Midweek Rolfing update: I’m walking like a toddler
If I asked you to imagine a toddler learning to walk, the picture would come easily to mind, right?
Stiff legs. Unbalanced. Arms out to keep from falling. Sort of maybe a Frankenstein’s creature*-type look.
That’s kind of me this week.
Our go-to Rolfer — who understands yoga, and Ashtanga in particular — Russ Pfeiffer promised me that my feet were going to be my big issue. I’m certainly hoping he’s right, because trying to put into action the lessons from our second class — not to mention the first one — is proving tough.
I’m fighting a lot of years of walking and being one particular way. And, yes, you could call them samskaras, if you want.
It’s manifesting itself most hilariously in my walk. Trying to make sure I’m not just slapping down on my heels, legs extended in front of me like that Keep on Truckin’ logo, is proving harder than a back bend. I’m lumbering about like, well, like the Creature I’ve described.
Apparently it is all due, or a lot due, to my near total lack of using muscles that would rotate my legs inward (or bring my toes toward each other). I know this is true because I’ve been instructed to push down on the pedals in my car with the big toe side of my foot, and that’s hard.
Why should that be hard? Because those are the muscles on me that, without getting any real attention, aren’t doing any real work.
The other part of my homework is paying close attention to my feet during Ashtanga practice. (Thankfully, there have been some additional help from commenters on the earlier post.) As I noted, I do pay a lot of attention to my feet (as apparently I should be) because in so many poses my feet are the limit of my reach and my flexibility.
What that translates to is I’m hyper aware of my feet. But am I using them correctly? Am I standing on them fully, am I pushing through the big toe side? Am I, for lack of a better phrase, aligned correctly?
As badly as my attempts to alter my walking are going, I think in practice I’m surprising myself with what seems like success. That doesn’t mean I’m not more unsteady as I try to focus on better foot alignment, but it does mean that changes to the practice don’t seem … too extreme, too far-fetched or too impossible. I think I was already in the vicinity of where I’m supposed to be, alignment-wise.
I suspect that’s a result of the teacher trainings and the knowledge of pose alignment I have. That those lessons stuck give me some hope that the Rolfing will, too.
But there are an awful lot of samskaras to overcome.
Two other quick things to point out, too. Given its our mission to pass on Ashtanga-related news, Kino MacGregor has a new book out. Of course, you probably know this if you’re on the Internet, as it’s been on Twitter, elephant journal, etc. But so it’s on the record here, we’ll note it; you can find it on her page, link via our “teacher pages” to the right. And Mark Singleton, author of the book “Yoga Body,” is pitching a project on Kickstarter to investigate the roots of yoga.
Posted by Steve
* Note: “Frankenstein’s monster” is so pejorative; and if you’ve read Mary Shelley’s short novel, you know that the modern Prometheus of the title isn’t evil, he’s just lost in a world without knowledge of his maker. But at least “monster” is better than calling him “Frankenstein.”