If you make a fist, holding it maybe just a moment, and then relax your fist, it takes a little while to soften, and to settle. Even then, your hand may not be totally without work. Many of us are walking around in a fist, and we don't know! And even if/when we do know, we might not be sure how to address it.
The more I teach Restorative Yoga, and the more I work with clients, the more I am aware that we all are working far too hard. I don't mean your job, although, perhaps that is also true. Instead, I mean our muscular work.
Its as though we instinctively are flinching, ready to run, always in fight or flight at some level. Or, we are working twice as hard to be in gravity as we need to be, because we simply have no other way to accommodate gravity than to fight it. We have only what we know how to do, and what we have developed out of habit. But, you know, it is very hard to be ready to move, or to walk, or to run, when the body (you) are already tense.
That tenseness is sometimes called high-tone, high muscular tone: like with sound, low tone would be soft, and high tone would be hard. We usually think of tone as a positive, but that’s not always true. A toned muscle is able to move well, but if the muscle is already on, like a light, how much brighter can it become? A toned muscle needs to be able to be on and off, so that when it is needed, it can be turned on, and when it isn’t needed, we are not spending our resources keeping a light on for no reason.
This is where Restorative Yoga and the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education are such powerful practices for me, and for my students.
I have learned, and am continually learning this truth: before I can change any behaviors that turn me into a fist, it is necessary to learn how to soften, to do nothing but yield and breath, to be available to myself, to be available for breathing. I must take the time I need to begin to let myself un-ball, unwrap, unwind. And I must practice doing it, so that it becomes more possible to be that way more often in my day-to-day.
This work of taking the time to do this practice of softening is deeply profound. It is a practice of being embodied (and learning to be embodied) mindfully, gently, without agenda, judgment, fear. It is a practice of being in the moment without being in a story we were told about ourselves, or a story we have been telling ourselves. It is about creating through our breath, through our inquisitiveness care for ourselves, our own experience of what it means to be. BE.
I’d like to share three things with you.
Heather Danso wears many hats. As an artist, she playfully explores work in Acrylic, printing, and multimedia, creating portraits and abstracts that explore expression, playfulness, identity, and the possible. Her CV is here.
She is also a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Method® Practitioner, yoga teacher, Awareness Through Movement® teacher, and helps people design and manage their own websites.