimmingly

Knee-jerk reaction
I have been attending to how much I have efforted this week. I effort when I sit, when I stand, when I bend, when I raise my arms over my head.  I am trying hard not to effort, striving not to effort, struggling not to effort.  Efforting is a new concept for me, one introduced by some movement-conscious friends, and a few yoga teachers The idea is to move with little gripping, with ease, to move swimmingly.
            It’s not working.
Old habits die hard.
Every time I hear or think efforting, my jaw clenches, my teeth grit, my knee jerks.
My editor’s mind screams: Effort’s not a verb. It’s a noun.

Liquid refreshment
Last week I swam my standard 30-minute laps –slow, easy meditative.
Then I went to an Alexander technique class and spent much of it in the constructive rest pose – maybe 30 minutes or so. I was prone/ supine  again – but after being in water, I was so much more aware of the places where my back met the mat, the weight of my flesh and bones, of the gravitas of gravity.
Oh, how I prefer floating!
Wouldn’t it be blissful to live in liquid?


  1. The pool is a good place to get out, lie on your back knees up for a bit, then see if you can fall back into the water and use the effortlessness that being semi-supine has just taught you. At least being at the pool is a context that won't make other people who are there wonder what it is that you are doing!
    While experimenting at the pool, I find that turning the head to take a breath tends to activate some reaction of tension. I guess it's because the imperative need to take a breath justifies some really intense sense of "importance." So working with the moment when you first take off from the side of the pool and turn your head to take that breath is a fine way to train yourself differently.

  2. But maybe effortlessness in water does not involve knees up. The spine is so easily supported in water. If one floats was easily-- and I do -- the water will just hold you. Knees up takes effort, just floating none. Calm salt water's even better!