2018 Word: Curiosity
In last January’s post I spoke about 2017’s word of the year, Expansion. My wish was for you to expand and deepen your own body knowledge through listening and noticing how your body moves. This year’s word, Curiosity, expands (haha, notice the play on words there?) on this idea of listening, noticing, and learning.
I share weekly with many of you all the latest research and readings I do throughout the week, and how they can apply to the work and exercises we do in the studio. Some of you know of my recent obsession with Yamuna Zake (creator of the Yamuna ball rolling method), and her blunt but honest opinion on how people’s chronic movement choices limit their body’s true potential. I have also spoken about how some exercise methods (without naming them) believe that their method is the “one solution” that will fix any and all problems/injuries. I have to admit, I am usually quick to say that Pilates is for everybody, but I am aware that that it may not be for “every” body at a given point in time.
“There’s more than one way to skin a cat” – I google’d to see if there was a less yucky way of saying the above (it came up with “There’s more than one way to cook an egg” – it just doesn’t have the same ring to it though).
I recently read an article and I thought it was brilliant – all things being equal (background fitness level, personal goal, injuries, etc), if a client was given a universal exercise (ex: a squat) by 3 different professionals (physiotherapist, personal trainer, yoga teacher) each professional would give different cues and likely focus on different things while the client was doing the squat. However, none of the professionals would be wrong, since they would all be cueing to achieve the same end goal of an optimal squat. Rather than being single-minded one-track focused, opening up our minds to infinite possibilities makes for a much more interesting and inspiring process.
As human beings, we are wired to stay in our comfort zones – it is not our nature to want to change our current patterns and habits. In our Classical Pilates repertoire, we know that footwork starts off our Reformer workout, but how many times have we breezed through footwork and not remember anything about it? Or maybe we go about our day on auto-pilot, with our day going something like this: Wake, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat.
Curiosity is what keeps our brain active – and keeps nerve synapses working! We’ve heard the research on how learning a new language, doing puzzles and crosswords keeps our brains active in old age, but we don’t have to wait until then. We can choose to learn new things daily, either through work, play, or hobbies.
Trivia fact: Did you know that our brain’s hippocampus, which is responsible for learning, is one of the only two areas of the brain that can regenerate? The other area is the olfactory bulb.
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein
How can we be curious in our Pilates workouts, and in our everyday lives? I encourage you to explore being curious by:
- Being like Curious George, and trying a new fitness activity or class – preferably one that you have said you would never do (Hello group boxing or monkey bars). You may surprise yourself with your strength, ability, and might even have a ton of fun! Embrace being a beginner at something, and celebrating small successes.
-Slowing down. Notice your breath. Turn on your parasympathetic nervous system by taking full breaths in and out, with an emphasis on the exhale. As Joseph Pilates said, “Squeeze every atom of air from your lungs until they are almost as free of air as is a vacuum… observe how your lungs will automatically completely refill themselves with fresh air”. (Return to Life, p. 23) Notice if you tend to hold your breath in certain movements, or in certain situations.
-Going back to Pilates Fundamentals, and seeing them with a new fresh set of eyes and outlook. How does doing simple toe taps or head floats feel in your body today, as compared to the first time you did tried them? Explore how your bones move in relation to your muscles, how supple your joints feel, where the movement initiates from. Notice the ease in how you move.
-If you have a least favourite exercise in the studio, can you shift your perception of it? Ask yourself “Can I do this differently? What If I focus on another part of my body, does that change how the exercise feels?” It is often said that what we avoid is what we need the most – but when you finally do it and “get it”, the feeling of accomplishment is incredible.
-If you knowingly avoid certain things/people/situations in your life, or consistently choose non-action over any sort of action – question why. Toddlers are great at asking why (maybe a little too much at times, but they have a valid reason – they truly do want to know why and understand). No judgement, just inquire within.
-Getting out of your comfort zone. Perhaps a bit cliché, but the next time you don’t want to do something because you are scared, intimidated, or afraid, ask yourself why. Usually, it is a fear of something that prevents us from trying new things. Acknowledge the fear, and then move on and be amazed at what you end up doing!
-Letting this be the year of “Willing to try anything” and “Go for it”, as long as it isn’t illegal and would land you in jail. Headstand on the Reformer? A variation of squirrel on the Cadillac? Push up on the Chair? Yes, yes, and yes!
What will your 2018 word be? Or do you prefer to set resolutions? I would love for you to share in the comments below!
GYROTONIC®, GYROKINESIS® and GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with their permission.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is for informational purposes only, and is the sole property of Flow Pilates & Movement. I am not a doctor or a registered dietician, and this blog’s content is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your exercise routine or diet. The content of this blog may contain links to other websites. Flow Pilates & Movement is not responsible for the privacy policies or practices of any third party.