Our bodies speak to us in many different ways, most often through a sensation of “feeling,” like hunger, or fatigue, or pain.
My body often talks to me through images that I interpret as its way of explaining something to me. Sometimes it’s an answer to a question I didn’t even know I was asking, or it’s something that I’ve become ready to understand, or the image shows me in a very graphic way what’s happening in my body, or even in the world.
Like the image I had back in the days of aerobics, when I “saw” how what I was discovering about the body would eventually be found by many other people as well.
The image that came into my head was of the earth as a globe, and all around the globe cracks were appearing. Then a substance began oozing slowly out of the cracks and I suddenly “knew” that what I’d been coming to understand about a totally different concept of fitness would someday be understood by others all over the world.
And that’s exactly what has happened. The many fitness coaches now talking about forward pelvic tilt, posture and alignment, which no one cared about in the 80s and 90s, is proof that the focus is turning from “getting” fit through activities to “being” fit for your activities. It’s the same as what a mechanic does to your car, so you can drive it safely and enjoy a smooth, pleasurable ride.
I call it “inner body fitness,” getting the mechanics of your body working properly, which involves making your muscles flexible and your joints mobile so you can move easily, and the structure of your body aligned properly so there’s no strain on your muscles or joints when you’re working out or doing movement of any kind.
It’s a whole different way of working with your body than when you want to build strong muscles or develop stamina, although you can use it in combination with those as well. Like the machinery in the photo above, which is responsible for keeping the entire unit it controls in top condition, keeping the inner workings of your body working well is how your body as whole works well.
The best way to develop this inner body fitness is to work with the separate parts of your body in an isolated way – just as a mechanic does with your car – stretching muscles that are tight and strengthening ones that are weak.
Working this way gets you “in touch”with your body so you’re able to use specific muscles to realign your posture. It also develops true body awareness and gives you a sense of control, or of being the driver of your body “vehicle.” And it’s what helps prevent strain and injury.
This work shouldn’t be confined to isolated exercises, though. For example, when you’re using exercise machines at the gym, you can work the machines in a way that develops even more awareness and makes you more sensitive to the possibility of injury.
With gym equipment, you usually begin moving some part of it with a push from your arms or legs and then, you keep both the machine and your muscles functioning rather automatically by continuing to pump the machine. Doing this, your muscles get worked and they become stronger, which is good.
If you have a weakness in one of the muscles, though, and you just keep pumping, that muscle can get overstrained before you notice it and then you can have an actual injury. This is like being a passenger in a car, where you don’t have actual control of where the car is taking you.
When working with awareness, you make the parts of the machine move while being conscious of the muscles you’re using, and then you consciously put your energy into those muscles as you continue to work the machine. This way, you’re relating to the inside of your body and making a conscious connection between your body and your mind.
This helps you develop quick instincts and quick reactions to prevent a strain of some kind. You also become attuned to places in your body that are beginning to feel some indistinguishable discomfort, like a pain that isn’t really a pain yet but is something that draws your attention to a particular spot, and you “know” it’s a tight muscle that’s asking for a stretch or a massage. That way you can look after it before it becomes a real ache or some other more serious problem.
You can do this with any exercise if you just put yourself into what you’re feeling inside your body instead of what you’re doing with it. Reading a book while you’re peddling on a stationary bicycle is as far removed from it as you can possibly be.
So the next time you’re on the bike or working any of the other equipment, instead of losing the opportunity to connect with your body, try feeling the muscles you’re using and even “see” them in your mind’s eye from the sensations you feel. It’s a great way to learn anatomy, most especially your own!